I have already shared the first part of my unusual and frightening travel experiences here, but the one from AirBnB deserves a whole post so I can go into enough detail to help you imagine the grotesque and dark humour of the situation.
I have used AirBnB services prior to this experience and afterwards, and thankfully I have not had any more unpleasant situations. However, the situation did occur made me really aware of the potential dangers out there. It was the first and last time I will ever rent out a ‘private’ room in someone’s property while travelling on my own.
USA Buffalo July 2015
When I arrived at the property, where my private room was supposed to be, everything seemed ok at first; no alarm bells triggering. Maybe the area was quite rough, which at the time I did not realise whilst booking, but it was just one night so I did not mind.
As I knocked on the door and the host opened the door was when the first alarm bell went off. The online account had a photo of a toddler and a female with the description written in such a way that suggested the property was a family home. Instead of a female, a potential mother based on the profile picture, a very buffed mature 6 foot tall male opened the front door. Under normal circumstances I would not mind staying with either gender however, I really did not like the fact that the account intentionally lied about host’s gender. Stupidly enough I decided to ignore common sense as the venue had seven short glowing reviews, all which claimed that everything is fine with the property and host.
As I entered I noticed that other than myself staying, there was also another flatmate, a female which was never mentioned online during our communications before. She insisted that I stay in the living room while she prepared food and drink for me. That was the second time I felt this weird feeling that something strange was going on. Why would they really try to convince me to stay in the living room whilst they are making me a drink, something I politely turned down in the first place? I decided to join her in the kitchen and that is when I noticed a huge dog cage with the dog nowhere to be seen and no other pieces of evidence that a dog existed either. Of course the dog was not mentioned on the account either. Judging by the size of the cage and the barking I finally heard later on it was definitely not a friendly Yorkshire terrier.
Whilst trying to watch the TV with the male host downstairs hoping for the night to quickly pass, the girl grabbed my backpack to ‘help me’ and quickly disappeared upstairs. I am a creature of habit so when I travel my backpack is always next to me hence I quickly went upstairs too. That’s when the weirdest part started to happen; just hang on and read further. I know it’s going to be hard to believe, my family and friends thought I was joking too until I showed them the transcript of the conversation with AirBnB’s consumer services.
What do you expect when you go to an AirBnB ‘private’ room? Bed? Wardrobe? Carpet? Yeah, I expected that too. As I changed into more comfortable clothing and lied down on the bed something caught my eye. Holy Fuck my brain screamed. Located tucked away in one of the room’s corners was a working camera attached to the ceiling directed straight on the bed.
Do not stop here, things got even weirder. Before I knew it the bedroom door flung open and the female flatmate entered my bedroom without knocking.
‘Are you asleep? Did you drink water?’- She asked, while giving me the water bottle. ‘Let me tuck you into bed’
After which she proceed to tuck me into bed. The level of me being uncomfortable is way beyond any limits by this point. I check the window, just in case I have to jump out. It’s nailed down! At this point I started to see myself in a black bag, if I am lucky to be found after some horrific thing has happened to me.
I left the bed and a few seconds later the girl is back.
‘I just tucked you into bed, why aren’t you there?’
She would have not known that I was out of bed because I was very quiet on purpose. I slowly and stealthily had gotten up to grab my phone and call my friend to pick me up from this house of horrors. That’s how I was sure that the camera in the corner was working and that I am being watched.
She processed to tuck me back into bed once more, however this time afterwards she decided to lie down next to me.
‘What language do you want to hear?’ At this point I only wanted to hear the language of freedom so I decided to go along with it and said that I like Italian.
She started to sing to me in opera whilst looking into my eyes as I was uncomfortably laying on the bed, under the duvet in the middle of summer in the U.S., holding my mobile phone ready to call the police. Almost three excruciating minutes of her singing opera to me passed with me trying not to laugh and cry at the same time from the whole situation, and finally she finishes and leaves.
Knowing that she could see me via the camera I turned off all the lights and attempted to go under the duvet to talk with my friend and ask him to get me out of there. Before I even managed to do that she was back. Like seriously, if that was some weird way to warm me up to have sex it definitely did not do the trick.
‘Turn around’ she demanded and physically turned me onto my stomach and started massaging me. What the actual hell! my brain thought while the rest of my body tensed, yet there I was on my tummy going along with it and pretending that it’s totally normal.
‘You’re very tense’ she said. No, really? I wonder why that could be? I totally do not know why I would be so tense after all of tonight’s experience.
You can imagine how relieved I was after she left and when I checked my message from my friend, who decided to stay in a hotel with his brothers, saying that he is on his way to come and get me. I picked up my clothes without switching on the lights, dump them in my bag, and quietly tried to go downstairs when I heard aggressive barking and the girl’s voice asking where I am going.
All whilst the males host was sitting downstairs where I had left him, waiting. As I started going downstairs I heard the girl saying ‘Where are you going?’ and the dog barking, and basically that was me out of the door. I managed to open the door just as my friend was knocking.
I have no idea how it could or would have ended if I was on my own and without a helping hand. I contacted AirBnB about the event, whose first question was if I am ok. They refunded me my money and promised to investigate the host. I do not know what further actions were taken but when I checked last time in 2016 the account was still there ready for someone else to book it.
Talking about weird AirBnB experience, ehm… Did you have one? Share in comments!