Holiday travel approaches, evoking Airbnb, hotel horror stories

traffic slowdown
Shutdowns and slowdowns are familiar to those of us who travel the East coast frequently. (IAS photo)

If you travel frequently, and you aren’t wealthy, sometimes an Airbnb can cost less than a hotel. An Airbnb can also come in handy if you have children or if you plan to have guests (within specified limits) over. In my circle, we’ve had good and bad experiences with Airbnb. The same goes for hotels.

One of our favorite family stories originated when my husband and I were young. We hadn’t been married very long, and we headed to Atlanta for a family gathering in a nearby town. In those days, we didn’t make reservations. Atlanta is a big place, so we figured we’d find a room without much trouble.

Wrong. The same dates we needed a room there was a big national convention in town. We finally found an older hotel in the central city—it had the charm of yesteryear if you overlooked decades of poor maintenance. Who cared? We were young.

There was a store nearby where you could buy wine, so we picked up a nice white Bordeaux and headed back to the hotel. I told my husband it was strange there was no ice bucket, but I figured the hotel would send some up. So I buzzed the desk. Fifteen minutes later, a knock came. A nice woman stood there with a mop bucket in her hand. On the front was the name ‘Marie’ in big red letters. The bucket was full of ice.

Before the night was done, we realized we’d made a serious mistake. The couple next door had a very big disagreement that threatened to come physically through the walls, and in the hallway, a man propped himself against a wall in a manner that made us wonder if we should call an ambulance. We left very early the next morning, with a memory we came to cherish only with time.

We’ve had a bad Airbnb experience as well. We rented a house at a resort for some of our family—four adults at the time and one small child. We had a very nice meal there and my mom and brother came to visit. The house was well-appointed. It wasn’t A+ clean, but it was clean enough to be tolerable. That is until the lights went out.

If there is ever a prize for the most roaches ever in a dwelling, that house would take first place. Both my daughters, who have no fear of snakes but will risk death to avoid a roach, freaked out. The men were calmer about it. The girls made pictures so that when they filed a report with Airbnb, they’d understand why they fled in the middle of the night. There were literally piles of live roaches. Everywhere.

We’ve also had wonderful experiences with Airbnb. I wrote about the place we stayed at Lake Murray because it was remarkable and beautiful. We all agreed Swaffield House won the top Airbnb spot for us.

Recently I read a story at Vice about a fake host scam involving Airbnb. I’m not sure how you protect yourself from getting scammed, and I guess, considering the amount of travel we do, I’m glad that at least we haven’t booked with a fake host.

There’s a sadly comic tale at Gizmodo about one Airbnb host you probably don’t want to do business with.

I imagine some Airbnb hosts could tell some horror stories about their guests too. Country Living did an article about this from the hosts’ point of view, and it’s obvious not all guests are created equal when it comes to civility.

The worst hotel I ever stayed in was in New York City. Dirty comforter. A/C didn’t work. Coffee–$4 a cup. When I complained about the comforter, someone mentioned the fact Bill Clinton had stayed there. I stayed mum on that one and endured the hotel because we actually didn’t spend much time in the room.

You can’t predict a hotel experience or an Airbnb experience. I do try to search neighborhood info for either when I’m traveling in an area I’m not familiar with. When we go to visit family out of state, the good thing is we can ask them about a neighborhood, and in one small town, the family knows just about everyone including Airbnb hosts.

We’ll continue to use Airbnb, but if we don’t stay with family or friends, my first go to is a hotel. I have membership cards at chains and that gets me a little off the bill, and the free breakfast most hotels provide saves the costs of a daytime meal.

Holiday travel and business travel are pending. Hopefully the lodging and the traffic will be kind to you and to me.

(Kay B. Day/Nov. 4, 2019)

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