Pushy guests and porn: Confessions of an Airbnb hostess

Pushy guests and porn: Confessions of an Airbnb hostess

After months of strangers living in her home, one Airbnb host tells her tenants what she really thinks
airbnb horror
Think of the money. Think of the money.

Last year I used Airbnb to book my accommodation for a break in Rome.

For US$40 a night I got my own room at half the cost of equivalent hotel rates, and shared an apartment with a young Italian couple who were my hosts.

The place wasn't as clean as a hotel would have been, but it seemed like a win-win -- they get some extra cash and I get a place to stay that’s much cheaper than a hotel.

When I returned home, I decided to be an Airbnb host myself.

If only I’d known what was coming.

I’ve been a host for six months now, and while the extra money is great, the experiences can be interesting, to say the least.

Here are a few things I'd like my future Airbnb tenants to bear in mind.

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I'm in it for the money, not your friendship.

1. Don't ask me for a discount

There's no good reason for me to give you a discount. I don't know you.

You searched for my place with a budget in mind, so don't bargain with me. It's not my problem that you lost your job or are a poor student.

Airbnb offers accommodations for every budget, so search around.

Staying for an extended period of time also doesn't justify a further discount on top of the weekly rates.

What if I can't stand you after a few days or vice versa? Short-term stays require less commitment and offer me more money and freedom.

No porn, no problem.

2. I don't want to see your homemade porn

I was sure my vegan, yoga instructor guest who sang Madonna hits in the shower was gay -- until he showed me his other talent.

Fred’s (name changed) part-time passion is photography. He has potential to showcase his work at art galleries, he said, and asked for my opinion on some "artistic" photos.

The next thing I saw was a close-up of him and his girlfriend engaged in a sex act.

He apologized and said it was an “accident,” so we continued flicking through the photos on his iPad. Then, more NSFW photos appeared.

By the time we reached the end of the album, I had the image of his girlfriend's face and certain parts of Fred etched into my mind.

I don’t know if Fred was getting some kind of kick out of this or whether it was a genuine accident.

Point is, I don't I care what you do back home.

But if you’re my guest, please leave your sex life at the door.

Read and remember.

3. Don't make me mother you

Every Airbnb host has a set of house rules that guests can read before they book. Try not to break them.

If I ask you not to smoke, don't smoke while I'm not home. Wrapping myself around a smoky towel after a shower will automatically get you a negative review.

And if I tell you that the locks in the apartment are complicated, do listen carefully. It's only because I don't want either one of us locked out.

Once, a guest dismissed my tutorial and called me at 3 a.m. to let her in. She apologized, but my sleep was still ruined.


I have enough "friends," thanks.

4. I'm your host, not your BFF

Please don't add me on Facebook, Skype and LinkedIn before we've even met.

When you're here, I'm happy to give you advice and recommend places to visit. I'll give you a tour of the neighborhood and possibly take you out to dinner.

But just because you’re staying with me doesn't make me your new best friend.

One guest was excited about traveling abroad for the first time. I was the only person he knew in my city and he wanted to do everything with me -- shop, dine, visit tourist attractions and help him with his business.

On his last night he asked me to evaluate him. I told him it was hard to evaluate him as I'd only known him for a few days, but he insisted.

Finally I said, “I find you quite pushy.” He asked me to tell him more, and I replied, “No. You're being pushy.” Thankfully that was the end of it.

I introduced another guest to some friends at a party. The next day, she added all of them on Facebook and made plans to hang out with them.

I'm glad she made friends, but it felt odd at the time.


Sometimes, losing your privacy is worth it.

5. However … some guests are wonderful

Most of my guests have been pleasant to varying degrees.

Among my favorites are the independent ones who go off and explore on their own, understanding that I have a full-time job and my own life outside of Airbnb.

There are also the ones who go the extra mile by taking my laundry to the cleaners, buying or cooking me breakfast, leaving me a fridge full of food and offering me Ibuprofen when I have a hangover.

When they check out, they keep my place in its original condition, throwing out their own garbage.

They try to get along with me so we can live peacefully together. That's what maintains good reviews and ratings for both hosts and guests.

And yes, some guests do become friends.

Originally published August 2012, updated December 2012.

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Are you an Airbnb host? Do you have any hosting horror stories? Let us know in the comments.

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