Airbnb: The good and the bad

2017-07-16 06:30 - Rhodé Marshall
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Cape Town - This week we watched the shocking video of South African visual artist Sibahle Nkumbi being thrown head-first down a steep staircase by a 47-year-old white man while leaving an Airbnb address where she was staying in Amsterdam.

The man was the host. Airbnb, has labelled the assault of a South African woman at one of its facilities in Amsterdam as appalling. 

WATCH: WATCH: SA Artist speaks out on viral Airbnb ‘racial’ assault [Warning: This footage may upset sensitive viewers]

I Airbnb regularly and have not had any experience as unfortunate as this. Although, here's my take on three Airbnb stays I had in Durban recently.

Dusted and busted

Listing: Tranquil La Mercy on Ocean Shores

Every year around the time of the Durban July a satisfactory place to stay is hard to come by in the host city. Even more so when it involves a group of five. My friends and I decided to drive to Durban after confirming our accommodation at an apartment block called La Mercy House. The post read: “Enjoy stunning sea views from this three-bedroom home with the ocean air to help you unwind into your holiday.” Great, we all thought, until we got there.

Opening the door we were met by a powerful and unbearable cloud of dust. The floors hadn’t been cleaned and the table counters were so dusty it was almost impossible to breathe. Upstairs the bathroom and bedrooms had dirty mats and sheets with drool spots on the pillow cases. Cringe! Worst was when we tried to open the window and I ended up with the window frame in my hand and the window shattered on the balcony. We weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry, but immediately tried to look for an alternative place to stay.

(Picture: supplied)

Of course, it being the Durban July, that was but a dream, so we got in touch with the host, who seemed slightly surprised that we weren’t happy. He said he’d get someone to clean for us.

Like, boy bye! No one was about to catch a sinus infection and bronchitis overnight! We told him to make his way over to his apartment with clean bedding and start dusting. He came and attempted cleaning, which basically meant that he turned mats and sheets inside out and upside down. But I can safely report that he’s no longer listed. “I think he delisted that very same day we left. The task was too stressful for him,” a friend said.

From metal to Mafikizolo

Listing: Relaxed, Exclusive, 3-Bed Ocean View Apartment

It was the first week of December last year and I needed a place to stay close to the church where a friend’s dad’s funeral was taking place. With my best friend in tow and my Airbnb sounding very sweet, we drove to Durban. The place looked great, had lovely reviews and was seven minutes away from the church.

On arrival our host (a white guy) welcomed us and ensured us the car would be safe parked in the street. When we got to the door he was listening to some rock music that had us lifting our eyebrows (it was a bit on the heavy side) and took us on a tour while also introducing us to his overly friendly Labrador. The host wandered around a bit and I started wandering around as well, waiting for him to leave. But that never happened, because he was staying!

(Picture: Supplied)

The fact that we would be sharing the house with him was something I didn’t see on the listing (I checked a few times at the time). So I took a deep breath and decided my friend and I were sleeping in the same room. I needed to mentally prepare myself if I was going to sleep in a room right next to a strange man. While we were settling in, I heard a very familiar song – dude started playing some Mafikizolo.

We burst out laughing at his ignorant attempt at making us feel at home and went to bed. He has since written in his review of us as guests: “Rhodé and her friend were lovely guests to host. They had a busy schedule and my only regret is that I hardly got to see them. They were very sweet, respectful and incredibly neat and tidy.” Okay! But he was nice though shem.

The meh experience

Listing: Dr Pixley kaSeme’s Loft

(Picture: Supplied)

During a Durban July weekend this year for work, certain circumstances left me having to find a place to stay at the last minute. Luckily an apartment was available immediately, granted that Airbnb received a copy of identification and ran a check on me.

The acceptance message included a cellphone number for my host, who was surprised that I was able to call him, saying Airbnb “wouldn’t give my number”. Well, I had it and had paid, so we chatted about the details of my arrival the following day.

On getting there he gave me a tour of the building, which in fact was an old office block that had been turned into artisan lofts and styled quite like Maboneng. The loft was neat but yes, still dusty, making it a little difficult to ignore an itch in my throat.

But despite the noise from the busy street outside and banging of doors in the building, the security in the building was great and so was my host.

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