After nearly eight months of global hopscotching, if I’ve gotten good at one thing, it’s reading between the lines of Airbnb listings. Remember Greg and Olivia from London who rented me an apartment with a kitchenette that contained “a fridge, plates, cups, utensils, toaster, kettle & microwave,” but failed to mention that it didn’t have a sink? Well I really should have caught that. Because by now I know that no one breaks down the cutlery situation unless they’re hiding something.
Here are a few other examples of Airbnb listings that said one thing, but meant quite another.
“Full 38 square meters of living area – 64 square meters of total area if adding space with slanting ceiling.” – Krakow
Translation: I used to just say that it was “about 65 square meters”, but then I rented this place to an engineer and he was all like, “Can I see the math on that?!” and I actually humored him with a floor plan and now here we are. 38 square meters. Not an inch more.
“Travelers are required to bring along their own toothbrush and tooth paste.” – London
Translation: Yes, we do have to spell this one out, for much the same reason that FedEx makes its customers verify that they’re not shipping body fluids. Because someone did that and they ruined it for everyone.
“This apartment is a good choice for allergy sufferers – no pets inside before.” – London
Translation: This place has never known joy.
“If you don’t mind a few quirks we hope you will be our guests.” – Amsterdam
Translation: And by “quirks” I mean that there will be a 12-pound Turkish Angora house cat that will be staying in the apartment while we are gone and that we have an antique bear-claw tub in the middle of the living room. It’s for decoration only, so please don’t fill it with water. The bathtub, not on the cat. You should never fill a cat with water. That would be crazy.
“THE DEPARTMENT IS VERY CALM, WITH SILENT NEIGHBORS AND THE PRINCIPAL ROOM IT DOES NOT HAVE PRACTICALLY ANY NOISE.” – Barcelona
Translation: I SHOULD KNOW! I’M A VERY PEACEFUL PERSON, AS YOU CAN PLAINLY SEE.
“If someone asks who you are, tell him you are a friend and you are staying in my apartment. Please do not mention Airbnb and/or that you are renting the place.” – Hong Kong
Translation: I am breaking the rules of my renters’ agreement and have been warned repeatedly by Dennis, head of the co-op board, not to do it again. Dennis has written me several vaguely threatening letters, the highlights of which I have displayed on the refrigerator so that you understand what we’re up against. Dennis’s apartment is located directly below mine and, as a form of protest, I occasionally throw used tea bags onto his patio. This does not help matters. Regardless, Dennis is a real hard ass, and unless you want to sleep in the metro station around the corner, I suggest you zip it, my friend.
“The flat is naturally very warm during winter.” – London
Translation: There will be no heat in the apartment, as it is warmed by a special thermal conduction principal known as magic.
“The beach is 10 minutes walk away. You can always enjoy the long walks/runs on the beach while the fresh breeze blows through your face and enlightens your days, or just lay and catch a tan.” – Durban
Translation: I was a creative writing major in college. I got bored partway through junior year, so I just gave up – sort of like I did with that sentence about the beach.
“This is my home.” – Most of them
Translation: I’m not the jerk who’s ruining AirBnB for everyone by buying properties and then destroying the rental market or gypping the city out of millions in hotel taxes. That’s just Greg and Olivia. I’m just ordinary girl who doesn’t want to give up my fabulous apartment and move in with my boyfriend, Dennis, until I’m certain that his upstairs neighbor will stop throwing tea bags at him.
You know what? I actually rented those apartments and I loved (almost) every one of them. (Looking at you, BARCELONA DEPARTMENT [sic].)
In truth, I couldn’t have made it this long and lived this well without the existence of Airbnb. It’s made finding low-cost, comfortable accommodation in cities where I don’t know a soul, not just possible, but incredibly easy. I hope it lasts.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be taking a bubble bath in the living room.