(*This post is just on our first day in Athens; for our full account of Athens please see post: “Athens“)
We planned on spending three nights in Athens and ended up adding a fourth after our failed week on the Greek Islands (see post: Travelling with High Expectations = Disappointment.) Our previous post ended with a positive note on our excitement for Athens. Unfortunately, our bad luck continued. We arrived just after midnight to our Airbnb which was more like an apartment building turned into a makeshift hostel. We’ve encountered similar situations before: someone rents our multiple rooms in their house and basically makes it into a hostel, and sometimes it works our fine when it’s run properly. This was something different, our Airbnb host rented every floor in the five-story apartment building (the bottom floor was a make-shift receptionist area).
We immediately noticed our room was not as pictured but knew talking to the night-shift woman who checked us in wouldn’t help. We emailed our Airbnb host asking why we were not in the room we booked and hoped for a reply by morning. By now, we’ve booked dozens of places and we always look for a few key things. We don’t book anywhere without a decent kitchen, wifi is a must, a double bed is highly preferred (and Europeans have a habit of pushing two single beds together and calling it a double), A/C is a huge plus in hot places, and at least every second place we book has to have a washing machine. All of these things combined save us tons of money and make Airbnb overall much cheaper for us than staying in hostels.
This listing advertised a “real double bed” with photos to prove it wasn’t just two single beds, free A/C, free access to a laundry machine, a fully stocked kitchen and a large shared area. What we got was two single beds in separate bed frames pushed together with only one sheet (usually at least the mattresses are in the same frame and have two sheets), no A/C, laundry cost 5€ per load, the kitchen was pathetic and the small shared space (and bathroom) was shared with six other people!
We were open to talking to our host and figuring out the situation but that turned into a massive argument on the phone after getting no email reply by morning. After a heated debate, he finally admitted he had given our room to another group who wanted to rent the entire suite (for more money) and he didn’t have anywhere else to send us. He claimed the free laundry and A/C wasn’t on the listing and after quoting his own words multiple times he agreed he could give us one load of laundry free but nothing “too excessive.” After we said no and that we were furious, our host agreed to refund us the money and we could move somewhere else. We quickly booked a new place, a ten minute walk away, where we got the entire apartment and it was actually slightly cheaper! We also submitted a complaint to Airbnb as this type of situation is really unacceptable.
To make a long story short, our previous host – Miglen – started sending us more messages after we left saying that we should read his listing more carefully and it didn’t offer free A/C and laundry. We checked and he had actually gone and changed the wording in his listing! Luckily, we weren’t taking any chances and had already screenshot his listing. He also said he wanted us to move into another one of his apartments (even though he previously said he had none available) and wouldn’t refund us our money… we were reading these messages at our new Airbnb we had just booked.
Furious, we told him to stop messaging us and leave us alone – he had already managed to ruin and waste our entire first day in Athens – and we would leave the outcome up to the Airbnb service team.
Airbnb exceeded my expectations with their quick and helpful response. Not only did they refund our entire stay (including the one night we had used) with Miglen, they offered us a $100 USD voucher to use in the future as compensation for our troubles. We’ve used the money to upgrade our stay in Budapest and our now staying in a snazzy modern and decked out entire apartment – we had previously booked a hostel room with booking.com so really Airbnb got something out of giving us the voucher as well.
My only regret is not getting to meet Miglen in person and tearing him to pieces (verbally, of course). I can deal with things not going as planned but it’s people like him that ruin good experiences and taint the reputation of companies like Airbnb. You can tell from the comments on his listings that we weren’t the first people to be given the wrong room. He clearly just hopes that people will be too preoccupied with their holiday to notice (or bother) complaining. It’s the principal of it all that kills me.
The listing we stayed at is advertised here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/203136 but Miglen has his apartments listed on quite a few other sites so watch out!