Well, here I am. Writing a post that I truly wasn’t expecting to write. In my mind, I had imagined that I would be writing about how my first AirBnB experience exceeded my expectations, that it wasn’t “that bad”, that there are basically no major differences between an AirBnB and a hotel (except that hotels are overpriced), and that everyone is better off with an AirBnB. Well friends, I can’t say any of those things – not even close. In fact, the feature image for this blog post, the one of Jarrod sitting in a chair and reading, is the only acceptable picture I have of our rental. Because every other picture I have is of cockroaches, spiders, ants, or other insects.
I want to start on a positive note by saying that AirBnB was PHENOMENAL in addressing and correcting our concerns. From start to finish our rep, D’Zanae, was responsive, efficient, kind, understanding, and fast-acting. She’s the real MVP – our heroine. If she, along with her team, hadn’t handled this disaster so perfectly, who knows how our vacation would’ve turned out. So for reiteration, my beef is not with AirBnB. It’s with Southern Belle Rentals – our host, a rental company who FAILED us by every definition of the word.
That’s right ya’ll, I’m naming names. What do you expect from me when a live spider is under my pillow? That’s not a metaphor, it’s not an analogy, it actually happened. ARACHNOPHOBIA the sequel, starring me, was running through my head. “Oh. Well… I guess this is how I die.” Not an ideal death, IMO. But enough stalling, lets get into it. Keep in mind, we did NOT stay in someone’s home. Southern Belle is a rental company with multiple AirBnB properties.
Day One: We arrived around 7:15PM. Once we got into the unit we saw a dead cockroach, in plain sight, on the kitchen floor. And one in the sink. Ants were eating the one on the floor. About an hour later, we saw a live one in the kitchen, Jarrod ran over and killed it. When I went upstairs to lay claim to “my side” of the bed, I pulled the sheets back and saw a live spider hanging out underneath the pillow. (Enter ARACHNOPHOBIA thoughts.) Later that night, Jarrod said that he saw another one near the fridge and killed it. My husband and I are from the South – so we can forgive a few bugs, it’s not the end of the world. It had been raining that day in Savannah too, so even though the roaches weren’t ideal, we didn’t let it BUG us too much. See? I can still find a way to make a good pun in the midst of a horror story. Now I will say that I was vocal about the creatures to Jarrod but he smartly sensed my rising anxiety and tried to diffuse the situation “It’s fine. It’s an old house, sometimes bugs happen, it’s been raining, etc.” So we went out and came back around midnight and slept, very poorly.
Day Two: The next morning as we were out exploring Savannah, I decided to alert the Host and AirBnB about the bug problem. All I kept thinking about was the bugs that were lurking, the ones that we couldn’t see. Southern Belle had provided us a phone number to text if we had questions so I messaged them in order to start problem solving. Their solution was to send out pest control. We were agreeable, since that was literally the only thing they offered, but we asked to schedule the service so that we could have notice to get back to the unit and put away our personal belongings so that they wouldn’t be sprayed with pesticide. Our host never responded to that request, or to anything else after that. It was dumb luck that Jarrod and I were back in the unit getting ready for dinner when pest control showed up to spray. When we got back to the rental after our night, there were bugs everywhere. The spraying had driven everything out of hiding and we were doomed. We counted three humungous roaches upstairs that night, one crawled across my foot as I stood at the sink brushing my teeth and while my husband was showering. The silent panic-kicking-jumping-elaine from seinfeld dancing move that I did to free myself from this roach but while also simultaneously not letting Jarrod know was dangerous for someone of my age to be doing. YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO MOVE LIKE THAT OVER THE AGE OF 25. At this point in the infestation, Jarrod was no longer trying to diffuse my anxiety because the jig was up – I was now trying to diffuse his after his “WE CHECKED INTO A FUCKING ROACH MOTEL!!!” outburst. Funny but true but so. not. okay. A roach crawled across my foot you guys, these bugs were large and in charge and we were at their mercy. Needless to say we basically patrolled for bugs the rest of the night. Barely sleeping.
Day Three: Now at this point, you may be saying to yourself (like many of our friends and family did) – “WHY DID YOU STAY THERE!? I WOULD HAVE LEFT ON NIGHT ONE!” Well, we were trying to be good sports and we also had no idea wtf we were doing, how to handle it since this was our first time with an AirBnB, or what our options were. We kept hoping things would get better but on this day, Day 3, when AirBnb offered us a refund and a hotel, we said HELL YES. We were already at a rooftop bar when we got the news so we slammed our drinks, flew back to the unit, shoved everything into our bags in a matter of 15 minutes, and had checked into a hotel all within the scope of an hour. We felt rescued. And clean. We happy danced in the hotel room and never saw another bug for the rest of our vacation.
Allow me to summarize my issues again, as I received some comments from people trivializing our bug encounter (i.e. “it’s not that serious” “they won’t hurt you” “you’re in the south, we have bugs”) WELL F THAT AND HERE’S WHY: Each time you book an AirBnB you are also charged a cleaning fee, we paid for and EXPECTED cleanliness. Even at the most basic level, this unit was not clean. A representative of Southern Belle was supposed to do a walk-through of the unit the day of our arrival. Either this person just turned the lights and the air on and did nothing else OR they saw the dead roaches and chose to not deal with them. You decide which is worse. There was a strong and obvious disregard for basic cleanliness so we did not feel comfortable using any of the dishes/silverware/cookware for fear of getting sick. There was no dishwasher in this unit (despite the misleading information in our welcome email that told us to start the dishwasher before we checked out) so there was no way we were going to be eating off of something or cooking with something that was likely dirtied – by either people or bugs. WE READ THE REVIEWS BEFORE WE BOOKED THIS UNIT and only one reviewer mentioned “a couple dead bugs” – it was dismissive and seemed like a one-off occurrence, especially since she made no other remarks about seeing live ones. This was an INFESTATION, not a couple bugs hiding from the rain or whatever dumb excuse people want to say. Southern Belle Rentals should’ve fully disclosed this “vermin problem” (as AirBnB dubbed it) so that renters can make informed decisions about their lodging and not be exposed to pesticides and giant disease-spreading creatures while on vacation. Roaches carry salmonella BECAUSE THEY EAT GARBAGE. Flying, garbage-eating, foot crawling, salmonella-giving creatures.
In conclusion, we are hotel people. And Southern Belle Rentals plays fast and loose with “cleanliness”. Choose your AirBnB’s wisely and SPEAK UP if something is wrong, AirBnB has got your back! And always, always, pull back the sheets and check for spiders under your pillow.