I spent the past few days in Madrid. I decided to save cash by staying in a 2-bedroom Airbnb (seemingly) owner-occupied apartment for 3 nights and it's the first time I didn't go for a private apartment. The only house rules were no smoking and no parties, with access permitted to the living areas. The reviews were flawless, 141 x 5-star reviews saying how great and kind and interesting the host was. The room was a single room with exclusive access to the bathroom, as the other room was en-suite.
I met the host. He was a chap in his 50s who came across as a bit eccentric and strung out. Desperately eager to please and expecting praise for the slightest things like the bathroom being bright, or offering me a beer and pouring about 100ml into a glass. In fairness he kept the place spotless although there was clutter accumulating. He told me he has a 10-year old son and rents out a room as a form of income because he doesn't earn much money as a freelance artist (i.e. he's unemployed) and life is sometimes hard. This was clear from his thread-bare clothes. He also said he spent 8 years alone in the apartment and it wasn't good for him.
He casually mentioned the other room was being rented out to another guy- a Canadian, who arrived the day before but that I'd get on with him.
It's a 2-bed apartment, so that confused me - surely he wasn't going to sleep on the sofa? Or maybe the other guest was sharing his bedroom. I didn't want to ask but he later explained (probably in intentionally bad English to mislead) "I will stay in friend's house tonight".. so that made a bit more sense. And with the Madrid gay pride parade starting just 200 meters away, I figured he decided to rent out both rooms as a means to make extra cash for the weekend given accommodation was in high demand.
The next morning, I saw he was sleeping on the couch in his clothes. Fine, so he got home and was resting.
At the end of day 2 I found him off-putting because he kept coming into the living room like a hurricane and leaving again, at one stage putting on loud music, leaving, and it stopped after 2 tracks anyway. He was always busy doing nothing, like going out for an hour just to get a cardboard box to put junk into. At around midnight he was cooking an omelette in the kitchen and offered me some. I told him I already ate and was going to bed. When I heard him leave for the night I went back up to the living room. The other guest returned so we had a few cans together. Then the owner returned and was in and out of the living room.. he seemed inconvenienced that we were there as he didn't say "hello" and he worked on his laptop in the room as if we weren't there, wearing headphones to drown out or chatter, left the apartment a few times and came back, rushing over to the window to make sure no drunk passerbys were messing with his motorbike (which happened a lot as it was fairly unique with a roof on it.)
I noticed 2 notes on the wall of the living room. One was a cute letter from his son. The other was an adult's handwriting and began "August 2018. Dear X, Sorry for leaving without saying goodbye but things are complicated.."
The other guest told me that there was a strange-looking wardrobe door in his room about 3 ft wide that didn't open. He said he asked the owner what it was, the owner explained his son could sleep there when he stayed over. Very unlikely, given it's a 2 bed apartment with a large living room. And we joked how the owner was actually sleeping in there. There was also a locked door in the kitchen adjacent to it, so perhaps the storage area was 7 ft wide and 3ft deep. The other guest and I talked nonsense til about 3.30am then went to our rooms. I warned him to check under his bed.
Day 3, me and the other guy went to the Madrid pride parade and just had a bag of cans while watching it (awful parade but great atmosphere). It started at 11pm and finished fairly late. On the way home we bought KFC and more cans. We went back to the apartment and tucked into the KFC. Next thing, the host appeared from nowhere saying "no, no, no, this is against the rules of airbnb". We didn't want to antagonise him, but we told him we were familiar with the listing and we were renting both rooms but that we'd finish up our meal and go to bed. He refused to let us finish there and told us we had to leave the living room immediately. He also went on his laptop to look for the listing but we just left him to it and went to the park across the road to finish the food.
I'm not sure what time I got to bed at but it was not fun waking up at 6am for my flight.
The thing was - despite joking about it I actually didn't genuinely believe the host was living in the cupboard in the apartment. The irony about the whole thing is that after the gay pride parade the host was the one who came out of his closet.
I still don't have evidence that he was in the cupboard - the kitchen is down the corridor the opposite end than the living area. But where else could he have been? Furthermore, only for I got on well with the other guest I probably would have been in bed by 11 or 12 each night. I wouldn't have been drinking and chatting in the living room. I think the host is at fault for not explaining the living situation. In fact, I would not have even noticed he was in the apartment at all.
@Anthony804 wow I felt like I was reading a story, you described everything and the main problem isn't even noticeable. It isn't secretly, it is a shared space, did he say anywhere that he would be out of the apartment? Was the problem that you believe he stayed there? You did have access to everything that was offered as I understood, did he bother you in some way?
Well, I think he was underhand about staying there! He led us to believe he was living elsewhere. For example, he said the bathroom was for the exclusive use of the guest -i.e. me (the other room was en-suite)- in which case, where did he go to the toilet in the 3 days I was staying there?
I'd have been respectful to everyone in the house, but by us not knowing he was there it changed the dynamic. Hence chatting and drinking in the living room with the other guest in the early hours of the morning.
@Anthony804 he could have gone to a friend's place, a restaurant, a public restroom, have you noticed that he used your toilet? You believe that the host was sleeping in the wardrobe in the other guests room? If so that is a very serious allegation and if you are sure you could report him. As far as I am concerned he could have slept on the chair or on the floor as long as I have the private bedroom and bathroom that I booked. In the end that is everything what you paid for. I agree he could have explained the situation better but as far as I understood he didn't cause you any trouble.
@Anthony804 It seems weird, but, isn't really kind of a non issue? You had all the amenities that the listing said it did, you have no evidence anyone else used your bathroom, and the host was right that you did get along with the other guest.
I'd chalk it up to a good traveling story and have that be the end of it.
I'm not complaining. It was funny, just a bit bizarre. I don't intend to file a complaint.
I don't believe he's in the right though. I'd expect that everyone staying in a house or apartment should have their own bedroom and not sleep in the shared areas at nighttime (e.g. couch) because then they're not shared areas anymore. This can easily be communicated in an advert by saying living areas can be used until 10pm.
Besides, what he slept in was a storage area and he deliberately concealed this from both guests. It doesn't feel good to be accused of breaking airbnb rules due to a misunderstanding that could easily have been avoided.
LOL it's like reading a guide for a horror game to me. I think I got your point. I mean, I'm female and if I choose to stay in a private room, I would definitely wish the host could be crystal clear about everything. If he said he's going to stay in a friend's home but later I found him not leaving, I would be freaked out.
@Anthony804 Cute story. Your host does sound like an eccentric character, but nothing you've described sounds like any kind of violation of an Airbnb policy. Experiencing the idiosyncracies of a stranger in their home is exactly what you signed up for when you chose this type of listing instead of a hotel, hostel, or private apartment.
When you rent a private room in a shared house, you're entitled to have that bedroom to yourself, and you're supposed to have access to all the amenities advertised in the listing. But the host has absolute freedom to use the rest of the home however they please, and they owe the guests no explanation of their whereabouts. Since you didn't have any certainty that the host was out of the house, it probably wasn't the best idea to bring smelly food and late-night noise into his living room.