What started off as a highly anticipated week of fun in Kelowna for my birthday, quickly derailed, and it all started with the Airbnb. Long story short, it felt like we were staying at a friend, of a friend’s house, and they weren’t expecting us.
I had moderate hopes for this year’s ceremony of aging. A quick escape to Kelowna for some non-scheduled, go with the flow sun and fun. I was lucky enough to be offered the use of an Airbnb and boat from a friend of a friend of mine. What I originally thought would be a complimentary free offer turned out to be one I had to pay for, a slight hiccup, but with the confusion a big discount was given. We would also pass up on the use of the boat to be able to lower the cost of the rental and to save ourselves the trouble of having to tow, dock, and take a 5 hour online course and test in order to earn our recreational boating license. This was to be able to have use of the boat ourselves and not need the owner of it and the Airbnb along with us as a guide. Good thing we cancelled, as we weren’t stay long enough to have time to use it.
Originally, we had also planned to visit with a friend. But a family emergency had him cancelling, and just as well. Because, although we were given the whole of the basement suite, we did not want to spend additional time therein. Especially as we would have drank and partied loudly. But with residents upstairs, you not only felt bad to come and go as you pleased, but felt pressured to not make noise in general. With two people we spoke in whispers all night.
But I digress, let’s start from the literal beginning (of the Airbnb), and the entry into the suite. The Airbnb is a regular residential. It is home to the owner and his family, who rent out the basement to make extra money. There is only one entrance to the whole of the house and everyone uses it. Homeowner and Airbnb guests a like. You are given the code to enter, and open the door to a foyer; with a paper sign on the stair’s banister directing Airbnb guests downstairs to the right. To the left is the owner’s living room and in front, the kitchen space.
When we entered, we awkwardly walked in on a young man tending to the kitchen. This shock and lack of privacy already had me turned off. Furthered by the fact that I could hear everything clearly going on upstairs, when we got downstairs. From dish washing and vacuuming, to all the conversation in between.
The basement Airbnb is divided into two units. One separated within a coded lock door. The homeowner typically rents out both units and has separate renters sharing the living room/kitchen space and the only washroom. An awkward living arrangement if you don’t know the other party. Far too intimate for my taste.
It didn’t feel hospitable or welcoming like any of the other Airbnbs I have visited. It felt more like we were staying at a friends house, in the basement that they don’t use, where they supplied us with towels.
No welcome, no wifi, not even access to a thermostat. The entire basement was set at a chilling cold. So cold that we had to bundle ourselves in layered long sleeves and pants to keep warm indoors, during the peak of summer, and its registered heatwave.
Thankfully, we found a heater in one of the units and had it heat the one bed room/kitchen we decided to spend our time in.
The other unit was an additional walk down into the inner basement. It had a living room area with dining room table, desk, miniature refrigerator, and microwave. The bed that narrowly reached the door was in a separate room. We choose to stay in the “upper” suite due to its proximity to the washroom, right outside said bedroom door. I cannot imagine renting out the basement most suite and having to make the trek to use this washroom, right beside another rental for a week.
The washroom at least felt modern and new. Although the light was dim and there was none within the shower stall, so you were left bathing in the dark. And cold, because as we recalled, there is no heating in the whole of the space. Most people take a shower to cool off during summers in Kelowna. I had to take one to warm up.
“Our” bedroom was furnished with a desk, miniature fridge, and microwave as well. All set up across from the bed, like you’d see in a standard hotel layout, but without the ventilation. So anything you heated up would have its scent fill the room.
Although having said that, we were not fans of the smell of the place walking in. A fragrance that we were able to clearly identify on the onset of our entry. So much so that we had to make a trip out to 7 Eleven, just to get a bottle of Fabreeze to use. This was all that we could find, we wanted a candle, but not much is open at 10pm, in a small summer town, on a statutory holiday Monday. We sprayed every piece of furniture and the air to cleanse the place, and give in a semblance that someone had not been living here before. This made the space feel a little more private. I keep repeating to myself, “this cannot be an Airbnb”.
The more we settled the more little off details we discovered. The desk that became our dining room table was missing its cabinet door, and the rolling chair they paired with it missing its wheel, a lesson I learned after falling off of it.
Luckily, they had plenty of stools in the shared common living area, they expected two tenants to share. This space was equipped with the only one television(s). I added an “s”, because aside from the functional one that sat on a stand (that we did not use); there were 3 smaller flat screens lying on the ground face down, and two large television boxes beside it. They were definitely storing the above in this limited space, common area that they were renting out for guests.
Here they also had a high-top table and 6 stools. Beside a countertop space that looked to be an unfinished kitchen with a sink, within the living room. There were cabinets and drawers but nothing in them that you could use to make a meal. So, despite there being a hot plate, there is nothing you can use to cook with it. I know such is standard at a hotel, but they at least have a coffee machine and staff on standby to bring household items to you as needed. I had to repeat to myself that I was hardly paying for this, so I have no right to complain, let alone compare it to a hotel.
Although the garbage can and recycling bins within “our” bedroom unit, were the same that you see in a commercial space. Black and blue plastic, and definitely not homely.
As I mentioned above, we would contain ourselves within our one bedroom. We were especially weary, as within the time we went to go get an air freshener, someone had entered our basement unit to do laundry, which was situated in one of the rooms within our rental unit. The machines were not running when we had left, but were tumbling when we came back. And later when we were sealed away in our bedroom, the individual came back to tend to the now finished laundry. Waiting for a moment when we were within the room to come down. This felt very invasive. Another show of the lack of privacy that had me reassured of my choice to pack it in and call the trip short.
With the door closed and the heater on full blast, we slept okay on the double firm bed. The scent of the Fabreeze sheets smelled fresh, I don’t want to consider that the bed and its linens were otherwise. But I couldn’t help but have that cross my mind. Everything seemed so unprofessional already.
We were awoken the next day at 7:30am where the stomping from upstairs began, followed by the continuous ring of a landline phone that was left unanswered. I was able to hear it clearly. The same melody 6 minutes nonstop, for approximately 30 times within those 6 minutes. It would come on 5 minutes later and another 3 after that, and thankfully go on for only 1 minute more each time. I could hear someone walking around upstairs. Why was this not being answered? If it was that audible for us, could they not hear it just the same? We definitely made sure to whisper the duration of our stay, especially as a lot of what we had to say was to complaint about the above.
Probably the worst Airbnb I have experienced to date. And worse is, it isn’t all that central to downtown or the beach. But upon reflection, since I went through a friend or a friend and not Airbnb, they probably removed the layer of formality for our visit. I have only myself to blame, and have only reviewed the experience as a release, and to document this humous memory, that I am sure will come up in future conversations.