This booking was a doozy! The initial booking was very easy, inexpensive and was close to the Prague Castle.
For $189 for 2 nights, I felt it was a no brainer, especially since I was going to clear the entire charge off with my Barclay Arrival bonus (cost 17,010 miles, after 10% rebate). I messaged the host with the dates and I was booked within a day. He told me about a week or so before our check-in to set up a time to get the keys for our reservation….
About 10 days before our trip, I reached out to our host, Tomas. The host didn’t respond and initially I was fine with this, but…. Fast forward 4 days later, I reach out again, no response.
At this point I’m getting nervous, I didn’t want to be without a place to stay. I tweeted out to Airbnb, who responded, then about 10-15 minutes later actually called me!
They assigned someone to my case and said they would keep me in the loop, but would reach out to Tomas. If he didn’t respond in 2 days, they would refund my stay and help me with booking my stay in Prague.
Absolutely great customer service by Airbnb, but my issue with this… I don’t want to be put some place without researching it myself. I didn’t want to be researching Airbnb apartments while traveling in Budapest.
To keep my sanity and prepare for the possibility I wouldn’t be staying my original reservation, I looked at alternatives. I started with Hyatt, but unfortunately there aren’t any Hyatt hotels in Prague. The closest Hyatt was in Vienna. Since Hyatt was out, I looked at IHG because I still had roughly 75k IHG points.
There were a few options, I ended up finding an Intercontinental for 35,000 points per night (this was in the middle of the city). Since I needed 2 nights, I’d use use 70,000 points. I would receive 10% back, this is a perk of holding their credit card.
A couple of days later (about 4 days before my reservation began), I received an email from the company who owns the apartment we rented. I was told the employee who was originally assisting us was no longer with the company and my emails must have been misplaced. The original contact was Tomas, but they must have handed it off to someone else, because we met Tomas in Prague.
I know things happen, but that excuse doesn’t jive well with me. I think if you remove an employee, someone should have made sure all the clients they had were notified of the changes with correct contacts.
I could have cancelled my Airbnb and received a refund, but I decided to cancel my Intercontinental stay and continue with our Airbnb…
When we arrived in Prague, we contacted the host, Tomas, who met us at the apartment promptly. He gave us a quick tour, but we were too eager to explore Prague and breezed through it. I should have paid more attention during this portion of our stay.
I’m not a hard person to please, I mean I won’t even send food back at a restaurant even if you gave me the completely wrong meal. However, if you post a picture of a product you’re selling, I feel you need to deliver on that product…Especially when I am traveling a couple thousand miles from home.
When we walked up to the apartment, the complex looked rundown. There were cracks in the walls and paint But, what about the inside? If the inside is nice, then I’d be ok if the outside was worn down. The inside was worn down as well. My pictures look much better than the place looked, in my opinion. It definitely did not have a welcoming feeling.
Now, let’s play a game….Spot the differences between the pictures, how many can you find? Are you ready? To keep this easy, the left is the picture posted on the Airbnb website, the right is the photo I took when we arrived.
To me this wasn’t the biggest issue, but you can clearly tell the room listed, was not the room in the posted picture. That sofa on the left looks to be a higher quality sofa than the orange one on the right. But, I can look past that.
Let’s start with the fact our room did not have any natural light coming from that window. That window lead directly to the staircase outside our door.
The bed itself wasn’t very comfortable and I spent about 15 minutes the following morning stretching my back.
This room was the closest to the picture when compared to all the other rooms, but still not the room pictured.
As with our kitchen in Budapest, we didn’t use it, but these aren’t even close to being the same kitchens.
This was the largest issue I had with this apartment!
Let’s start with the fact the picture posted by the host has an ACTUAL SHOWER. Now compare that to the tub with an attachment on the right. If the picture of the tub was the picture the host used, I would have clicked back before the rest of the page even loaded.
I did not get a closer picture of the tub, but the tub itself was dirty. Neither myself or Kristin wanted to use it.
The 2 lovely pictures above were listed on the host page for their Airbnb. The issue here is you would have needed Brian Kelly’s (The Points Guy) long arms and a selfie stick with an extension put far outside your window to come even close to that.
The only view I had were the buildings across the street, which I felt weren’t worth taking a picture of.
Finding an Alternative:
If you hadn’t already noticed, the room we were given was a completely different room than what was pictured! On top of that…
Kristin told me once we woke up that she didn’t feel completlely comfortable staying at this Airbnb and she woke up many times during the night. Feeling safe was my number one priority and this was just another issue.
Also realizing we were not given the room we initially booked, we decided to look for an alternative. We were in Prague for roughly a day and a half, so we didn’t want to lose time (possibly hours) in arguing with the host.
Thankfully, the IHG Pointbreaks list was released a few days ago and the Prague Airport Holiday Inn was on that list.
I booked a room for 5,000 points first thing in the morning, but I decided I was going to eat the cost of the Airbnb to make sure I enjoyed Prague. I sent out a tweet, but didn’t tag anyone in the tweet. I was just venting my disappointment at the time.
About 15-20 minutes later, I received a notification:
I sent a direct message to the Airbnb Help employee:
About an hour after that message, I received an email from an Airbnb employee, Michael, who asked if I could provide documentation of the inaccuracies in the room. Since I was writing a blog post about my Airbnb stays, that was very easy to send off.
Within an hour of sending the pictures you see above, I was notified that I would receive a $125 refund to my credit card. I would have much rather had a better experience in our Prague Airbnb than receiving a credit, but I am very grateful Airbnb made things right. This type of customer service is what brings people back.
My Overall Airbnb Experience:
In my previous post about my Budapest stay, I said I would answer my question if I would stay at another Airbnb. I absolutely would use Airbnb again. I actually have a stay set in January when we go to Hawaii. Although, I will be more strict about which properties I will consider staying in. We had an amazing experience with Airbnb in Budapest and wouldn’t have traded it for a free week at the Intercontinental or Marriott (which was right next to the Intercontinental).
My Airbnb stay in Prague wasn’t great at all, but Airbnb corrected the issue quicker than I expected. Good luck trying to get another company (maybe with the exception of Hyatt or American Airlines) to fix something so quickly and friendly as well!
I think they have a great service and it is a great alternative to staying in a smaller hotel room. My only wish is Airbnb would have a reward program, so you can earn credits toward a free night. Either Orbitz like where you earn a percentage back or like hotels.com where you can earn free night after so many stays.
Airbnb’s customer service is phenomenal! Both issues I had with my reservation in Prague, they were right on top of it and usually responded back within minutes!
I’m curious what would you have done with this booking? Would you have kept it or done what I did?