Airbnbs are marketed as a cheap way to stay in a nice place wherever you want in the world. Sound idyllic, right? Well, many Airbnb guests every year are left blindsided walking into what they thought was a nice place—but it turns out it isn't.
Here are just a few red flags to keep in mind when you're browsing Airbnb posts. You can't always predict what the place is going to look like when you show up, but these should help you notice little clues that it may not be the budget-Ritz Carlton it promised it'd be.
"Semi-Private" Means Not Private At All
Semi-detached homes mean you get privacy, but semi-private listings? That means there's a curtain between you, the host, and the three other guests they're renting the unit to. Or, the host may show up unannounced or watch you on camera...because something is either private or it's not.
One Crucial Amenity Is Missing (Wifi)
Not to sound like I'm addicted to the internet or anything (even though I most definitely am), but if there's no wifi in your Airbnb then it's going to be a lackluster dump. Because if wifi is missing then that's a sign that everything is somewhat pared down and minimal.
"Cozy" Is A Trigger Word
If the place is repeatedly described as "cozy" or "quaint" then that's code for "it's going to be way too tiny for you and your one guest." Get ready to take turns walking down the tiny hallway.
There's No Business License Listed
Many cities have cracked down on Airbnbs, which is a good thing for our safety, but in recent years a number of illegal Airbnbs have popped up. Make sure yours has a business license or registration number in the property description on the site—only then can you be sure that it's safe.
The Bed Isn't Made???
Surprisingly enough, this actually happens to people. One Airbnb that I stayed in that turned out to be a complete dump actually had an unmade bed in the photo. I should've known what those rumpled sheets meant...
The Host Isn't Very Responsive
Sure, many times it doesn't cost you anything to reserve your Airbnb, but your host should be fielding any questions you may have about the posting leading up to the date. If they're not? Be wary of scams, because once you book they may try to take your money.
There Are ZERO Reviews
Airbnb is a good community with a lot of active people eager to share their knowledge and experience. So if you come across a listing that's been around for a while and has had a ton of people but zero reviews, then it might be another scam space.
The Host Doesn't Have A Good Track Record On Other Listings
Some people make it their career to rent out Airbnbs so they'll have multiple listings on the site. If one of their places is plagued by complaints, low ratings, and bad reviews, then you can kind of infer that their "good place" suffers from a similar misfortune.
The Photos Are...Mysterious?
You shouldn't feel like you're buying a mystery box when you're renting an Airbnb. You should know exactly what you're getting because you're literally putting your safety in the hands of your host. So if you're confused about the photos and can't tell whether there's a bathroom or a balcony with a white pot on it, then I would skip that listing.
Bigfoot Photos Have Better Quality
Let's be real, we all have access to decent cameras these days. And if you don't? Then you probably shouldn't be listing your home on Airbnb (a digital website largely based off photos). If the photos suck then there's a good chance the listing looks even worse.
Reviews Only Mention The Location
We've all heard about location, location, location, but that's obviously not the only reason you're staying somewhere. If a review rants and raves about how "close" to downtown the apartment is with no mention of the inside itself, chances are it's not going to live up to snuff.
...Or The Reviews Are "Clean! Great Host!"
We're living in the 21st century and that means you can pay bots to leave fake reviews on your listing. A good way to spot these is if they sound like a cheery secretary who only speaks in buzzwords and weird generic positives.
Some Prices Are Just Too Good To Believe
That really cute penthouse in Lower Manhattan that's only $25 a night and comes with a parking space just doesn't exist. Hosts have to pay rent just like the rest of us, so think about rental prices in the city and ask yourself if the listed prices make sense.
Your Host Tells You To Be "Quiet"
Maybe this is because the building has a lot of families in it, or maybe it's a quiet part of town, but sometimes it can mean that it's illegal for the host to rent the place out as an Airbnb in general. If they give you a curfew and a noise stipulation then I would immediately be suspicious.
The Star Ratings And The Review Text Don't Match
If the 3-star rating comes with a little text blurb that the Airbnb was "just perfect"...then it clearly wasn't perfect. Reviews and ratings that don't match up are a sign the reviewer may not have said exactly what was on their mind...
They Need Spell Check
You shouldn't expect everyone to be grammar experts, but dang, the least a host could do would be to run their post through spellcheck. If they don't then I'd be suspicious about the care they take with the rest of their lives (aka the freaking place you're trying to stay in).
They're Only Taking Photos Of One Area Of The House
If all five listed photos are just different angles of the same room, either that "charming two bedroom" is actually a studio apartment or the rest of the place is a total mess. Either way, not a great sign.
You Know What The Outside Looks Like...And That's It
Don't judge an Airbnb by its wonderful exterior red brick, judge it by the condition of the tweed couch on the inside. So if there are zero interior photos listed, then don't even bother looking into it more.
The Host Is New
Airbnb gives guests the option to view how long the host has been hosting before they book. Not to cast a bad light on a new host because plenty are good and just starting out, but sometimes, newness doesn't always equal greatness.
It's Straight Up Ugly
Not to be a real HGTV snob, but you shouldn't stay at places that are poorly decorated or have minimal decorations at all. If it looks like a college kid set it up then I'd recommend you just skip that dumpster fire.