We had been at the airport in Paris for so long.
For approximately three solid hours, we had sat in the terminal. Our butts were firmly planted to poorly padded pleather seats, eagerly waiting for a phone call to come in from Airbnb regarding our canceled reservation.
Since we were relying on wifi for our phone calls to come in, we couldn’t leave the airport.
We only had a short day and a half in Paris, and most of our first day had now officially been wasted. As our trip to Paris had come closer and closer, I had begun fearing that our reservation wasn’t going to hold.
Our host had accepted our rental several months back, and then had not responded the day before when I messaged about arrival time and requesting the address. Fear raced through my veins as we boarded the plane from Edinburgh to Paris, not wanting to let my family know that we were quite possibly homeless.
Our plane touched down, and as we exited the plane and my phone connected to wifi, I began frantically searching my emails, my phone records, my text messages- everything- hoping to find a message from our host.
There was absolutely nothing. My heart sank a bit into my stomach and I fought back tears. “Okay, this is okay,” I remember telling myself. I’ll just contact Airbnb and get this sorted. I searched through their website for their contact information and gave them a ring, panic escaping my voice as I spoke.
“Hi!” I frantically sputtered, “we are in Paris and my host is nowhere to be found and we have nowhere to go and I don’t know what to do because we only have a day in a half in Paris and I can’t leave the airport because I have to have wifi to talk on the phone and I wouldn’t know where to go anyway because I have nowhere to gooooo…!”
Winded, I breathed.
Airbnb was very helpful, and despite my freakout, they remained calm. “Okay, no worries. We will try to contact the host ourselves. If we don’t hear back from him we will take care of you.”
I hung up with them and sat, finding solace in that my family wouldn’t be homeless that night, and waited for them to call back.
I had really wanted my family to enjoy Paris and now I was terrified that they would hate it. (Not a great first impression, you jerk host.)
Finally, my phone rang. It was Airbnb, showing amazing customer service, and coming to our rescue!
“Okay, your host is not responding to our messages either, so here’s what we will do.” They began. “We will refund the amount you spent on your accommodation, plus cover up to $XXX extra for your next accommodation. This way you can find a hotel, hostel, or another Airbnb to stay at for your time in Paris without having to worry about the cost.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked them and hung up the phone. Smiling, I updated my parents and Adam on the situation, and we all began scouring the internet for a place to stay.
Last minute hotels were expensive!
We wanted one near the Cadet Metro, as this was the area I had stayed previously and knew fairly well. A few hotels popped up, and we were finally able to find one in our price range. Was it a good hotel? We would shortly learn the answer to that was a large, resounding ‘meh‘. It was decorated in so much red velvet that even Elton John would have probably told them to tone it down.
However, my mom uses hotels.com, so every tenth night she books is free. We logged into her account so she could put it towards her rewards, and booked the hotel. Exhausted- emotionally and physically- we threw our bags onto our backs and made our way to the airport shuttle into the city.
I shuffled my family around the city like an expert, before bringing them back above ground at Cadet. They had no idea how we had just gotten there, but they trusted me and followed suit. I pulled out my cell phone and used Google Maps to tell me which direction to head, and lead the way to the hotel.
It was late when we arrived, the sun starting to set on the city.
I walked to the counter and confidently stated, in French, that we had a reservation. The lady behind the counter just stared at me. I smiled, having been to France enough to know when someone doesn’t appreciate my attempt at their language, “Oh, you speak English, don’t you?” I asked, knowing the answer already. She nodded and smiled, “but that was a good attempt.” she stated. We found our room and determined to make the most of our time, we chucked our bags into our room. Off we ran to the metro, content with being able to walk the city, enjoy the Eiffel Tower lit up, and know that we would have a very velvety room to sleep in that night.
How can you prevent this from happening to you?
Unfortunately, there will always be sketchy people out there. In recent news, some cities have been placing restrictions on apartment letting. I personally don’t mind that the cities are cracking down on people who can rent their apartments on Airbnb. In my mind, it means that the people who actually care and are willing to put forward the effort to have renters are the ones who are less likely to back out of an agreement.
It doesn’t hurt to stay in communication with the person you are renting from either. Send them a message a few weeks out, a few days out, a few hours out. If you stay in contact, they have a harder time forgetting you are coming. If they aren’t responding to your messages, your red flag should raise and you can hopefully figure out a Plan B before it is too late.
Have you had a host cancel last minute? How did you deal? Tell me in the comments below!
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