The Dark Side of Airbnb Revealed

“Airbnb Has a Hidden Camera Problem!”

No, this isn’t the first line of the script of a psychological thriller. It’s an actual headline from The Atlantic.

Max Vest, a Florida children’s camp director, must not have thought a simple trip to Miami would end up becoming such a traumatic experience for him. The first warning bell for Vest was when his Airbnb host introduced himself as ‘Ralph’ despite going by ‘Ray’ in all of their previous communications. The second one was, of course, when he found two cameras with their recording lights on in his room.

Vest was one of the luckier ones, being able to spot the camera and leave the house ASAP with no intervention from the shady host. Other guests of the host may not have been as lucky. Airbnb, to their credit, refunded Vest’s money, paid for his hotel stay the night of the incident, and removed the host from the site.

But Vest isn’t just a blip on the radar of Airbnb experiences that went awry. There have been many other instances. 

The California-based company, which sports the motto of “belong anywhere,” is no stranger to its fair share of controversies. From complaints of racism and discrimination to a bait-and-switch scams, it all has marred Airbnb. The cherry on top is how in many regions such as the USA, Europe, and Japan, the government severely regulates the duration of short-term rentals.

Yet, the draw of Airbnb to tourists is undeniable; especially when they have some of the craziest, most interesting properties listed. Apart from the usual luxury villas, Airbnb boasts of rental properties such as:

• An actual amethyst crystal dome in Bali

• A medieval keep in France

• A windmill in the Netherlands

• A snow igloo in Finland

Airbnb Horror Stories (And What to Do If You’re Stuck in One)

The desire for an interesting travel experience, combined with reliable service and a trusted brand name makes Airbnb indispensable to travelers around the world. 

But what kind of horror stories do some unfortunate guests experience? And what should you do if it happens to you? Read on to find out. 

1. Attacked By the Host

Jaleesa Jackson and Chiedozie Uwandu, medical residents of anesthesiology, had just wanted a relaxing SoCal week to unwind. The couple figured lounging on a LA beach would be the perfect way to do so. They booked an Airbnb guesthouse with a host that was dubbed a “super host” by the rental company. 

Long story short, the host was not as “super” as touted. On the first night, he banged on the couple’s door while ranting incessantly. They brushed off the bizarre behavior at the time. The second night is when things took a scary turn. The man came crashing into their room through a large glass window in the middle of the night. Uwandu held him down while Jackson called the police. 

After police intervention and when things calmed down, the couple discovered that the host, JJ, was not only unhinged, but also illegally renting out a property that didn’t belong to him in the first place. 

Much to their credit, Airbnb was quick to accommodate Uwundu and Jackson, as well as blacklist the host upon complaint.

What can you do if caught in a similar situation? 

While there’s little you can do to prevent such a mishap, it pays to be vigilant. Do not let your guard down, and be as thorough as possible when researching the background of the host and property. Read as many reviews as you can, and communicate with the host as much as possible. If you ever feel like you’re in danger at an Airbnb property, do not hesitate to call the authorities immediately. 

2. Airbnb Used as a Brothel

This incident took place in Stockholm with two young women who had rented out their private apartment through Airbnb while they were on a vacation. 

They returned home to a horrifying note from police stating that a raid had taken place at their residence, and two prostitutes had been arrested in it. Upon inspection of their property, they discovered a plastic bag full of items related to the escapade. 

In this case as well, Airbnb immediately came to the aid of the hosts. They accommodated them in a pricey hotel while their property was professionally cleaned.

What can you do if caught in a similar situation? 

Disaster can strike both a guest or a host. Airbnb encourages hosts to make use of their trust and safety tools. Hosts are also advised to book guests with verified profiles. Here too, a background check is a must.

3. Drug Paraphernalia and Axes 

Tony Dayton must not have expected the ruin he was forced to witness when he was listing his property on Airbnb. Upon his return after a stay, he discovered drug pipes littered everywhere. Also, for whatever reason, there were axe marks on the door, holes in his closet, and his birth certificate and computer were missing. 

What can you do if caught in a similar situation? 

If you’re an Airbnb host, use all the tools at your disposal and conduct a thorough background check of any guests. Also, never leave personal valuables on the property unless they are locked in a safe. The same goes for Airbnb guests. Make sure you do not leave irreplaceable items or travel documents where they can be easily stolen during the day. It’s impossible to know who else may have access to the property. 

Extra Tips to Avoid Airbnb Disasters

  • Learn how to use the website correctly. Update your information regularly, and use the filters provided generously. 
  • Read all the reviews you can. Never choose to stay at a property with no reviews, no matter how cheap it is. The greater number of reviews a property has, the more reliable it is. Pay special attention to negative reviews. 
  • Don’t let your guard down. If anything goes or feels amiss, try to document it to use as evidence later.
  • Be sure to program both the Airbnb support number, and local emergency helpline numbers into your phone. Do not hesitate to use them at the first sign of trouble. 
  • Read descriptions thoroughly. You can often avoid disappointment by reading every bit of information in an Airbnb listing. Remember, hosts will usually list the best aspects most prominently. The negatives of a property might be buried in the description. 
  • If you’re a guest, only go for “plus” or “super hosts.” If you’re a host, try to accept only verified guests.
  • Buy insurance. Research and purchase travel insurance with appropriate coverage for your trip. It can help you receive compensation if something goes wrong during your stay. 

Above all else, whether you choose to be a host or guest, do everything you can to ensure your, and your property’s safety.

Book With Care

All things considered, Airbnbs are a boon to travelers all around the world. Despite a few scandals and controversies, its loyal customer base has not just stayed, but expanded. So much so that upon its IPO in 2020 – a year where the travel service industry bore the worst brunt of the pandemic – the company’s shares saw a 112% jump on the debut day itself.

The fact is, there are few other ways to choose from such a unique selection of stay options during a trip. Simply follow the tips in this article, be thorough in your research, and enjoy an unforgettable getaway. 

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


For visitors, travel, student and other international travel medical insurance.

Visit or call +1 (866) INSUBUY or +1 (972) 985-4400