I tried Airbnb for the first time to book a place to stay for our two days in St. Maarten before our cruise. I wanted to book a whole condo/house, not just a room, and the app made the process fairly simple. Like most service businesses, there are traps for the unwary and I fell into a few with this booking. My first choice did not have availability, so I went to the second one. There were two reviews for the townhouse that were fairly good and I went ahead and booked it because we were leaving the next day. What I did not realize was that the owner also rented just rooms in the townhouse through Airbnb and if I had seen the reviews for the room rental, I would definitely have not rented the house. I had assumed that since I was renting the whole house, it would be more like a vacation rental but the owner kept his own clothes, personal possessions, and food in the house and there were no paper products like toilet paper. Also, the reviews for the room rental made clear that cleanliness was not a priority for the owner even though the cost of the rental included a cleaning fee. We found dirty glasses with ashes and some unidentifiable stuff in the sink, the sheets were stained, and I’m not sure when the last time the floors were cleaned. The house is up a very steep hill that was an 8 story hike. We had several taxi drivers refuse to drive us up the hill. The one thing going for the rental was the wonderful views of Simpson Bay from the townhouse’s rooftop deck.
Based on this experience, I’m not sure that I would use Airbnb again. The lack of real oversight and control makes the process a bit of a crap shoot. For the prices some of these places were charging including the one I booked, there are other avenues to book nice places with some assurances of what you are getting.