Airbnb reviews only permit 1000 characters. So here’s my full review of a place I stayed in Cairns, Australia 🤪:
“I’ve been a poor university student for the last four years, but staying here is the first time I’ve felt like it.” —a fellow guest at Anita’s Airbnb
Internal tension is not, generally speaking, what one seeks in an Airbnb. Yet during my 6 days at Anita’s place in Cairns, I found myself not only experiencing a profound sense of dissatisfaction, but somehow enjoying that dissatisfaction and feeling grateful for its lessons.
Anita’s place somehow provides slightly-above-spartan accommodations at slightly-above-discount prices, but in a hodgepodge of uncanny ways. I’ll give an example: The room boasts plenty of wall outlets — at my count 6 — which is very desirable in an Airbnb room. However, the majority of these outlets are placed above the head on one’s bed, and at no point has any person said “I’d like to plug in my devices right here, above my pillow, with no location to place the device while it’s charging.” The shower, too, isn’t quite wrong but seems like it was designed by someone who had heard what people like in a shower but never used one themselves, as it boasts beautiful tiling, ample hot water, and bountiful nozzle settings, but also dampens your towel because the only place to hang it is on the inside of the shower door. The outdoor dining table is a lovely place to chat with a fellow traveler on a warm summer evening, yet this delight is diminished by the requirement that you wave at the automatic light sensor every 30 seconds to turn it back on.
If there’s a word to describe my stay at Anita’s in Cairns, that word would be it: “uncanny”. It’s uncanny that I would find the mattress perfectly comfortable, yet also awaken with a hip pain of a sort that I’ve never before experienced. It’s uncanny that I would have a long conversation with the host about making the internet work in my room, which it definitely didn’t beforehand and after which it somehow magically does. It’s uncanny that the Airbnb listing includes twenty-three (23) rules which one must follow during tenancy, and then posters and text messages upon arrival add an additional three (3), and yet existing in this space gives you the sense that breaking the majority of them would simply be ignored. As I was leaving, I snuck a glance inside Anita’s room, and was shocked to see it resembled a security office. If she has three screens of cameras, all presumably monitoring and recording, then why are the drying rack and kitchen trash can always overflowing? I suspect the only rule that Anita enforces strictly is the “absolutely no guests” policy, but somehow also get the niggling suspicion that her uncanniness would give me the thumbs-up on updating my Airbnb reservation from 1 guest to 2 as I’m walking home with a sweetheart in real time.
Anita’s Airbnb gives the impression of an earnest person really truly trying their best but tripping in random ways. Sure, she spams you with a bunch of tour and travel options immediately after you make your reservation, but after that initial volley it’s not like she’s pushy – or even brings them up again. Yes, she’ll make a bit of huff when you’re on your phone at 8:58pm and quiet hours start at 9pm, but it’s the sort of gentle and direct huff that makes you wonder whether you actually were being too loud for even pre-quiet hours. And then, when you’re quieter, it’s somehow totally fine that you talk until 10. The place is spartan yet functional, and isn’t functional what matters? If travel is about exploring a new place, and therefore yourself, isn’t it appropriate that you finally feel like a poor university student if that’s what you are? Still, it’s not particularly pleasant to feel like a poor university student, so I give Anita’s place three stars.