The best part about living in New York is never having to visit here, because finding short-term accommodations in this city is an expensive, demoralizing experience outdone only by finding a permanent residence. Over the past few years, Airbnb has emerged in the five boroughs, as it has in more than 34,000 cities across the globe, as a cheaper alternative to hotels. Locals rent out their apartments to visitors, and the website takes a cut in the form of a service fee. While lawmakers debate the legality of Airbnb in New York City, throngs of people are enjoying their stays in strangers’ homes, in blissful ignorance of the hidden horrors of sleeping on a mattress that isn’t theirs. But for all the good Airbnb stories you hear about, rest assured there are more than a few Airbnb scams lurking out there among them.
Here are seven awfully awkward (and totally real) Airbnb listings in New York:
That’s right. For the low price of $29 a night, you and up to three other people in your gang of nomadic vagrants can lay your heads down in this 19-foot 1979 camper van parked somewhere on 47th Road in Long Island City. The host makes no bones about its shittiness: there’s no toilet, no shower, no heat, and no cooking — but there is a 24-hour gas station across the street where “if you buy something in there, you can use the bathroom.” It’s not clear whether or not guests can drive the camper to a better neighborhood, or if they’re responsible for moving it on alternate-side parking days.
The phrase “micro studio apartment” sounds like a redundancy, but judging from the photos of this impossibly claustrophobic unit, it’s actually an understatement. This studio isn’t micro; it’s infinitesimal. Serial killers and shut-ins alike will surely relish the prison cell vibe of this narrow, cluttered existential nightmare in Harlem. And like New York City itself, it has a lot of trade-offs. Although there’s no bathroom (guests use a shared restroom located down the hall), there’s a wireless printer, which is great for crafting a professional-looking suicide note before you hang yourself in the closet.
“Share my couch in Queens” isn’t much of a sales pitch; it’s more like what you drunkenly blurt out to a chick (or dude) you’re trying to bang come last call. Nevertheless, some guy named “Jacob” in Hillcrest would love if you considered crashing on his sofa for 20 bucks a night. It’s clear this Jacob is a no-frills, straight-to-the-point kind of guy, offering no information in his profile other than “Just sharing my couch.” Though the couch isn’t actually visible in the one blurry photo Jacob has uploaded, apparently it can accommodate two people, as is noted in the listing. Whether Jacob would actually be renting the couch out to a second person during your stay isn’t clear, but given his ominous use of the word “share,” you should probably be prepared to cozy up next to another poor soul whose survival instincts are just as terrible as yours. [Update: This listing has been removed from Airbnb…probably because it was just a fucking couch.]
The headline on this listing says it all: “Better than a couch” …but still pretty shitty. Apparently this is a twin bed in a Bronx apartment that’s divided from the rest of the host’s living space by only a sheet hanging from the ceiling. The price is certainly right at $28 a night, but according to a review written by a person who stayed here, guests have to contend with the host’s cat, which apparently gets “very curious” during the night. Truth be told, this listing doesn’t seem all that bad once you get past the implied sexual assault by a feline.
“Tree house” is certainly an odd descriptor for what amounts to an enclosed wooden shack built in the middle of a living room, but hey, it’s Brooklyn. In a nutshell, guests get to pay $45 a night to essentially become a group of hipsters’ zoo exhibit.
Nothing says fun, affordable city living like two sets of bunk beds crammed into the corner of a tiny studio on the Lower East Side. More of a dystopian social experiment and less of a vacation getaway, this Airbnb aims to test just how comfortable you are with your travel companions through a forced crotch-to-face sleeping arrangement. The discomfort doesn’t stop there. “Jason” the host asserts that his space is for “Female ONLY” [emphasis his]. Makes sense. I’m sure peeping Tom landlords hate having to sit through hours of hidden camera footage of naked guys in the bathroom in order to get to the parts with the naked girls.
This industrial space turned bohemian brothel of sorts is in Greenpoint (where else?). The host really wants to make sure you are fully aware that his home is a sex-positive environment and isn’t the most secluded of spaces, so “the sights and sounds of intimacy are not always completely private.” The “cozy fort” where you will be plugging your ears in a feeble attempt to blot out the sounds of granola-crunching hippie coitus is accessible via a long slide, which in darker decades of Brooklyn’s history likely served as some type of corpse disposal chute.
Welcome to New York: It’s been waiting for you! …And your low standard of living.