Our First Airbnb Hosting 'Horror Story'


Well it happened, we had our first Airbnb horror story. Ugh. Garrett and I have been landlords for almost a decade and Airbnb hosts since 2015, and this was the first event that really raised our blood pressure.

A recent guest threw a rock through the master bedroom’s patio door.

I really have no words. Why exactly he did this, I’ll never know. But it is actually a funny story (more so if you don’t own the house 😉), with a surprising ending. So let’s get into it…

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Master Bedroom Door.jpg

the Dexter House master bedroom, sources here + bedding

Just before Christmas we had an Airbnb guest call after getting locked out of the Dexter House. We live 2 hours away from our rental properties and this isn’t the first guest to lock themselves out, so we directed him to the spare key we have hidden.

This should have been the end of the story, but of course it wasn’t.

The guest called back saying he couldn’t find the key. It was late and pouring down rain and the guest was eager to get back inside. He sounded a bit panicky at this point, but Garrett encouraged him to look for the key again, and walked him through where it was hidden, again. I should mention that a guest had used the key two weeks prior and we had confirmed with the cleaner that it had been returned to it’s place. Since we don’t advertise the spare key location to guests unless they need it, we were really surprised (and skeptical) that it wasn’t there.

The guest again insisted that the key was missing. He was wet, tired, and losing patience. Garrett suggested he look for an open window or another way inside and offered to drive to Seattle that very night to bring a second spare key. The guest said he would look around for another way inside the house. And before hanging up he promised to send a photo of the missing hidden key to verify that it was indeed missing.

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Master Bedroom Door 2.jpg
The Grit and Polish - Dexter Backyard Door.jpg

the Dexter House backyard

Twenty minutes later, we still hadn’t heard back from the guest so Garrett called him. To our surprise, he was already inside. And to our horror, he had thrown a rock through the patio door to gain entrance.

To make matters worse, the photo of the ‘missing key’ finally arrived and sure enough, the guest was looking in the wrong spot (but you guessed that, right?!). The spare key was there, just where Garrett said it was, but now there was a giant hole in the side of the house.

A positive ending

We didn’t sleep well that night. Knowing that the house was wide open and there was heat flowing out the back of the house was unsettling. (The guest moved to another bedroom and closed the interior door to limit heat loss.) But thankfully this story doesn’t end there.

It ends with a responsible guest texting the next morning with an apology and a plan to make amends. He promised to tape up the door with black plastic. He went to the Home Depot, ordered a pane of replacement glass. He hired a contractor to install the new glass once it arrived (long after he was due to check out).

In the meantime we added a plywood panel to the opening. The bedroom was lacking natural daylight but at least it was secure and warm.

our first Airbnb hosting "horror story" // the Dexter House // the Grit and Polish

Well the glass just arrived and the contract installed it. Honestly, no one can tell the difference (the top two photos show the new glass). It’s as if the entire incident never happened. And in the end, this ‘horror story’ didn’t cost us much more than a sleepless night and an extra trip to Seattle. Of course we wish it hadn’t happened at all, but it certainly could have been worse.

For the record, our experiences as landlords and Airbnb hosts has been overwhelmingly positive. This is the worst incident we’ve dealt with in our decade of landlording, and for that, we count ourselves lucky.

But this incident did change one thing. We hid a second spare key at the Dexter House 😉