Airbnb was founded in 2008, and swooped into the travel industry like an Albatross with an MBA. As of August 2022, it has a market cap of $74.89 billion. Airbnb has many benefits – it’s full of quirky properties and cool experiences you’d never get in a hotel. There’s one thing I hate about Airbnb though, and that’s when you have to bring your own sleeping bag or linen.
If you’ll allow me to get up on my soapbox for a moment, I have a complaint. I hate it when Airbnbs don’t provide linen. Before you tell me to suck it up: hear me out. This isn’t a comfort-based complaint. I’m perfectly happy sleeping in my car. I regularly brave the evils of economy (tough gig, I know). I have no qualms about sleeping in a tent.
But I find it ridiculous that a four-bedroom property on Airbnb, equipped with rainforest showers, $1,000 mattresses, a kitchen that puts Masterchef to shame, sliding doors, its own wooden boardwalk and a garage could possibly draw the line at providing linen.
It seems I’m not alone in my irrational anger, with various aggrieved Airbnb users also taking to The Internet over the years to voice their shock that some hosts don’t provide linen. Reddit user u/icycld, for instance wrote in 2020: “My partner and I have an upcoming confirmed reservation and we were just told to bring our own towels, sheets and pillows for a week-long stay.”
“This would be a massive inconvenience to us. Would it be reasonable to ask for a reduction in price? I understand that there’s extra effort involved in getting the property up to par for covid cleaning standards, but we wouldn’t have booked this property at this price if we had to sort our own linens out.”
One response to this summed up how I feel about Airbnb, with Reddit user j00xis chiming in: “I have been travelling for decades and even the crappiest hostels I’ve been to provided linens. I didn’t know this was something to even be considered. I think guests will rightfully complain if you don’t provide them because I’m sure the majority of people expect them.”
I’ve personally never been a huge fan of airbnbs. Hotel breakfast, fresh linen every day & whatever toiletries I forget for free…and don’t let them have a complimentary HH.— Culler💎 (@YouNeedMoCuller) May 18, 2021
One Airbnb host’s linen query on Airbnb’s Community Centre page provides an insight into the mindset of an Airbnb provider who does not include linen in the price, essentially explaining it comes down to saving money and time (for both the guest and the host), and also writing: “It is not unusual in our area for full houses to not offer this type of service.”
Other hosts say it’s fine because guests should check to see if the linen box under amenities is ticked before they make the booking. Another Airbnb host on Reddit said they were concerned that guests damage the sheets with things like sunblock and oil.
Airbnb’s Help Centre advises hosts that, though it’s not required they provide essential amenities in their listing, it is strongly recommended because “guests have told us that these are the items they expect for a comfortable stay” and that “when viewing potential places to stay, guests are able to see the amenities you offer and filter to only see listings that offer the amenities they feel are important.”
My take? Though it’s cheaper in the long run for hosts to convince guests to bring their own linen, the inconvenience factor really can’t be overstated (especially when we’ve had our expectations set, in this regard, so highly by even the worst hotels). If you’ve got to bring your own linen, you may as well save the money and sleep in your car or van (or in a tent on the side of the road).