Sunday, July 3, 2016

Loved Istanbul, Despite our AirBNB Nightmare

One of my favorite vacation destinations is Istanbul. I really enjoyed our trip there almost a year ago, and I'm sad that since then, there have been several bombings, which have included Istiklal Street (the busy pedestrian street near where we stayed) and just a few days ago, the Ataturk Airport bombing.

I just realized that I haven't really blogged much about our Istanbul visit, aside from my post on our Turkey and Greece Trip, which you can read about here, and here.

We had a really bad AirBNB experience when we arrived, yet despite that, we loved the city which spans both Asia and Europe.

My friends and I have previously stayed in AirBNB flats in various cities around the world, so this nightmare was a first for all of us.

Our criteria when choosing an apartment aside from the price was
1. Location
2. We needed real beds that could sleep four people
3. Good Feedback from previous guests

Given that, we opted to stay at the Taksim Love Cozy Apartment:
You can still visit the listing here: but it has been renamed the Jacuzzi in Red Room
You can see from the photos above, we thought we were getting 1 double bed, and two single beds.

The Jacuzzi in Red Room
You can see that one of the Single Beds have been converted into a Jacuzzi, but the rest of the flat remains the same (or so they say).

Since it was our first time in Istanbul, we opted to arrange for an Airport Pick-Up from our landlord, which he confirmed. We were picked up by a driver in the airport, then we passed by their office to pick-up someone working for the landlord who brought us to the apartment. This whole thing took a lot of waiting, parking somewhere, and waiting again which at that time did not make much sense.

Finally, we were brought to the apartment where a landlord met us.
It seemed as if we were in one of the side streets, not very near to Taksim Square, or anything commercial, when one of our criteria is convenient location.

It was a bit of a surprise when we got to the apartment and we realized, there was only 1 bedroom and 1 double bed, 1 toilet, and the kitchen/ living room.
The guy in the white shirt kept saying he needed to talk to his boss - who
claimed not to speak English (which is clearly a lie, since we confirmed the
rental and airport transfer with him) and refused to talk to us, while the guy in
blue was our supposed landlord for this flat.

It was only when we asked where the other beds where did they tell us that the Apartment we rented from AirBNB was not available. We just couldn't believe how unscrupulous the landlord was to do a bait and switch without even telling us, since we were in communication about the airport pick-up.

They wanted us to use the couch as a pull-out bed which we refused to settle for. All they kept on saying was this apartment cost more that the original one we rented, which was based on their word.

It took us more than an hour, insisting that this was unacceptable, which they refused to acknowledge, to the point that we had to book a hotel nearby and where we asked that they drop us off with our luggage, to which they agreed... but in reality, the guy just took us to walk 20 minutes on foot with all our luggage. Even till the end, they had no integrity.

This stupid liar guy (in white) promised to pay for our cab and take us to our
new hotel, but he just made us walk 20 minutes dragging our luggage!

The landlord from hell is named Serdar,, he has 9 properties in AirBNB around the area, and has 131 reviews (which may be all as bogus as the apartment that he tries to rent out) so beware.

We ended up staying at the Taksim Premium Hotel for just a bit more cost, but we got instant confirmation through  It was a nice place, but the experience was still irritating because the hassle involved and the time we lost, which was half of our first day, plus the fear of being homeless in an unknown place.

We also complained to AirBNB and they did pay for the difference in cost between our first rental and the hotel, but what remains unacceptable to me is it seems this unscrupulous host, did not get blacklisted or penalized for what he did. Who knows how often he has done it, especially with 9 listings on AirBNB. By letting it go, despite the proof we provided of where they brought us vs what we paid for, it seems that AirBNB is condoning this behavior. Totally unacceptable, especially in a business platform built on trust.

Anyway, back to our Istanbul Trip, staying at the Taksim Premium Hotel was a blessing in disguise. It was located just off the busy Istiklal Shopping Street.

The rooms were big, comfy and clean.
And there was even a sitting room part, where you can open the windows
and look out on the street below. 
Breakfast was included in the rate.
And there was even a nice view of the water from the breakfast room.

They also had a nice hipster coffee shop just next door.
The Barista was awarded First Place in the 2015 Barista Competition in
Turkey, and it was only when we ordered coffee on our last day did we
realize that it was free for hotel guests.

Over-all, I'd say that the Taksim Premium Hotel is a good place to stay if you were visiting Istanbul. Since both the Airport and Istiklal Street have already been bombed recently, chances are, they won't bomb it again. More posts on Istanbul soon. For now, let's pray for peace for this beautiful country. just saying.

Taksim Premium Hotel

Kuloğlu Mh. Yeniçarşı Cd. No:5A Beyoğlu
Istanbul, Marmara Region
34440 Turkey