Flat hunting is hell.

Just because it is less expensive doesn’t make it a better idea. It may make it better on the wallet, but on the sanity?

Let me backtrack a little. We started looking at short term accommodation almost right away after checking in to the hotel. Serviced flats, like Oakwood, seemed the best bet. We knew they’d be more than we’d want to spend. The Oakwood in Burbank is $3000/month for a studio. Ouch, but it’s fully furnished, has a real kitchen and cable/internet. No brainer.

But then we didn’t really have £3000 to spend on a short term flat, not when we were considering paying 6 months rent up front to appease the referencing gods.

So we looked around Gumtree, a popular classifieds site that does far better than Craigslist here. There are tons of listings for subletting someone’s room, i.e. short term house share. We’d had good luck with that in the past, including the glorious Gloucester Terrace Bayswater share. But this time, there really was nothing. I suppose not too many people leaving for a month at the end of October. But plenty starting in December!

Then I turned to Airbnb – where people put on their spare rooms, cool flats or even just sofa beds to rent out. We’d used it for a San Francisco weekend and it was great. The whole idea was that someone would rent your spare room, so you’d make it as comfortable as possible right? Easy choice then. We made enquiries and all but one were already booked up. And so we grabbed at it.

Good things about this place:

  1. Cheaper than the hotel
  2. Available when we needed it
  3. We could stay a couple of weeks until we found a place
  4. In Chiswick, an area we were familiar with and planning on looking
  5. Very close to transport

Bad things about this place:

  1. We couldn’t check in until 8pm because he was at a class all day
  2. Then it was 9pm
  3. Then it was 7pm
  4. Then 7:30pm when
  5. His housekeeper let us in – and the place was a tip
  6. She hadn’t cleaned in a couple weeks, see
  7. Stuff everywhere
  8. Dirty
  9. Dusty
  10. Creepy
  11. The fridge was really scary – food just sitting on plates
  12. The kitchen was so messy I never went back in it the 4 nights we stayed there
  13. Bedroom door didn’t close, so we had to put our suitcase in front of it
  14. The rest I shall just tell with photographs and captions:

Bedroom. You can spot what’s ours. The teddy bears. The suitcases. The stuff on the shelf directly below the Teds (but not the clutter below that) and also the top shelf where the fire place used to be. That off-white thing with the lighting fixture on it is the wardrobe. Let’s put our stuff in there shall we?

Um. Who does all this belong to? Maybe the girl he kicked out of the room and put on the couch upstairs so that we could rent his room for more money. That’s right. He literally made her move. Kicked her out of her bed. And as a bonus we got to remove her bedding for her. She walked past us not too long after we got there and I said hello. She said this:

That’s right. She brushed by and didn’t say a word. Maybe she is his girlfriend, I thought. Weird. But not as weird as the rest of this room:

Worst. Bed frame. Ever.

It clanged and shook if you so much as breathed near it. We had to tighten parts of it up in order to make it less noisy. And had to move it away from the radiator which it was jammed against. Lucky us.

See how the bed frame overlaps the window? And do I need to discuss the lamps or the artwork? The “clean” striped bedding smelled like body odor. Which meant so did we. Oh, the towels we were given smelled of Edam. And the mattress. Painful. Sink towards the middle. Shudder.

Ripped sheets and, in close up, the skirting on the bed is filthy. Shiver.

And just a reminder about:

Perhaps you think I am being a bit harsh. Oh D, you have a place to sleep at least. And it’s warm. And it’s right in the middle of the village. How can you complain?

<cue scary music>

I can complain because of this:

And this:

And these:

But almost worst of all.

The only thing.

That separated us in the bathroom.

From the prying eyes of the landlord outside the door.



Have you finished screaming yet? I have never been more frightened of a bathroom in my life! And I’ve stayed in European youth hostels.

On the morning we left, we were both getting ourselves ready to leave, and the landlord stood outside the door. I could see his head. Just standing there. It was like Norman Bates’ British cousin was outside ready to kill us. And all that protected my vanity was his deceased mother’s dressing gown. All was quiet. Then finally, he shuffled off for the day.

We never saw him again. But if he had turned around and taken a look at us as we waited for our cab outside, with all our belongings, he’d see this:

Yep, that’s me. Unamused. Surrounded by all our belongings, waiting for Addison Lee.

The taxi picked us up and we were off to Strand On The Green and our friend and savior’s home.

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