Finding a bed for the night is like online dating, says Darrel Bristow-Bovey
This is why I don’t use Airbnb any more: because Airbnb is like Tinder. It’s a dating app filled with fickle people, and those fickle people include me. Last week I was looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam over their two weeks of summer, so hotels were all pretty expensive. I don’t really like Airbnb – there’s something too creepily intimate sleeping in some stranger’s bed on their linen, living the life they can’t really afford otherwise why would they be Airbnbing it? But when you’re desperate you look outside your comfort zone. After a depressing half hour of mismatched dates with unsuitable flats, I found Oron’s apartment. It was well located and had a view over a canal. It did have a brown sofa and even browner carpet combo that made me feel as sad as a Sunday evening, but it was clean and Oron himself seemed trustworthy, despite his weird name. I sent a message and he replied straight away, warm and friendly. I was pleased to have found Oron. He didn’t set my heart racing but we suited each other. I thought that I could learn to be happy with his place. Then, just as I was leaving, I idly clicked one more time. Bart-Jan’s apartment was more expensive than Oron’s, without a canal view, but oh, the light streaming through the windows, and oh, the high ceilings and blond-wood floorboards and that bed – that bed! – so wide and handsome and crisply made with good new linen untouched by any hand but mine. I saw myself sprawled on that bed like a golden naked god. Each time I flicked between Oron and Bart-Jan’s apartments, Oron’s seemed smaller, dowdier, sadder. I had committed to him, but look at Bart-Jan! Just look at him! He’s all highlighted and sun-kissed and studly. His fixtures set my heart aflutter. Bart-Jan is a catch! I wonder if he’s available? My head said to stay true but my fickle heart was doing the dancing. I paid Bart-Jan and secured his flat. Nervously, ashamed, I wrote to Oron and told him that it wasn’t him, it was me, his place was great but it just wasn’t the place for me. I told him I was sure he’d find someone who would love his flat for what it was, who wouldn’t always be restless and looking at the door, wondering who was in Bart-Jan’s bed right now. My friends warned me about Bart-Jan. They told me his flat was too good-looking and why was it available anyway? Bart-Jan plays in a bigger league, they said. You don’t know what you’re getting into. I didn’t listen. We never listen when the heart is involved. Oron replied to my Dear Oron letter. He was gracious and gentle. He told me he understood. He wished me well in my other apartment. He hoped I’d enjoy my stay in his city. ‘Maybe another time,’ he said, ‘when the circumstances are right.’ Jeez, Oron, stop grovelling. Have some dignity. Try be more of a winner, like Bart-Jan and me. And then this morning I woke and there was an email, sent at 3am. After everything, that’s how Bart-Jan chose to break up with me: a notification that my booking had been cancelled and that if I wanted to request another booking, the price had gone up. Bart-Jan, why?! I’m booked in a hotel now, which is where I should have been all along. I hurt a good man, and a bad man hurt me, and that is the terrible cycle of abuse that will continue until we all come to our senses and realise that the only good accommodation solution is a thoroughly impersonal one.