In a striking turn of events, a US couple encountered a disturbing saga while staying in an Airbnb rental situated in Sydney’s inner city. The pair were stunned to discover their vacation retreat had been burgled and allegedly used as a hub for a clandestine sex party during their outing for dinner.
The couple, Jared Manheim and his partner Danielle, found themselves immersed in a distressing five-month pursuit of compensation. They were seeking reparation for innumerable possessions worth thousands of dollars that had either been purloined or spoiled.
Well-known online for their travel blog and Instagram page ‘Haute Voyages’ boasting a following of 290,000, the couple were among a few who could say they’d seen it all. However, an impromptu journey to Sydney in March, at the time of the Mardi Gras festival, tested this notion. They were met with incredulity when they discovered a townhouse rental in the neighborhood of Paddington available at an enticing rate.
The property, as they soon found out, was divided into two separate Airbnb listings. One of these had substantial front windows, giving it the appearance of a storefront. The host alerted the couple about a planned party happening in the other flat until the late evening.
Deciding it would be wise to stay away from the noise, the pair ventured out for an evening dining experience. Upon their return, they walked into a scene of chaos. Furniture had been shifted around. Lace panties and a pair of handcuffs had been carelessly discarded. There was evidence of debauchery all around. Initially, they believed they had been robbed.
On closer inspection, they found some of their belongings were present but in a wrecked state.
Subsequent to a process of booking via Airbnb, the couple mentioned having concerns about the lack of locks on the doors distinguishing the two rentals. They conveyed their apprehension to the host about cohabitating with strangers in a shared, unrestricted setting. Despite being assured of a refined gathering the next day, their unease was not alleviated.
Their efforts to secure alternative lodgings were thwarted by the ongoing carnival. Left with no choice, the pair barricaded the connecting doors and ventured out. Upon returning, they encountered utter havoc.
Among the violated belongings was Danielle’s stained eye mask. Moreover, the couple reported a violation of their luggage with high-priced clothing and items missing. The stolen items included some of significantly high value – a wedding dress worth $10,000, a $15,000 Chanel purse, and a $2,500 dental retainer.
The evidence at the scene led them to the appalling realization that their temporary home had been a venue for a debauched event.
On trying to report this ordeal to Airbnb, they confronted another hurdle – an inexplicably deactivated booking account. What ensued was a taxing six-month long struggle to submit a claim to the rental platform.
Though the rental had originated through Airbnb, the alleged incident occurred on an extended night arranged informally with the host and thus not covered by Airbnb policies.
The couple has returned to London, still with an ongoing compensation claim. The issue remains unresolved despite them having paid an Airbnb fee, which supposedly includes insurance.
The incident is currently being investigated in Sydney, while Airbnb’s stance on the matter remains nebulous. A statement from Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, emphasized trust and security as cornerstones of Airbnb’s philosophy, as long as guests comply with their procedures and communication policies.