A man who booked to stay in an apartment in Madrid via holiday rentals website Airbnb has said he was horrified to discover a "very grubby" apartment – complete with mould, dirty pillows and a half-eaten pasty down the side of the sofa.
Brian Le Vell says that he called the travel firm to cancel his three-night booking and had his money refunded, but claims he was unable to leave an honest review on the website about his experience.
The site says that users who cancel before the reservation begins “cannot leave a review for the host, because reviews should describe completed trips".
The UK's best holiday homes
Airbnb's Floating House on the River Thames
Spanish resorts want to attract better tourists
But Mr Le Vell says that it has left him unable to trust what appears on the site from now on - and what doesn't.
He told Telegraph Travel: "I don’t feel that I can trust Airbnb reviews anymore as in the very worst cases no review appears."
He said that after arriving at the apartment, he went out before returning for a nap, and then had a proper look around to discover that it wasn't very clean.
"There were brown ring marks on the pillows," he said. "In the bathroom there was mould up the wall and down the side of the toilet.
"A half-eaten pasty of some kind was down the side of the sofa. The kitchen area was very grubby. That was enough for me to think that I didn’t want to spend three nights there.”
But after he discovered he was not allowed to leave a review warning others, he said he would probably not even use a £100 voucher Airbnb gave him in compensation.
"I feel that Airbnb is manipulating its reviews by not allowing them in cases like mine," he said. "Other travellers may have had the same experience but there's no way to check if they also had their bookings cancelled."
Airbnb told the newspaper that while complaints about cleanliness are "looked into", they only post "authentic reviews" - and only permit feedback from people that have actually stayed in the listed properties.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told The Independent: “Our initial response to this customer didn't meet the standards we set for ourselves, and we've suspended this listing while we investigate further. Our review system is built on transparency and authenticity, and with millions of reviews on Airbnb, isolated experiences like this one are extremely rare.”Reuse content