As It Happens

He thought he was crashing at his Airbnb. It turned out to be a stranger's guest house

Paul Drecksler just wanted to get to his Airbnb and crash. But instead, he says he let himself into a complete stranger's home and spent the night in his bed. 

'I was in shock. I was embarrassed. I was a little bit nervous,' says Paul Drecksler

Paul Drecksler, the founder of a travel website, says he accidentally slept in a stranger's home after mistaking it for his Airbnb. (Submitted by Paul Drecksler)

Story Transcript

Paul Drecksler just wanted to get to his Airbnb and crash. But instead, he says he let himself into a complete stranger's home and spent the night in his bed. 

The 37-year-old had just traveled from Ecuador, where he lives part time, to Miami on March 8 for a friend's wedding — a journey that took him 20 hours, a bus, two planes and an Uber ride to complete. By the time he got to where he thought he was supposed to stay, it was nearly 2 a.m.

"If I could use the word, I would say exhausted," Drecksler, who founded the travel blog Travel Is Life, told As It Happens guest host Gillian Findlay. 

"I think anybody who's traveled between countries can probably relate to that feeling of finally arriving at your destination — or what you think is your destination — and having one mindset, which is just to get to bed."

Gate? Check. Dog? Check.

Everything looked right. The instructions from his Airbnb host said to make his way to the gate at the end of the driveway and let himself in, close the door behind him so the dog doesn't get out, then head into the unlocked guest house. 

"OK, no problem. There's the dog. I love dogs. Hey pup! Shut the gate behind me so I don't let the dog out. And then I see the guest house," he said. "The light was on. The door was unlocked, and so I simply let myself in."

At first, he was a bit taken aback. The place was kind of messy for an Airbnb.  But he found the bed made with two clean towels laid out.

"And so I said, OK, perfect. Goodnight world," he said.

Paul Drecksler snapped this picture of the balcony at the actual Airbnb he rented — not the nextdoor neighbour's private guestroom where he spent the night. (Submitted by Paul Drecksler/TravelIsLife.org)

Later that morning, he was jolted from his sleep by a knock at the door.

"At this point, I'm confused. I'm like, who's bothering me at 8:30 in the morning in this Airbnb?" he said. "And the guy says, 'Hey, man, can I help you? This is my house.' And I said, you know, rubbing my eyes, waking up, 'This is an Airbnb that I rented.' And really calmly, he says, 'No, this is my house.'"

Given his hospitality and how he was so nice to me after finding out that I had broken into his home and spent the night in his bed, you'd think this happened in Canada.- Paul Drecksler, traveller

Drecksler says he immediately started to gather up his belongings. He and the gentlemen quickly figured out that he was, in fact, supposed to be staying at the guest house next door. 

He's still not sure how he ended up in the wrong spot, he said, but he was tired the night before, it was dark outside, and he had been switching between the Airbnb app, the Uber app and Google Maps. 

"I was in shock. I was embarrassed. I was a little bit nervous," he said.

But the homeowner, he says, took it all in stride. The man told Drecksler he had to go meet his nanny and asked if he would kindly let himself out.

"So I grabbed all my stuff as quickly as I could — I think I was more, you know, preoccupied by the whole event than he was — and made my way out the door," he said.

Next door, he found a nearly identical set-up — right down to the unlocked gate, guest house and a dog in the backyard.

He then messaged his actual Airbnb host and told her what happened. She apologized for the confusion. CBC was unable to reach the host for comment, but has reviewed the messages between her and Drecksler.

Drecksler never learned the name of the homeowner whose bed he inadvertently slept in, but he does have his address. He connected with the home security company SimpliSafe, which has agreed to send the man a home security system and one year of free monitoring.

"Now, if this ever happens again, perhaps by someone less innocent than Mr. Drecklser, we'll have this homeowner's back," SimpliSafe spokesperson Amy Nagy said in an email.

Airbnb declined to comment.

In retrospect, Drecksler says it makes for a hilarious story. But it didn't feel that way in the moment. After all, Florida has stand your ground legislation that allows people to defend their property at gunpoint.

"We're all not ignorant to what could have happened that day if it was a different host, a different house, a different situation," he said.

"Given his hospitality and how he was so nice to me after finding out that I had broken into his home and spent the night in his bed, you'd think this happened in Canada. It did not. It was Miami, Florida."


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Sarah Jackson.

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