Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: 1st Encounter with a Dirty Apartment

Our AirBnb apartment for our last 3 nights in Tokyo was not meant to be. While it was affordable and located in quite a prime area of Shibuya, not to mention the host was fast in replying our queries, it was not what we quite envisioned it to be. Small it was, however it was not the space that was the deal breaker but the cleanliness.

The apartment is but a few minutes (around 10-15 minutes) from the Shibuya Station and is right smack in the center of all the vibrancy and bright lights. The famous Shibuya crossing and Hachiko statue, not to mention Shibuya Station, are but a stone’s throw away. But when you have a luggage in tow while wading through the immense crowd on uneven and sometimes a little sloppy path, it isn’t as simple as it looks anymore. What is said to be a 10-15 minute walk away took us almost 20 minutes!

A leisurely stroll would have taken us 30 minutes or so to the apartment (the pavement and slopes are really not that luggage friendly). When we arrived at the apartment, it was already in the middle of the afternoon with the sun shining down on us (i.e. it was hot!). It took us a while to identity the building complex in which the AirBnB apartment was located in: it was an inconspicuous dull sandy brown building tucked away at the corner up an alley. Getting the keys to the apartment was just as instruction and soon we took the elevator up.

Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The place where the nightmare began.

From the doorway looking into the apartment, it looked alright and the host(s) even provided us with 2 bottles of water, a packet of snacks, a little souvenir and an adorable greeting card to welcome us. It was a warm welcome that was appreciated and made us feel all nice and fuzzy. But that was when things started going downhill from there….

Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
What greeted when we opened the door... Looked pleasant enough.
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
Looks nice doesn't it? But looks can be deceiving.
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
It was thoughtful of the hosts to provide two bottles of water, the travel guides and Japanese snacks...
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
Since it was late in the afternoon, the sun rays made it look not as bad as it was.
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
I was a bit iffy about this bed sofa though, the color was not only not appealing, the material exuded a 'dirty' feeling, especially after reading that one guest had placed the (not so clean) luggage on it due to the lack of space.
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
There's not much space to maneuver and almost impossible to open 2 medium sized luggage at the same time. In fact, opening 1 was a challenge in itself that made the Kyoto apartment feel like a bungalow!
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The space was so lacking that everything was stacked up and pushed to a corner.

While we were happy with the welcome and the pocket WiFi, there were other issues upon closer inspection: the apartment was dusty, extremely dusty and gave the room an unpleasant musky smell (which we soon found out why later on that night).

In addition to the dust and smell, the toilet was not cleaned properly and had a bad sewage smell that lingered in the air. It did not help that the color of the toilet was… a not so appealing shade of brown. Just as I thought that I would have to bear with the smell and dust for 3 nights, came the deal breaker and apparently contributor to the musky smell… bed bugs! Yes, you read right… bugs (ok so I saw one but still… that’s more than enough)!

Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The bathroom with was so tiny I do not know how people can use it, and that bad sewage smell too!
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The moldy and falling apart shower curtain
The moldy fan ventilation above the shower
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The mildew stained sink
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The dust and mold beneath the sink
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
The layer of dust one the window sills
Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
Some more fine dust

Awakened one hour into my sleep, I was about to head to the toilet when I spotted something on the pillow the size of an apple seed in the dimly lit room. Instantly, I frantically reached for the lights and switched them on. Lo and behold it was a bed bug scurrying around the pillow the moment my head left it. Horrified, I grabbed a piece of tissue and got rid of it. Upon further inspection of the bed, there were a few red blots under the sheets, which are what I assume to be flattened bugs.

Japan AirBnB Tokyo Accommodation in Shibuya: Encounter with a Dirty Apartment
One of the numerous suspicious 'red dots' underneath the sheets. This dot was near the pillow (the head) area of the bed.

Needless to say, it was a sleepless night for me as I researched on whether I would be able to get a refund and alternatives to stay for the next 2 nights. M was too tired to bother and just slept, rather peacefully I might add (she still cannot understand how I was able to manage catching some snooze in an odd cross-legged/standing position πŸ˜‚).

Although contacting Airbnb and getting a replacement or something would have been an option, I felt that the best option was to just book a hotel that was within the vicinity (and it would also save the money and time spent on international calls and whatnot). Traumatized, I scoured the internet for a clean hotel within walking distance of the apartment.

4 hours later, I managed to find a hotel just right around the corner of the apartment; less than a 5 minute walk away. It was newly (re)renovated and had an ongoing promotion for its soft-opening. As reservation did not have to involve a credit card, I instantly booked us a room at the newly renovated Shibuya Hotel En and have not looked back since.


All prepped up to move out the next day, I waited for the sun to to peek its way out the sky and set the packed luggage at the door rearing to go. Unfortunately the hotel had a check-in time of 3pm and since we did not want to stay in the apartment any longer, we decided to head out to roam and explore the streets of Shibuya. It was also supposed to be the day that we were to go to DisneySea, but not only did we not get enough sleep and were traumatized (ok, I think I was the only one who was more traumatized… but still…), it also was raining. So we made adjustments to go to DisneySea the next day instead.

With pocket WiFi in hand (the only major plus point about the AirBnB apartment), we shopped along Shibuya (H&M was a gem while Uniqlo was rather disappointing) until it was time for check-in at the hotel. Meanwhile, I also messaged the hosts via AirBnb to inform them of the situation and our decision to checkout early, asking for a refund for the 2 nights we will not be staying (in the filthy apartment). They were understanding of the situation and agreed to refund is the last 2 nights stay which was S$265. Refund of the money was relatively fast, within 1 week of the request the host agreed and the money (or in this case the credit) was transferred back to my credit card.

After this experience, I would have to say once bitten twice shy. The next time I go to Japan I will be more likely to stay in hotels rather than AirBnb (which seems to work much better for South Korea). For something slightly cheaper with a high(er) potential of (almost) ruining a good holiday is simply not worth the risk. I would really rather just pay a little more for that much more quality. But of course, if you manage to find a clean, comfortable and affordable apartment off AirBnB, it is a good find.

I’ve checked the (latest) reviews for the apartment and it still seems to be just as popular. So maybe the hosts have clean up the apartment and made the necessary changes to the apartment, or maybe the latter guests are not so particular about their accommodation as long as it is cheap. That said, if the price fits your budget and you aren’t too picky, than you may want to consider this apartment.

Otherwise, I would strongly suggest you stay in at Shibuya Hotel En instead to save yourself the hassle if you plan to stay in the Shibuya area.

Do note that this review is only that of Great view Shibuya High-grade APT#3 using AirBnB, and not all properties that are available on AirBnB. When booking other properties on AirBnB, please conduct your own research before booking anything. If you are interested in joining AirBnB and want a discount off your first stay, sign up here

First Impression for of 1Great view Shibuya High-grade APT#3

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Verdict: 2/5

Not Recommended: If you are not very particular about cleanliness and can make do with a potentially bed bug infested place, than this might be the place for you. It baffles me that there are a lot of good reviews for the place, but none stating about the cleanliness in detail. Well, I too, did not state that much in detail when reviewing the place as the refund was not yet accepted by the hosts and I just did not want to risk it as horror stories of not getting refunded and being stranded in the middle of nowhere flooded my mind. Well, I did state that the room had issues with its cleanliness... πŸ˜… That's one of the flaws of AirBnB, you have to leave a review first before the refund could be processed... at least that was what I understood at the time.
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When travel collides with a byte, a unit of information made up of bits, TravelBytez is formed: snippets of ramblings on travel, food, shopping, living and anything else that comes to mind.
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