With travel abroad being off the charts for a while, it’s all about staycations, and some vacationers were so excited to rent a desired home, they didn’t notice they were booking into a dollhouse on Airbnb.
Known on YouTube for their creative jokes, Josh Pieters and Archie Manners from London decided to create an ad with images of a miniature home to test how carefully Airbnb monitors their listings, trusted by thousands of customers around the world.
The duo showed how they could use their photography skills to take pictures that make a dollhouse look like a luxurious 18th century mansion, available to rent for £ 87 a night in Clapham.
Josh and Archie put a debit card in the bathroom, a large water bottle in the hallway and had their reflections recorded in a mirror to show the scale of the property, but Airbnb still accepted the offer and customers were also taken for the kept fooled.
Impressed viewers urged Josh and Archie to film a follow-up video showing how Airbnb responded to the joke, which brought in over £ 3,000 in bookings – before the duo returned the money.
Josh explained that their joke was to test the checks Airbnb claims to use to verify properties and avoid scamming customers. Pictured: Dollhouse foyer with a water bottle to display the scales, but it still passed the Airbnb review process
Josh and Archie took photos of a dollhouse interior created by Emma Waddell, complete with working lamps and real paintings and a miniature chandelier
Josh and Archie, who have over 1 million subscribers on YouTube, gushed about the miniature world Emma created (pictured)
One person wrote, ‘God you are so creative and such ingenious (if not very elaborate) ways to make a serious point … I love it!’
“It would be interesting to do a follow-up video of how Airbnb will respond if you tell them and call them,” said another.
In the video, which has been viewed more than 300,000 times, Josh explained that they wanted to know if Airbnb would conduct checks to verify their property before making it available to customers.
Josh explained, “When we were allowed into other people’s homes, Archie and I visited a house in a house with each room smaller than an iPad screen.
“This is the creation of interior designer Emma Waddell who has created a whole miniature world with great care.”
The couple offered the ‘luxurious 18th century London mansion’ on Airbnb and were surprised when the photos went through the site’s vetting process
Josh Pieters (pictured) and Archie Manners who live in London went viral on YouTube after using a dollhouse to fool Airbnb customers
Josh (pictured) said they chose to include a bottle of water and a debit card on the photos to see if Airbnb would recognize the property’s odd dimensions
Josh and Archie also captured their reflection in one of the photos. Pictured: The pranksters admire a book from the dollhouse
Josh and Archie (pictured) named the dollhouse as an 18th century mansion that could be rented for £ 87 a night
The YouTube star documented the dollhouse’s impressive interior, including real lights and paintings and readable books.
Archie joked about customers walking up the stairs to be greeted in by another dollhouse.
When taking photos, he and Josh added a debit card to the bathroom, a large water bottle in the hallway, and had their reflections captured in a mirror to show the scale of the property.
Josh used a photo of his mother Diana as a profile photo to create the illusion that the dollhouse is a luxury property with a ‘grand’ host.
He then listed the address with his real location in Clapham and published it as available to book for an average of £ 87 per night.
“Despite all their checks, Airbnb approved the listing,” Josh said.
Josh explained that he chose to list the property in his mother’s name. Pictured: the bank card that is placed in the bathroom
Josh and Archie used a separate Airbnb account to try and book the fake home for themselves as a test
Josh said that within days of the ad being published, thousands of members of the public had posted bookings at the ‘mansion’
Josh was amused to be able to book the property with a separate account and waited to see if the public would take a better look when they rent out themselves.
He said, “In just a few days, Airbnb had taken thousands of pounds from members of the public for a completely fake ad.
‘Of course we gave them their money back. But to prove how vulnerable they are to scammers, we went ahead with one of our bookings. ‘
Josh and Archie surprised two workers who were looking for a place to stay at the last minute.
Archie explained that the Airbnb listing doesn’t exist, saying, ‘It’s not all bad news because in this envelope we have the money you paid and in the other envelope, we have a 5 * hotel on Park Lane.
‘So you stay there, dinner is served and breakfast tomorrow.
Josh and Archie made over £ 3,000 in bookings, but returned the funds to all but one customer
Josh explained that they chose not to cancel a last-minute booking to prove it is possible to get ripped off on Airbnb. Pictured: the dollhouse
Josh and Archie (photo left) booked a 5 * hotel to compensate the workmen (photo right) who booked their fake ad
“You both have your own suites, so you’re going to Grosvenor House tonight,” Archie said.
‘With free parking and all that. Paid for. You can enjoy wine, beer, everything. I’m afraid you accidentally booked a dollhouse. ‘
The workmen in the video were speechless, saying they had never been scammed into a fake booking on Airbnb before.
Further comments to the video gushed that they would also have considered booking the dollhouse based on the listing.
One person wrote, ‘This is insane. I almost booked this for my birthday. Actually I almost booked it, no kidding. I would have been heartbroken if I had seen what it really was. Thank god I didn’t really book ‘
Another joked: ‘I would have booked a stay there just to see the giant water bottle sculpture’
A stream of comments on the video admitted they would have been fooled into booking the dollhouse as well