Booking.com deletes property from website after host accused of writing racist messages

Helen Coffey

A Miami property has been removed from the Booking.com platform after allegations were made on social media that the owner called a black guest “n*****” in a flurry of racist messages.

The texts, shared on Twitter, show a woman who identifies herself as “Julia” questioning the guest’s credit card validity, before calling her a “f***ing n*****” and asking if she is a prostitute.

Separate emails seem to show the same woman sending the guest a picture of a monkey with the caption: “You wanna banana Africa”.

Comparing pictures shared in the thread and corresponding online profiles, the messages appear to have been sent by Giulia – an individual host who rents out condos at Ocean Five Condo Hotel, but operates completely separately from the hotel – to a woman named only as Monifah in the screenshots shared on social media.

The host starts by saying that there seems to be something wrong with the woman’s credit card, before quickly becoming more aggressive.

A host was accused of sending racist messages (twitter/@eshatianna)

“Are you there or are you acting like you are ignoring me,” reads the next message, followed by: “You acting with lies gives a very very bad picture for all of the black people please try to act like a lady and be a very good representation of black people and not a lying untrustable [sic] person giving bad name to black people.”

Twitter user @eshatianna posted the offending messages, writing: “A friend of mine was planning to stay here in Miami! And this awful host let her know if a black person can ever afford to stay here she will make sure they’ll be shot ‘by accident’.”

In a series of messages sent to The Independent, the host, Giulia, refuted the allegations, saying: “I received a reservation through Booking.com, which was also informing me that the credit card was fraudulent. The person was asked for a new credit card and with excuses and lies the client could not provide a credit card so her reservation was cancelled. I guess she was upset.”

Giulia said she started receiving threatening messages from Monifah before retaliating.

“I did respond to her, ‘You stupid Monkey’ because enough was enough, however where I come from in Italy the word monkey is used to describe rude behaviour.”

Booking.com confirmed to The Independent that it had taken the property off its website while investigations were underway.

“At Booking.com, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and if we find that an accommodation listed on our site engages in discriminatory behaviour, we cease our working relationship and remove them from our site, just as we have done in this case,” said a spokesperson.

“We are also in direct contact with the customer to see how we can best support them further with their trip.”

Airbnb also confirmed it had removed the condo from its listings, replying to the original thread on Twitter: “We are sorry to hear of this situation. Discrimination has no place on the Airbnb platform. Note that this host has already been permanently removed from the Airbnb platform. If you require assistance finding alternative accommodation, please send us a DM and we can support you.”

Expedia appears to still be advertising the property.

The similarly named Ocean Five Hotel, an established three-star hotel in the Miami Beach area, clarified that its business is completely separate and not affiliated in any way to the condo property.

“This is terrible and disgusting,” said an employee of the incident. “This is not our hotel.”

Update (25 June 2019): An earlier version of this article suggested that it was the owner of Ocean Five Condo who had been accused of using racist language. This was incorrect and the allegations had in fact been made against a single unit host at the property. We are happy to clarify matters.