Another call for help with a bad guest review -- this one involves bodily fluids, FYI

Warning: LONG

I’ll preface this by saying almost all of you will not agree with the initial decision I made to refund these guests, I know I should not have but I wasn’t expecting it to turn out so poorly.

I’m tempted to wash my hands on the situation, but, I don’t want another host to unknowingly encounter them since they previously had all 5 star reviews.

A couple and their 2 year old stayed for 4 nights last week at our beachfront condo. May is a little wonky for us as we are mostly couples or families with older kids, but we had 3 reservations back-to-back with toddle/babies (I think due to graduation season). Upon arrival, she made some what I would call minor complaints about the cleanliness of the condo. Blueberries by the opposite side of the couch the cleaning team didn’t catch (the previous guests had a toddler as well), “tub caked with soap”, whatever that means. I offered to return her cleaning fee and tried to get a backup crew to come address her concerns the next day which is next to impossible. I couldn’t, so I told them that if they were very uncomfortable, there was a condo about 50-feet away they could move to at no additional charge, even though it is more updated. They could also have the ability to use ours still, and sort of go back and forth if they preferred that. They didn’t even ask to see it, just said they had swiffered and were going to stay.

Something deep in my gut told me this wouldn’t be the end of it. I had a very busy important week and was already not feeling well, and didn’t want to deal with more complaints. The new Airbnb policies also had me a little concerned if she blew something out of proportion or lied. So I went ahead and refunded their stay. Zero other complaints from them during or after their stay – just thank yous for the iced coffee’s I’d left a few times on the porch.

I checked on it before our cleaning crew arrived. Extremely smelly and dirty dishes that appeared to have been there for much longer than 18 hours, (sorry for this) a large shit left in the master toilet, dirty diapers in the trash, and a few other just odd things for people who were concerned about cleanliness — leaving the ice from our welcome champagne to melt and stay on the counter in the bowl, human bowls they’d used for their dogs on the floor, etc.

She wrote to me shortly after asking if we’d found their childs toy. This was my reply to her:

Hi XX, Sorry to hear about the bunny! Our cleaning team didn’t mention it finding it. I was pretty stern with them about the other issues you mentioned, which as we agreed were unacceptable. They did mention that the blueberries you were concerned about were still there—I hope that didn’t have a negative impact on your entire stay. They also said that — and I’m sorry for the wording here, there’s just no other way to say it — fecal matter was left in the master toilet, creating an obvious health problem. They reported the kitchen was unusually soiled by dishes left in the sink, creating an unpleasant odor that was difficult to remedy. In addition to refunding your entire stay, I had to compensate the cleaning team beyond their usual fee due to the state of the unit. Given your attention to cleanliness, I was disappointed by this turn of events. There are new guests in the condo now and if they find your daughter’s bunny, I will be sure to be in touch. I hope, despite the challenges, you had a nice vacation and made it home safely.

This was her reply:

Wow… just wow. I was unable to clean up all the blueberries because I didn’t have a vacuum and due to an injury, climbing around and under all your furniture wasn’t an option for me. I picked up what I could with my hands which was truly just vomit worthy and I swept and mopped the best I could and In fact left the floors in a considerably better state than we found them. In regards to the dishes, we did leave 4 dishes in the sink from that morning. I did not know the expectation was to have cleaned them and considering the situation we found the condo in, it never occurred to me that we would be responsible for that. In regards to the smell, we battled the smell the entire time we were there and have no idea where it was coming from. I felt I had complained enough and didn’t want to bother you with it so I didn’t mention it. We did dishes and ran the dishwasher every night. Took out the trash every night. And I mopped every night before bed. I also cleaned your bathrooms. The dishes that were left in the sink had only been there for a few hours and I guarantee did not create the smell they are referring to and I even cleaned your disposal to try and save us from whatever the smell was. I also did laundry and washed all the towels multiple times just in case.

Lastly, the master bathroom toilet had issues flushing from the minute we got there… For that I am incredibly sorry but we did not create the problem. My husband simply forgot to flush a second time because I was rushing him out the door.

It’s likely you don’t want my opinion but you need to seriously consider getting a new crew to clean and they should not have been compensated for anything.
That condo was DISGUSTING when we got there and I did the best I could with the tools I had to make it better but It absolutely ruined our trip it was so nasty.

And further, my husband and I both are covered in what appears to be bed bug bites so you might want to check into that.

I am a grade A germaphobe and cleanliness is next to Godliness as far as I’m concerned and I am telling you, the condo was in exceptionally better condition when we left than when we got there.

I do appreciate the refund because frankly there’s just no words for how uncomfortable I was the whole time we were there.

I am going to refrain from giving you a poor review because I think that you try to do a good job and you did refund us. However, I want you to understand that you are absolutely blaming the wrong people here and need to consider that your cleaning crew was complaining for only quid pro quo purposes. I have been in the luxury hospitality business for 15 years, so from one professional to another I hope you take my advice seriously and hire a new crew and start inspecting your properties prior to guest arrivals.

((For the record, I checked with the guests that checked out immediately prior to them checking in and they laughed at the insinuation of clogged toilets, and bad smell, and most importantly, bed bugs.)) I’ve also checked in multiple times with the current occupants and they said the condo is “SPECTACULAR!”

I am going to do the whole wait till the last second to review her thing, but I feel like I might be too distraught about the situation to be fair and would welcome your expert options.

Something to the effect of:

I would not host XX again and could not in good conscience recommend her to any other hosts. She made some initial small cleanliness complaints and was offered a superior place to stay if she was at all uncomfortable, but said she had remedied those herself and wanted to stay. Upon inspection after their arrival, there were extremely soiled dishes in the sink, a toilet left unflushed, dirty diapers in the trash, and other cleanliness concerns. When confronted by this, she made extreme baseless accusations and was verbally offensive.

Sorry this was long so if you got all the way to here, thank you!


Hooo boy. She left a mess and is covering her butt.

Excellent idea.

Shorten it. "Would not recommend guests and would not host again. Complained about a small issue that was quickly remedied and was offered another place to stay. They stayed and made a horrific mess. Dishes encrusted with old food left in the sink and stinking, trash left out, and feces in the master toilet. "

Don’t mention abusive language. Taht will get your review bumped.


Is it in your house rules to take out the trash? If not, I wouldn’t mention the diaper thing, unless they left them strewn about.

“Would not host again. Guests left dirty dishes, unflushed toilet and overall mess for the cleaners to deal with.”

And if there’s a bad review, if it appears credible, response is to reassure future guests:

We strive to provide a great stay and are happy to respond to any issues guests bring up during the booking. Upon arrival, we offered an additional cleaning or an upgrade to another rental when this guest said they found some blueberries behind a couch and some soap residue on the tub, which they did not take us up on. They brought up no concerns for the remainder of their stay. "


While I thoroughly support and encourage hosts leaving honest reviews and warning other hosts about awful guests, this is one of those bookings where it is perhaps better to be “coded” in the review, IMO. Her behavior during the stay, and her subsequent response to your message tells me this is the kind of guest who is going to call Airbnb if she sees a bad review, tell them you have bedbugs (she’s already indicated she’s prepared to play this card) and safety issues and that the place is filthy and needs to be delisted. Then Airbnb will suspend your listing.

I would almost never suggest this, but this might be one of those times to leave a review like “Guests stayed 3 nights.”(or however long they stayed) Nothing more. Then give her low ratings.

Most hosts will understand you had nothing good to say, and hopefully she won’t get set off to seek vengeance, because I sense she is exactly the type to do that.


Thank you for this. It is a huge concern of mine as well as we have a completely booked summer and fall ahead of us.

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Writing this type of to the point review is something @KenH excels. I hope he is able to join in.

You’ve got good suggestions already. I tried to add to your list & have now deleted 4 reviews but others here are better.

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wise words from a veteran.
the accusation of bed bugs is the one that scares me, I’ll bet she full well knows what that accusation means in hospo, that is a threat. People like this, who are willing to lie, shouldn’t be engaged with, they are probably very good at their scam.

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That’s true @muddy but I’d just like to point out for new hosts reading this that not leaving a review or leaving a ‘coded’ review doesn’t help some hosts at all.

I’m referring to hosts who don’t vet guests because they use IB.

An honest review is very important to us because we can warn the guests when doing the meet & greet.

Because we all have different tolerance levels with guests, behaviour that causes one host to write a non-committal review might not bother another host.

A review such as ‘better suited to a hotel’ doesn’t tell me what sort of behaviour I should be looking out for. Neither does ‘broke house rules’ as one host’s rules may be far more stringent than another’s.


I absolutely agree about leaving informative reviews. I thought I made it clear that I would almost never suggest what I did except in extraordinary specific situations.

And if this host leaves 1 star ratings and “would not host again” that will work for IB hosts who have requirements to IB set. As far as I can tell, many IB hosts don’t even bother to read written reviews. If the host doesn’t leave a written review at all, she won’t be able to star rate for the benefit of IB hosts.

I feel this guest made it clear through her behavior during the stay, and then her passive-aggressive response to the host’s message, which sounded like extortion (“I’m going to refrain from leaving you a poor review” - subtext, “So you’d better not leave me one”), including mentioning the well-known bed-bug scam accusation, phrases like “vomit-worthy”, “battled the smell”, claiming she had to clean the bathrooms and wash the floors, that she’s a liar and can’t be trusted not to seek revenge. I would suspect she is also savvy to putting as many accusations in the message as she could come up with, so it would be visible to Airbnb.

And since she already got refunded, the only way for her to take vengeance on the host if she sees an honest review mentioning the behavior she excuses and denies, would be for her to call Airbnb with bogus claims. I don’t put that past her at all. And as we all know, all a guest has to do is mention bedbugs and a listing gets suspended.

A case like this, or one where the host has had a truly scary guest, who may be local or have buddies around, from whom they fear physical retaliation, are pretty much the only cases I can think of where I would even suggest to leave a coded written review.

As a home-share host who has never used IB, I definitely want other hosts to leave honest informative reviews, and consider it cowardly to leave low ratings, but written reviews that make the guest sound okay. But I also can appreciate a few scenarios where I wouldn’t fault a host for being a bit cagey.