Do i respond to this review, or leave it alone?

So, after 18 glowing, 5 star reviews, we finally got our first negative (well… Lukewarm) review. What really happened is, the guest trashed the place. Literally. Left it filled with all kinds of crap that i guess they didn’t want to bother packing, left trash everywhere, literally swept loads of dirt and debris under the rugs (!), etc. We weren’t planning to ding her publicly- we felt like it wasn’t malicious and decided on giving her the benefit of doubt- knowing, as we do, that 4 star reviews can be a fatal thing on Airbnb. She had stayed for 3 weeks and had been a great guest in every other respect- very undemanding, friendly, wrote us a couple times telling us how much they were loving the place- she sent a few photos, captioned “we love it here!” But! After we posted our review- (5 stars but basically lukewarm wording), we found out she had given us 4 stars, and complained about the location. We realized our mistake too late, that she must’ve absolutely felt sure that we’d knock her in our review- after all, the way she left the place was completely inexcusable - and decided to do what i would call a “preemptive review”.
So, my instinct would be to just take the high road and ignore it- our reviews speak for themselves, after all. The thing is, she wrote some specific things that are absolutely false and that may influence other would-be guests to not book. For example, the trash policy: it’s a mountain cabin, there are bears, so of course you can’t leave trash outside (this is true at any mountain rental). We offered a free mid stay cleaning, btw, including hauling away trash: she turned it down. She had asked, before she booked, what the trash situation was, and we explained it in detail, and that the “convenience center” is 5 minutes down the road. I actually sent her a link to directions and a screenshot to help make sure she knew where to go. She complained in her review that it takes over 35 mins which is just a lie. It’s precisely 5 mins away, per Google maps. I feel like maybe i need to reply, if only to correct that- i don’t want anyone considering a longer stay to think they’ll have to haul trash somewhere half an hour away, i personally don’t think I’d book somewhere if i had to do that! But i also don’t want to appear petty… Any advice?


Don’t respond. Don’t sweat it, it’s not worth the aggro!. We all get a bad guest once in awhile. At least she scored you 4s. If she’d given 2 stars I might have responded to correct things, but not here.


If you really wish to correct that 35-minute thing, and I can see why you might, you could try something like: “Oh no! It’s not 35 minutes at all! It is 5 minutes!”
Just a thought, though: Is it 5 minutes by car and 35 on foot maybe? Then you might say:
“Yes, it is a 35-minute walk, but only 5 minutes by car, which is what we recommend.”
But not responding is often best. Let your other reviews speak for you.


Before I read any further … you were okay with writing a review that didn’t explain to future hosts - us - that this person trashed your place?


Ignore it and don’t let it mess with your head or waste time trying to figure out the guest’s motivation.
If needed, clarify your listing with more detail “Please don’t leave food or trash outside in order to avoid attracting animal visitors. The community trash bins are a 5 minute walk away along a gravel path” or whatever.

Ignore it, move on, next!


The best way is not to ‘offer’, Instead make it a benefit that you are supplying to help the guests be comfortable in your rental.


"Every eight days we’re happy to supply fresh bedding, fresh towels and give the apartment (rental. room) a wonderful refresh to make sure that your stay is perfect.

Would you prefer us to come on Wednesday or Thursday? Would you like to be there when we refresh that apartment for you? If you prefer us to do while you’re out, that’s fine too’.

The guest ia too busy thinking about the alternatives to say no. :slight_smile:


I don’t understand how “benefit of the doubt” relates to a guest trashing your place out. Why would you not warn other hosts about this? There is a reason why there are category ratings- that a guest is friendly and undemanding doesn’t give them a pass on leaving the place a pigsty.

This is exactly why hosts end up wondering how a guest who left a disaster behind them had all 5 star reviews, and how guests continue behaving badly if they are never called out on it.

It is better for you not to leave a review at all than to leave a dishonest one. There are ways to word things that aren’t too harsh, if you otherwise found a guest pleasant. " XX was a friendly and appreciative guest who was easy to host during her 3 week stay. We were therefore a bit shocked to see the state the accommodation was left in, requiring lengthy clean-up and a lot of garbage removal. If XX had left the place reasonably clean and tidy, something it is easy for a guest to improve on in future stays, she would have been a perfect guest."

As for responding, I would, for the reason you state. Could be a deal-breaker for a guest who doesn’t read past her review. And it’s a factual misrepresentation, not just a subjective opinion. So I’d just leave a factual one-liner response.


Honestly, we agonised over it… We’re quite new to hosting and it’s the first time a guest has left the place anything short of immaculate. I maybe shouldn’t have used the word “trashed”, as it’s open to a lot of interpretation. To be more clear, she left itvery messy. It’s the longest stay we’ve hosted, and we reasoned that more wear and tear was expected…
But to answer your question, no, we weren’t fine with it at all. It was far from an offhand, casual decision. We were hoping to avoid negativity. We hoped that our text review conveyed our lack of enthusiasm. We also checked “no” under, would we recommend her to future hosts.

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That’s superb advice, thank you so much for that!!
I was really unhappy about her declining a cleaning mid stay- i mean why would you not want that? - but didn’t know how to press the issue. I’ll definitely use the approach you suggest, from now on.


Actually, respectful guests leave a place in good condition whether they stay one night or 3 weeks. There are hosts who’ve had guests manage to make a huge mess in one night and others who stayed for a month and left it immaculate. That said, some people are just messy slobs- their own house is probably a disaster, too.

It’s a good idea to make it clear to guests in your house manual what the cleaning expectations are before check-out. Be specific. Washing their dirty dishes, cleaning old food out of the fridge, gathering up any garbage and placing it wherever it goes, putting any furniture or things they moved back where they found them, are reasonable asks. Beyond that, anything else they do is bonus, and many guests do go above and beyond, but don’t expect it or you’ll be disappointed.

When it comes to reviews, try not to think of them in terms of bad or good, positive or negative. Just think of them as honestly conveying your experience with a guest. That is the purpose of reviews.


By benefit of doubt, i mean that i chose to believe there wasn’t anything malicious in it, or maybe she didn’t even, somehow, realize that she’d left it in such a state. We do charge a cleaning fee, & our house rules don’t say anything about not leaving a huge mess. It seemed like a given… I guess we’ve just been lucky? But I take your point- she had 5 star reviews from past hosts, which, -?-. We gave her 4 stars on following rules (she really was a great guest… until she left) & checked “no”, we wouldn’t recommend her to other hosts. In hindsight, i should’ve come here for advice before, not after, posting the review… Live & learn.


As I mentioned above, yes, some people are just slobs, so it is possible that those sorts don’t really realize that that level of mess isn’t acceptable. And only crazy, rude or vindictive people would leave a mess maliciously. But whatever the reason, that doesn’t make it acceptable nor not worth mentioning.

Thanks, that’s great advice. I really do take seriously the obligation we, as hosts, have to each other. I don’t want anyone to think that i just shrugged that off! I agonized over this… And i do feel i made a mistake: not bc she left a negative review, but bc she left a dishonest one. It made it clear to me that she def knew she’d done wrong.

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That’s my sense too- I definitely feel more confident about doing it tho, hearing your reasoning. Thank you so much for taking all the time to respond!! It’s incredibly confusing, starting out on Airbnb, there’s a lot of stuff you have to sort of learn on the ground. I’m wishing i would’ve posted here much sooner with a hundred other questions I’ve had along the way… I didn’t expect to get so much advice; I’m so grateful to you!!

Thanks! yeah, i do feel like i need to correct that one item bc i think it could discourage people from booking, & it’s just false. I def take your point about the rest of it- It’s just so frustrating to have someone be so dishonest, for such a lousy reason. Tempting as it is, I’m better off letting my reviews speak for themselves. That seems to be the majority opinion; I’ll follow it.
Thanks so much for the feedback- you all are honestly so generous with your time and knowledge. I really appreciate it!

You know, i was so tempted to just not leave a review- i waited until the last day to do it- but i didn’t know that was an acceptable alternative.! We’ve always left fairly detailed reviews, all our guests up till now have been wonderful- we hoped that a bland text, “she came, she stayed, she left” would convey our lack of enthusiasm for this guest.

The thing is, that the guest’s review will appear regardless of whether you leave a review or not. So if they blindside you with a review that says things that aren’t true, or are full of complaints that they never voiced during their stay, and you decided not to leave one yourself where you would have had some not great things to say, you’d probably kick yourself for not leaving a review.

I do understand the agonizing over what kind of review to leave in a situation like you had. I had a guest my first year of hosting who did something quite disrespectful and against Airbnb policy her first night (brought a guy home with her at 3am, made a lot of noise, woke me up). I read her the riot act the next morning (politely but firmly), she apologized, it never happened again for the rest of her 4 night stay, and we got along fine with no hard feelings either way after that.

I was torn over whether to mention it in a review, as I feel that if someone screws up, but apologizes and doesn’t repeat the behavior, they don’t deserve a public castigation. So I waffled about what to write, never got a notice that she had left a review (she never did) and then the review period ran out.

As a host who reads the reviews of guests before accepting them please do your fellow hosts a favor by reviewing them honestly.

I also think correcting their review or at least clarifying as to the distance to the trash containers is important. We have bears too!

I never ding guests for petty or simple things but have gone to the mat over incorrect or false reviews and AirBnB has supported me each time. Much easier when you have a 100 glowing reviews of course!


Was she Indian? I get some Indian guests who are quiet, polite and friendly and then discover when they go they have just gotten up and left without tidying up, stacking dishes or taking out the rubbish, as asked. I figure they grow up with servants who do that sort of thing and they don’t even register themselves doing it. I give them a 3. Minus 1 for leaving so much rubbish and -1 for ignoring the (mercifully brief) set of rules. FYI I don’t charge extra for cleaning but have a cleaner anyway. The older Indian ladies are the ones most likely to tell me to tell my cleaner there is some dirt behind a heavy side cabinet they must have struggled to move to find it. This has happened more than once I might add!

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