Emotional guest & 3 star rating

Hi all, I’m a live in host in the UK. I very recently had a guest booked to stay in one of my guest rooms for 10 days. She was a student doing a foreign term of studies at the University in my city. She was spending the last 10 days of her stay at my place before heading back to Germany. She arrived in the afternoon. It was all pretty smooth sailing until the next evening. I was preparing dinner in my kitchen. She came down to ask me was there any other exit from the house, aside from the front door. That she had a fear of locks (I ask all guests to lock the door when they come & go). There is a back door in my property but it just leads to the yard then a dirty alley. I thoughy it was incredibly bizarre. She then started crying & telling me felt extremely lonely & home sick. I did not expect her to get upset & didn’t really know what to say or do. She caught me totally off gaurd. Maybe I am being a bit cold but I tend to be quite reserved when it comes to my guests. I try to be friendly & helpful toward them but generally leave them to it. I’m not sure if she expected me to hug her or invite her to sit me with me in my living room. I just asked if there was someone from home she could call & talk to. We talked for a few minutes, then she apologised for getting upset then went back to her room. A few mornings later I woke to a message from her saying she was leaving early to go back home. When the time came, she left me a 3 star review. I’m a superhost. I very rarely get anything less than 5 star reviews. She said the room was nice & the space was clean but she felt I could have been warmer toward her. It was all a bit bizarre & felt the poor review was a result of her feeling so homesick rather than a reflection of the room. I don’t really know how I could have comforted her. I feel as a host, its my role to provide the space, not offer up emotional support.

Host Kat


It isn’t your job as a host to provide emotional support, but as a homeshare host myself, I have had several guests share some difficult thing they are going through and want to talk about.

I’m always open to chatting with a guest or just listening, and often spend time with them over coffee, or if we really hit it off, a bottle of wine in the evening.

I think a lot of single guests book a homeshare situation so they won’t feel so all alone in a strange place. We all have different personalities, and have or prefer different levels of engagement with our guests, but in the case of your guest, I would have made us a cup of tea, asked if she had made any friends at school, suggested she reach out to do so if she hadn’t, maybe suggested local things she could volunteer to get involved with to meet more people, or just been a sympathetic ear if that’s what she needed.

I’m sorry she left you a 3 star review.

I did have one guest who cut her stay short because she said she was homesick, even though it was only a 10 day booking, as I recall. And it wasn’t like she was just hanging around the house all day- she was out at the beach, taking surf lessons, etc.
I was a bit surprised, as she was in her late 20s and I was travelling the world at that age and couldn’t wait to leave home at 18.
She said she had never been outside the US, and seldom travelled outside her own area.
However, she did leave a nice 5 star review.


I had a college age guest whom I took to an outpatient mental health center to get some help for her depression. We all have to do whatever makes us comfortable. Keep hosting well and higher ratings will eventually overcome your 3.


Wow, so sorry. I’m pretty sure I would’ve done the same. I’d be polite and helpful and go out of my way to make a guest’s stay exceed their expectations… physically. But… I’d probably be something in between a deer-in-the-headlights look and a what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you look if a guest started crying and wanted emotional support over their fear of locks.

That’s hard, when people feel overwhelmed & we aren’t expecting it & suddenly we need to respond -without prior warning.However, inevitably, it can & probably will happen to homeshare hosts at some point- strangers in a strange land can feel vulnerable/ lonely no matter their age and you are right there in the place where they can feel more confident about exposing their vulnerability. . I certainly have, even as a serious long term & super hardy traveller have felt that homesickness etc.
Now you have seen this, you can use this as a learning experience- in case it happens again. (I think you are right that she gave you 3 stars because of how she felt homesick- and what she thought she would expect from you in her crisis. So sorry about the 3 star review but others will see your other stellar reviews. These things happen. Its good you are sharing here & getting support/ suggestions- you can then move on without chewing over it too much. )
As a retired minister, I think its about HOW we say something to people in crisis, rather than anything else we practically can or can’t do for a person. With real kindness in our voice, a sympathetic ‘so sorry you are going through this, I can see how distressed you are and that’s tough’- and the thing which is probably true for most homesick experiences- and others! telling them that these feelings happen to lots of others but ‘this too will pass’. Just hang in there. Care and kindness- even for a few minutes- can be very helpful in most circumstances. If someone is nervous about safety in the house I would try to reassure them- if you can
-about the security of your house- good locks, you’ve never had a problem before, whatever etc - and you and your guests have always been safe there. Of course, some hosts are more experienced or skilled at such things- which you don’t expect to be a routine part of hosting home b and b skills!! It was good to suggest/ask if there was anyone she could call or FB etc. Of course, we English always think a cup of tea/ hot drink and offer of tissues helps with everything- sometimes it does- and sometimes it doesn’t!


I would assume she had some traumatic experience with being locked in somewhere (or even a recurring dream where she was) or someone made her feel stupid because she couldn’t figure out how to work a lock, and gently asked her why she had that phobia.

And the fact that she was feeling quite homesick (which probably meant she was also feeling quite lonely) might have emotionally intensified anything else that she had issues with.


‘When the time came, she left me a 3 star review. I’m a superhost. I very rarely get anything less than 5 star reviews. She said the room was nice & the space was clean but she felt I could have been warmer toward her’.

I am an in-home host and also a therapist but not 24/7 nor outside of a professional situation or mutual close friendship dialogue. Guests are not told I am a therapist.
Giving 3 stars because of an unreal expectation of you and that you have a certain type of personality is not appropriate nor fair in my opinion. Similarly, you were not advised by her in advance that she had a problem with door locks.
Asking her whether there is someone from home she could call is a very clear, kind and appropriate response.

I would have challenged the 3 star rating based on the guest not communicating her needs before booking. As an aside, I am really concerned generally in society that we are heading towards psychologising all sorts of behaviour and losing boundaries. Some of my guests seem to think they are entitled to exemption from house rules or lack of communication re arrival etc because of ADHD and other diagnoses etc. but I reckon its just plain bad manners! LOL!

And hosts are also guilty of this; saying things like “This guest doesn’t seem well and I hope she is okay,” instead of “This guest did xxxxx and xxxxx and I would not recommend them to other hosts.”


In many cases, you are probably right. Lots of people always find a way to blame their own irresponsibility on some other factor.

But as a therapist, I’m sure you realize that some neuro-divergent people do have conditions that lead them to behave what some folks might think is just a lack of caring.

My 19 year-old granddaughter has ADHD. She had a job in which she didn’t get home until 11:30, after her parents had gone to bed. She’d sometimes make herself a snack or a cup of tea when she got home and my daughter would come down in the morning to find the fridge door wide open. That’s the ADHD factor.

If my granddaughter were to rent an Airbnb, I could see her zoning out if a host verbally gave her a list of instructions when she checked in, because she can’t handle too much information at once. But if it was all written down in a house manual, she would be able to follow it.
Likewise, she might forget to lock a door or close the windows when she went out.

At home, her room is a mess, with clothes piled everywhere, empty chip bags and cookie wrappers, etc. But when she came to visit me where I live in the tropics, I warned her that if she did that here, she would likely end up with ants, cockroaches and scorpions in her room. As she has a big insect phobia, she kept her room clean and tidy, because ADHD also means they can hyperfocus on things that are important to them and capture their interest.


Not locking up the front door is a problem for most hosts, regardless of the condition of the guest.

People with any sort of disability or impairment are welcome in our home but again: Please talk to us - best upfront.

We cannot help and provide a safe environment if people ‘zone’ out and we have not been made aware of. I wouldn’t have an issue verifying if the door is locked after they leave etc. but again, we can’t read minds and a little bit of understanding has to go both ways.

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Of course not locking the door would be a problem. I was just throwing out some examples of people having some issues they can’t help, as opposed to them just making bogus excuses for bad behavior.

If guests do have neuro-divergent issues, of course it would be helpful if they mentioned that to the host if it might affect them absorbing information and remembering what the house rules are, but I can also understand that they might not want to talk about that to someone they just met.

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Yes, finding ways to impart information without overload is so useful. In the case mentioned above for eg. the guest wanted early check in at 1pm then went silent and finally arrived at 8pm. Then I sent her a message reminder the day prior to ckeck out that check out is 11am and she muddled around until 12:30pm. I wonder how some guests manage international travel LOL!

Yes, best to focus on behaviour and incidents, I totally agree :slight_smile:

You wonder how some of them get through life in general. :laughing:

Or even breathe… smh

We send an automated reminder the day before check-out to remind them of the check-out time and house rules with the request to let us know (the day before) what time they are planning to vacate the accommodation.

Despite some guests not giving a rats a$$ about our message we do get some valuable information including the very rare request for a late check-out. We offer luggage drop off on check-out day so there shouldn’t be an “excuse” to say past the given check-out time.

We only had one guest take hist time and leave the accommodation 15 minutes past the check-out time, which we didn’t address or complain about. We do have same day check-ins so we would have to address that if it goes beyond 20 minutes or so as we have to start cleaning.

Thx for your reply, I have had an unprecedented influx of bookings maybe because the listing is now showing up as guest favourite. I am currently reviewing the hosting / work / life balance as in home hosting started out as accommodation for ultratrail runners, hikers and rock climbers who are pretty easy guests and as a means to fund maintenance on this reasonably large bush block.

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