First Guest Review - Quandary

Hi all, newbie here (to the forum AND Airbnb hosting) so be gentle!

My first guest is due to check out today and therefore I have to leave a review for her. She has been staying for 5 days in my spare room and has generally been polite, quiet, friendly, reasonable and no trouble at all. One big problem - it is a no smoking flat and I am fairly sure she’s been smoking in the spare room.

I did not confront her about this (I probably should have) but if she has it will mean I have to air the room out and likely wash all my household linen as I keep spare bedding (both for the spare room and my room) in that room, which is a pain!

I am not quite sure how to approach this review. As I say, it is my first guest so I need her (hopefully positive) review to get started on the feedback front. Equally, she was in all other respects a model guest and pleasant person, so I think I need to tread a fine line.

Thoughts? Lessons I need to learn (other than having the proverbial balls to confront rule breakers)? How do I approach this review?

Any advice gratefully received.

Thanks :slight_smile:

Remember – the guest cannot see what you have written until after she has written and posted her review of you. Don’t worry.

Yes – you should have confronted her when you first suspected she had been smoking in the room.

What you wrote: "…has generally been polite, quiet, friendly, reasonable and no trouble at all… " This a perfectly good review. However I would say this:

“X was polite, quiet, friendly, reasonable and no trouble at all…except for violating the House Rule about not smoking in the room.”


You say you are ‘fairly sure’, meaning? Not 100% sure? If not sure, and you can live with this suspected violation this one time, and because you could use a good review, and it appears this is a great candidate for it, and IF it is not the end of the world for you even if she did smoke but can’t be certain - perhaps- is best to drop the subject.

Just one thing to add: if she did smoke and you have it in the house rules not to, then perhaps it may be a good idea to make sure you do have a ‘No Smoking’ sign strategically placed so there is no confusion in the future. Just a thought and good luck.

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The advice from @KenH is good. My advice to you going forward is to adopt a zero tolerance policy. Make it glaring obvious that you do not allow smoking in your house. Make sure it’s all over your house rules. Leave a friendly sign in the space and put small labels on the windows. If you allow smoking outside, require them to step 50 feet away from the house.

In my house, the moment I detect cigarette smoke is the moment the guest will find themselves on the street with no refund and a $300 cleaning fee to pay. I’ve had to enforce this twice now and had no problem collecting. I also make sure they cannot deny lighting up to AirBnB.

I hope this is gentle :smiley:

In no way shape or form is this a good guest. She SMOKED in your home! You can’t even do that in airports, restaurants or stores these days. It was a terrible infraction and demonstrated appalling lack of respect. It does not matter if she was lovely in every other way. The fact that she smoked negated anything good.

So, ask yourself, Would I host this girl again? If no, say so.

Unfortunately I cannot recommend XX as she smoked in her room in clear violation of the house rules.

No need to sugar coat it or try to give her any other compliments.

You may want to wait until nearly the end of the review period to lessen the chance that your review being published will prompt her to write one, even though you can’t read the other review yet.


It could be that she is a smoker and is so saturated with cig toxins that she excretes them making it smell as if she was smoking in your home while in fact she was abiding by your rules. I greeted a new cleaning lady at my door and was driven back by the overwhelming stench of cig smoke. Needless to say she didn’t get the job.

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From what you’ve described about her demeanor, I’d say she didn’t smoke in the room. She brought the smell in with her. It’s on her clothing and in her body odor and breath. I wouldn’t mention it. You can wipe down surfaces and vacuum, etc. and the smell with dissipate.

Put up a little no smoking sign just for fun and also make sure your listing mentions no smoking as it probably already does. You could go one step further and not accept smokers at all. I just had a Russian guy whom I swore had smoked in my house, but then I realized he was just permeated with smoke. He was here for 5 days and the odor left quickly.

Isn’t that so true? My cousin smokes in the street outside our house, but I can’t even be near her for the first whatever time after she comes back in. I gag from the stench.

(apologies to all my friends here who are smokers - but, it’s just true).

Thank you all for your responses.

Whilst I have not actually seen her smoking in the room (which is the only way I would know for sure), I suspect she has been due to the overwhelming smell in the room. I did not even notice the smell on her when she arrived (or indeed when we have been in the living room or kitchen together), so I really don’t think it is a matter of it just being residually embedded in her/her clothes/stuff etc.

KenH - I think I will take your approach, it is simple but effective, direct and not passive-aggressive, thank you for simplifying my over-complication of things!

Konacocunutz - I don’t disagree with you, but as I didn’t actually physically see her doing it AND she is my first guest (ie: I’m just learning about all this), I don’t feel like I should be starting a war… This may be wrong of me and it may be that as I progress in my journey as a host I become less tolerant of these incidents, but at the moment I’m more grateful that she wasn’t an axe-murderer and didn’t steal anything than worrying about anything else!

I will also make sure I increase the visibility of the “no smoking” rule and put a sign in the room, thank you to those who made suggestions along those lines.

It’s all a learning curve :slight_smile:

Put a bowl of vinegar in each room, it’s an amazingly easy and cheap way to clear the smell.

Assuming she did smoke… smokers reek and so do all their belongings.

I have a rental storage unit where I have put a few of a friends belongings (smoker). Went back a few months later and gagged at the smell when I opened the door. I could have sworn someone had been smoking in there but I knew it simply wasn’t posible. Sadly now my stuff stinks too.

I smoke. And have no intention to stop travelling (perhaps will stay away from airbnb because many hosts are so strict) nor hosting because of that. Sorry, bit off topic…should it be in the house rules or description if the host smokes?

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It’s in the house rules that smoking isn’t allowed. If you’re a heavy smoker though it might seem like you’ve broken the house rules when actually you haven’t …

OK London, it seems to me the guest smoked in your room. You didn’t always smell it on her clothes, but you DID smell strong scent in the room. I know you take issue with not having seen her do this, but people who sneak cigarettes indoors aren’t trying to be seen. They’re usually trying to blow the smoke outside a window. So you didn’t confront her…who cares? - it’s not even relevant. She broke the rules. And that is major rule…unlike her forgetting to take her shoes off by the front door.

If the guest was truly clueless and didn’t realize she was not allowed to smoke…then she would have been smoking when you were in the living room/kitchen together. She didn’t because she knew she wasn’t supposed to.

I wouldn’t decorate my room with No Smoking signs either. Guests know they are not supposed to smoke. Some just don’t care.

I’ve seen listings that say ‘smokers welcome’. I think most hosts are ok with guests smoking outside. I allow it in my back yard, I just ask that they stay away from open windows. I’ve never had a problem.

It is so true. I used to have a client who was a heavy smoker. When I opened mail from her the stench was overwhelming and I would have a coughing fit.

Yes, it would be great for you to put it in the description that the host smokes. It might also be a good idea to put it in the house rules that guests understand that the host smokes. You’ll do yourself a big favor in not attracting guests who are repulsed by smoke smell and in attracting guests who don’t want to have to go outside to smoke.

Yeah. The heavy smoker I know never smelled of cigarettes personally; I had spent loads of time with her and never noticed a thing. nevertheless her stuff stunk out my storage unit beyond belief.

Off topic, but on our first car-camping trip we made the mistake of keeping our van open for hours while smoke from the campfire poured through it. What a stench! So we put bowls of vinegar in it - oh!! What a greater stench!

I don’t even remember how we got rid of it - but the van is long gone and replaced.

Still, a good memory.

This is my criteria. If I would host the guests again, then I say so in the review. The problem with this is that every host has different standards.

For example, if guests have been quiet, clean and respectful, but they don’t take out the trash, that’s no big deal for me. But I’ve heard other hosts say that not taking out the trash is ‘disrespectful of the house rules’.

A few overly dirty towels don’t bother me (I bleach them), I don’t mind bodily fluids on the sheets - yet other hosts are freaked by these things. Therefore it seems to me that when you leave reviews based on your own standards - they might not be the same as those of other hosts.

This makes it very tricky. I often start by mentioning the positives about the guests first. Then, for the sake of other hosts, I might leave remarks about ‘issues’ later. (Not that I have had many).

I use Instant Book though and don’t have the chance to look at guests’ reviews before they can book. I have many first timers with no reviews and no horrible surprises. (OK, one). But I’d also like to point out that my third worst guest ever had plenty of glowing reviews!