First unfair review - not sure how to respond if at all

Hi everyone

I have a confession. I started hosting in December, and started following the conversations here since January. A little smugly, I hate to admit. All my first 5 guests gave me 5 star reviews, so I thought I was doing everything right.

Oh how we come back to earth. I have just had my first 4 star overall review.

I thought this guest might be difficult as they warned me they were allergic to dust and mould. I informed them that we have not detected any mould, and would pay special attention to dust. We moved all furniture, vacuumed the full floor carpets and every surface, sprayed and wiped all surfaces, put on fresh linen etc etc. When we moved into the B&B it wasn’t clean, and I have spent a lot of energy re-training staff to clean to Hotel Impossible standards. I personally check every room by wiping all surfaces with white gloves before and after it is cleaned, I even dismantled the standing fan myself and cleaned it with a toothbrush. TMI I think, but anyway. He gave the room a 3 star for cleanliness.

When we listed breakfast was included in the cost, but the algorithm kept matching us with cheaper places that does not include breakfast or daily cleaning, so I changed the rate to exclude breakfast and guests can order it at an extra charge. This is clearly stated in the description, as well as the guest information which is available at booking confirmation and in a folder in the room. Our photo’s still include pictures of the breakfast, and he claimed that the breakfast doesn’t exist and wasn’t offered. Fair enough I didn’t offer it to him in person, he had that stand offish vibe of guests who want to be left in peace. He gave 3 stars for accuracy.

We live in a country with a lot of crime. As such we have a security alarm that we switch on at 10:30. We do not prohibit free movement of guests, and simply ask them to arrange if they would like to go out/come back in so we can switch on the alarm for everyone’s safety. This bugged him and he mentioned it twice. I communicated this to him verbally, and again it is stated in the listing, guest information on Airbnb and printed in the folder.

I’m wondering how to better communicate these restrictions, and feel totally deflated with regards to the cleanliness rating. We are busting our bums to get this right, and I don’t know how to respond to him, if at all.

I discussed his review with my other guests, I have 3 rooms, and they all thought he was talking nonsense. The guests across the way from him said that it sounded like he had a guest last night, which I was totally unaware of. I have an extra guest fee. They theorised that he might be irritated that the guest could not leave until morning, which of course they could have but then I would have had to be informed of their presence. Do I contact customer support about this?

I’m curious what customer support or the guest would do given that neither you nor your other guests saw the theoretical extra guest.

4 stars overall from a high-maintenance guest? Based on the stories I’ve read here, I would say you got lucky.

Retake your photo of the breakfast and include a sign that says breakfast available for XX extra charge per day.

Can you post the written public review?

On the basis of 3* for some aspects, then a 4* overall, you definitely got lucky.

If you can’t prove the extra guest, learn from the experience and move on.


He sounds like a picky jerk! Even the best hosts get them every once in a while…welcome to the club :wink:

In general, most of us would say to not respond unless the guest made a false or damaging statement that could deter other guests from staying. (Like I had a guest who left a review that “Being watched by security cameras was creepy”. I felt I needed to clarify that there’s one exterior camera at the door that we use to check guest count…and that :poop: guest brought 6 to a 4-person listing)

The thing is that other guests don’t see his star rating, only his written review. So what things made it into the public, written review? That will help us give advice on whether to respond.

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Charming and obliging hosts. The room has everything you need, but it is on the old side and between the fridge, the noisy bathroom light and the adjacent family lounge, can be on the noisy side as well. You also can’t come and go after 10.30pm as the alarm is set at that time. But a pleasant stay overall and good value for money.

pasted from Airbnb

The bathroom light is on the maintenance list for next week, it is actually the extractor fan that is noisy, not the light. I asked the other guests regarding the lounge noise, some are closer to it and all of them said they couldn’t hear us.

I don’t see anything wrong with that review. As Allison said we all get them sometimes and of course it stings more when it’s one fifth of your reviews. But once you’ve been at it 3 years instead of 3 months and only 5% are 4 star it won’t bother you so much. FYI, you’re going to be more likely to get 4 stars when there are multiple rooms being rented and in a shared space. This is just the nature of the beast because you have to deal with those other guests. If another guest doesn’t flush the toilet then you are the one who will get dinged in the review.


This isn’t so bad, so far as picky reviews can go!

If he’d left something like “I found dust on the top shelf of the closet and 3 hairs behind the couch” we’d suggest not replying because anyone with sense could tell he’s an uptight twit.

I think you’d do best to ignore it (a reply stands out, drawing attention that you’d prefer goes to a great review) or reply in a professional, detached manner.

Remember, the point isn’t to tell him he’s wrong or high maintenance, it’s to show other guests that you’re open to valid, constructive criticism and will take steps to fix real issues.

If you decide to reply, I’d do something like:
“Dear guest, Thank you for bringing the noise issue to our attention. As new hosts we’re happy to receive feedback so we can make improvements. We agree the bathroom fan is noisy and have already purchased a replacement. I’d also like to point out that you’re welcome to come and go after 10:30pm, you just have to let us know so we can disable the alarm. Thanks again for staying with us!”

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It wasn’t the public review that stung, but more the comments underneath the sections. I suppose he proved that most guests do not drill down that deep, so I should just move on. Thanks for talking me off the ledge!

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Thank you Allison! I actually think your response is perfect. I respond to all my reviews, so I’m not too worried that this will stand out. Usually my response is a thank you and telling guests they are welcome back anytime, but I can be flexible :slight_smile:

I have nearly all-perfect guest reviews. My only 4-star comment (under Communication) was when I replied to a guest’s message at 3 a.m., as I had trouble sleeping that night.

I did not realize then, my 3 a.m. message made the guest’s cell phone “ding” which awakened her. Since then, I only respond to my guest inquiries between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Be mindful, if you are messaging guests who live several time-zones away.

Sometimes those private comments sting!! Especially when they feel unfair.

I remember the first time I got a lower mark on cleaning. Her comment just said “bugs” and all I could think was “Beeeootch, I watched you stand with the front door wide open at 10pm, lights blazing, while you all brought in your luggage for 10 minutes. Of course there are bugs NOW, you doofus!”


This is so ridiculous for me. I had one 4 star communication, because I DIDN’T respond at 2am :):smiley:

I wrote that one off as you can’t please them all. Luckily we are a fairly small country, so no time zones, and most guests have been local. I’m taking note of this for future guests from overseas.


You are making me feel a million miles better. Thank you.

My only other negative guest experience was when three elderly women rented my downstairs Airbnb guestrooms. In my online description, I clearly state there is no handicap-access to my lower-level rooms. Guests must walk up-and-down a 16-step stairway.

The woman, who booked my Airbnb guest space, did not tell her two companions about the steep stairway. Upon their arrival, I was rebuked by one woman for not having a ramp or elevator to my downstairs Airbnb rooms.

But I received a five-star review later, after providing the three ladies with free gin-and-tonic cocktails and appetizers that evening.


well, first of all 4 star rating is still a good rating. Many people gave 4 star rating for no reason. I got a 4 star rating because a guest thought my gate was too difficult to open/password too long/parking spot not painted with phosphorescent paint/sheets of paper in the folder not laminated and other idiotic reasons. You’ll get used to it. Unless you have solid proof that there was an extra guest in there - thus breaking the rules - the customer service won’t do a thing. They don’t care if you got an unfair 3 star review in whatever department. they didn’t even take down a 1 star hate review i got from a guy who left no comments just a dot “.” so definitely they won’t do a thing about yours. Guests are unfair sometimes, that’s it. hopefully you wont have many like this one.

You can leave a response saying that your house gets cleaned daily and passes the white gloves test etc… just facts, like you said here and keep it short. remember the response is for the future guests.

Please don’t feel alone… I just got done getting dinged for stale towels even though he watched me pull them fresh from the dryer, fold and hand them to him. (Had a guest who decided to use every extra towel I had) so was in the process of washing when he wanted to drop his luggage off early. I had reset the room with the exception of the towels so my reply in my review was… I am puzzled about your “stale towel” remarks as I handed you the freshly washed towels straight from the dryer but thank you for your comments. Sometimes, I think individuals who wait to process their review and stay at multiple ABB’s mix up their experiences. But don’t let this discourage you…just keep going we have all had those “picky” guests.

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I’d go for “Thank you for you lovely review. Just so future guests are aware guests can come and go after 10.30pm but as our guests security is paramount we need to be told so we can adjust the times of the alarm accordingly”. Do not respond publicly to things in the private review even if that feels like your only opportunity to do so. And sometime picky guests tell you things polite guests don’t, such as the noise from the living room which may require you to tell people not to use it after a certain hour or keep the tv volume low.


I personally would not respond to his review. It wasn’t horribly negative; you just feel stung. It happens to all of us.

Had one myself a couple weeks back – guests whinged that the cabana (a 16x20 concrete block building) was too close to the house and should be farther away so they felt more isolated! Also there were too many things (shells and other items of tropical décor) on the bookshelves and mantel. And the Internet was too limited and slow (they couldn’t stream videos and run two other devices without it bogging down).


It definitely helps to shower complaining guests with treats. In this case I suppose there was nothing to do, as he stayed 2 nights, but didn’t mention anything to me after the first when I asked him if all was in order. If only he had mentioned his concerns I could have probably addressed most of these. It is unfortunate when guests do not give hosts an opportunity to make them happy before going online to address concerns.

First delete the picture of breakfast. We all know that most guests don’t read. Then just let it go. He’s a jerk. It’s going to happen. You did nothing wrong.
We had a four star review recently because the guest got lost on the way to our place.
Apparently that was my fault!