Guest review with a sneak attack

Had a perfectly lovely young guest last night. Since booking we had very little communication with her responses slow, short but polite, but when the guests arrived I could hear her partner exclaiming exuberantly about the suite.

They messaged at check-out that they had a wonderful stay. Everything was in order when they left and I gave them a 5 star review.

She wrote a 5 star review and used the sandwich principle of compliment, complaint, compliment to say that the place is great, my entire walkway was slippery and unsafe, and I should add a railing or salt because it was made of slippery rocks, and btw the place is great.

I was a bit rattled as I had only finished shovelling the walk minutes before they left, and I knew that the walkway was clear with no ice patches. I hadn’t salted, but we try not to over salt by the garden and I didn’t think it was needed. It was still snowing but very light and almost done. My plan was to come out again after the snow stopped to shovel the last bit, so any salt would have been shovelled away half an hour later.

I have been so careful with the safety of my walkway, having had new paving stones installed Nov 2021 professionally at great expense. It’s wider, the pavers are perfectly graded , gradually sloped and even and are not slippery stone. (That’s not to say that they can’t get slippery in the right conditions). This is their 2nd winter and there have been no issues.

I sent her a private message to thank her for sharing her concern, then added that the private feedback box was a more appropriate way to communicate her kind suggestions.

The point I’m getting to comes on reflection. I looked at some of her previous host reviews and this guest has a habit of keenly describing something negative in her otherwise glowing reviews. Same principle, compliment, etc, etc. Host should do this… kind of reviews.

It’s unsettling because it’s negative, quite detailed and specific, public, and seems to be a habit for her.

Anyway, I have considered asking Airbnb to remove the review I wrote for her and am looking for feedback.


Sounds like a balanced review.

It doesn’t sound like there are steps there. Where I live the building code requires railings if there are more than two steps.

We do have a steep driveway, where a railing is not required by code, but we installed one anyway. You need to decide whether the grading is such that it is slippery and unsafe, whether it would be wise to include a railing, and make sure that as a minimum (but not a ceiling) that your property conforms to the building code.

More than 80% of all lawsuits against STRs are for trips and falls.

It would be ‘nice’ for you if the guest had left those comments about what the guest thought were slippery and unsafe pavers in a private message, but there was nothing inappropriate for the guest to leave them in a public review. Arguably the guest is providing valuable notice to future guests.

I agree. Some risks are unavoidable.

To manage the risk of a slip/fall on wet or slippery pavers we: 1) provide the guest a bucket of calcium chloride type pellets to themselves spread, as well as 2) a shovel in case they need/want to shovel before we get to it. 3) Our pre- check-in message provides notice that the pavers can become slippery when wet and in winter weather, and that they have access to the pellets and shovel. I don’t know if that’s a best practice, but I hope it is evidence of our best efforts to address potential slip issues.

I assume that you have an insurance policy that provides you liability protection for your STR business. You should.

What would be the basis for Airbnb to remove your review? Because the guest left a 5 star review but expressed her honest opinion that the walkway was slippery and unsafe? I don’t think you’ll be successful.

In the end you received a 5 star review and have at least this honest data point that this one guest felt that the pavers were slippery and unsafe. The review is an occasion to reflect on the safety of the pavers, and your messaging and procedures around that. It might well be that you’ve done all that you reasonably can. But maybe not (?).

I don’t see the guest review as ‘a sneak attack.’


I can understand why you are frustrated but the time to read your guests previous reviews is when you are considering their bookings, not after they have stayed @lill

In your situation I would leave a simple factual response talking about the safety measurements you have in place about your access.

Also mention this in your listing to reassure your guests.

Then move on :slight_smile:


I appreciate the feedback, it’s easy to get caught up in a train of thought and lose perspective, hence my post, and certainly I have been spoiled by my many gracious past guests.

Like HostArbnbVRBO, I also leave a bucket of ice melter for the guest and a snow shovel. My home insurance allows for STR guests.



Perhaps this guest slipped and fell down. If I fell I would write what they wrote and more, I’m sure. Young people slip and fall and sometimes they have physical problems that are not obvious.

If you don’t have a railing where you really ought to have some kind of hand hold, if that complaint is valid and not silly, then you would be well advised to install one–like, yesterday.

Because somebody has now told you that you have a hazard and so you can’t claim you didn’t know.
Especially if your pavers can get slippery. Ice can be invisible to the eye.

Yes I am a fussy guest. I am staying at an AirBnB in 2 weeks to use up my dang $100 coupon from AirBnB and I’m going to try really, really, really hard not to complain about anything whatsoever. But if this stay goes poorly I am done with AirBnBs and I’m going to send next year’s coupon back to Air and tell them why.

This forum has taught me that hosts (at least good hosts) care very much and they are easily distressed by guest complaints, even if the complaints are legit and the problem affects the guest’s enjoyment of the place. No one likes criticism, it’s completely understandable.

I’m still a little unhappy that I did not bake my traditional Christmas morning coffee cake for my hubby because the AirBnB’s oven was so dirty. It was seriously dirty. I knew baking would stink up the place and make the oven even harder to clean. (Otherwise the house was quite clean.)

What I expect from AirBnBs is ordinary USA roadside motel/hotel levels of cleanliness and safety. If the Holiday Inn would have shoveled again and salted your walk, then you should have shoveled again and salted your walk.

I’ve stayed at only two AirBnBs so far that were as clean and safe and in as good repair as a typical USA motel. And AirBnBs always cost a lot more, thanks to all the fees, but of course you get a much bigger place with more features and can get a fun location. But for me, that stuff no longer outweighs things like missing amenities, safety issues and the frequent lack of cleanliness.

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Agreed, I got caught up about having just been on the steps and finding them safe. I will include the caution and safety measures in the booking.


A waste of your time and hard earned coupon.


Thanks SleepingCoyote. The guest didn’t fall, they were giggling and horsing around as they left. It was literally minutes after I shovelled that the guests left. I was still hanging up my jacket when they sent their check out message. The walk was clear except for the few flakes falling lightly while I shovelled.

I get that some guests are keeners, reporting suggestions privately to the host and are great at keeping us on our toes. This one was a keen reporter who prided herself on being comprehensive publicly. Either way, I would still rather know if something wasn’t right or that a guest had a concern.

If it was a complaint, Airbnb would ask if the host had been contacted. I read the review as a complaint, though it would seem it was a kind suggestion by the guest who had an unsteady moment on the way to the car. I will reach out for a second opinion. The contractors who installed the walkway said no, but a second opinion would be good for peace of mind.

I felt for you when I read your previous post about your Christmas coffee cake. It would have rattled me as well. I hope you made some up when you got home from your stay.


There is a Chrome extension called Air Review that will show you the reviews that guests have left for other hosts. You can also see them without the extension by clicking on their profile but the extension simplifies it greatly. This can prepare you in advance. In this case, maybe you would have taken extra care with everything in hopes of avoiding the complaints, though this is almost certainly her quite annoying and unavoidable personality.

You might have considered cancelling the booking after reading the kinds of reviews she leaves for others saying you are “uncomfortable.” You also could anticipate she would leave that kind of review and maybe write your review a bit differently.

The most important thing is that a 5 star review is what counts, Airbnb doesn’t count the kind of words used. Other guests can see that this is a kind of one off. If anything, complaints help the next guest know more about your place. You’ve been hosting 5 years and must not get many 4* reviews so don’t worry about it.

I had a traveling nurse once give me 4 stars. I knew she was a risk based on reading her previous reviews. So I did extra, but still got 4 stars and a review that said it was great and she’d be staying again. And sure enough when she traveled back home some weeks later, she booked me again. I have over 600 reviews so I can withstand the occasional 4 star. What still stings after all these years is the 3 star I got from the couple for whom I did a favor by letting them check in early. Or the one star I got accidently from a guest who wrote an effusive review and booked a return stay.

Stars happen.


What a great resource! I had no idea :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Yes, I’ve learned to be quite philosophical over the years about guest reviews and the crazy things they (who are few and seem to come in bunches) do and expect. A good time to reevaluate and carry on - or not.

Bookings have been slow lately. There are suddenly, within a few blocks, and in the last 6 weeks, many times more Airbnb’s in my neighbourhood, which adds another worry to the mix. Every available tool helps, as do the encouraging comments.

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Airbnb asks from the guests the same thing they ask of hosts in reviews:

“Reviews are critical to help build trust on Airbnb—they’re an important way for Hosts and guests to give each other feedback”

Additionally, when they leave, they get an email asking them (in part) to tell us what we
can do better’.

Sadly, this means guests are encouraged to write their critiques into the review.


This has been a common complaint. I hope that “slow and steady wins the race.” People will think it’s “easy money” and give up quickly and will also have a hard time ever catching up to you in review numbers. I don’t know what kind of listing you have but if you can accept pets or same day bookings I feel it helps. I do both and once all the other airbnbs are booked, they’re booked. So one night road trippers with pets look day before or day of and only see a few places and mine is one. They don’t even know there are 50 places cheaper than mine if they don’t look a month in advance. So they pay, stay and are happy.


Don’t do that. Use it to book with another host you know, even if you don’t actually stay. Like hosts all over the world did for established hosts in Ukraine, when the war broke out and they suddenly lost their livelihoods.

Might as well get Airbnb to cough up the $100 that someone can benefit from, since they aren’t going to care a whit about your explanation for why you are “returning” the voucher. They are perfectly happy for you not to use it, no skin off their nose. (There’s no process for returning it, anyway. It’ll just expire)

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@lill Some people just write reviews like that- they seem to think it’s necessary to mention both pros and cons. She left a 5* rating, so not sure why you’re upset- you can respond to the icy path comment for clarification to future guests.

And why on earth would you ask for your review to be removed? That’s so junior highschool to me. Like “I know I said you were pretty last week, but I heard you said to XX that I was fat, so I take it back- you’re not pretty, you’re ugly”.
The review you leave for guests is meant to be an honest assessment of your experience with the guest, from time of booking through check-out, not a reaction to the review they left.

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Although I endorse the wisdom of not responding to reviews in general, as they can make the host appear to be a defensive whack-a-doodle, I concur with other comments that in the case of a perceived safety issue a brief response to reassure future guests is a good idea.

“So glad you enjoyed your stay. Sorry you encountered a slippery walkway; we do our utmost to shovel and salt the walk frequently in snowy weather. We encourage guests to notify us during their stay about any concerns so we can address them immediately.”


I love your wording and feel very good about using this response. No whack-a-doodle on your watch!

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People should be aware that Air Review can be glitchy. I used to use it, but then I asked a host on the CC why he didn’t leave reviews for any of his guests. Air Review said “Host didn’t leave a review” on all of the guest reviews on his profile. He replied that he reviews all his guests. Sure enough, when I cross-checked manually, that was true.

Sorry to appear so high school, muddy. To clarify, I wasn’t thinking of myself but in terms of future hosts when I reflected on removing the review.

My simple brain is a complicated place but my aim is to mitigate the best I can. My thoughts can lean a bit muddy until I sort them out. :slight_smile: and this is why I bravely reached out to the forum - looking for experienced perspective.

Apparently, there have been issues. Do you believe that your guest fabricated her concerns or that she is just wrong about them? I can’t tell but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice to dismiss them so quickly. Something must’ve happened or it wouldn’t have been mentioned.

Even if all of her reviews mention something negative so you think she was bound to mention something negative about your place, it’s worth asking yourself why she chose to make it about your walkway.

It’s possible that other guests have had issues with it too but didn’t mention it because they’ve become shy about leaving an honest review because of hosts like you who chide guests about what’s appropriate or not.

What time did you shovel? Perhaps she had gone out much earlier that morning or the night before.

Why would you want to remove the review you wrote for her?

And how absurd to call a 5* review an attack of any sort, lol.

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Now I’m absurd, or my thoughts are absurd, which I guess is another perspective, although I should have been prepared for some of the comments to be personal. Read my previous response or don’t.
No one had been out, the snow was fresh and had been falling for hours, no footie prints. I am not dismissing her concern and don’t make a habit of chiding my guests.
I am super stoked when a guest gives me suggestions and let them know, since I, like you, realize that not all guests will for whatever reason.

If you haven’t been following along, it’s a first for me that a guest goes directly to review with comments. So, poor, poor me, but I am not looking for sympathy or attack, just perspective.

Thanks for yours.