Guest with celiac disease & list of requirements

I received a last minute booking yesterday for 3 nights over the 4th of July weekend. This morning i received a note from the guest explaining that she has celiac disease, and going on to say that she needs non porous cookware, extra cleaning supplies, certain pantry supplies… It’s long list. Fact is the property actually has everything she says she needs (i think- again, it’s a long list) so I’m not really concerned about being able to accommodate her. It’s just, My instinct tells me she might become a problem guest.
For background: the property is a log cabin in a fairly remote part of Western NC, in the mountains. The roads are difficult, there’s nothing nearby: the closest grocery store (ok, the only grocery store) is 30 mins drive along twisty roads. If you needed 911, you’d be taking your chances. Restaurants, if you ask about gluten free, are going to give you a blank look or maybe give you bun -less burger but that’s about it.
My instinct is to be polite, express concern for her health, give her an inventory of the kitchen supplies, reemphasize the remote location, and offer to waive our cancellation policy and give a full refund (maybe stipulate that the offer’s good through tomorrow night-?). I’ve read that Airbnb trends to side with guests seeking refunds and i can just see this guest being the type to complain after the fact, so I’m hopeful that by offering it in advance i can strengthen my position with Airbnb if she goes to them looking for refund, after the fact.
Or am i totally over reacting?


Asking for pantry supplies seems pretty entitled, if she expects you to go out shopping for her and pay for the stuff, and sending a long list of things she wants you to provide is over-the-top. With 5 days notice? Gimme a break. I agree she sounds like she could most definitely be a complainer and refund seeker.

Your approach sounds reasonable, but I would also inform her that when a guest has special requirements, they should send an inquiry first, to see if the host can accommodate her needs, not book and make demands after the fact.

If it were me, I’d probably try to get Airbnb to cancel the booking penalty-free if the guest won’t cancel on her own.

I know people with celiac disease (as opposed to just thinking gluten is some kind of poison when they aren’t actually celiacs) and I feel for them, but they don’t expect other people, especially some stranger, to go out of their way to accommodate their special needs.


Yep, this screams problem guest! Not to discriminate, though… I agree that you should offer her an out, & definitely with a timeline. It makes me wonder if she has thoroughly checked out the area, & realizes just how remote you are. Good luck with this one, & please update us on the outcome.


I agree with @muddy and @mollimac .
For your own protection, offering an out is a good idea,

I also suggest you exaggerate a little in your response if you want her to cancel. Tell her you can get the supplies she wants, but the nearest place to get them is a “long ways away” and the cost will be the cost of the supplies plus a $500 delivery fee, payable in advance through the Resolution Center.


DO NOT OFFER to waive ANYTHING? A friend of mine has Celiac’s disease, and would never even think of demanding x/y/z supplies. This person would not either if she were booking a Hilton!!


As a person with a large amount of environmental, chemical and food additive allergies I understand the woman’s pain but she has no right to expect you to accommodate her to that extent.

I do ask hosts if they wash their bedding and linens in fragrance-free products and if not, I offer to send them the products for free or if I’m driving, I just tell them I will pack my own.
I ask that no air fresheners are used or candles and I try to book spaces without carpeting. As for the food, I don’t expect hosts to have to accommodate me. Nor would I expect their shampoos, soaps, etc would meet my needs.

I would tell her that if what you have doesn’t work with a her needs, then she needs to cancel. I’m sure that your listing had all this info before booking and she also needed to be proactive if she is that restrictive. It’s not your responsibility to accommodate her and as a person with special needs, I never demand that they accommodate me. I try to find a way that I can keep myself safe.


Do hotels do any of these things? No fragrances on washed linens, air fresheners?

No fragrances on linens and no so-called air fresheners seems to me to be something all hosts should take on board. There’s no good reason to use fragrance, and many people who aren’t even allergic dislike scented things anyway. And what smells good to one person doesn’t to another. For instance, I hate the smell of lavender.

I haven’t stayed in hotels much lately, but when I did, the sheets and towels smelled neutral and there were no air fresheners or any other detectable fragrances in the room.


Every hotel I have ever stayed in has chemical smells in the bathrooms, in the halls, and of course in the room. While sometimes there are faint, you can see on the housekeeping cart products that are industrial’ strength. Glad things (may) be changing.

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Yes, more and more I’m able to get fragrance free bedding and towels at hotels and cruise ships.

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Years ago, when I lived in Canada, I applied for membership in the movie industry union, as I wanted to work in costuming.

As new members, we had to take a half-day course in Workman’s Compensation Board regulations. One thing I learned is that when it comes to cleaning products, industrial cleaning products are often much safer than the stuff on the grocery store shelves. There are stricter environmental and health safety regulations for industry and businesses, because they don’t want to be held liable if an employee gets sick from a poisonous product.

Not sure if this is true in the US, but it certainly is in Canada.


Sometimes the best way is to get the guest to self-select out.

“Unfortunately, we do not provide grocery-ordering service and cannot replace cookware nor the cleaning supplies used by our cleaning staff. The nearest grocer has a very limited selection, if any, of gluten- or allergen-free products, and we understand that there are few, if any, gluten-free menu selections in our local restaurants. Although we clean to hotel standards, we also can inform you that recent previous guests have cooked and baked extensively with wheat products. We urge you to bring your own supplies and equipment. We assume no liability or responsibility for any adverse reactions. If you decide you would like assistance in cancelling and re-booking elsewhere, please let us know.”


I would do exactly as you stated: remind her of the remote location, send her a list of items you already have in the pantry and give her the option to cancel.


Beautifully worded reply. Polite but firm.


Love this.

I use a similar approach.

I think you got saved because she made these dands in advance. Some will make these demands on the day of check in.

Any guest who expects more than what I promise in the listing, offer them a chance to cancel for a full refund if they cancel within 24 hours.

The problem ones are who make demands after checking in.


The most outrageous demand I ever read of was a homeshare host whose guests, after checking in, asked if she could go stay somewhere else so they could have the place to themselves.


I wonder what Airbnb support will do if the host got them involved in this situation. There is a non-trivial chance they would ask the host to leave. Because according to Airbnb support it will be a Goodwill gesture towards the Airbnb.

Another possibility is they will offer the 30% refund to the guest even without checking with the host

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I’m a bit late to this discussion but also have very severe reactions to gluten. The only thing I have ever suggested to a host was a washable cutting board rather than wood. That is possibly something other guests might want as well. Otherwise, quote me? ‘I wash items myself for my own peace of mind, and bring toaster bags and indeed all my food’ (toaster bags are quite cheap and can be re used, maybe supply some if she is still coming to help show she is taken seriously?) I agree, she is likely to be trouble and the lack of GF supplies will be a problem.

Can you explain why you think wooden cutting boards aren’t washable? Do you think people just keep using a wooden cutting board forever without washing it? My wooden cutting board gets washed every time it gets used. Also, it is made of a very hard wood, so it stays quite smooth, not full of cuts and scratches.

Also, there is no reason why a celiac would need special utensils. As long as utensils, cooking pots, mixing bowls, etc. are clean, there is no gluten absorbed into them to harm a celiac.

Totally ridiculous. That’s one reason I do not do IB!