Horns of a dilemma—need help please

I recently got back from a two week vacation which I took solely to get my dog out of town during the worst of fireworks season around the Fourth of July. It gets pretty crazy here in town and he gets so upset and anxious and even so panicked that he’s gotten trapped under furniture. He loses about 10% of his total body weight because of his anxiety. He’s getting older, and my husband and I worry that he’ll get so stressed over the fireworks noise that he’ll have a heart attack or somehow seriously damage his physical health.

So I looked for the quietest Airbnb stays I could find in the most remote areas. I wasn’t able to get just one Airbnb for the entire period. I ended up renting three different Airbnb‘s.

The first one was excellent in every way… Quiet, clean, well equipped, and comfortable. It wasn’t the fanciest Airbnb I’ve ever stayed at but it was perfect for us in every way and lived up to its reviews. We’re already making plans to go back there next year during the fireworks season. I was happy to give them a gushing five star review which they totally deserved.

The 2nd place wasn’t ideal. I had trouble getting in the place because the August door lock wouldn’t function. I finally was able to access a lockbox key at the back of the building that the owner keeps as a back up because he’s had trouble before with guests (and his cleaner!) not being able to get in via the August lock on the front door. It took me 20 minutes of bumbling around to gain access—and it didn’t help that the light over the front door was burned out. In addition, his cleaner totally forgot to leave toilet paper and there was less than a quarter of a roll available to me when I arrived. Only the bedroom is air-conditioned, which I knew in advance, so I can’t count that against the host even though it was 81° in the main part of the house at night. The oven was also filthy. However, I reluctantly gave the host five stars in the review. I might even stay there again if he improves the heating and air-conditioning in the main part of the unit. Even if he doesn’t, I might stay there in the spring or fall when I know the temperatures will be more moderate.

My dilemma comes in on the third stay. It was a full week, and it was not cheap. The minute I walked in the place, I almost turned around and left. The musty moldy smell almost knocked me over. If I had been able to find a place that met my requirements for quiet and allowing a dog I would have canceled the stay then and there. But I couldn’t find anything—and I did look! The bad smell was only the BAD beginning. The cabin, although it was more of a cottage type place than a cabin, is on well water. The host did not warn me that they had high iron content in the water. The water was so cloudy it looked more like lemonade. I don’t know what it tasted like because I didn’t drink it. There was no mention of any issues with the water in listing on AirBnB.

In the listing, the host claims the cabin has Wi-Fi. There’s a hotpot in the cabin hooked up for guest use. I had no Wi-Fi the first five days I was there. I let the host know about it several times. Finally, the host went out and purchased extra data because there was no data left on their plan and it turns out THAT is why I had no WiFi. They purchased one gigabyte of data which was gone in about 12 hours so I actually had Internet connectivity only a half a day out of 7.

There were rotten boards on the back porch floor and the boards were super uneven. Although the photos in the listing show the grass as mowed, it was almost knee high and they just had a few paths mowed through it. I worried about my dog getting ticks because of the overgrowth.

The oven was filthy—worse than the other place. I’ve only seen one AirBnB that had a dirtier oven. But I stuck it out in spite of everything because my dog needed the peace and quiet—and he was having a good time even if I wasn’t! Plus—no alternative except to go home where he would be miserable.

My conundrum is what to do about the review. I’ve still got over a week to decide. Here are my concerns:

  1. If I leave the review I’d like to leave—strictly factual but detailing the issues—this host has a habit of responding and throwing every thing back on the guest. I don’t want a bad guest review because then I may get hosts who won’t accept me as a guest.
  2. The host did make some attempts to fix things and did respond to the things I told them about — which were only the water and the WiFi. I didn’t even mentioned being bothered by the overgrown grass, the rotting and uneven porch boards, etc. I did mention the musty, mold smell but in an informative way only, telling them I was leaving the windows open to air the place out because of the smell.

What would you do? Leave the honest review and damn the consequences or leave no review at all? Please share your thoughts and opinions. I sort of feel like I don’t have a right to complain about things in the review that I didn’t bring up when I was staying there.

They won’t see the review until 14 days or they post theirs.
It is a double blind. If others had been honest, would you have stayed?
And I am touched that you show some much care for your dogs well being.


I know it’s a double blind, BUT this host responds to anything remotely critical and makes counter complaints. I’m worried their response to my review may mean I won’t be able to rent a place when I need one. It’s hard enough to find places that will take dogs….

If he’s that bad, any decent host would notice his high level of complaints and his response. He’s not nice. Don’t give him any kind of nice in your review. All 1 across the board.


He responds on his on listing.
It doesn’t appear on your reviews.
If you are really concerned… do it at the last minute and then you are safe


Personally I would review honestly and factually… maybe not all the fact though. Things like unmown grass and rotting boards and musty smell I would have mentioned in an off-platform note/letter sent directly to the host – along with solutions:

“The place was really musty-nasty smelling when I arrived. I suggest that if you aren’t here very often you have your cleaner buy and install a $1 air freshener when they prep the place for each guest.”

“In case you don’t know, the water from your well has such a high iron content that the water is cloudy with particulates. I would suggest purchasing a filter pitcher as a simple way to remedy the situation.”

Please don’t do this. Those do nothing to address the source of smells and for many of us make it worse.

@Keugenia I agree with giving an honest review. I realize it’s hard to find a place with no fireworks that also allows pets, but I’m appalled at the standards in two of the places you stayed. I hope you can book out the first place for next year’s entire stay.


I don’t think a rebuttal to your review would be generally accessible to future hosts, but I might be wrong. Maybe our experts here could opine.

You could could give a coded review.

This is a place for people who like nature and a bit rustic! My dog had a great time romping through the tall grass and underbrush surrounding the cabin. The interior had that damp wood smell that brought back memories of summer camp but aired out with open windows, and it’s easy to avoid some rickety boards on the porch. The well water has an iron taste, it’s probably good for you, but if you’re not used to that you can bring bottled, that’s what I did. It was a bit tricky, but the host did get the WiFi working again during my stay. Thanks! Spot the dog says he wants to come back.


I’d leave an honest review but why didn’t you tell the host about a strong moldy smell? Not sure where you are located but here in the northeast US we’ve gotten SO much rain in the past 2 weeks- friends who usually have dry basements have been flooded and farms have had to pump water out of the fields. Sounds like they could have a leak or water issue (and they might not be aware).

Id probably say something along the lines of-
“Grateful to have found a dog friendly quiet accommodation in the country! We did have an ongoing issue with getting the WiFi to work, and I would recommend guests bring their own bottled water. Needed a good air out upon arrival, but all in all met our needs.”

Privately I’d let them know about the lack of lawn upkeep and that their house cleaner missed cleaning the oven.

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The place sounds revolting. I’m turning the question about the review though - if a loved one of yours asked you what the place was like because they were thinking of going there, I’m sure you’d be honest then.

Airbnb guests aren’t your loved ones, I know, but I’d feel that I had a responsibility to other Airbnb hosts who do every little tiny thing to ensure that their guests have a great time, and therefore your bad host isn’t what we want to see on the platform.

So to me (and my logic isn’t everybody’s logic, I know,) I’d want this host to either buck his ideas up or get off the platform.

A couple of years ago we stayed in a supposedly 5 star cottage which was horrible - to the extent that the garden furniture was covered in mold and the water in the pool was green. We had no wifi for the entire stay, the photographs on the listing were totally misleading … and many other issues. (Not to mention the fact that it certainly wasn’t cheap).

They got absolutely slated by me in the review. I don’t want people to go there and think it’s typical of an Airbnb 5 star rental.


No. Give an honest review.


I’ve done so little hosting in the last 17 months, I may well be out of date, but for what my thoughts are;-

Review at the last moment -14 days unless I’m out of date. I did that to some appalling bunch of guests who retaliated viciously, but it didn’t show up on my listing. It did however show up on her profile, which was hilarious. She made a total idiot of herself, and I doubt has been hosted since.


Yes, you’re right! When guest responds to his/her review, it only shows up on their profile.


Think about your stay. What would YOU to have liked to know about BEFORE you booked?

Yes. The consequences are non-existent. If a host even looks at reviews you’ve given, that host will also see the other host’s past responses and see that he is immature and irresponsible.

BTW, you said that you can see how the “host has a habit of responding and throwing every thing back on the guest” so why on earth did you book with him? Also, none of the issues you had were brought up by previous guests?

I would mention the moldy smell, the cloudy water, the dirty oven, and the WiFi. You could’ve even asked for compensation for the missing WiFi. I wouldn’t mention overgrown grass in a cabin-type rental, and probably not the porch boards unless they were really unsafe.

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Honest review please. And his response appears on his profile page, not yours.

I also don’t understand why you gave the previous place 5*s, when it certainly doesn’t sound like it deserved that. No tp could just be a forgivable oversight, but a filthy oven, a problematic lock and no porch light so guests are fumbling around in the dark?

I really wish hosts and guests would leave honest reviews instead of being “nice” and misleading others, which isn’t what reviews are about.


I did tell her about the smell. Also, I know that was something she was already aware of because there’s a note by the front door asking departing guests to leave two window open in each room when they leave. There’s no basement—the cabin is elevated 3-4 feet off the ground.

They know about the water issue. In fact they have a whole house iron removal filter system sitting next to the stove. It’s about five feet tall. At first I thought it was a propane tank!

The photo below shows what the water looks like the first two days I was there. It cleared up some after that. The host provided no water purifier pitcher or bottled water.

The host lives next door and does the cleaning. This is what the oven looked like.

You mean the host lives next door and doesn’t do the cleaning :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


One other person, months ago, mentioned the water, did not say what the problem was with the water and only said the host took care of it promptly. No one mentioned the smell, the dirty oven, the overgrown grass, rotting and uneven porch floorboards, etc. A couple mentioned the WiFi was slow, not that it was non-existent.

The host has an organic farm and sells “pantry packages” of their food. Most of the complaints dealt the cost of this and how small the quantities were. But the host has dozens of glowing, gushing reviews and a 4.8 rating overall with their lowest rating being “value.”