Living at the house - but guests seem to feel that everything should be model perfect

I have seen others mention this and I was wondering what hosts put in their listings to let potential guests know that the house is clean, but they live here and not to expect it model perfect.

For instance - I recently had a friend’s surprise 50th birthday party. She is from Canada and I invited her friends and family down to surprise her. I had 12 people staying at my place. After they left - I had a guest stay who it was her first AirBnB experience. I seem to be getting a lot of first timers lately - along with 4 star reviews from them which is another issue I am facing. And this is what she said in private feedback…

“I realize that I was only sleeping there, but you might want to think about getting rid of the clutter; birthday favors, papers, etc. Maybe most people don’t care. Otherwise, it was clean, and you were very accommodating.”

And by clutter/papers - she seems to be referring to the mail that is on my end tables. I know that I can’t please everyone and I refuse to try. I have been in some people’s houses who have plastic on their furniture - there is ZERO chance I would probably ever be able to please them and I wouldn’t even attempt to try.

NOTE that although guests have to walk through my sunroom/dinning room, kitchen and living room - these are rarely available to guests.

I recently had a guest who is an AirBnB Superhost and he routinely uses AirBnB as a guest. When he told me that he was a SuperHost - I thought he was going to be VERY nitpicky. But nope - he gave me a good review and 5 stars on everything.

“Robert’s place is in a quiet residential neighborhood. The room I had was spacious and had its own window air conditioner which was welcome. Fluffy towels and Keurig coffee in the morning. Robert has a warm greeting and his dog will be your instant best friend. Would recommend his place to other guests…”


I live in the home I offer on Airbnb - it is our weekend home and we are there two weekends a month and have lived there for 13 years, but I must say, I would not leave out mail - for my own privacy as well as their comfort. Desk drawers have stuff in them, but surfaces are clear. Dressers have our clothes, at least two drawers are empty for guests.

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If I were you I wouldn’t worry about this review. Some people really hate clutter. Hopefully, they will read this review and choose another listing. The review stated that your listing was clean and that you were accommodating. This is much more important to most guests. I agree with @CatskillsGrrl that it would be a good idea to find a hidden away nook for your mail.


Actually that was the private review to me that other guests don’t see. This was her public review…

“Nice place, quiet,and really friendly dog.”


put the clutter in your photos of your space, so that the guest is prepared to see it.


Then they assume they have access to my dining room and living room and also - it isn’t always “cluttered”. To me - cluttered isn’t having some papers on an end table.

If they don’t ‘have access’ to the dining and living rooms, why have the previous guests been there to be able to make these comments?

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See quote above. They are not given permission to hang in these rooms, but they are part of the common space if only to get to somewhere else.

While they don’t get to utilize these areas and use them - they have to walk through them to get to the bedroom and bathrooms. And these are the areas I live in - especially the living room.

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Yes and so far not one person has answered my question - which is how to put in the listing that the house is lived in and that these areas may NOT be 100% spotless since I do live and work in these areas. I am having the kitchen and dining room even remodeled at this time, but they complain the kitchen isn’t “clean” - they don’t even get to use the kitchen except for the microwave.

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Also- I think it is a bit ridiculous for someone to complain that I had birthday favors up when she knew I just had a party. Like i said - I LIVE here and my life does not end just because I have people staying.


Cluttered is subjective. I have a small stack of papers on my desk. We don’t have papers anywhere else in the house. Has more than one guest described your listing as cluttered? If so, you might want to put something in the listing like, “What seems homey to me reads as clutter to others. If you’re a minimalist this isn’t the listing for you.” If it’s only one guest who has described your place as cluttered, I would assume that she’s a Martha Stewart in training and not worry about it.

You must be walking your guest through the common-but-not accessible-to-guests areas. Aren’t you mentioning things as you go along…like, “I just had a dozen people over for a birthday party and haven’t had a chance to clear everything away.” Or, “as you can see, my kitchen is being remodeled but the microwave is available for your use and that area is clear.”

Some hosts have added language in their listing about certain areas of the home will appear more “lived in” but that the guest’s room will be spotless, or words to that effect. Maybe they will help with the wording and let you know whether it makes a difference in the guest reviews.

The easiest solution is to walk through the areas the guest will see on the way to his accommodation and clear away or straighten misc. items. First impressions, and all that.

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The only thing that matters is the public review and the rating.

Exactly - it is an subjective thing. To me - cluttered is having papers and magazines piled on the floor or covering the tables, neither of which is the case for me. Since the people have to walk through the living room, kitchen, and dining room - those areas are swept and mopped and nothing is on the floor. Everything in the kitchen is cleaned and wiped down before guests arrive, including the stove which guests don’t even get to use. What I get from some people is they want a house which is “show room” quality - and that isn’t what my house is - nor will it ever be that.

I like what you said about “If you’re a minimalist this isn’t the listing for you.” - because that is exactly right. If the guest is a person where everything has an be perfectly straight - then I would recommend they don’t stay here if walking through my living room is going to bother them.

Yup I tell people I am having the kitchen and dining room redone and even that I lost one full cabinet - (the largest cabinet of course that stored my dishes) due to the window being replaced with a large garden window,.

My usual thing I say as soon as people walk in the sliding glass doors which is the sunroom/dining room is “Please excuse the condition in this area, I am in the process of having the dining room and kitchen remodeled”,. It should be obvious - I have paint samples hanging on the wall!

I have even told people that I have had back to back parties and the sunroom/dining room right now is set up in party mode. I had my house warming party the middle of June, 4th of July party and my friend’s 50th party on July 29th - all within a month and half - so I had two tables pushed against the walls to hold the plates, cups, and the food (buffet style). It just doesn’t seem to matter though.

The person who mentioned the party favors being up in her private review is even more shocking because I even told her that TWO upcoming guests were coming to celebrating their birthday (one being a girl celebrating her 5th birthday) in a few days and I figured I would just keep everything up for them.

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Excellent - sounds good to me!

I don’t know what else you can do except to commiserate that you’re getting such picky guests who expect more for their money.

I believe that it’s a common misconception among hosts that if you warn someone about something it’s a spell to make them not dislike it. Your description of your house leads me to believe that I would feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff and the chaos. I think you should explain before guests book that you are in the middle of renovations and celebrations with some specifics.


If someone objects to a few bits of birthday celebration decoration, they need to get a new life. I have been a guest in three Airnbs, the first was show room clean as decor, but they made me check out two hours earlier than planned. Didn’t offer me a drink, The super host in Lisbon has bathtubs with worn enamel, a cluttered kitchen in that there were the normal things on the counter, olive oil, salt and pepper, coffee pots, a bowl of fruit and veggies. There wer many things people here would gasp at, but my stay there was 5 star because of host, location and price. A cup of tea and a warm welcome, make up for elderly plumbing as long as there is hot water.
I had a complaint that I didn’t have all fancy new furniture, get real it’s a cottage. And if it’s someone’s home and you are there to sleep, it doesn’t matter if you keep mail and stuff in your end tables. It doesn’t make the bed uncomfortable, or change the location.


The amount ot stuff any chaos?? That is quite hilarious. I don’t get how you got the impression that there is a huge amount of stuff and chaos.

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