My first rating below 5 with no explanation

Hi everyone.
This is my first post. I am feeling a bit bruised by my first overall rating of 4 after 29 ratings of 5 stars. The guest was granted early check in even though we had to rush the turn-around to make it in time. We made up an additional full single bed with matching cotton linen when they asked for the floor mattress. We wash the dishes for our guests, provide bread, jam, two types of cereal, plunger and pod coffee, three types of leaf tea, a half acre garden, exclusive use of a small enclosed garden and large fire pit area. Within 15 minutes of a message asking for an additional fan because we had a highly unusually hot day, we delivered one to the property so it was waiting for them upon their return. They rated us 5 for cleanliness, check in, value, accuracy with only a 4 for location (but they were given the precise address weeks ago) and we say we are in “an ordinary neighbourhood” 2km from the town centre. When they didn’t follow our advice to turn on the outside light, we lit tiki torches so they arrived home to gentle fire light. We only charge $150 AUD and we accept single night bookings. We are well below the rates charged by local hotels and most other local listings.

Up until this review we had a perfect 5 score so I reached out to the guest after the review with a message Airbnb says was perfectly reasonable so that I could find out what might have lowered our rating. Everything that had been written as feedback was extremely positive, even the provision of an additional fan was noted as helpful. The guest threatened to report me to Airbnb for coercion, threat and harassment! I explained Airbnb had assessed my message as polite and reasonable and that it was simply an attempt to understand what hadn’t met their expectations as we hadn’t experienced that before. She was curt and did not respond further.

I am left believing that our 5 star rating was ruined because a guest booked a listing that does not have air con in a region that is normally quite cool and we had a hot day the night she stayed and there goes our consistent 5 star streak.

My questions are:
How do you let go of the insult?
How do you make sure that lowered ratings are explained so you can take action?
What can be done to discourage people booking cheaper stays and then comparing them to expensive hotels?
How do I let other hosts know about this guest now that we gave our positive rating (we ignored the tyre marks they left all over the lawn!)?
How many 5 stars do we need to get before we average back up to 5?

TIA for your advice and support.

I don’t consider a 4* rating to be an insult.

You can’t. Nothing wrong with asking what you can do better, the guest was unreasonable. Some of them are.

You can’t control other people.

You can’t. Your review should not be based on their review, that’s why it’s a double blind system. Leave an honest and unemotional review each time.


Thanks. It helps to read that. :slight_smile:

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The nice thing about strs as opposed to long term rentals is that guests stay a short time. If you let the objectionable ones take up residence in your head or emotions once they have left, then they are still making you unhappy. Let it go. There’s nothing terrible about a 4* review. And no reason for you to ask them what you could have done better when you know you are doing a good job and have never had less than 5* reviews before.

I would advise you not to knock yourself out in the future to try to please demanding guests. Of course, if it was unseasonably hot, a good host would bring over a fan. But rushing around trying to accommodate early check in and what sounds like an extra guest they had failed to mention, nah. The demanding types are never appreciative, as you found out.

Also, Airbnb tells guests that 4* s means good, so a guest leaving 4* s doesn’t mean there was anything wrong,

And please don’t ignore tyre marks all over the lawn- you need to leave honest reviews or the review process is pointless. Leaving nice reviews for not nice guests is how bad guests get passed around, leaving their tyre marks all over everyone’s lawns.


Thanks, this is very wise and helps a lot.

Stop hosting.
If you cannot handle a single 4 star imagine what a 3 start or less would do to you.


Hi @BronnyT

Please ignore the comment from @Chris who seems to enjoy being unhelpful to fellow hosts.

I had my first 4 star review in over a year from a fellow host because I wouldn’t let her check in five hours early (her daughter lived five minutes from me so she could have gone there). She also marked me down on location even though she knew the area well.

Yes even the most experienced hosts can get a bit irked when they get a lower rating not in kilter with your normal reviews.

Deep breath/chocolate/or a large G&T can help. Then move on.

Happy hosting


Unpacking this a little bit… I have motion detecting battery operated path lighting plus a spotlight from a security camera, so I never have to worry if guests turn on or off the entry light, my guests always have safe pathway lighting.

Every host should make sure guests have automatic safe lighting to get in and out after dark.

You got dinged only for location, is that right? and you say guests had the address in advance so therefore they had no right, really, to dislike the location?

But what is your cancellation policy? If guests can’t cancel without losing money what are they supposed to do if the location does not meet their expectations?

I use the most flexible cancellation policy available. Hardly anyone cancels and if they do, I almost always get re booked with someone who wants to stay longer. I don’t think I’ve lost money even once, and I know for sure I’ve made more money thanks to a cancellation more than once.

For my listing AirBnB’s little gray map circle given prior to booking is pretty far off and not in a desirable direction. You might want to study your map location on the platform to see if it is misleading. The one for my listing definitely is.

The amenities you describe (tea, garden space, fire pit, washing dishes) are fewer than what i provide to my guests and are all common in AirBnBs I’ve stayed at. I’ve also had hot tubs, pools, fenced in yards, no pet fee, baked goods, hot homemade breakfast, old fashioned record player with records to play, bath robes, covered parking space…I could go on for awhile. I’ll bet there are single nights available near you, too.

When comparing room rates to local hotels, don’t forget your cleaning fee and Air’s fee that increase your nightly rate.

That extra fan should have been in the space before your guests arrived, in my view, if you’re having unusually hot weather. Of course if the heat was not accurately forecast then you wouldn’t know.

Now I’m a real New Yorker so I would have been irritated to receive a message after I’ve checked out wondering why I only gave you 4 starts for location and 5 stars for all else. I wouldn’t have written back, actually, and I might have blocked you.

Your guests are on to their next adventure. They don’t want to have a discussion about your place, they don’t care anymore.

Finally, my cottage has a 5.0 star rating at the moment. I don’t expect to keep it years, and I don’t care if it slips to 4.9 or whatever. Above a certain level it’s all the same to guests. We all work very hard but it’s unrealistic to expect that every guest is going to be 5 star happy. Some folks are never happy no matter what you do. Eventually folks like that will stay at my cottage and that’s just fine.


Reread the first line of the OP’s post. It wasn’t just a 4* location rating, they gave 4*s overall.

I wouldn’t be irritated if a host asked me if there was something they could improve. But there are various ways to ask that. While the OP said that CS told her there was nothing wrong with her message, I imagine the fact of her being so distressed about it came across in the message. I could see that being off-putting for a guest.

If I wanted to ask a guest why they left a 4* overall (which I wouldn’t), I would just say “As the overall rating could be a reflection of something not covered under the individual rating categories, we would be interested and open to hear if there is something you feelwe could improve on.”

I wouldn’t come across as distressed, defensive, nor say that no one has ever left less than 5* before, which sounds like a host is criticizing the guest or thinks they always deserve 5*.


After 45 reviews I got my first 4 star with a nice review saying the host was helpful and efficient. No idea why. My co-host messaged the guest to see what we could do better but got no reply.

To be fair, he messages every guest to see what we could do better. Some we immediately implement (how did I never notice one house didn’t have grab bars in the guest shower! I
lived there for a year and didn’t notice!) and some we collect to see if it’s a recurring request. It really hurt his feelings that we couldn’t fix whatever it was that made them feel it was less than a perfect stay.

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Have you used Airbnb as a guest? If not, to put it in perspective, when guests write a review they are presented with this scale:

5* = Excellent
4* = Good
3* = Fair
2* = Poor
1* = Terrible

As you can see 4-stars is “Good” which is technically not an insult and I doubt there was any intention to insult you (or they wouldn’t have chosen “good”.)

Excellent vs Good is entirely subjective. For a lot of people, Excellent means what-I’ve-been-told-to-give-a-host-because-their-business-depends-on-it and we all benefit from those people dutifully giving 5-stars. However, outside of that group, Excellent is not automatic. It means good-enough for some people but it means knocks-your-socks-off for other people.

And then there are the Excellent is only strived for and doesn’t actually exist because it implies perfection that can’t be had so they never leave 5-stars people. (My own cousin is one of these people and if you give her a couple of cocktails she will argue about it for hours. So she most certainly stays off-platform and for free at my place, lol).

Guests are given numerous opportunities and cues to leave specific feedback when they write a review. If they had wanted to explain further they would have. I don’t think it’s a good idea to reach out to them and press for more. As you learned from your guest’s response, it is irksome. I don’t recommend doing it. If they didn’t give you a reason you can assume that they either don’t want to give you a reason or that there wasn’t a reason at all. Perhaps they thought your place was Good which generally doesn’t require an explanation because it is generally a compliment.

It’s really nothing to worry about. Don’t let it get to you. It sounds as if you put a lot of effort into doing everything you could for these guests with the information you had and that is really all that you can do.

Hi BronnyT, I use the web site below to figure this out. But it doesn’t guarantee that ABB calculates this the same exact way. We also can’t know exactly how or where ABB does their “rounding” to reduce the almighty average down to only 1 decimal digit.

Using (29) 5* s and (1) 4* and normal mathematical rounding, your average star rating is still 4.9667. So it seems ABB is being harsh with the rounding.

If you change the 29 to 33, the avg. becomes 4.9706. Maybe that’s where ABB will finally round up. Or maybe it’ll be when you hit 4.9800 at 49 5* s. and 1 4*.

The section below comes from ABB in the Insights/Performance section.

If you search this forum you’ll note that the Location Rating is a thorn in the side of nearly or maybe even precisely ALL hosts. ABB thinks it’s about Location ACCURACY. But guests usually interpret it as “What do you think of the location?” So 4*s abound, because even though we describe it 100% accurately, there’s always someone who thinks the neighbor’s house is ugly, or the metro station is a block too FAR away, or TOO CLOSE AND NOISY. So there will be no winning for hosts on location until ABB makes it more clear to guests or does something different with respect to Location.

5-star ratings for location

What it means

Guests rate the listing’s location based on how accurate they think the listing description was.

Why it’s important

Hosts who provide accurate and up-to-date location info, like the listing address (which is shared only after guest has booked) and neighborhood features may help contribute to a better experience and better reviews for the Host and guest.

Read more about hosting expectations on Airbnb


You can adjust that little gray circle by moving the red pin on the map of your location.

Go to your listing settings on the app (you can only do it on the app) then to Location then press on the circle in the map that is there. It will then slide to another screen where you can move the pin on the map, which will move the gray circle.

Btw, if you have a neighbor whose listing is on top of yours on the search map, it can help to move the pin just an ooonch. It can give it enough space between your listings to show them side by side instead of stacked.


This is beautifully said and I just wanted to repeat it.


Thank you @JJD ! Finally the cottage’s location is accurate!


Sorry to be harsh but you really need to get over this if you are going to be along term Host. We all get the occasional 4 rating and I have had 3 ratings of 3 in my 300+ bookings. I also listen to what the guests say when I get less than 5 stars because often they will say things other guests are too polite to say. Use it is a teaching moment and stop obsessing or you will go crazy.

I also think that a lot of 5 star Airbnb ratings, including my own, should really be 4 star ratings because I do not offer what a 5 star hotle offers, no turn down service for start. Take a look at the hotels and rooms in White Lotus to see what 5 stars really means.

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But do you charge 5* hotel prices? If not a 5 rating can be appropriate for what you do. Plenty of basic listings attract 5* reviews because they do what they do well - and describe accurately

Your star ratings are based on the delivery of what you promised - not compared to a hotel, which is probably based on a checklist of amenities… No hot tub? Still a 5 star place, and the listing with a hot tub might not get high star ratings due to poor cleaning etc. It is not comparable to the ‘hotel’ ratings - Yes, some guests decide to give ratings based on what they think your listing SHOULD be, but they are, as we call them in the USA, ‘jerks’ lol.


That’s not what 5* means. That’s what it means for hotels and we aren’t a hotel.

A 5* rated Airbnb doesn’t mean the place is over the top expensively decorated with 1000 thread count sheets, a mini bar and daily maid service, it means it was all that was advertised and a little or a lot nicer than expected.

Just like a small café can be rated 5* because the food and service is great, even though it doesn’t have white linen tablecloths, a maitre d’, an award-winning chef and caviar on the menu.

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As said, you will occasionally get a 4* review, even when they have a great stay. Still a good review…but. I guess some people just can’t help themselves, apparently 5 stars means they’re admitting perfection and perfection doesn’t exist. We recently received a 4* review from a guest that asked for early check in, wanted recommendation for restaurants and said they had a great weekend, no complaints. Like I said, they sometimes just can’t help themselves.