Not sure what to say about our recent experience as a guest

We used AirBnB as guests for the first time in five years, and the experience was a bit odd. I’m looking for advice on what’s important to share in a review, and what’s best for private feedback. And yes, we are planning to go back - location and price are perfect for us for an annual event.

The property was shown as the host being a young woman. Instead, it’s a company. The address of the apartment and apartment number were different than shown on AirBnB, and almost all communications were via email and some were conflicting (such as an email saying I rented a single room in an apartment when I rented a whole four-bedroom apartment, and check-out instructions on the blackboard differing from those through AirBnB). “Samantha” claims she has no idea why AirBnB shows the wrong address (I smell BS here).

There were some small maintenance issues, and a gag-inducing air freshener (and I’m not usually sensitive to smells!) Walking distance to Starbucks turned out to be 25 minutes each way (although the AirBnB address was only an 8-minute walk). “Unlimited Starbucks coffee” on-site was a Flavia maker with Alterra coffee.

I think they take an apartment or two every year in each student housing complex in the neighborhood and change part of the listing to match the available unit.

If four stars really meant “no major issues and I’d go back”, I’d give it four stars. The contradicting property information and the horrid air freshener are the two items that bothered me the most. We had a car so the location discrepancy wasn’t an issue.


Do they have long standing reviews at this “location?” Because it sounds like such a poorly managed and uncertain setup that I wonder if you are holding back on your review in hopes of returning. It seems to be acceptable to you so 4 stars is probably appropriate. A bait and switch for me is a bright line situation and I not only wouldn’t go back, I’m not sure I would have been willing to check in to a place different than what I booked.


I think I’d put comments that I wanted the Host to implement in the public review because they might not implement them if just in the private review, and I don’t trust the named manager.

My review would be a 4 because I want to return. The words:

Actual listing is pleasant, clean and appealing but listing has incorrect address, actual address 25 not 8 minute walk to Starbuck’s; manager seems to be professional company not “Samantha”; messaging inconsistent; air freshener is gag-inducing; 'unlimited Starbucks coffee" is a Flavia maker with Alterra coffee.


The wrong address makes me think this is an illegal listing. Wouldn’t happen to be in the LA area, would it? I’ve read that happens a lot there, as some areas have str restrictions and some don’t.

I wouldn’t want to stay in a place like this again, even if it was convenient and basically met my needs, because I don’t want to support this kind of subterfuge or incompetence.

The review suggested by @HostAirbnbVRBO sounds about right to me.


I don’t think it’s illegal. It’s in a neighborhood of college apartment complexes and there are signs for the lodging company all around. All of the students in the building know about the lodging company. I think it’s a symbiotic relationship where the owners of the apartment complexes let the lodging company use the apartments that didn’t rent out or during the summer.


Yes, the listing has reviews going back to 2018. 4.97 average and superhost.


“The description was inaccurate – wrong address, wrong distance to local shops, coffee offered not available. I’m guessing this is actually not one apartment but similar vacant apartments managed by a management company. Otherwise OK.”

That would be helpful to me as a future guest.

If you weren’t planning to go back, you might be able to get a partial refund based on description inaccuracies. I bet they used to put Starbucks gift cards in there or had some arrangement with the local shop when they first started out, and it’s gone by the wayside.


Sounds like the odds are in your favor so a measured review is probably wise. But I also doubt they bother to blacklist guests who don’t give 5 star reviews.

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Most hosts won’t let you book again if you don’t leave 5* and a positive written review. Honestly, I wouldn’t either. I think you have two choices:

  1. Write a completely honest review naming all of the issues and concerns you mentioned here and leave 3* or 4* overall, whichever feels warranted. And don’t plan on staying there again.


  1. Write a short simple review giving 5*overall (but maybe deduct a single star from one of the categories if warranted) and only focus on the positive like

Location and price are perfect for us for an annual event.

and then mention the issues and concerns in the private feedback to the host. And plan on staying there again.

I don’t see any benefit to playing the middle. And I gave it a lot of thought just recently because we were put in a similar situation. There were some issues and I had some concerns but we’d definitely like to go back and likely will so I picked option #2 above. The host apologized, thanked me for the honest (private) feedback and said he’d love to host us again. I consider it a win-win.

No matter what, I’d keep the information about the air freshener in the private feedback because it is so subjective, I’m not sure it accomplishes anything in the public review other than to make you look “fussy” (not saying you are only that it will read that way), especially if you use the word “horrid”.

People who are scent-sensitive tend to mention that when they book anyway so I don’t think it changes anything for them. And people who aren’t scent-sensitive may not notice it or may even like it and you not liking it doesn’t tell them that they wouldn’t like it so it doesn’t change anything for them either.

As far as the address/location issue, a couple of things come to mind. One is that it wouldn’t be the first time that an address is incorrect unbeknownst to the host (cause Airbnb) so Samantha was possibly completely honest with you. The other is that large hosting groups using software are allowed to put multiple listings into a “representative set” and book them according to vacancies as long as they are “similar enough to be considered substitutes for each other” (however I think they’re supposed to have the same street address too).

If you choose to mention it publicly, it should be kept simple and straightforward. I don’t think you should state nor imply that Samantha was BSing you unless you verify that she was. For most guests, the change in locations and the incorrect address are likely the most relevant issues/concerns.

It’s fair to mention the coffee issue too. That kind of thing seems important to some people.

But, again, I’d keep it all in the private feedback or tread very lightly if I was hoping to stay again. That may seem harsh to some others here but, as I said, I just recently had to make this same choice and I think it worked out for the best.

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Aside from the issue of the OP wanting to stay there again, so being careful with the review wording, it would be much more important to me as a prospective guest to know the place reeked of air freshener than that the coffee wasn’t the brand they listed.
And no, I wouldn’t ask first about air fresheners.

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I’m not scent-sensitive and I’ve never had allergies. But this one hit me like a wall of bricks and I reacted to it like I was allergic (runny nose, completely stuffed up and sneezing). That cleared up within 24 hours of unplugging the air freshener. The rest of our party didn’t arrive until the second day so they didn’t notice it as much as I did.

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There’s a third option. Be honest and give four stars (no major issues). Then let another member of our party book and have them tell the host to leave the air freshener UNPLUGGED.

It just stinks (no pun intended!) that a four-star review really means “IT SUCKED” in AirBnB-ese.


That makes sense. I hadn’t thought of that. I might use it. There was a host I left a negative review for a few years ago that has a place I might like to stay again. I was thinking I might be screwed.


[NB: we have 100% 5-star ratings – 112 and counting.]
So someone who rates us a 4 would not be welcomed back as we wouldn’t want to disappoint them again nor risk another low rating. A 5 and really good private feedback, sure.

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Does is start with a V and end in an A?

I will never ever book through that company again.


No, it’s not that company. I probably would have cancelled right away if it had been.


I think every guest deserves a 5 star stay. And if a guest leaves us a 4 star review, and it’s due to things we either can’t or have no intention of changing, such as location or furniture not to their esthetic, we will turn them down when they want to return.

In this case it sounds like your 4 star review is due to them not having the right address, as it seems to change year to year or semester to semester. That isn’t going to be different next time you attempt to book.

This makes total sense except for the fact that you don’t always know why a guest decided to leave 4* s, and also because most guests are completely unaware that hosts and Airbnb considers a 4* review to be not okay.

Believe me, I’ve had conversations with wonderful guests who any host would be happy to have, who told me they’d been leaving 4 * reviews for places they liked and would book again, because Airbnb tells them 4 * means “Good” and they thought the host would be fine with that. They were shocked when I told them Superhosts lose that status for anything under 4.8 average and often will refuse a repeat booking from guests who left less than a 5* review, even if the guest was otherwise someone they would welcome back.

It’s a huge dilemma for good hosts and good guests that Airbnb misleads guests into thinking 4* is a good review. Unless you let guests know it isn’t, which many hosts are understandably reticent to do, not to seen as demanding a 5* review, a guest who experienced no issues, wants to come back and intended no harm by leaving 4* s can be punished by being declined, for something they didn’t understand and isn’t their fault.

I can understand declining a guest who marked down for value, because it makes no sense that they would want to book again if they thought it was overpriced. But a 4* location rating? Seems petty to decline over that.
And guests don’t necessarily see giving 4* as “marking down”. It doesn’t mean they were unhappy with anything or think you could do better. They are telling you it was “Good”. Only on Airbnb is Good not good enough.

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No. My issues were the stress from the conflicting communications (which address was right?, check out instructions not matching (one said to put trash in the inside trash cans, the other said to take trash to the dumpster), booked one room when I booked a four-room apartment), and the gag-inducing air freshener.


We ask every guest that gives us less than 5 stars why. One or two in the 5 years we’ve hosted admit they thought 4 stars was good, and we could guess that by the review. Those I’d welcome back. We know their expectations, they know ours.

It’s the ones that complain about things that will be exactly the same if they rebooked that we don’t invite back. They deserve a place that meets all their expectations. They, and we, know ours won’t.

That’s why I’m confused PitonView wants to go back to a place where they won’t know the exact location, are given conflicting instructions, and hate the air-freshener. All those things likely will be there next time. If asked, the host may unplug the air-freshener a few hours earlier, but will that make it a 5 star stay? Why not go for someplace that is better?