Responding to my first bad review

Hi all!

Got my first bad review, on lucky number 80. I’ve been a Superhost since the badge was launched. Here’s the story:

I hosted a couple from Turkey two weeks ago. They were too busy to read any of the listing or do any research on the destination, so in my opinion did not come with the right expectations. I live in Israel and on Saturday a lot of things are closed for Shabbat. They flew in at midnight on Saturday and I told them that trains didn’t run on Saturday’s, they seemed irritated that they would have to spend $35 on a taxi to the city, this is when I knew it was not going to go well.

They showed up at my place at 2am, they didn’t read the self check in instructions that I sent in a google doc and then again directly in the messages. They called to wake me up to get in, I pretended I wasn’t even sleeping, greeted them with a smile, showed them around and then went to bed.

In the morning they said they were uncomfortable and wanted to leave. They said that the bed was too small (double bed/obviously that was in the listing), and that the room was damp. The wall in the room a little messed up from a leak a few months ago, the landlord is waiting until the wall dries completely to fix it but that is also in the listing. Also, I hosted a guest right before and right after who gave five star reviews. I even asked them if they thought the room was damp and they said definitely not. Anyway, I let them leave without any penalty, I proactively refunded them half the money for that night stay and sent them a note apologizing for the inconvenience and that I never want guests to feel uncomfortable. They never responded.

Side note: I don’t like to generalize but out of the hundred times I’ve hosted, the only two times I had a bad experience was with guests from Turkey. Curious whether people have had the same experience.

I’ve done a lot of research on how to respond to a bad review but wanted to get your take on my draft response. Everyone says to keep it short but it’s so hard to! A lot of people on this forum also say to just let it go, don’t write a response and let it get buried, I’m considering that as well.

Guests review: Nir was very friendly and helpful. However the room is definitely much worse than the photos. It is damp and uncomfortable.

Draft response: Thanks XXXX. As mentioned in the listing, there was a leak a month ago that was fixed (buildings in Israel are not so good at handling rain, unfortunately). Once the wall dries completely this will be fixed although I’ve hosted so many guests, also directly before you and directly after you, and no one has ever mentioned any dampness. Checking in at 2am probably didn’t help you see the room for how it is in the day…bright with light, birds chirping. It’s important when booking an Airbnb that you also read the listing carefully, not just look at photos, that way there will be less surprises. I happily let you adjust the reservation with no penalty and even refunded half the payment for that night…hopefully you enjoyed the rest of your stay in Tel Aviv. After eight years of super hosting and 79 five star reviews, I finally reached my hosting right of passage but I am determined to continue improving.

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I probably wouldn’t respond at all but if I did it would be much, much shorter. Something that doesn’t address the complaining guest at all but only possible future guests: “The wall repair will be done soon. In the meantime, prospective guests are urged to read the listing for a description of the current conditions in the room.”


I wouldn’t respond. Let it go. It’ll be buried in no time.


One stray bad listing in a sea of good listings will be overlooked by potential guests. Just let it go.


Let it go …

There is nothing in their 3 line review of a leak, so don’t point out negative things not even mentioned.

Then, if you have not mentioned the late check-in or that this couple would be better suited for a hotel in your review of them, it will sound as if you are entering a pissing contest.

Just ignore.


@nirvico, personally I like your reply but would leave out any mention of a refund (could give a green light to future picky guests to complain and ask for a refund). I’d also leave out the whole right of passage thing (much as I feel for you!) and super host stuff. I would end it at ‘…less surprises. Hopefully you enjoyed the rest of your stay etc’


Just drop it. Not worth the aggravation you’ve already expressed over it. Some people are jerks; most guests do not read.


I think it’s a great reply, I also like Magwitch’s suggestion. If you do decide to leave the last bit in, I would change it from right to rite.

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This couple arrived by taxi and did not hesitate to call and wake me at 2 am for entry. They had not read the self-check-in instructions which I sent them or heeded my advice about the limited transportation options. They were unhappy and unapologetic. They also expressed dissatisfaction about the size of the bed, which is accurately described in my listing. As a result, they shortened their stay and departed the next day.


pretty danged good response


A long reply is more likely to encourage a prospective guest to read their review and think about the drama entailed. Don’t reply and at worst they will notice the issue isn’t mentioned by other guests and ignore it. Assuming they even get that far. The review is for future guests not to have a conversation with the reviewer. I learned this when a friend checking my listing said she nixed hosts who were overly defensive, as I used to be.


I think the purpose of a negative review is to be helpful to both a future or prospective host as well as a future or prospective guest. It should be dispassionate and factual so the reader cannot tell for certain how the host is judging the guest.

Ideally, the review lets the future host decide whether he wants to host that guest, and it lets the future guest decide whether he wants to stay with that host.

My review intended to reveal to a prospective host that the guests were callous in waking him up at such an ungodly hour (2 am) when there was no reason to do so because the guests had already been provided the self check-in information.

The review also reveals to a prospective guest that if the guests had read the arrival instructions, they would have known to travel on a different day and had less expensive transportation options available to them. Also, had the guests read the listing details, they would have known about the bed size.

A negative review can help our fellow hosts as well as educate future guests.


Thanks everyone! This forum is so helpful. Think I’ll just let it slide.


In addition to @SandyToes great reply above, I’ve recently come across a marketing analysis of online reviews that stated an occasional negative review is in a paradoxical way beneficial, in that it indicates:

  • You do not have 100% excellent reviews, which can be a sign of fake reviews
  • You thus have real reviews, with negative, impossible people providing the negative ones, and real people providing the good reviews
  • So potential customers consider the source and dismiss the negative review and trust the positives

So good hosts with the oddball negative review here and there have nothing to worry about, apparently, and in fact stand to benefit.


I agree: don’t respond. It will make their review stick out and might make you sound defensive. If you don’t respond, their review will soon disappear among all the good ones. Anyone who happens to read it will think these people are just picky (they are).

I think it’s also a bad idea to publicly acknowledge giving a refund as it may make future guests they can bully you for a discount.


Another benefit is that people who don’t read the listing but do read the review may learn something important like the wall is damaged or the bed is just a double bed. So the picky guest doesn’t book or are prepared when they arrive.



SandyToes tops us all as ever. I was thinking you should let this one go until I read her “advice”.

Thanks Joan! It’s just what I needed before we get in the car on a ver-ry long and boring 6-hr. drive in a few minutes!! I haven’t read everyone’s comments yet but I will this evening.

I did read where the OP decided to keep mum, and that’s okay. I appreciate the OP letting us know his decision. It’s up to every host to decide whether to respond to a negative review or not. Reviews can and often do impact the host or listing in a less than beneficial way so the host has to weigh all that.

While many would hope hosts would favor alerting other hosts to “bad” guests, it is certainly understandable to self-preserve their own reputation and listing.

We’re all here to help.

Keep in mind the OP was asking about a response to a review, not his review of the guest. I hope he gave the guest the bad review that was deserved. As host I’m not nearly as likely to read a response to a review.

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Are you private room or entire apartment? Just curious with regards to the self check in