Review from another host trying to sandbag us?

Have you ever had another host in your same neighborhood stay at your place and give you backhanded compliments in the review?

We are new to AirBnb, and need good reviews. Our third guest made me nervous. A couple with a home in Manoa (our town) with a rental on AirBnb! They said their unit was rented and had friends unexpectedly come stay for a visit. We are in Hawaii – so they came on a plane on a whim?

Anyway, we took the rental (we need the business right now), and the first morning we get a pm making some incorrect assumptions about us “you should try staying in your rental” (thank you I did) and our house “has no insulation” etc, and being awoken by all kinds of noise in the morning, including “refrigerator doors slamming” etc. They complained about being awoken at 6am when everyone gets up at 7am. The patronizing tone did really irritate me, and I honestly don’t beleive we are noisy people, our two previous guests left glowing reviews and did not complain at all.

We were very nervous the whole rest of the time they were here. When they left, they didn’t mention the noise but they gave us a backhanded compliment in their review sounding like we have a heat problem.

Their review –
“Clean private space with beautifully redone bathroom. No ac but two fans and blackout curtain helped battle the heat comfortably. Would definitely recommend.” 4 stars

How to respond? It is always cool and breezy in Manoa except for about 3 weeks a year, which THEY KNOW since they have a house here too. They also know that there was a mini heat-wave on the days they stayed with us, which is unusual, and that we DO NOT list AC in our description. They also know that $79/night in new construction (with a separate entrance) is very cheap in Honolulu and they could easily stay in Waikiki or any number of local hotels with AC for more money.

Is this too snippy? :

"Glad you enjoyed your stay in our new house. We try very hard provide for our guests’ comfort. It is cool in Manoa year-round except for a few weeks each summer, sorry you caught the tail end of that. We don’t believe it’s being good stewards of our ‘Aina to have AC for a few weeks of warm weather, so we provided an extra large floor fan in the unit to supplement the ceiling fan. Our listing is accurate, we don’t advertise AC. But as you know, being locals (and hosts), you can stay in any number of hotels in Waikiki or at the Pagoda if that is an important consideration, albeit it will cost you more. "

I should also say that we furnished the place with granite countertops, travertine shower, 500 thread count egyptian cotton sheets, a new Tuft and Needle bed, extra plush towels, etc. in a highly desirable Honolulu neighborhood for $79/night. Theirs is $135/night.

Anyway, I know I’m irritated, so I’d appreciate any advice on how to handle this situation – but I don’t want folks to think that they’re renting a room where they’d “battle heat” and these folks are behaving in a way that seems like it might be a little fishy.

Thank you for your thoughts!

Well the review was very nice. He said they were comfortable. I would not mention the possibility of renting hotel with AC, it sounds defensive , but otherwise your response is appropriate


Manoa, I’m also in Hawaii and we’ve been smacked by the surprise heatwave. Really how could they write this, especially since they live in the area! At least they didn’t mention the noise and stuff in the review. I mean, actually, Manoa, this is not a bad review. I’ve had worse!

Know the feeling of being nervous when unhappy guests are checked in! That’s one of the things I don’t like about being a host.

I think your response DOES sound a little defensive. Almost a “if you don’t like it lump it, go pay for AC in Waikiki” type of response. New guests will judge you for how you handle a review, so unless it is factually incorrect, I would let it go. Then if you do respond, you have to be REALLY careful about how you word it. In fact… why even respond? I know that’s your first reaction… but just think about it for a bit…

(Are you planning to post it publicly?) Keep in mind that when you do, it prints their entire review and your entire response, drawing more attention to it until it finally scrolls off the bottom.

If it were me, I would let this one go. It’s really not that bad.


Thank you @konacoconutz and @Yana_Agapova! I really appreciate your feedback. I know get a little rattled, and I don’t have much perspective on the range of reviews, so thanks for the words of wisdom. You (and my husband) are right :slight_smile: we don’t want to sound defensive.

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One thing you can also do is ask the guest to tone down a review. They have 48 hours to edit. I’ve done that in the past. Pathetically grovel and have had it work. :smile:

"Hi. xxx-Guest,

I know that the appearance of a B52 in the apartment scared the daylights out of you but I wonder if you could find it in your heart to tone down the review a little. B52s are all over the place in Hawaii outside in the summer, and seeing just one was certainly unfortunate but doesn’t indicate that the apartment was unclean. We are in the tropics and summer is a buggy time of year. I do apologize. I’m a single mom and really depend on this apartment for income and good reviews are a part of getting new bookings. Thanks for whatever you can do to make the review read a little less harshly. Again, you have 48 hours to change it. Aloha,



Agree with Kona. The best strategy here would be to avoid responding at all. The review itself is really not bad, and if you post a response defending yourself, then it will call attention to it and paint it in a more negative light.


i agree with both kona and jackulas, no need to defend yourself. the review was nice and you may give off the wrong vibe if you say too much.


Sorry, but I agree with you Manoa, they were definitely giving you a backhanded compliment and trying to make it sound like your home is a crappy shack that people will roast in. I literally imagined myself having to pull all the curtains so it was pitch black and fire fans at my face from that description. But I am pretty sensitive to passive aggressive people and can read it from a mile off. They try to act nice and then throw a curve ball. Nonetheless, it’s unfortunate that there isn’t much to be done. Thankfully other people don’t seem put off by it. Let’s hope your guests aren’t, and this wicked review is soon buried. I suspect that with your gorgeous place at those prices it will be.

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Thanks again everyone! I agree with you A, too, as we’ve been vacant for almost 2 weeks after that, despite having a good number of views (15?) but only one request and booking which came in last night. It might be seasonal but it sure feels like folks being nervous. But I also see your collective wisdom in not drawing attention to it, so I let it go :). Thank you for your help! Thanks also @konacoconutz for that great example pm. We will definitely keep it for future reference and respond right away.


Manoa, if it makes you feel any better, EVERYONE in Hawaii is slow right now. Even the big resorts. It’s an in between seasons time of year right now, and very soon the bookings will pick up. I seriously doubt anyone will avoid booking because of that little tiny snivel. He did, after all, write “Recommend.”


Thanks again @konacoconutz. When does it pick up again?

15 views is nothing within 2 weeks😃. I started in March and every day I had 15-20 views. In hot climate very busy season atarts around December but it starts pick up in November, at least this is what I see with hotels and how their prices go up. I was very busy up to the second week of April

Mid to late November.

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