Unrealistic expectations of guests - what to do?

Hi all,

We rent out a room in our 400 year old farm house in the alps, its a traditional house, made of wood, most of the internal walls are wood, it also has wood fires. We’ve only had 5 guest so far but 2 of them have marked us really badly on cleanliness, the house is clean, but its never going to be spotless, the walls etc are very old and as you’d expect have a lot of wear and tear, short of plasterboarding (sheetrock) all the walls (which we’re not going to do!!) there really is no way to make them look ‘clean’

so how can I manage peoples expectations? they seem to want a traditional swiss farm house but with a hotel sterile interior ???

I’d say having pictures of the place helps. Not the professional ones that airbnb does but just regular pictures so they know what it looks like.

One person’s clean can be vastly different from another. I think most people expect a rental to be as clean as a hotel room, even if they don’t live like that at home. So it should be vacuumed & mopped everywhere, including under furniture with legs. Spotless bathroom, no hairs or water drips on the wall or mirror, and especially a squeaky clean toilet. Dusted everywhere, especially on window sills and night tables. Kitcen appliances and counters stain free. Most importantly, clean, nicely smelling sheets. No hairs or stains! Beyond that, some people are just complainers. You could try a follow up e-mail asking how you could improve or ask a picky friend to come over and give you their thoughts. Describing your listing as rustic/basic would help too, if that’s what it is. Eventually when you get more 5 star reviews, your score will go up. Don’t be discouraged.


Hi, The power of matte white paint is amazing to making a rental look clean. I favor really bright whites and painting over any marks that accumulate frequently. Because the paint is white, the paint overs won’t show at all. Also, white sheets and new blankets go a long way in making a place feel super clean. Email me a photo of your place and I’ll give you more suggestions: mercedes@1chicretreat.com. I am always looking for properties like yours to feature on my blog. Thanks and good luck!

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I think changing up the description of your listing could help. Market is as “authentic feel” and descriptions along that line. Throw in a couple things when they’re staying there, such as new sheets a little more often than normal or different things to make the tenants feel “clean”.

Hope that helps!

Founder, MaidThis! Cleaning Service

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sorry for the late reply

Ok the all the bedding is always clean and changed after every visit, the room and ensuite bathroom is spotless.

I asked the previous guest why they though the house was dirty, it turns out dirty means messy / cluttered in our private areas, they didn’t like the fact we had extra chairs in common area, stupid things like this. They also moaned about dog hair, again, the area of the house we rent out was totally clear of dog hair (as the dogs can’t get to that area) and its clearly stated we have dogs (german shepherds so they moult, a lot, always)

I kinda despair, i clearly state we have dogs, and its our house, but some people seem to expect a totally sterile hilton hotel (and of course they ate all the chocolates we left out, and had 18 coffee capsules between the 2 of them in 1 night!!! and ate EVERYTHING that had been left out for breakfast

this is our listing


If everything is as clean as the bathroom photo, it looks perfect. I looked at your listing. I think you should borrow someone’s iPad or wide angle camera and take some brighter, sharper images of each guest used room. I found the bedroom hard to imagine with just the end of the bed showing. In regards to clutter, it did look that way with the things under the telescope window and what looked like a huge rolled up carpet in another room. Add more photos with more eye level angles and include the kitchen if there is one. Good luck!

You could add that in your Other Things to Note or in a response to the bad reviews, “Please be aware this is a 400 year old farmhouse and not a luxury hotel.” or your listing description could play up the charm and authenticity of the experience of staying there but also caution that it is not luxurious. I love reading reviews where the host gets angry at the dissatisfied guest and tells them what a bad guest they really were. They are hilarious. I suppose the best response is where you sound humble and tell the guest in the review response that you are sorry they got the wrong impression and will work harder to make the listing description more accurate…


I don’t know if this is well known but you can try to ask the guest to tone down their comments. They have 48 hours to change their review. Ive done this, sadly groveling with the guest. It has worked. Some don’t realize they sound harsher than they mean to. Agree with others…make it clear you don’t have a luxury place. Although even though I do this, people still find something to grouse about. What do they want for $79 a night?

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“sadly groveling with the guest…” LOL


LOL! This is the language I have used to get them to change their reviews: “I wonder if I might ask a big favor. Is there any way to change or at least tone down your review? I try so hard to make a good guest experience and I wonder if you could find it in your heart to delete that part about the lumpy mattress or at least tone down your criticism. I’m guessing you didn’t mean for it to come off sounding so harsh. I so appreciate you staying with me and also would soooooo appreciate anything you can do to tone down the review. You have only 48 hours to change it. Thanks so much…”

Hey if it works, I’ll grovel. (“Find it in your heart” really tugs at their guilt, tee hee)

Worth a try! I’ll never see the jerks again. :smile:


Personally, I think the view of your home is worth anything else!! But yes, I think guests expect sanitary/sterile hotel conditions. That’s not a home. My first guest only gave me three stars for cleanliness, but the second gave me five stars. So, it’s all relative, I guess. I did repaint baseboards and doors after that first guest - like your place, just wear and tear - not filth. So, agree with the painting idea. Would love to stay at your place. Breath-taking view!

add that your place is well loved, and that you have worked hard not to spoil the originality of it… in my profile I say that we have flea market and side of the road finds for our much loved décor also you might try saying that you love the rustic nature of your home