What is it with the French and the Dutch and the 4/3 stars?

I know, I know. It’s been discussed before, But I’ve just received a review from a French couple who were delightful guests. We had a great chat and a laugh, they loved the room, blah de blah de blah. Recent Dutch guests were a similar experience. Reviews are 4* all round. Whatever. Personally, I think it’s fair. But Air thinks I have ‘Room for Improvement’ with the usual condescending message and yellow warning sign.

4* = Great. So what exactly is the f**kin problem here? I’ve “only” been rated “great” and that’s not good enough??

So really the title of the thread should be "What the F is it with Airbnb and their rating system? But I thought mentioning the French and Dutch, who are well-known for giving low (reasonable?) ratings would be more attractive. :slight_smile:

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Atleast you didn’t get 1 stars for everything from a guest who literally stayed 4 hrs. He went to the pub for 12 hrs the moment after he checked in. Got back 3am and left at 7am. Haha try explain that. I’m 4s and 5s by most other guests.

Maybe he had trouble with “location”. You know, your place moved while he was out at the pub.


I cannot speak for the French.
But he Dutch are opposite to the Americans, they will never be over the top.
You will have to be beyond perfect to get a fantastic score. If they give you a “great”, they had a very nice stay, and were happy.

It is indeed the AirBnB rating system is wrong. The are going international and still using a rating system based on US perception. I think a 4 star rating average is already good, and AirBnB should stop pushing hosts.

Oh, and have you ever seen a 5 star restaurant? Based on the Michelin system, a 1 star restaurant means that you already belong to the best of the best.


As a French, I sympathise wholeheartedly. For a long time, I wanted to refuse French guests. Just absurd, you can never get 5*.

5* for a French is Versailles, with a Michelin Chef in the kitchen, for the price of a dump, and not feeling there is something fishy.

One wrote the most ecstatic review but gave 4* because the furniture was not designer-made (expletive, expletive, expletive), another because they didn’t realise the place was shared (mother of all expletives).

But then again, some of my best moments were also with French guests, when they have the right attitude.

If you want good reviews, go American and Chinese. Never had any less than pristine review, or at least one where stars and comment match.


I’m ok with getting 4* reviews, personally. What really annoys me is the expectation from Airbnb that anything less that Fantastic!! is not good enough and that I need to improve. I agree with you @smartbnb.io that the Chinese (and Korean) guests are usually very generous with their ratings, in my experience.

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That could be a mistake, it’s happened before now that the app doesn’t properly show the amount of stars you clicked. If your guest was hungover he might have just randomly clicked anything. What a pain for you, though. But yeah, you really should have moved your house nearer to the pub for his convenience. Tut tut.

Could of been if it wasn’t for the fact they gave me a bad review and accused me of lying about where my place was located in the review. They obviously didn’t know how to look at a map.

That’s crap, commiserations :frowning: What an arse.

This made me laugh because that’s exactly my experience with airbnb.
I am French, both guest and host.

Obviously the French in general have a much much higher expectation than for example an American or a Chinese.
The competition for bed and breakfast is extremely tough in France. Obviously France is one of the most touristic country in the world and the whole economy rely more on tourism every year (as entrepreneurs and rich people leave the country en masse).
As a consequence, French are used to excellence as a standard for hosting.

The second explanation is that French culture don’t believe in perfection and a 5 stars rate is often interpreted as perfection and therefore cannot be possible as a rating. Even if they really love it, they cannot put 5 stars.

The explanation for the high expectation in Dutch people too is that they massively go in France for holidays. This is by far their favorite destination and therefore get used to the French standards.

But look at it the other way : getting a 5 stars from French people is like a supreme achievement in life that very few will ever experience. The satisfaction is incredible and worth the try.


I actually wouldn’t attribute that to higher expectations as I haven’t found the french or dutch to be fussy. I think it’s more related to the mentality regarding grading. In France, you grade harshly in general - in the education system, you are always reminded that you can do better and no one can so easily deserve a 20/20 - so even when you’ve done a really good job, unless it’s a math exercise where you can get 20/20, you might get 15/20 and be told you did an excellent job. The french always remind you that you’re not all that…even if they think you did pretty darn ok and there isn’t much to complain about. I geniunely think it’s more linked to the cultural view of grading.
It’s very different from the A, B, C system in some anglo saxon systems where you are encouraged with positive reinforcement. No such thing in France as positive reinforcement in school!

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@Edouard, @whamser, interesting perspectives, thank you. A lot of my guests are French and mostly we get on great. I speak French (badly but enough to get by!) and that often helps. I think I have had 5* reviews from a couple of them (should I faint??) but I’ve given up checking now as it’s too annoying to see that yellow warning. Actually, I feel good now that most of them award me 4*!

Any French has to agree with that comment on grading. I don’t believe either it is about great expectations.

I went to law school. I averaged 12/20 in my Bachelor, and I was not bad. The top one student had around 14/20 and was seen as a semi-god. Later, I averaged 17/20 in my Master’s degree and before every interview I was asked to provide my grades. I guess it is much safer to assume I would lie on my résumé than actually having those grades.

Coming back to Airbnb, 4* is about the best grade you can get, whatever the effort. However, do French give bad grades with nasty comments? I wouldn’t except so.

We’ve had almost all Dutch and French guests this Summer, and the only people who have given us less than 5 stars have been the Brits!

Our secret? Wine. Lots of wine … a night or two before they leave we invite guests to have wine and tapas with us on our terrace (which i have to say does look very romantic at night …) I make some simple tapas and my husband is very good at topping up the glasses! We get to know them, ask about their lives, how they liked Malaga, etc and in an hour or so they’re marvelling about how good Spanish wine is and metaphorically eating out of our hands … then I present them with a box of my handmade soap as a leaving present. Just let them dare leave a less than 5-star review after that!

I agree that speaking French helps, and our french guests appreciate that I do, since no-one else in Spain does!


Good point, no they don’t. The written reviews are really nice. They have sometimes mentioned negative things but only ever in the private feedback which, of course, is much appreciated. Are you saying, by the way, that prospective employers didn’t believe your grades? That’s crazy!

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I think genuinely liking people or letting them believe that you do goes a long way. I don’t even list breakfast or the kitchen as amenities but I’ve shared beers and wine, coffee, offered breakfast items in the morning, helped with their laundry. Some people are very concerned that someone is going to “take advantage of them.” I’m more concerned with treating others the way I want to be treated and letting the chips fall where they may. Tapas night sounds heavenly, too bad Spain isn’t on my bucket list.


Sounds great. Wine is way too expensive here to be handing it out, though! Yes, the Brits. Mmh, what to say. Probably my least good reviews have come from the English. But again, it’s probably more about the demographic than the nationality.

Spanish! Are you kidding? We are apéro-friends. Please don’t reveal the secret that we are just mean to Americans ;D

Is that one of those subjects that is inevitably going to diverge into something where we vent off and exchange clichés about other nationalities and end up looking absurdly bigoted? Damn! I promised myself I would never take part to those, but I guess I couldn’t resist! :joy:


I hosted only four french families but they all gave me 5 stars, so it’s possible :slight_smile:. I also get a lot of Dutchies, who gave me 5-stars. Brits, which make up for the bulk of my clientele, are always very kind. The two 4-star I had came from a Singaporean couple and a Danish family.

I agree with @KKC and @Malagachica that showing to guests that “you care” will go a long way to turn a 4-star rating into 5-star. I get better location ratings than my neighbors while we’re in the same location, obviously.


First French family just submitted their review and I got 5’s!!! Except for location, even though our home is exactly .75 miles to the school they were visiting and .25 miles from their daughter’s home.