This is the Problem Airbnb Hosts have with Guests

I’m putting this in guest stories so that guests actually read it. I have been a guest many places, and I’ve been a host for almost two years. I have been reading a lot of the guest “horror stories” and with very few exceptions, I think it all boils down to one thing that is not being understood. Airbnbs and short term rentals are not hotels. Say it with me now. It seems like most of the problems stem from guests expecting their stays to be just like a hotel stay without understanding why the two are so different.

Hotels have staff and employees. They have maintenance crews. A lightbulb goes out and they have a closet full of spare ones. Sheets and towels get stained… no problem, that is built into the nightly rate and we just replace them. All rooms are relatively the same, and if anything in those rooms ends up being a problem, is inefficient to clean or to use, they are replaced in every room. The cleaning strategy has a chance to be developed to where not a speck of dirt is seen, every time. Your basement at home is probably actually “cleaner” (I used to clean hotel rooms – who here likes their glasses washed out with windex because that’s how it’s done).

Anyway, I digress. Your Airbnb host is probably making a tiny profit if any at all, has a life and obligations outside of running the place you’re staying, wants guests to be happy with their stay and wants good reviews, has to deal with enormous amounts of BS to serve you, and probably is already killing themselves trying to make the place as nice as they can for you within reason.

An Airbnb stay should be like staying at a friend or relative’s house. Would you notice one speck of dirt in the corner or a stain on a mattress under the mattress pad and declare her house to be “unfit?” Would you go to your grandma’s and storm off in the middle of the night because there were a couple of ants in the kitchen or a cobweb in the corner? We simply can’t keep normal, functional homes the same way a hotel can keep their properties. You need to be a little bit flexible and a lot less OCD. I think the majority of people who complain are just people who are not comfortable staying in another person’s home. Which is fine – just don’t use Airbnb.

If I think back to all the places I’ve stayed, I can probably pick out something majorly wrong with each ones of them: crumbling tubs in New Orleans and questionable bedding, leaky faucets, an overly friendly raccoon on a private property in Miami, cockroaches in our gorgeous eco-villa in Tulum, hairs in drains, water that was too hot or too cold, hard beds… it goes on and on. Did any of this stuff actually bother us or make us have a bad time? Hell no! You notice it, accept it, then move on. You are on vacation, and you chose an Airbnb. Suck it up. Focus on the good stuff.

If you want to be super picky and miserable please stay at a hotel, hopefully one with a 24-hour concierge you can ask all your high-maintenance questions about how to use a remote for the ceiling fan at 2:00 AM (true story – I was like “um, press the buttons?”). Otherwise you are ruining this whole thing for everyone. Seriously, please stop it.

Your reviews aren’t helpful; they’re not innocent little tips for future guests. They actually make our scores go down and make Airbnb threaten to remove our listings over very minor things. They start promoting our listings less often, and therefore we end up losing business and therefore losing money and actually decreasing our chances of being able to afford to be up to your hotel standards. Please just tell us directly if there is a problem or if you have a suggestion. Thank you.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. I run some airbnb listings and it is absolutely true that some guests are a nightmare.

    First off, our homes our professionally cleaned, we never have issues with the cleanliness standards. What we do have issues is with unreasonable guests

    In my experience running multiple businesses, 2-5% of customers or in this case, guests are problematic no matter how hard you try. This number applies to almost any industry. 2-5% of people are just problems and it makes sense considering how many mental health issues exist today. You cannot keep 100% of people happy no matter what. The angry guests who post on airbnbhell largely fall under this category of 2-5%

    Guests sometimes will come and point out to 1 or 2 things that are not perfect such as a minor tear on a window screen or a a patch on the ceiling that needs to be sanded and repainted. Seriously, these are issues that I face 2-5% of the time. They don’t have any sense of anything. Any home has thousands and thousands of components to it. The fact that 1 or 2 minor things may be out of a place is a miracle when you think about all of the pieces that come together to make a home. Rather then focus on the 998 aspects that make a home great, they harp on 2 things that are not perfect. They simply don’t get it.

  2. Someone’s complaint about my AirBnb was once that they should have paid twice more for a hotel. They were upset that I didn’t live on site and couldn’t fix their problem immediately. It’s really not a hotel and it’s unfair to expect that. People expect more out of an AirBnb than a hotel and won’t be happy. If expecting a hotel, pay more and book one. I don’t really want a guest like that and would rather no one stay than their problem to become mine. I don’t find the money to be worth it in the least when that happens

  3. The comment the author made about the Airbnb quite possibly being cleaner than a hotel has truth. These are our homes. To an Airbnb host, the ploys hotels use to look clean are obvious. Carpets and bedspreads are the color of mud. Bedbugs are only random checks. Bedspreads aren’t cleaned with every guest, and you really don’t want to know what’s on them. Lighting is kept subdued. And a cleanup is timed. Even before Airbnb, I would not get under the covers.

  4. I have solved this problem. If your price level is too low – get ready for hell. They start to complain about old furniture, bathroom… how dirty is your place and in same time they leave your place in disgrace with bad review. I understand if your place is really mess but on the other side, they expect Hilton experience! Interesting, they always forget the fact that they payed really little for what they got! However, if you raise your price you will get normal customers, people who are satisfied with their life so cut it right now with quantity and think about quality!

  5. I can’t say I’m sympathetic with this post. We’ve stayed in a number of Airbnbs – ones where people obviously live in the apartment when you’re not there and the wardrobes are full of their stuff… ones which are run super-professionally and yes, actually feel like hotels (or at least serviced apartments) – and ones which just shouldn’t be on the market because the host actually hates everyone and everything, mostly though – guests and cleaning.

    Airbnb is pot luck,we all get that. But we don’t book them to be cheapskate. We book them to see how life really is wherever we’re going, or to have home comforts when we’re away with work and don’t want to eat hotel food for a week.

    I would expect any place I stay to be clean, to be free of hairs in the sink. To be free of rats in the basement or racoons in the bedroom (unless he’d just wandered in by accident, rather than had made his home there – that would be quite cute).

    I don’t know about you, but I clean like a demon before I have guests stay (I’m not an Airbnb host – I’m just a person who loves having friends and family stay). So I don’t buy the: Oh, it’s like staying at your aunty’s home.

    Your aunty doesn’t charge you £50 a night for your stay and she cleans before you get there. Otherwise you’d stay in a hotel when you visited Aunty.

    A lot of the Airbnb guests I’ve met run their property or properties as a business. Usually, they’re nice, friendly people with sparklingly clean properties. Sometimes though, they’re bonkers, unfriendly and aggressive beyond the point of libel in their comments about you if you so much as mention that, you know, someone else’s lipstick on a towel doesn’t make you feel great about a place… especially when they seem to have left half a pack of sweets in the dust under the bed as well.

    Like any job in any sector, hospitality roles can be frustrating as well as rewarding. But I think it’s misguided to say, “Well, because I’m slightly cheaper than a hotel, I can be less clean and people should suck it up and not write me bad reviews.”

    Hotels – like Premier Inn in the UK for example – manage to be cheap and clean. Cheaper than a lot of Airbnbs.

    A few years ago I managed a ski chalet complex. There wasn’t a dedicated housekeeping team. Instead, the live-in hosts cooked and cleaned for the guests. We managed it all with a series of checklists. Do baths and shower feel clean to touch as well as look clean? Do all the taps work? Are they shining? Do the lights all work? Is anything snagged or broken? And we absolutely did not clean glasses with Windex. It takes very little time to clean once you’re in that kind of routine – and breakages and snags get fixed quickly. I can’t for the life of me understand why more Airbnb hosts don’t have these kinds of systems. Some obviously do, because their places are immaculate. But hairs in the sink? Bleugh. No-one should have to put up with that – not even your visiting friend or aunty.

    Of course it’s frustrating when guests don’t say anything, but then post a negative review. But surely the point of feedback is to take it on board and do something about it?

  6. “Your Airbnb host is probably making a tiny profit if any at all, has a life and obligations outside of running the place you’re staying, wants guests to be happy with their stay and wants good reviews, has to deal with enormous amounts of BS to serve you, and probably is already killing themselves trying to make the place as nice as they can for you within reason.”

    Haha, what? If it is not profitable, people wouldn’t be AirBnB ‘hosts’, you’re really making no sense.

    I used to work for someone who rented out about 10 rooms on AirBnB that they previously rented out to long-term students. The rooms were noisy, hot in the summer, some of them had windows that didn’t open, the ‘host’ was rude to their staff but was making A TON of money from AirBnB (I know because I saw their yearly AirBnB earnings). They told me that they made more money taking in tourists than taking students who actually need to live in the city so that’s why they decided to only do short-term lets as opposed to actually helping to reduce the housing problems. This person was running their AirBnB as a business alongside another small business. They did not have a ‘normal’ day job.

    There are also plenty of similar stories, for instance, landlords who do rent to long-term tenants but decide by themselves to rent the recently-freed room via AirBnB. These regular tenants now have to deal with new guests every few days that will be in their private living space. Nice, huh? How about the significant chunk of places offered on AirBnB that are owned/run by professional property owners/outsourced to management companies? These people take housing away from people who actually need it to just make massive profits off it through AirBnB, this often constitutes illegal activity and AirBnB is not at all forthcoming to national/local councils and tax offices to make sure the people letting on AirBnB are actually paying taxes, meet the legal requirements to be a hotel (because that’s what they are), are not letting the place out for longer than legally allowed in that area etc. Moreover, I think AirBnB doesn’t pay any taxes itself.

    I have had some good experiences with AirBnB (years ago, as a guest) but when the site requested I uploaded a photo ID, I decided to stop using it. AirBnB and similar sites are facilitating illegal activity, tax evasion/avoidance, evasion of laws around health and safety, and are contributing to the massive stress on the housing market in many areas meaning that people who actually need to live in that area for studies/work can’t or are paying 80% of their income (after taxes) to rent. They are also ruining neighbourhoods because of the fact that certain areas are now a significant percentage AirBnB as opposed to regular tenants. This makes it impossible to get a nice cohesive local community and locals often have to deal with rude, aggressive, loud, drunk/high ‘guests’ next door to their house. Thanks AirBnB ‘hosts’!

    • I’ll agree with a lot of your arguments, though they do not apply to me as a host – but it only shows there is a lot of different types of hosts out there. Some are regular folks that just want to make a an extra buck to help them with the rent; some are treating Airbnb as hotel platform – which in my opinion it just isn’t. Airbnb is (or maybe: should be) dramatically different from Booking or similar platforms as it provides both hosts and guests with a tool to become short-term flatmates. For me it was always more about sharing my personal space with someone – it may not be perfect, but it is an authentic way that I live, it is my home and definately not a hotel.

  7. What do you expect? You pimp your house out as a hotel and you get cheap skate rubes as guests.
    I agree with PJ- violating the posting rules is not appropriate- but very AirBnB-like.

  8. I have been an Airbnb host for the last year and a half and I cannot tell you how spot on you are with your review of being a host. Thank you I am going to copy and paste it and put it on my Airbnb listing so that guest understand what they’re getting into at this point I don’t really care to do Airbnb any further until guests expectations know what they’re getting I have an extremely nice house and they still complain

  9. Here’s what hosts don’t understand … you’re operating as a hotel. The pure definition of your business model is a hotel. What can’t you understand about that?

    Yes, a few of the posts on here are from entitled weirdos, but I’d lump yours in the same category. As soon as you rent your place out for a nightly stay you’re now operating as a lodging business. Guests should expect the cleanliness level of a hotel, guests should expect some level of comfort and quiet m, and you should be paying the same VAT taxes and business taxes as a hotel. You’re not running just some side hussle to generate some extra cash, you’re a legit lodging business and should act like it. If not get out of the business.

    And I’ve ran Housekeekng Teams for 18 years, if you were taught to use windex you were taught by trash and are thus probably trash for following that without question.

    • The thing is some of us ARE running Airbnb as a side hussle to generate some extra cash. As simple as that. For me personally, I host Airbnb guests in the extra bedroom in my apartment, so the rent would become less of a burden. It’s not a buiness venture, it’s more like having temporary flatmates. I don’t consider my Airbnb listing to be, by any means, “legit lodging business” – closer to higher standard, no strings attached couchsurfing-like experience. And for my personal use, that’s how I’ve always defined Airbnb.

  10. I think most people using Airbnb know they aren’t renting at a hotel (unless you are an actual hotel using Airbnb, which I have seen) but at a bed and breakfast or renting an apartment or whole house. None of the guest reviews I’ve read have had unreasonable complaints. Your rant against guests expectations is not appropriate for this forum. I suspect you are one of the trolls leaving negatives on everyone’s valid complaints.

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