How to Write a Negative Review for your Airbnb guests (real examples)

How to Write a Negative Review for your Airbnb guests (real examples)

negative airbnb review

A topic that a lot of Airbnb hosts struggle with is writing a negative review for your Airbnb guests. They fear retaliation, reputation loss, or simply feel uncomfortable saying something negative about a person they've build a personal relationship with. You probably want to learn how to write a polite bad review for an Airbnb guest.

I receive a lot of questions on this topic, such as

  • “My guests were nice people, but they didn't adhere to the house rules. Should I mention this in the review?”
  • “My guests left my apartment a real mess, but they didn't do any damage. What should I write in the review?”
  • “I had a really bad experience with my guests and I want to write a negative review. Should I wait until the last moment so they can't retaliate?”
  • “I want to write a bad Airbnb review for my guests, but I'm worried it could deter guests from booking in the future. What should I do?”

There is no definite answer to all these questions, as the best way to proceed often depends on the situation. However, there are some misconceptions about how the Airbnb review system works that can be clarified, which will remove some concerns. In addition, a few general guidelines can help point hosts in the right direction.

Below, we'll talk about how to write a bad review for an Airbnb guest and look at some Airbnb bad guest review examples.

Download my PDF with examples of bad guest reviews

How does the Airbnb review system work?

Let's start with the facts. Before you write a review, you should understand how the Airbnb review system works.

Time window: Hosts and guests have 14 days to leave a review, the clock starts ticking when Airbnb sends out the notification to leave the review

Review visibility: Both guest's and host's reviews remain hidden until (1) both parties have left a review or (2) the 14 day review period has passed

Editing reviews: There is a 48-hour window to edits reviews unless the review become visible before this option expires

It sounds simple, but there's one important conclusion that can be drawn from this information that a lot of hosts are unaware of.

The Airbnb review system is double-blinded, in other words the host nor the guest can see the other party's review until the review period is over or both parties have left their review. Therefore, there is no possibility of retaliation, neither party can base their review on the review left by the other party.

Can a negative Airbnb guest review hurt my business?

We've already established that leaving a bad review for your guests doesn't increase the chance that you'll get a bad review from the guests.

Is there any other way that a negative guest review could hurt your Airbnb business? Yes, but it's probably very insignificant.

The only way that it could deter future guests from booking your place, is if they find out you've left a bad review for a past guest and they are worried about receiving one too. Or maybe they're worried you're a difficult person to deal with.

airbnb bad review

Leaving a bad review doesn't hurt your Airbnb business

Whatever their concern might be, it will only arise if they actually see that negative review that you left. And that chance, in my opinion, is very small.

In order to find out, your potential guest has to look at all the profiles of your past guests to find the review that you left. I seriously doubt that there are many guests that go through this trouble.

But let's imagine an Airbnb user would actually dig through your past guest's profile to check out your reviews. What does that tell you about this person? The only reason someone would do this is if that person had gotten bad reviews in the past and is worried about another one. Is that the type of guest you want to host? I don't.

Leaving a bad review for your guests doesn't hurt your Airbnb business

The last concern that hosts might have is that if they write a negative Airbnb review that the guests might not come back for a repeat visit or recommend your place to others. This only applies if the feedback you have is quite minor of course, otherwise, you don't want them to come back and you probably also don't want to host their friends.

In any case, repeat stays are quite rare in my experience, and I suspect that some minor feedback won't prevent your guests from coming back if they enjoyed their stay. They'd have to have a really fragile ego to hold a bit of criticism against you.

My conclusion is that leaving a bad Airbnb guest review does not hurt your Airbnb business in a significant way.

Download my PDF of Airbnb bad guest review examples.

The importance of leaving honest reviews

Reviews play an important role in the Airbnb community, they help hosts and guests to make an informed decision about whether the host or guest is a good fit or not. Better decisions lead to better experiences, which is to the benefit of hosts and guests.

Writing an honest review for your guests means that you sometimes have to write something that your guests may not like hearing. This can make a host feel uncomfortable in certain situations, for example when there has been a lot of interaction with the guests and the issues were minor.

Airbnb honest review

“Always leave an honest review”

In these cases, a lot of hosts opt to not mention the issues in the review. They don't want to make the guests feel bad or prefer to avoid what could feel as being confrontational.

This is all understandable, but at the same time, it does take away from the effectiveness of the review system. In order for reviews to function optimally, they have to be accurate representations of how the experience was perceived by both hosts and guests.

My advice to hosts, therefore, is to always be honest in the reviews you write for your guests. The good, the bad and the ugly. The more details you provide, they more helpful the review, both for future hosts but also for the guests.

For example, instead of writing “the guests were noisy,” it's better to write “one night the guests played music in their room until 1 am at night.”

Don't just provide negative feedback. Start your review with what you did like about the experience. You could say that your guests were very friendly people, it was easy to communicate with them, but that they left your place a bit messy and that you would have appreciated if they would have tidied up before leaving.

Pro-Tip: with Smartbnb you can time the review to be sent 20 seconds before the review window closes. This is useful if you feel like you didn’t get along with your guests very well. Guests are sometimes apprehensive about leaving a bad review if it’s clear that it wasn’t a match made in heaven. They worry that the host will leave a bad one for them as well.

It’s like two armies holding their fire during a cease-fire. Both have the finger on the trigger in case the opponent fires, but neither army will initiate combat. If you find yourself in this situation, but you feel like it’s your duty to warn future hosts of the guest’s behavior without risking a retaliation review, you can schedule it to be published 20 seconds before the review window closes.

=>Click here to try Smartbnb for free

More on Airbnb reviews: Why You Should Respond To Every Single Airbnb Review

Airbnb bad guest review examples

Here are some examples of how you can leave bad guest reviews:

Bad example: “Jeremy was an idiot and didn’t follow my instructions.”

Good example: “Jeremy was good at communicating and arrived at the agreed time. However, we have very specific instructions about how to close the door. He left the door open and the home was not secured. Next time he is a guest somewhere, I would recommend that he more carefully reads the instructions in order not to leave the home open or vulnerable to danger.”

Bad example: “Mary lied and snuck in more people than agreed”

Good example: “Mary was very friendly. Unfortunately, she had 2 other guests sleeping in the apartment while she clearly said it would only be her. We remind you, Mary, that springing on an unexpected guest is never okay and should be charged extra.”

Bad example: “Roman was a dirty guest and left my house a total mess.”

Good example: “Roman was quiet, arrived on time and was overall a decent guest. However, he left a lot of trash scattered around the house. There are several trash bins in the apartment for throwing away his waste. Next time, he should take more care to respectfully clean up after himself.”

Bad example: “Pedro stole my food. He’s inconsiderate and rude!”

Good example: “Overall, Pedro’s stay was fine. However, we had kindly explained there was no breakfast included in his stay. Nonetheless, he helped himself to the food in my kitchen, even eating my perfectly ripe avocado I had been saving for myself.”

Want a PDF of example negative guest reviews? Download it here


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  1. Tom says:

    You make some good points. What about if you get a bad review from another host? You think that could have any negative effects?

    • Jasper says:

      I don’t think so, I can’t imagine guests would do that much research. Guests care about what other guests write about your Airbnb, not what other hosts have to say about you as a guest.

  2. Tiffany says:

    Well they have ur phone number and know where u live so if u leave a bad review they can haunt u.

    • Jasper says:

      That’s true, but I think if you keep the review polite and give constructive feedback that the chance of that happening would be pretty low. In any case, it’s not a reason for me to refrain from leaving an honest review.

  3. Jimmy says:

    It’s hard to leave a bad review I did one negative bad review when I was a newbie and regretted it. I’ve noticed that some host come in looking for anything to complain about. Like this one lady complained that there was dust on a shelf that was 7 feet high another guest complained about no hot water in shower when all she had to do was turn knob to the left. I’ve kearned to not let criticism bother me. What they should be looking at is how clean and how the price was amazing compared to hotels.

  4. Kathleen Viens says:

    I had a bad experience last year with 2 guests because I didn’t have the place cleaned the way they wanted and they wrote me up bad. Now I feel I’ll never do this again since it was hard and I lacked experience. What should I do over this? I tried hard but it didn’t meet their standards, however, they said it had potential.

  5. Margie says:

    I think that is not a customer friendly practice to leave bad reviews for guests for petty infractions. The guest is paying you for services you profit from. Unless the guest does something really egregious or dangerous I don’t see why any host would be so petty to leave every little minor flaw of a guest for public view of everyone. At least as a host you may get a bad review here and there but you still made money. That’s how any business works. Guest shouldnt be the ones worrying about their ratings! That’s ridiculous!

    • Jasper says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective Margie. I do agree with you that it’s not the most friendly thing to do and not every tiny little annoyances needs to be mentioned if the overall experience was good. However, I do believe that Airbnb as a platform and community benefits from both hosts and guests leaving honest reviews by enabling both guests and hosts make better choices as to where to stay and who to host. To give an example, lets say a guest is caught smoking in a non-smoking space. Some might consider that a minor thing, while for others that’s completely unacceptable. Therefore it’s important that this is mentioned in the review, so that this particular guest will probably only be approved by hosts who don’t mind their guests smoking, preventing another bad experience.

    • Tom says:

      Ho about when the guest drinks your can of pop, in your fridge without asking you first, and also wipes off lipstick and foundation on a whit towel, when there were other colored towels in the bathroom. Knowing fully well this was a new towel?

  6. Sarah says:

    I’ve just had moderately bad guests. My rental was not destroyed, but they did not follow house rules with their dogs (which caused an afternoon of first responders releasing their trapped dog from under the deck) and the cottage was so dirty and smelly from their dogs we had to have the carpets shampooed (old dogs that both ‘leaked’ and pooped on the carpet that was not cleaned up). Am I being fussy?? I want to leave a constructive review for other hosts, I’m sure they don’t feel they were bad guests.

    • Jasper says:

      If your guests broke house rules I don’t think you’re being fussy and I would mention that in the review.

  7. Jasper says:

    Thanks for sharing that Gail, I like your private note suggestion.

  8. Cristina says:

    I just had a guest, and I’m thinking what to do about his review

    The guy rented a room in my apartment for 10 days, and he stayed in the room the whole time. Day and night, lights and AC on 24/7.

    He used to shower 3-4 times daily ! And after every time he did shower I had to pick up wet towels, dry the bathroom floor and clean the bathtub with his nose secretions 🙁

    Also he didn’t use the garbage can in the bathroom, all tissues were in the floor.

    The room is a mess ,full of empty boxes of food and drinks.

    I don’t want to be mean, but I think is important for other hosts to know a little bit about him.

    Please help me!!! What’s the better way to do this.

    • Jasper says:

      Hi Cristina, I recommend you write the review pretty much like you wrote this comment as this represents your perspective of your guest. You’re not mean when you’re sharing your perspective. Is there anything you liked about your guest? Anything he did do right? You could include that to make it more balanced.

  9. Yavuz says:

    This is not totally true. A guest gave me 5 star review and I reviewed them
    that they have picked the lock of owners closet to take supplies. Then he called Airbnb and have is good review removed. Which means they can negatively impact you

    • Jasper says:

      Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that happening. That really shouldn’t happen in my opinion but yes you’re right I guess there’s a small chance then.

  10. Manuel says:

    I rent out a room on airbnb and had a guest who was friendly but very messy. They put their feet up on the piano and didn’t clean up after themselves. I was not going to write a review on them, but when I realized they took the bathroom towels I feel I need to. What advise do you have for how to write my review?

    • Jasper says:

      Sorry to hear about this experience, I recommend you stick to the facts and be as honest as possible. Pretty much what you wrote in this comment.

  11. Julia Wesson says:

    I believe that all reviews should be truthful, but diplomatic. I’m a frequent guest, who assists various owners with their social media. I understand both sides of the reviewing coin.

    Guests should be sure to mention the good things, along with legitimate complaints (especially unmet expectations) about the conditions in the rental.

    Renters should remember that they are, indeed, rendering a service, which should be priced competitively to allow for a decent profit, They should limit their complaints about renters, to serious infractions (such as the dog problem reported here), but have cleaning costs sufficiently covered, if someone is especially messy. As a guest, I sometimes feel I’m walking on eggshells, because of so many specific house rules that are imposed after I arrive (that is, they are not specified in the listing). This takes the pleasure out of the stay for me.

  12. Ariela says:

    This was a helpful article. As we know the Airbnb culture is all about the reviews. They can really make or break your listing, so you have to be very polite and have an open mind with how the guest or host would view the situation from the other side. Although it can be very discouraging to receive a bad review, the best thing to do is respond politely, fix the issue so it can’t happen again, and move forward. Eventually, all the great reviews will bury the bad ones.

    We’re superhosts and just posted our advice on how to deal with a bad review here: https://justmillennials.com/how-to-deal-with-a-bad-review-on-airbnb/ Good luck!

  13. Su says:

    Disagree on one point. If your guests are local, they know where your property is. There is nothing to stop them from coming back and vandalizing your property after a truthful review that happens to be negative. We have had a few bad experiences and are pretty paralyzed to do anything about it. One of our local guests left the house covered in vomit and urine from a party she threw. She smoked cigarettes inside, left drugs under the couch and also left vehicle marks all over the lawn. It was mortifying.
    We clearly stated no large parties and all of our house rules were clearly stated in several locations. She was given a five star review as a guest and did a great job of playing sweet and innocent when she booked, this was part of our decision to book her. It was beyond disgusting what she and her guests did to our home so I wouldn’t put it past her or anyone else like her to continue that disgusting behavior after the fact. We learned our lesson. We know there is a cost for doing business however we will not be hosting anymore one night stays, any kind of parties and we upped the price by a lot. I’d rather have less books than continue to books like that, its not worth it.

    • Jasper says:

      Sorry to hear about your experience and thank you for sharing this. This is true I guess. However I don’t think I would host a local who wants to book one night, that smells like trouble. At the least I would ask a lot of questions about the reason of the stay. But I assume you probably did that with this guest as well. You can’t always avoid bad experiences unfortunately and I do understand the hesitance to leave a review after an experience like that. I would still go ahead and write the review, contact Airbnb and probably report her to the police.

  14. Emma says:

    I just had a guest who was very quiet and clean and nice. It was just that when they left on a Sunday morning, they started letting the doors close shut instead of turning the handles. I don’t want to be mean but in our house rules we ask guests to respect quiet hours which is till 8 am on weekends. I don’t know how to write this review.

  15. Callie says:

    Hi Jasper, Thanks for all you do in providing insight to hosts. I only have one property and currently do all the cleaning myself. The guests who just checked out yesterday (who actually knew I did my own cleaning because they asked to check in early while I was still cleaning from the previous stay) did not trash the cottage by any means. However they treated it more like they were staying in a hotel than in someone’s home. There was a puddle of dried up spilled wine in the kitchen that was also all over one of the kitchen chairs. It looked like they tried to clean it up because I found one of my towels soaked with wine in the washer. Additionally there was vomit residue all over the toilet and on the cloth shower curtain. Finally, pots and knives were put away with food grease and particles on them and the kitchen floor and counter tops were littered with grease and food particles as well. It took me at least twice as long to clean after them because I had to remove stains, ultra-scrub down everything, and iron the curtain. What I’m trying to figure out is if this is just the casualties of hosting guests who have come to celebrate and relax? I’d say at least 90% of my guests are far more considerate than this and leave the cottage sparkling. Also, if I were to employe cleaners at some point I can only assume that I would have been charged for additional cleaning time. What are your thoughts on reviews for guests who leave behind bodily fluids? What about putting away dirty dishes? Is this something I should just expect or does this merit a negative review?

    • Jasper says:

      Hi Callie, sorry to hear about this experience. Guests have different ideas about how much of a mess they are “allowed” to leave. The best course of action is to write an honest review and stick to the facts. Whether that’s negative or not is up to the reader to decide. So if you write “I had to spend an extra hour scrubbing off wine stains and vomit,” that’s just objective information, as opposed to adding a judgement such as “these guests are horrible pigs.” Hope that’s helpful! I also found that if you build a strong relationship with your guests they tend to treat your place nicer. Also, I never give my guests access to the property while I’m cleaning. I prefer that their first impression of the place is when it’s spotless, I think that also motivates them to keep it clean.

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