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Why are airbnb reviews universally positive? How to make a mild negative comment?

We just stayed in an airbnb and want to give some honest but not entirely positive comments.
All the other reviews are entirely positive! All are glowing reviews and there are many of them. No one even suggests anything lacking.
We have never made any negative comments before.
I am just wondering if people don’t often give any negative comments in airbnb reviews, if they are removed, or why our experience at this one airbnb was so different than other reviewers experiences.

Posted by
1220 posts

I think you can write negative things, or constructively negative. I believe there is not removal of comments. However, I think people feel pressure to write something positive because future airbnb hosts can read what you've written about others and if they fear a negative review (or a difficult guest) they might not want to rent to you. I dont know this (!), I only suspect.
If I like a place but find something wrong, but generally like it, I write a personal note to the owner. I stayed in a house in a small out-of-the-way greek village that seemed to be run by a family and I wanted to support them, but the place had ants. I didnt want that to impact their ability to host others, so I wrote them a private note about it so they could fix it.
Personally I find "negative" reviews helpful.

Posted by
2283 posts

When we were in Italy last summer, we stayed in 3 airbnbs. I left a 3, 4, and 5 along with comments explaining my rating. The 4 was because we had multiple problems with power going out and could not use air conditioning at all. I noted all the wonderful things about the place and how helpful the management company had been. I then said that we had problems with the electricity and would think place was better suited to cooler time of year. I think it was very fair and property manager actually emailed me and thanked me. Perhaps he had been afraid I would have been harsher.

I had never given a air Bnb a 3 but it was very deserved in this case. We had multiple issues-a/c not working in one bedroom which made it impossible to use, no wi fi, beds not set up the way we had requested among other things. The worst of it was that the management t company totally ignored all correspondence from us. It did have a great location and I noted that.

As a renter, I appreciate honest appraisals appropriate to the price point of the accommodation. Ironically, our least trouble free place was the cheapest without some amenities that we might have liked but I certainly did not review them negatively because of that.

Posted by
6113 posts

I heard that Airbnb can remove reviews - presumably they don’t do this with positive reviews. I prefer, Trip Advisor rentals and VRBO these days.

Posted by
587 posts

If I stay some place where there are issues, I like to warn others. Usually I start off with "Pros:" and list the good, then "Cons:" and gently list the bad. For example, we stayed in an AirBnB in Faroe Islands, and couldn't figure out how to use the stove top, the oven, and the microwave. Just some simple instructions in English would have greatly helped us cook our meals. I don't write about minor stuff like "the pillows were too hard".

Posted by
4077 posts

One Airbnb was one too many for me. The reality did not live up to the reviews.

I noted some issues in my review, but left a lengthy description of all the problems with the place for the owners. Most of them had to do with delayed maintenance, poor cleaning and lack of information on how to do things. It didn’t help that they were off on vacation and the person they listed as a contact was inaccessible.

I didn't bother to check to see what they said about us because that one experience was enough. I only go to Airbnb to see if a place I'm considering is listed there and has more or better pictures.

We have also had a similar experience with a VRBO. The owners were not having it professionally cleaned between renters. Upon arrival we learned that we were expected to clean the place before we left. Neither in the listing, nor in any of the email correspondence with the owner, was this mentioned. It was obvious that the previous renters had not cleaned. We left the place better than we found it, except for the grill pans full of grease that we discovered in the oven upon arrival. That place also had delayed maintenance issues which my husband fixed.

So I will not rent through Airbnb. Due to some good experiences, VRBO is a second choice, but far down from So far, I've not been disappointed by any place I've stayed that I found through

As you might expect, I'm now obsessive about verifying that the places I rent at least
have the basics that are important to me.

Posted by
1258 posts

I try to stay positive or at least factual when writing airbnb reviews, like "There's some steep narrow steps down to the bathroom from the bedroom." Or if an apartment is about as noisy at night as my own house, I don't mention noise one way or another. If there was a problem and the host solved it quickly, I don't mention it. I do tell the host things I think they should know. But I've never yet stayed in a bad apartment in Italy partly because I read all the reviews very carefully, and read between the lines, and study the photos, and ask the hosts questions, and "walk" around the neighborhood on Google street view, and just expect a certain amount of "not like home." I'll stay in another town if there are no suitable apartments in the town that was my first choice. I will drop an apartment like a hot potato if I get an inkling of really noisy neighbors or a "bedroom" that is actually a sofa bed in the living room or extremely perfumed sheets and towels. So, I guess that means I'm glad that someone DID mention such negatives, although, still, a complaint can be stated "I'm very sensitive to perfume and didn't think to ask the host about it ahead of time."

In America, I've stayed in some pretty bad apartments, mostly in basements, because I had little choice ( they had to be within walking distance of my mother's house in D.C., for example). But even with those I didn't give terrible reviews, just stuff like "Convenient location" or "I didn't realize from the photos that it was someone's basement."

There's also just bad luck --- an apartment is normally as good as the reviewers say, but then the apartment next door is being renovated, creating lots of noise and dust and equipment in the hallway.

Posted by
873 posts

Airbnb lets you leave comments to the host without making them public. That way, if you have constructive criticism, the host can make changes instead of being publicly shamed before they have a chance to rectify the situation. Let's face it, people love the power trip of writing reviews, so I like that approach.

Posted by
2621 posts

IMO there is a huge positive bias in reviews. I think most people are nice and don’t want to say anything negative that might hurt someone’s ability to earn a living. Or hurt there feelings. It’s not so much an issue with large corporate chains, but it’s definitely an issue with B & Bs, VRBO, Airbnb, etc.

I am reluctant to say negative things, but I also feel a responsibility to accurately represent a place. Recently I stayed in an apartment that I loved, but the wifi was terrible. It was weak and down half the time. It wasn’t a huge issue for us, just an annoyance. But for others, it could be critical. So I included it in my review along with all the other things I loved about the apartment. We also hated the towels, but I didn’t mention that. Not important.

Posted by
31511 posts

I've had a generally favorable Airbnb review with a few specific comments disappear after about two weeks. Great location, fabulous kitchen with a full width fully opening glass wall looking out onto the Alps. I didn't mention the black towels in a black bathroom with only spotlight lighting because some would like that. I did mention that the Ikea bed in the spare room we were given was very low to the ground so that when the bed fell apart we didn't have far to fall.

I thought I had written a positive upbeat review but as I said, after a couple of weeks it -poof- disappeared and never reappeared...

I have decided that like Amazon reviews, Airbnb reviews are not to be trusted...

Posted by
144 posts

We're getting away from airbnb for various reasons, but we have used them, and I think it's good to be factual in writing reviews. Same with hotel and other reviews. I've been writing Tripadvisor reviews since 2005 and I stick to things I think I'd want to know about, as a traveler; is it clean, noisy, comfortable, look like the pics, convenient location, etc. You don't have to be mean about it.

When I read reviews, I discount ones from people who have only posted once and those that are too glowing or too negative. You can recognize a negative Nancy pretty easily. That being said, I don't understand why people hold airbnb owners to a lower standard that hotel owners and want to "be nice." They are running a business, and often damaging their community to boot, by causing higher rents and reducing housing stock in many communities. I have zero sympathy for them.

Posted by
2283 posts

I went back and checked to see if my negative comments for my air bnb in Venice last summer were still there. And they were, but like others I listed positive comments first.

Of course, perhaps the same management company that did not respond to our problems with the a/c and wi fi also does not monitor comments on the air bnb web site!

I will say there were some red flags prior to arrival that I ignored because I did not want to look for another place. I did regret that and won't do that again as I could have cancelled without penalty. And actually, this is the only truly negative experience I have had in years of renting from air bnb.

Posted by
436 posts

We have stayed in quite a few AB&B's and except for one particular experience in Florence we have always been able to leave positive comments. If there are any issues that "feel" like aberrations that deserve attention, I normally direct a private comment to the owner and move on. I once repaired a washing machine in a Paris apartment that didn't work. I left the owner information about what I had done and instructions for how to complete the mention of that in the review in that he agreed to follow through. He was thrilled that I had figured it out.

In Florence I experienced the ugly underbelly of AB&B's review process. I am still fuming about it. The owner (who lives in Milan) had delegated the maintenance of his apartment to a local student. When we found that the coffee machine was an obscure locally made variety for which refills were not available (they left two in the room) we reached out for help and learned that refills for the machine were available at two storefronts in all of Florence. One shop, the one closest was closed. The other was over 1/2 hour away. Ridiculous. We improvised and came up with a way to use the machine. Why they did not have a Bialetti instead of this obscure beast is still a mystery.

Before we left I sent the owner a note explaining that the machine was impractical and suggested he add a Bialetti. I went on to post a positive review and did not mention the machine in it.
Several days later I received a negative review from AB&B and a warning that negative reviews from hosts would lower my chances for being accepted for future rentals. I was not given an opportunity to comment, explain, respond, see what he wrote, nothing. This guy who chose to blast me for what I thought was a very fair and discrete way of bringing a problem to his attention was entirely free to say whatever he wanted to about me and I had no way to respond. I think AB&B has built a system that encourages only positive comments and one that punishes guests for honesty. We still use AB&B, but my pragmatic views of the company are not what they once were.
In hindsight I wish I had thrown that damned machine into the Arno River.

Posted by
2084 posts

Have not stayed at an Airbnb, and after reading some of the above posts, I do not think I ever will. When I am on vacation I do not want unpleasant surprises with lodging. I want to trust reviews, and now learning that Airbnb can remove negative comments that are truly merited, that makes me not trust the service or some of the property owners. Guests should not fear giving honest feedback

Many (not all) Airbnb hosts are just regular people with this sideline. When one looks at the population at large, people have a wide variety of personal living/cleaning standards, so therefore, the standards of Airbnb rentals likely would vary accordingly. And, I still have not-so-fond memories (back when we had several rental properties) of finding out that a tenant in one of our duplexes was renting out a room thru Airbnb without our permission (and her lease prohibited subletting (which could have had lots of liability issues for us, so an instant stop was put to her little sideline).

While I am sure many have fabulous Airbnb experiences, have had wonderful interfaces with their hosts, and have stayed in incredible places, I want to have more faith in what I read when doing my research. Feedback is a gift, and a business owner (no matter how small or large) should accept such feedback and take appropriate action, if merited, to make his/her product better (or at least what is promised) for customers.

Posted by
16548 posts

The one suggestion I would have is to look for units that are professionally managed. The management companies represent the owners, multiple owners, and they stay in business by keeping the units full and getting good reviews. So they have to respond to the renters and the owners. No easy feat. It's not Bob trying to pick up a few extra bucks by renting out dead aunt Louise's apartment. You will generally get more consistency and better quality.

Also look for a name for the apartment or some unique phrase in the listing. Then google it Most AirBnb's are rented on multiple platforms. So anyone who thinks the quality on VRBO is better, well, probably the same apartments. But by looking at the other listings for the same apartment you might get more photos and maybe more varied reviews to consider.

And for full disclosure, I am the owner of a couple of short term rental properties. I dont even begin to try and manage them. I could not do as good a job as the management company does. They have great cleaning crews, keep the repairs done and are available to assist the renters. Still in the past year we have had a washing machine die and the water cut off do construction nearby when renters were there. Discounts and a few bottles of wine and universal understanding of the pitfalls of life solved the issues.

Posted by
2860 posts

It was not Airbnb, but through a listing I just found online, many years ago.
It was a simply sparkling lovely apartment in Rome, with nothing at all wrong with it.
It had a great binder with directions for everything, including which nearby shop to go to to get batteries if detailed.
On the second night, there was torrential rain, and the walls starting pouring with water all night long.
I phoned the owner, who came over immediately, apologised profusely, gave me a refund for one of my nights, and asked me not to write a bad review because of the leaks.
It wasn't his fault at all!
I wrote a glowing review of how he had been so kind and quick to help out.

I've only ever written one bad review in 25 years of travel rentals; of another Rome apartment that was quite dirty and dangerous, with exposed taped-up wiring and rickety glass shower door and no towels except threadbare old beach towels.
I did call the owner, who said it was her own living space.
We told her it was dangerous and dirty, but she didn't really care.

I think one should write a negative review if it's needed; but only after contacting the host first, to tell them about what you found wanting in the rental.

Posted by
168 posts

Several points about reviews.

Many write them thinking they are applying for a job with Michelin Guides.

Places that get 'bad' reviews are usually not around very long. The host probably didn't have their heart in running such a business.

When booking AirB or VRBO type sites I look more at the booking windows. Frequent vacancy is a bad sign.

Negative reviews usually are for stupid reasons such as "Host would not let us check in early" or "light bulb was burnt out".

Other negative reviews have been because of "6th floor" locations or "small shower". Helpful, but I can overcome such negativity.

Posted by
9115 posts

I think that one reason that AirBnB reviews can track positive (in addition to Nigel's evidence of a regular review with some constructive comments having been altogether removed) is because people know that hosts rate you too and they don't want to risk lowering their OWN score/chances of being able to rent again the future.

By the way -- oh my Nigel !! This was very understated indeed!

I did mention that the Ikea bed in the spare room we were given was very low to the ground so that when the bed fell apart we didn't have far to fall.


It reminds me of my dad's favorite corny joke about bad restaurants : "Well, at least the portions were small"

Posted by
2245 posts

I have stayed in three Airbnb’s. Two of them were just fine. The third one in NC was beautifully decorated, had a lovely view, quiet location. It was all good until we were sitting out on the wraparound porch at dusk with my sibs and hundreds of bats started flying out of the attic.

Posted by
84 posts

I have used airbnb alot and tend to comment or rate things that i think are important to a traveler
water pressure/hot water

A/C or fans

how close to transit/location
noise level
communication with host

I go by the vegas rule : i am not in my room long enough to care . I just want a clean bed and bathroom with good wifi and A/C

Posted by
5104 posts

I've stayed at a number of Airbnbs, in both Europe and the US. For the most part, they have all been good experiences and I do not hesitate to write raving reviews if they are warranted.

I should also mention that probably 90% of the places I've stayed in have been shared living spaces, so there is no displacement of potential renters or homeowners. I prefer this because it's a wonderful way to meet people. I had an incredible experience staying in an Airbnb in Amsterdam - the couple who owned it were very interesting, and we had some long chats in their garden over wine. I also go down to Minneapolis a few times a year (for the shopping - I live in Duluth where shopping is more limited) and stay at an Airbnb owned by a married couple. They are wonderful and don't really need the money, but just enjoy renting their extra bedrooms out and meeting people. I just love them.

As someone mentioned, there is an option to leave a private review for the owner prior to leaving a public review. I chose to do that once in a house I stayed in. Everything was very nice except for the lack of little extras - like no hooks in the bathroom, no nightstand or bed lamp in the bedroom and no drawers to hold clothes. I left a new public review but let the owner know that adding a few extras would really bump up the comfort level.

@Aimee, I'm with you on being picky. I will peruse the photos and reviews over and over again until I'm satisfied with my choice.

Posted by
1620 posts

You have to understand that what was negative for you may not have phased other travelers. You found it lacking, others did not, it met their needs and expectations. You must read a good 20+ reviews (using translator if necessary) to get the full view of the place. We stayed in an Apartment in Paris, glowing reviews and no one mentioned that it was a 10 inch step up to get into the shower, it mattered to us having bad knees, so my review mentioned it. In Rome there was a 3 inch step down from the entry to the living room, probably not even noticed by younger travelers but for us, we needed to be careful when stepping down.
When you make your review think about your perspective and why it did not meet your needs.

Posted by
295 posts

I wish people would leave "negative" notes even in positive reviews. I spend a long time researching and reading reviews and even if I didn't reject a place because of a negative comment, it would help me to plan.

We stayed in a place that offered toiletries, but there was an upside down bottle of grocery store brand body wash. No shampoo, no conditioner, nothing else. We didn't have any major issues, but I didn't realize it til 11pm when it was time to shower. It was definitely a big bummer to put all my clothes back on and take the bus to an all night store. If someone had mentioned there weren't really toiletries, I wouldn't have canceled my stay, but I would have brought shampoo and been happier.

When someone says their house is 5 min from the train station and someone says, "Yeah but it's a 5 minute climb up a hill with no steps.", I wouldn't cancel, but I would definitely wear the right shoes and be less frustrated.

We stayed somewhere so lovely in Italy, but it was mainly due to the view. The place was nice, but it was not a 5 star place. It wasn't dirty and it was cute, but the cute decor was really cheap (Like the headboard was beachy wood planks... but when we got there it was a printout of beachy wood planks stuck onto a white foam posterboard. Didn't affect the quality of my stay at all, so I don't care, but someone else might, especially, say honeymooners or people gifting a luxurious stay. The only actual issue with the place was that there were no warm blankets at all. That really did affect our comfort. I had to wear my khakis to bed one night because I couldn't take it anymore.

The owner gave really amazing directions to her place with photos and a video. That was over and above, but she also insisted multiple food venues were open and we spent a couple hours going to them on our one full day there and every one of her recs was closed. We even messaged her to say we'd been trying to find a seafood place for two hours and she sent us to yet another closed place! She had no responsibility to find food for us, but she probably shouldn't have said she was 100% sure places were open very casually as though it wouldn't affect our time pretty significantly.

Not having a fluffy blanket does not seem like a good reason to go down to 4 stars, but I also don't think a raving 5 star review is warranted even though I'd like to return.

People are just so polarized and act like leaving a 3 or 4 star review means you would never return or recommend it. There are plenty of things that aren't perfect but still fit the bill for a number of reasons, but I want to know that going in, not be told it's something else.

Posted by
1483 posts

I've been staying at private rentals since long, long before Air B&B existed, and Air B&B has never been my favourite platform to use, although I do use it a little more lately.

I'm not influenced in my reviews by the host's ability to review me. (Other platforms, such as VRBO, have this now, too.) The hosts don't get to see my review until after they review me, and vice versa.

I HAVE, as others have said, messaged a host privately about an issue, if it is something easily resolved and not intrinsic to the place, and if everything was otherwise good.

In reading reviews, I find so often that negative comments are petty things that don't bother me at all. There are some deal-breakers, and I will search for those. There are also instances in which it is obvious the reviewer is carrying out a vendetta against the owner or hotel, often because they were asked to be quiet or something.


Petty- the king sized bed was really two twins pushed together. So???? That's common in Europe and not a problem. In fact, now that my husband and I have motion-beds, that's our setup at home, too. Who cares? Why is this a problem?

Petty-the toilet was in a separate room from the shower. So???? This is also somewhat common in Europe, and it means that one person has access to the toilet while the other is showering. I see this as a benefit. Why is this a problem?

Petty-the stove was just an induction hotplate. So? I'm not travelling so that I spend my days in the kitchen cooking big meals. It's a bonus to have a bit of a kitchen, for when we have an early start and want a quick breakfast, or we want to do takeout or leftovers or a quick meal at the end of the day. I love induction hotplates, and it was having one in an apartment in Budapest that led us to buy an induction stove.

Petty-we had to turn on the hot water before we could shower. So? Again, this is not uncommon outside of North America, and it is much more efficient and environmentally friendly. A tankless, on-demand water heater also means not running out of hot water mid-shower.

Deal Breaker - #1. Bedbugs. No way. No how.

Deal Breaker - if the owner has frequently cancelled reservations at the last minute.

Deal Breaker - really bad wifi. This depends on the situation. In Africa and in the Galapagos wifi wasn't always a given or was available in common areas only. These locations were quite isolated, so that's to be expected. In an otherwise wonderful B&B in Venice, the wifi was bad in the main room but good in the spare bedroom. The host warned us about this, so it isn't something we criticized.

If there's something I think could be problematic but wasn't for us, I'll mention it but not remove a star for it. For instance, if there are a lot of stairs and the place wouldn't work for someone with mobility issues, I'll say so, and I do appreciate knowing about such things in advance. That's not something to give a negative review about, though, in my opinion. If someone wants to stay in a heritage building in Europe, and not the Delta, then that's to be expected. I assume there's not elevator if an elevator isn't mentioned in the description.

When I read reviews, the ones in which I give the most credence to negative points are the 3 and 4 star reviews, where the traveller is clearly offering a balanced opinion and has reasonable expectations. Rarely is a place really as horrible as 1 star reviews paint them. That said, some places really do warrant 5-star reviews.