In a series of viral TikTok videos amassing over 900,000 views as of Monday, user Raef (@iraefsal) details a distressing experience with an Airbnb host in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The videos, presented as slideshows, unfold the story of a couple’s stay and the subsequent fallout with their “super host” that escalated dramatically after their departure.
Initially, the host appeared gracious, thanking the guests for choosing their accommodation. However, the situation soured after the guests left a review 12 days post-stay, which included both positive and negative remarks, as shown in the screenshots shared on TikTok.
The guest praised the “great view of Smokie Mountains” and noted the Airbnb host’s communicative nature. Yet, they also listed several issues: a sinking bed, the misrepresentation of the apartment as a two-bedroom when it was actually a studio with a sofa bed, towels smelling like cigarette smoke—a significant concern as they are non-smokers—and confusion over a $75 cleaning fee coupled with requests to undertake cleaning tasks like taking out garbage, loading the dishwasher, and piling up used towels.
The host’s reaction to the review was swift and severe. In a message to the couple, the host berated them, stating, “As you [can] plainly see you look like a fool with your review when the listing plainly states that the condo is a studio.” According to the screenshots, the host then threatened legal action, claiming to be an attorney with connections and prepared to file a “liable lawsuit” for damages and financial loss, demanding the review’s removal within 24 hours or face a lawsuit seeking “1 million dollars.”
The intimidation tactics continued with the host sending a demand for $300 through Airbnb, alleging, without evidence, that the guests smoked in the unit. They supported this claim with photos of ashes on counters and a note accusing the guests of smoking and lying about it in their review to cover up their actions. Raef asks, “‘How can a SUPER HOST get away with this??”
However, Raef countered these allegations by highlighting the host’s pattern of attacking guests who leave negative reviews, showing evidence from other public reviews detailing similar complaints about cleanliness and the mattress condition. Each time, the host aggressively rebutted the negative feedback, accusing one guest of leaving shaved pubic hairs and another of misusing the mattress.
In a final twist, Airbnb removed the couple’s review from their stay, as shared in a follow-up video, and the host persisted in demanding the $300, which Raef refused, explaining his reasons and standing firm against the allegations.
This incident highlights the complexities and potential pitfalls of peer-to-peer lodging, raising questions about guest protections, host accountability, and the mechanisms to handle disputes. As the situation garnered attention online, it sparked a conversation about the expectations and responsibilities of hosts and guests in the sharing economy.
The Daily Dot has contacted Airbnb via email and Raef (@iraefsal) via TikTok comment for further comment on this escalating situation with the Airbnb host.