Warning on Airbnb after traveler booked ‘abandoned’ lodge in Bali

A Kiwi traveler is warning others to do their research after she inadvertently booked an ‘abandoned’ Airbnb in Bali.

Bree Robertson, originally from Nelson in New Zealand, has lived on the Indonesian island since mid-June, documenting her travels on her website, Atypical Adventure.

To celebrate a month of living in Bali, earlier this month she booked an Airbnb for herself and her partner for what was supposed to be a ‘romantic getaway’ to Sidemen, a village in east Bali .

Robertson paid $80 for a one-night stay in the accommodation, described in the Airbnb listing as a private room in a natural lodge.

She booked “at the very last minute”, just a day or two before the trip, so she wasn’t too concerned when the host didn’t respond to her reservation, although the Airbnb listing says the host usually responded within the hour.

The property has received positive reviews, both on Airbnb and other booking sites. While the reviews dated back to 2019, Robertson attributed this to the pandemic, as quarantine-free travel to Bali did not resume until March.

However, when the couple arrived at the accommodation – after a two-hour scooter ride in the rain – they found the lodge had long been deserted, in a state of disrepair.

“We tipped over and it was very abandoned.”

The couple took videos of the property, which Robertson would later share on TikTok, before taking refuge in a restaurant down the road. They ended up booking another room for the night in Ubud, about an hour away.

Robertson reported the property to Airbnb’s support team, who responded confirming they would get a refund. But she was disappointed that the listing had gone live in the first place, with inaccurate information about the host’s response time.

“It was super misleading – it was one of the things I was counting on that gave me a lot of reassurance, I was like, ‘they’ve replied to other people, maybe they’re just busy’ .”

The listing was still online when Stuff Travel spoke to Robertston on Tuesday, but has since been deleted.

An Airbnb spokesperson said he was disappointed to learn of his experience and confirmed that he had provided a full refund.

“We hold hosts to high standards and the listing is no longer on the platform,” the spokesperson said.

“In the rare event that something does not go as planned upon arrival for a stay, our Community Support Team is on hand 24/7 to assist you.”

Under Airbnb’s AirCover policy, if a guest checks into a property that does not meet the platform’s standards for accuracy or quality, they will rebook the guest in a new listing of equal value or superior, or will offer 100% of their money.

Robertson’s TikTok has had 3.4 million views, with many commenters sharing their own negative experiences with Airbnb hosting.

“So many people have come forward saying ‘this happened to me,'” Robertson said. “It kind of opened my eyes.”

While she wasn’t discouraged from using the platform, Robertson said her main advice based on her experience was to check that you are able to communicate with the host, as well as to make sure that there are recent reviews.

“I always think, ‘It’ll be fine, she’ll be right’. But next time, I’ll probably be a little more careful.”


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