Bree Robertson's Airbnb in Bali looked like a glamorous villa but it turned out to be abandoned.
Robertson recorded the experience on TikTok, where the video gained over 4.3 million views.
Airbnb refunded Robertson and removed the listing. Next time, she says she'll look closer at reviews.
Bree Robertson thought a nature lodge in Bali would be the ideal place to celebrate her and her travel partner's one-month anniversary of moving there.
She found a villa on Airbnb with an infinity pool, onsite restaurant, and views overlooking the rainforest, and she booked a room for one night in mid-July after reading a smattering of good reviews.
But when Robertson and her partner arrived at the property, the villa was abandoned. Instead of sparkling blue water, there was an overgrown, algae-filled pool. The restaurant was shuttered and stacks of chairs lined the exterior. Not a single person was on the property.
"All we could do was laugh. We were so exhausted and so tired; it was the perfect end to not a great day," Robertson, who is sharing her adventures on her website Atypical Adventure, told Insider.
The couple splurged on what they thought was a romantic Airbnb to celebrate a month of living in Bali
In June, Robertson and her partner moved from their homes in Wellington, New Zealand, to Canggu, a coastal village on Bali's south coast.
So far, Robertson said the move from windy, rainy Wellington to tropical, warm Bali has been "just brilliant."
"It's a nice change going from freezing cold and windy to Bali where it's sunny and beautiful," she said.
As the pair approached their one-month mark in Bali and their 10-month relationship anniversary, Robertson started scouring Airbnb for a romantic getaway to celebrate.
The private room she landed on at the nature lodge seemed impressive with its positive, pre-pandemic reviews and an Airbnb host who had a 100% response rate, she said.
So she booked the Airbnb for about 750,000 Indonesian Rupiahs, or about $50. In Bali, Robertson said it was a pricier listing and a splurge for the couple.
On the day of their anniversary, the couple hopped on their motor scooters and drove about two hours from their apartment in Canggu to Sidemen, a village in east Bali.
The couple initially went to the wrong location. When they finally found the property, Robertson said she and her partner were surprised by how overgrown the area looked.
Robertson said they parked in the driveway, walked past an empty reception area, and headed to the main building where its big wooden doors were closed.
"We walked around the back of the main building and that's when I saw that everything was overgrown," she said. "The pool had turned green, and where the restaurant should've been, all the chairs were up and it was just dusty."
The couple realized the lodge had turned into a ghost town.
Robertson said that all they could do was laugh.
"What you don't hear in the TikTok is him saying like, 'What have you done Bree? What's going on?'" she said.
After they explored the abandoned lodge for a few minutes, it started to rain and the humor wore off, Robertson said. So they found another listing in Ubud, hopped back on their scooters, and spent the night at another property.
Robertson immediately requested a refund from Airbnb. Airbnb responded and Robertson said a refund was issued the same day. About a week later, the listing was removed from Airbnb's website, she said.
"We were disappointed to learn about this experience and provided our support to the guest at the time, including a full refund," an Airbnb representative told Insider. "We hold hosts up to high standards and the listing is no longer on the platform."
Moving forward, Robertson plans to book Airbnbs with more recent reviews
The comments section on Robertson's TikTok is filled with other people sharing similar experiences with Airbnbs in Indonesia. According to Bloomberg, many resorts and villas shuttered and were put on the market during the pandemic, so it can be challenging to know which ones are still operating.
One TikToker said they "always ask for live-feed video to see the current condition."
Others said they only book Airbnbs with recent reviews.
Robertson said that's what she'll do moving forward as well as making sure she hears back from the host.
"I 100% recommend Bali. It's a beautiful place," she added. "I feel like this is a needle-in-the-haystack story that happened to me."