Tropical cozy villa was a tropical cozy dump

The only good thing about this villa is its location (provided you like noise and feeling unsafe given it’s located down a dark alley with no security).
I booked Villa Rumah Damai for the month of July, having had a number of emails back and forth with the owner’s wife on the Airbnb website. After the owner assured me that it was an ‘amazing’ villa to take my toddler and confirming that aside from a staircase and stairs to the pool that it was ‘family friendly’, the beautiful photos of the villa had me sold so I stupidly paid the owners directly – as per their suggestion – therefore losing any (non-existent) rights I would’ve had on Airbnb(no doubt a ploy used by the owners to ensure they can keep your money no matter what).
Upon moving into the villa after the villa manager was an hour late collecting us (leaving us waiting in the humidity with no contact or explanation) it was evident just how old the villa was. I was shown around and everything in the website photos that appears ‘white’ – linen, mosquito nets, day bed etc – is actually a dull, dusty grey. The photos are incredibly deceptive, so don’t be fooled! It soon became VERY clear that the owners keep this villa in a state so it’s barely rentable and that’s it. The kitchen tap wasn’t just dripping, it was streaming water. A number of light bulbs were blown. The fridge freezer was frozen over. The lock on the upstairs bedroom broken (and I specifically asked about lockable bedrooms PRIOR to booking the villa of which I was assured that “all bedrooms have lockable doors”). There was no advertised wifi (told by the villa manager to ‘use next door’s’ which involved standing in a corner, holding phones up to the ceiling). The toaster was DOA and the kettle looked circa 1974 given the build up of calcium inside and the foul, floaty white particles in the consequent boiled water. The real kicker occurred after a night of rain when the pool flooded and filled with dirt. This wouldn’t have been a problem if the pool filter was working, but of course, it too was broken. The pool was unusable for 6 days with maintenance people appearing in the backyard at all hours (they had been given a key without my knowledge and appeared one morning, banging around at 07:30!) coming to ‘look’ at the pool. And more often than not, that’s exactly what they did. They would ‘look’ at the pool and then leave. Honestly, this villa was a disaster. I sent ‘nice’ text messages to the villa manager outlining what needed to be fixed (after 4 days of darkness in the upstairs bathroom due to no lightbulbs, I went out and bought lightbulbs myself) then escalated it to emails to the owner’s wife who was – conveniently – traveling. I booked the villa for 28 nights, but after just 12 nights of disruption (maintenance people coming and going, villa manager coming and going, us being asked to be there to let the internet people in, the villa being a filthy, dysfunctional dump etc) disappointment and despair overtook the situation (not to mention having a pool we could not use and no internet) I simply had to move out. Oops, I neglected to mention the giant knife left outside my bedroom door where I was sleeping alone with my 18-month old toddler – of course I freaked out when I found it the next morning given it wasn’t there the night before, but the useless nanny confessed that she left the knife there for the gardener!!! Seriously, what kind of nanny leaves a giant knife where a toddler can get it? Then we discovered the final insult. $320 had been stolen out from under our noses. I personally had IDR 2,200,000 stolen from the safe in the downstairs bedroom and my friend another US$100 from her bag in the upstairs bedroom. Both thefts occurred when we were in the villa and it was being cleaned. We – I had a friend over from Australia visiting us – waited until bank statements and money exchange receipts had been checked before we made such serious accusations, and when we were absolutely sure we’d been robbed, we informed the owner via email. In the email I stated that given the top bedroom had a broken lock, the owners were liable for the theft, to which I received the reply: “I’m afraid the lost [sic] of your money caused by broken lock isn’t relevant either. You mentioned yourself that it happened when the cleaning is being done — meaning the room has to be unlocked, correct? So I don’t see the correlation between two” . This pretty much sums up the attitude of the owners. Out to make a quick buck. I also went to the Balinese police to lodge a report, however, in true Bali style, when everything was said and done, the police were asking more in bribes that we’d actually had stolen!
I had noticed when providing the nanny/cook with money for groceries (she was thrown into the rental deal for free, not that we ever wanted her), that small amounts – $5 here, $2 there – would be unaccounted for in receipts, and I paid the villa manager IDR 60,000 to purchase an Indonesian SIM card for me. When I didn’t return the SIM card with the phone handset she’d lent me – after all, I’d purchased the SIM so it was mine – she slipped up and asked for the SIM, telling me that it was a SIM she’d had for years and lends to all her guests. All these little amounts of money added up and no matter If it’s one dollar or the three-hundred and twenty dollars, it’s NOT their money to take. I have the right to give MY money to whom I choose.
I informed the owner’s wife that I would be leaving the villa 16 nights early based on all the reasons above – stressing the point that the ‘broken’ pool was completely unacceptable given that every time it rained, it became unusable plus reiterating all the other faults and flaws with the dump-of-a-villa – and requested a refund for the nights we did not stay there. The owner’s wife then proceeded to direct me to the cancellation policy of the Airbnb website that I DID NOT book through! So, they kept my money for the nights we did not stay and sent ridiculous emails with ridiculous explanations as to why it was so poorly maintained, going as far as to tell me that my expectations were too high and that I should be grateful for the great monthly rate they gave me ($4,000, originally advertised as $2,500 but they conveniently did a ‘bait-and-switch’ scam on me) So, I ended up having to rent another villa as I had more friends flying out from Australia and this meant I was paying double rent for 16 nights. Not. Happy. About. That.
When I left Indonesia, I sent a pleasant email to Airbnb telling them all that had happened. I admitted that I had been foolish to pay the owners directly, I said that I understood and accept that all my rights in regard to payment/refund were null and void given I had paid the owners directly, I clearly stated that I was not ‘after them’ for a refund, but that I simply wanted them to consider the facts:
– that the villa is an old dump and nothing like the photos they use to advertise it (deception on the host’s part)
– that they are using the Airbnb website to attract business but then taking transactions off of the site (highlighting the fact that Airbnb lose their 18% commission on bookings)
– that they ‘bait-and switch’ by luring renters in with a cheaper rental rate than they actually charge
And all the twit ‘Helen’ on the Airbnb team could focus on was the fact that I (stupidly) took the payment transaction off the Airbnb site:
“Unfortunately the reservation was taken off-site. This is not allowed per our Terms of Service. We can not do anything about payments not made through our secured payment system”
I kept replying and reiterating that I knew they couldn’t do anything about the lost payment and that they should remove the listing given it’s nothing like what is promised on the listing, they (Airbnb) are losing money in commissions/fees via these hosts as they make people pay offline and the hosts are ‘baiting-and-switching’ rental prices. No response from these Airbnb idiots. Oh, but they managed to send through a questionnaire on their ‘service. Ha. What a joke. Just like Airbnb is a joke. Honestly people, DO NOT USE Airbnb. Pay the extra to a property management company/agent who actually has to work for their commission/fees.


-Editor’s Note: The story above was written about this airbnb listing  Thank you for sharing your experience!

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. I’m curious though…how do you explain all the positive reviews on the site? I mean I’m sure your experience might not have been what you expected but they have almost 5 stars!

    • A. Bad reviews are consistently removed.
      B. Guests are often worried that writing a bad review will result in them getting a bad review from the host so they stick to neutral or positive without being glowing reviews.

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