My boyfriend and I stayed for 3 nights in a twin room at Shoestrings Lodge in February 2013 and had a really great time here. While not the best hostel we have ever stayed at (see my separate review for Mozambeat Motel in Mozambique!), it is by no means the worst hostel we have ever stayed at, and we have very fond memories. Joe B, a few reviewers below me, sums it up perfectly: "would recommend it to those going in with the right expectations".
If your expectations are to have everything spotlessly clean and tidy, crisp Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffy white towels, to have a quiet evening peacefully reading your book, or to eat 5 star gourmet cuisine, then Shoestrings isnt for you - and it never pretended to be. Try the Vic Falls Hotel if thats your thing.
Shoestrings is a good backpacker's lodge, and one that bills itself as a "party place", so immediately this tells you what kind of place it is before you even set foot on the premises. It attracts young travellers in the 18-30 bracket (myself being at the very upper end of this bracket!), who prefer to forego luxuries for a budget place to sleep and a great place to meet other likelminded people. Yes, the kitchen gets a bit grubby (more the fault of other guests than the hostel itself - seriously guys, DO YOUR OWN WASHING UP!), yes the rooms are a little shabby, yes the pool sometimes has leaves floating in it. But, as a backpacker, it has everything you need, and more. Clean, relatively comfortable beds (certainly not the worst I've slept in!), clean bathrooms, lockers to put your valuables in (take your own padlock), a cool bar, cheap, tasty food, friendly staff (Sheila is a darling!), a travel information centre, bikes for hire, a pool, and a party atmosphere that isn't too over the top, but helps you meet people and have a good time.
Finally, I'd like to respond to 'misscherylb' below, who gave a very miserly 1-star review. She mentioned that the on site vendors hassle you to buy things while you are trying to relax or eat, and I think this is a very unfair comment. Yes, there are a number of vendors who have paid for a pitch at the backpackers to sell their wares. There's a jewellery stall, a massage parlour, and a Rasta dude called Dexter who makes recycled 'moving art' (it's actually pretty cool). Although we were approached by these people on a few occasions while sitting in the bar or eating breakfast, we were NEVER hassled by them. If you don't want to buy something, then just smile and say 'no thank you' and they WILL leave you alone - they're paying for the privilege of being there so they don't want to jeopardise this. Let's not forget that Zimbabwe is still a very damaged country, and many of the people are still desperately poor. I actually think that allowing a small number of trusted traders into the hostel grounds is a very responsible way of encouraging trade and enterprise - far better than the illegal hawkers who stand outside the hostel gates or in the town and DO hassle you mercilessly. Think about it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This brightly coloured backpackers is a short five miniute walk from town. There is 24 hour security, a lively bar, a small restaurant that makes the best pizzas in town, self-catering kitchen, a swimming pool, DSTV and two very friendly dogs. The staff are very helpful and can assist you with all activity bookings and information on onward travel. ... more less
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