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“Fun place to stay - you get what you pay for!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Shoestrings Lodge

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Shoestrings Lodge
12 West Dr, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe   |  
Hotel amenities
Alcester, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Fun place to stay - you get what you pay for!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

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.

Room Tip: If you want to get a good night's sleep, bring ear plugs! Dorms and rooms at the back of the hos...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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85 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
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  • Russian first
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English first
Ucluelet, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2013

This is a great place to meet very interesting people. The Zambezi rafting trip video nights are unforgettable, the staff was great and the parties happened here. Thanks I had just a great time and enjoyed my week here.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2013

we are used to travelling low-budget and really don't mind "basic" accommodation, so thought shoestrings looked like a good option. we had booked for two weeks - but were forced to start searching for an alternative pretty soon after we got there - we moved after 4 nights (try the Rest Camp as an alternative!). Shoestrings looks like it could be a great place, but unfortunately badly maintained. things that we had been promised when booking were not available when we got there, our mattresses looked like original 1960s and felt just like cotton wool, you could feel the wood underneath, the room must have been broken into at some point and the door had been fixed by hammering a piece of wood on with a few nails, not safe, there are vendors on the premises (we were told they pay USD 20 per month for a stand), so you can never relax without being hassled to buy something, even trying to have supper or chill by the pool, and the kitchen was never accessible because there was always a bunch of staff in there cooking their meals, to name a few things... overall, not a great experience.

Room Tip: Try the "Rest Camp" just down the road...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013

I spent 5 nights at Shoestrings and would recommend it to those going in with the right expectations. First, the good: Great price for Vic Falls at $11 for the dorm....good food....4 great dogs...cheap drinks....great location....nice grounds....fun party scene. The Bad: Entire place is pretty run down and not particularly clean....dorm beds uncomfortable...very loud into the night (the downside of that party scene!). Want the best of both worlds? Pay $11 to stay here and hang out at the Vic Falls Hotel. I went over there every day for a drink and the million dollar view. Enjoyed my book in the gorgeous reading rooms. Overall though, not a lot of good budget accommodation in Vic Falls, so Shoestrings (with its flaws) is a good no frills option. I'd stay there again.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Coventry, United Kingdom
1 review
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

We booked a private room here for Christmas eve and Christmas Day 2012 via hostelbookers.com
We had read some of the previous tripadvisor comments about this place and were looking forward to the fun vibe on Christmas day.
However when we arrived there was no sign of our reservation!! (not sure who is to blame. shoestrings or hostelbookers.com) The staff didn't particularly seem shocked by this mishap, there was a slight mumble of an apology and they offered us their last lodgings available which was a pretty shabby tent out the back with two beds in it. We decided to look else where.
This is a real shame as we visited Shoestrings on an evening out prior to xmas eve and there was a nice vibe with a mixed bunch there. We ate pizza from their outdoor grill kitchen which is nice. The pool does need a clean/leaf clearance too. Maybe we should have checked our booking on that night but we just assumed that as we had paid a deposit that it would all be ok.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

My dorm was never cleaned the full week I was there and the kitchen is the worst I have ever seen. The oven must be over 50 years old. The place is a goldmine yet cannot even afford a cleaner. It is a shame because the place does have a good vibe but but just so disgustingly dirty

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Cologne
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2012

The Shoestring's is a backpacker im Zimbabwe. That being said I can hardly understand the complaints about cleanliness (of the facilities) and malfunctioning internet and airconditioning. If you need starched linnen every morning you should opt for one of the more expensive options in Vic Falls. I stayed in my own tent, which was no problem, and found the communal kitchen and the showers to be absolutely average - which is not a bad thing. The staff was very friendly and helpful and sitting on the porch next to the generous pool you can have a great time. In the evenings a lot of people from within the backpacker, but also the one occasional local gathers at the bar to get a cold beer or two. I did not have much problems getting sleep since my tent was pitched up behind the main building but I can imagine that - depending on the season and where your room is located - you might need some earplugs if you have to hit the hay early.

Room Tip: ideal for bringing your own tent
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shoestrings Lodge

Address: 12 West Dr, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Location: Zimbabwe > Matabeleland North Province > Victoria Falls
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 25 Specialty Lodging in Victoria Falls
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 11
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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