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“OK for a quick stopover in Durban ...”

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Gibela Backpackers Lodge
Ranked #6 of 79 Specialty Lodging in Durban
Reviewed September 3, 2013

... but quite a provincial attitude with too many rules ("instruction labels" are situated all over the place and e.g. reminding the guest to clean up if "mummy" should not be around; consistent though that smokers have not even a chance to smoke outside). The administrator of the place welcomes new inmates with a cautionary, expeditious introduction re dos and dont's, go areas and no-go areas etc.

In view of the price of the location, cleanliness (dirt under the bed), sleep quality (no double bed offered for couple), rooms (small, no safe deposit box availabe) and service are below average. Rest is OK and reminding of better times.

Once a highly commended place, the lodge has apparently lost much of its atmosphere - or it was just a little depressing Durban winter. Good luck!

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
1  Thank Gilbert M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 11, 2013

Welcome to Tripadvisor. It's a pity you didn't know about this before you booked us. From your review we can gather that you booked on our web-site. Not quite sure how you missed that we are a non-smoking propert - hence the fact you cant smoke here, Hopefully you will make use of this platform to better plan your future accommodation choices. As we cant link your tripadvisor profile to any of our recent stays we cant work out in which room you stayed, So as for the dirt under your bed Im unable to know in which room it was and if it was actually at Gibela. As a 2 review person you might actually get the feel that we not actually into the quick stop over business, It seems you are non resident working individual which is not our target market, We cater for travellers. But the more you use tripadvisor the wiser you will become.

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Reviews (161)
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82 - 88 of 161 reviews

Reviewed August 13, 2013

Super clean!!!
Very safe!
Very quiet!
Very restful!
Very helpful staff!
Very close to the grocery store!
I love it !!!
I return to Gibela every year for exactly the reasons listed above.
Elmar and the staff are fantastic and make you feel like family. The complimentary breakfast is filling and the kitchen is great for cooking our own dinners at night.
The pool this year was a nice surprise and very helpful for post running recovery.
The beach, shops, Botanical garden and entertainment are all a short walk away in a great area.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled solo
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Thank Martin V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded August 15, 2013

Thank you VERY much.
Gibela is definitely a "the longer you stay - the better the experience" establishment.
To keep our returning clientele satisfied and ensuring their return we continuously stive to add new features - as in the swimming pool.
It's a clean cut deal by just looking at other reviews that we are not a suittable stop for "one night wonders".
Looking forward in seeing you back - climbing the ladder to that GREEN number !!

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Reviewed August 4, 2013

We stayed in Durban for three nights at Gibela Backpackers lodge. Elmar was incredibly knowledgeable about Durban (and the rest of South Africa!) and was happy to answer all our questions and provide advice on our travel plans. We stayed in a twin room (no double beds were available/not sure there are any in this backpackers). The room and shared bathrooms were clean and a good standard for a backpacker, and communal areas were trendy and clearly cared for! The complimentary breakfast was all you needed. The biggest problem at Gibela was the internet access, which was restricted to a certain amount of megabytes per customer, and only available in communal areas (not in rooms). The location of this backpacker was great-very close to the happening Florida road, and in walking distance to the beach. It was also safe to walk around the area at night time, which was very useful! A good stay overall, if the internet was unlimited and available in rooms-it would be excellent!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Rebecca B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded August 5, 2013

Thank-you for sharing your Gibela experience with fellow travellers.
Our private rooms are all twin rooms (two single beds) and yes you are correct we don't have any double beds at Gibela. It's amazing how our multiple - night stay guests really appreciate and absorb the detail and effort we put into making Gibela an memorable experience. It's the small things that make the difference. As in our breakfast - which is basic but more than sufficient for most travellers.
As far as internet is concerned our Wi-Fi is free and limitless, Our system was installed before we offered free Wi-Fi and unfortunately we still require this operating system as we charge for the use of our computer and need to monitor it. The vouchers is megabyte limited but we do issue a new voucher once the original one is completed. I do apologise if this wasn't made clear to you.
As far as limiting the Wi-Fi range is concerned, unfortunately there is a percentage of internet users that are not very polished when it comes to internet etiquette. As it wont be a problem in the private rooms, we previously had complaints from travellers in the dorms about fellow travellers that sit chatting and working till all hours of the night. As we cant separate Wi-Fi in the private rooms from the dorms we had to opt for the next best and that being limiting it to the reception area only.
Our location is a winner with most travellers - walking distance to all you need as a traveller, including a wide choice of restaurants and cafe's.
Happy travels !!

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Reviewed July 24, 2013

For the past 7 years we have been staying at Gibela Lodge when we go to Durban to run Comrades. It is the very best! Every year it is better and more beautifull. It is so nice to see all the friends from all over the world who come back every year and stay here.

On Comrades morning the staff get up at 3am to give us breakfast! This is the tipe of service you get at Gibela.

Room Tip: The rooms on the 2nd floor are very nice and quiet.
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank Natalie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

Yes Comrades weekend is a special "international family gathering" at Gibela. Everyone catching up with the latest news, training progress and meeting the first timers. It's great to welcome the crowd back every year. Having done three Comrades myself I know what it takes and that early morning breakfast is a good kick start and part of the Gibela experience. Many thanx for the review and happy training for 2014 !!

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Reviewed July 23, 2013

I went to Durban for a conference in july 2013 and get 2 extra days to enjoy the city. I choose Gibela after reading reviews posted on Tripadvisor website as it was my first time in Durban.The place is very central, easy to reach downtown, beaches, soccer stadium and Botanic garden by walking. All services are around, supermarket is just in the corner. However a big positive surprise was the organization of the place, everything is very organized and clean. I particularly liked the decor, the owner really cares about details. Breakfast was the best I have taken in a backpacker around the world: bread (toaster available), yogurt, fruits, milk, coffee, tea, maple, cheese, butter, juice.There is a small kitchen with fridge for its guests enough to prepare something and eat and drink in one of the three spaces with table around the property. It is not a big house however is incredibly silent perfect for a good sleep, however would like to recommend to think about individual lamps for each bed in the dorm rooms, it is very useful when someone is sleeping and is necessary to have light on for any reason. It is a place to stay in a next trip to Durban.

Room Tip: In winter rooms can be cold, ask for an extra blanket.
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled solo
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Thank MagalyBr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

Wow a very detailed and constructive review, many thanx. It's rewarding to hear that travellers appreciate the effort we put into making their stay as memorable as possible. All the extra small details is not always noticed but you sure have taken time to take it all in. We try and keep it all simple and basic, with the emphasis on making sure what is offered works. A lot we have to thank our guest for - its a communal space and the noise, tidiness and cleanliness is a group effort on behalf of fellow travellers.
Thank-you for the suggestion of the individual bed lights in dorms. I will definitely look into this and will post an update once we have found a product that would work in our environment. Happy Travels

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Reviewed July 19, 2013

My sister and I were travelling through Durban on our way to Port St. John and needed a place to stay for one day on the way down and two nights on the way up. I found Gibela on Tripadvisor, and it had great reviews so I decided to go for it. I went to book on their online system but unfortunately it wouldn't let me book for both stays at one time and required a credit card. I wanted to make an EFT as I'm an American living in South Africa and trying to pay my American credit card from my South African bank account is a real hassle.

I emailed Elmar about the issue, and he eventually allowed me to do an EFT after some hassle (he told me I had to do a full payment instead of just half the deposit which was fine with me). Eventually my stay was confirmed and everything taken care of.

Unfortunately, I later realized I had messed up the dates I needed accommodation as my sister and I were taking the Baz Bus, and I had read the timetable wrong. I emailed Elmar apologizing profusely and asked if I could change my dates. He was very nice and accommodating and allowed me to change the dates which I was very thankful for. As a result, I decided I would bring him chocolates to thank him for being so kind when I had so obviously inconvenienced him.

When we arrived to stay on the 26th of June he was immediately cold and unfriendly to my sister and I. He started telling us he didn't know we were taking the Baz Bus (which was surprising because in my email I had told him we needed to change our dates of accommodation due to my fault in reading the Baz Bus timetable incorrectly). He then told us that our bookings on the 5th and 6th wouldn't work because the Baz Bus arrived very late and reception closed at 8:30 (so much for advertising as a Baz Bus drop off spot). I asked him if he could just text us the code to the gate and then we could let ourselves in on that date as we had already paid, we were now familiar with the layout of the place, and he already had all of our information. He refused and said we would have to find a new place to stay. This was a real issue as that weekend was the weekend of the horse races and almost everything was already booked. At this point I was crying to which he seemed unconcerned. All he wanted to know was if we were going to cancel our booking.

I told him I was going to call Smith's Cottage and see if they had any spaces available (another place I had previously looked into staying at). He told me that Baz Bus didn't drop off there so I was out of luck. (This was a blatant lie- they do drop off and pick up from Smith's) I did make the call and luckily they still had room available.

At this point I asked if I could have a refund. He told me he would refund half of my money. I argued I wasn't really cancelling since I still wanted my accommodations, but he was refusing to allow me to have them. I thought this was unfair as I had told him I was coming in on the Baz Bus. He again reiterated that if I would have used their online system none of this would have happened. I definitely understand the cancellation policy, and had I cancelled I would have understood my lack of refund, but since he was refusing to serve me I felt that the situation was unfair. In the end I gave up as I didn't want to ruin my vacation over it. The whole thing was most unfortunate as the accommodations are lovely and in a great location..if only the customer service wasn't so horrendous.

In the end, I ended up eating the chocolates I had brought for Elmar as I didn't really feel up to giving them to him after the experience. It all turned out for the best, our stay at Smith's Cottage was fantastic and the owners absolutely wonderful. I would definitely recommend staying there if you're in Durban.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Caitlin B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded July 27, 2013

For the record this review is done by the same group (2 people) as that of the 14th of June,
Interesting how these reviews are sandwiched between "GREAT VALUE", "AWESOME" and "PERFECT FOR THE QUICK STOP"
This booking took 11 emails over a 17 day period with 3 date changes to be finalised and that at no extra charges. Try this with an airline company changing flight details and it would be interesting to see what the charges would be.
No mention was ever made that on the second arrival they would be arriving after closing time. This was only done on arrival at first check-in. If it was mentioned previously I would have notified them straight away that their booking will not work with us due to late arrival. This is not the first time that we had to notify people that arrivals after 20H30 is not possible.
The bus time table clearly states days of travel and arrival times - it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure it out. My words were "the bus do not drop off here after 20h30". No reference was made to drop off points at other hostels.
Two separate dates require two separate bookings and that is how most online booking system operate. Ever tried paying half an airline ticket on making a booking and the other half on check-in?
Wonder how they thought I was going to get the keys from my mobile phone to there's? This app is definitely not yet available in Africa.
This is why we prefer guest to do online bookings as all these points are explained and eliminates any confusion.
Have a look at how these two reviews rate our value, location, sleep quality, rooms. cleanliness and service. Interesting to see how to people sharing the same room and facilities on the same day have two different values .
If only half the energy was put into making the booking as what was done to do this review - I'm sure the trip would have been 100% more enjoyable. This is a classical scenario where some people should rather invest in the coffee table book of the destination to avoid them having anxiety attacks and emotional breakdowns.

PS. For future record - I don't eat chocolates.

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Reviewed June 21, 2013

Ive traveled to europe and this lodge by far had been the nicest and not to forget very nice staff, and felt very safe As well.

The location is ideal and was very close to nearby restaurants that are walking

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Juan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elmar Gibela Ow... T, Owner at Gibela Backpackers Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded June 24, 2013

Many thanx for the GREAT review. Good to hear your stay both at Gibela and in Durban was AWESOME !! I'm sure one of your fondest memories wil; be that BUNNY Chow you had on your urban "walking Safari" through Durban.

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Additional Information about Gibela Backpackers Lodge

Address: 119 Ninth Avenue | Morningside, Durban 4001, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Durban
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 79 Specialty Lodging in Durban
Price Range: $38 - $70 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Gibela Backpackers Lodge 2*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
TOP CHOICE - Lonely Planet 2012 "If this hostel (a tastefully converted 1950's Tuscan home) were a B&B, it would be described as 'boutique'. One of Durban's best hostels, it has sparkling surfaces and rooms neat enough to pass an army major's inspection. It even provides a continental breakfast- to be enjoyed in an attractive indoor-outdoor dining area." Gibela is conveniently located in the safe, residential area of Morningside and within walking distance to the center of Durban’s entertainment life, Florida Road, where there are restaurants, cocktail bars, clubs and coffee shops galore. ... more   less 
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