The Bulawayo Club is located in the city's centre.
Bulawayo Club: Our full report
Located in the centre of Bulawayo, The Bulawayo Club, dating back to 1935, is full of colonial architecture and history from a bygone era.
t was tastefully converted into a hotel in 2009, it retains the feel of a working gentleman's club, with a lot of original pieces of furniture and fittings; indeed, parts of the club are still available to its members.
The main entrance into the Bulawayo Club leads from the bustling street through a white-pillared veranda and into a large lobby. This spacious room has high ceilings, mahogany-wood wall panelling and polished wooden floors, and is dominated by a large fireplace. Here, as in other communal areas, the walls are decked with numerous prints and photos of important people from decades past.
Separate seating areas have been created in the lobby using a selection of antique leather and upholstered furniture. Leading off this room are the members' bar, library and snooker room, which are still used by club members. Visitors may use these facilities as well, but ladies are allowed into these areas only on Fridays and Saturdays – the last signs of this once gentlemen-only club.
In the centre of The Bulawayo Club is an internal open-air courtyard, The Atrium, where breakfast and light lunches are served.
A grand mahogany staircase leads from the lobby to The Bulawayo Club's upper floors – or you can take the original old lift. On the first floor, the residents' lounge has comfortable seating, a self-service tea and coffee area and a TV. Double-glazed doors lead out onto a large balcony overlooking the street.
On the same floor is the Lobengula Lounge, which also houses the bar: a sociable place for a pre-dinner drink. Dinner itself is served in the more formal Governor's Restaurant that leads off it.
Located on the second floor are The Bulawayo Club's 15 en-suite bedrooms, including two suites. The rooms vary in size and aspect; some have a balcony overlooking the street, whilst others face over a courtyard or the back of the building. All are light and airy, with high ceilings and floors of Oregon pine. Furnishings are simple: double or twin beds covered with crisp white linen, an upholstered armchair and a writing table and chair. There is also hanging space and shelves for storing clothing. Each room has a ceiling fan and direct-dial telephone, and most have a TV. Both the suites have a separate lounge with TV.
The bathrooms are quite simple with white tiles on the floors and walls, a single basin, toilet and a bath with a shower attachment. None of the bathrooms has a separate shower. White towels and some complimentary toiletries are provided.
Excursions from the club are possible at an additional cost. These can be booked locally or in advance and include a city tour of Bulawayo, including a visit to the Railway Museum, the National Art Gallery and the Bulawayo Museum of Natural History, which is allegedly the largest museum in the southern hemisphere!
A day trip to the Motopos National Park can also be made from her, although most of our travellers will probably prefer to explore the park for at least a few days from one of the lodges there.
With enough advanced notice, and for an extra cost, we can sometimes organize a professional historian and guide to accompany you to explore Bulawayo. By day many of the city's sights may seem obvious, but by night he'll take you on a 'historic pub crawl' – seeking out the locations where drinking halls and pubs used to exist 100 years ago.
Our viewLocated in the heart of Bulawayo, ideal for exploring the city, the Bulawayo Club has lots of character: it's very interesting and slightly eccentric. This is not only a historic building, but also a working gentleman's club, with a lot of original pieces of furniture and fittings. If you want to have some time in urban Africa, then we'd recommend it to as an excellent stop for a night or two at the start, or end, of a trip around Zimbabwe.
Ideal length of stay: One or two nights - enough to explore the town, and possibly the museum.
Directions: The Bulawayo Club is 20 minutes' drive from Bulawayo Airport and 45 minutes' drive to the Motopos National Park.
Owner: The Bulawayo Club has been leased from club members by Sharon and Phil Stead of the Amalinda Collection
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: When a member of the Expert Africa team last visited the Bulawayo Club in July 2011, we found the food to be really good.
Breakfast is generally served in the Atrium on the ground floor and consists of a buffet of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit, cold meats and cheese. A full English breakfast is also cooked to order with a choice of eggs, bacon, sausage and tomato.
Dinner is served from a small à la carte menu in the slightly formal Governor's Restaurant. On our recent visit the starter was spinach soup (US$4) followed by a choice of four main courses. Three of these were meat dishes (US$10.50–16) and one was fish (US$11.50). Two desserts were available at U$4 each. The affordable wine list featured bottles ranging from US$10 to US$15 per bottle.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at The Bulawayo Club.
Equipment: There are no highchairs available but the club has one cot.
Generally recommended for children: Although the Bulawayo Club accepts children we don't think it is suitable for very small children.
Notes: Although children are welcome, young children do need to be supervised by their parents as this is a working members' club with antique furniture and paintings.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: There are landline telephones as well as cellphone reception. There is also internet and WiFi access.
TV & radio: TVs are available in most of the rooms. There is also a TV in the residents' lounge.
Health & safety
Malarial area: No
Medical care: There are doctors and hospitals in Bulawayo.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There is 24 hour security as well as off street parking.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is available at an extra cost.
Money: There are no safes in the rooms. There is a bank next door to the club where it is possible to draw out cash.