Bulawayo Club: Our full report
The centrally located Bulawayo Club dates back to 1935.It’s a beautiful old colonial building and the architecture and history make this one of the most famous institutions in Zimbabwe.
The Bulawayo Club was tastefully converted into a hotel in 2009 by the same team that owns and runs Camp Amalinda. For a couple of years the Bulawayo Club showed real promise, and efforts to restore it to its past glory seemed to be paying dividends. Then, in about 2012, the members unexpectedly took management of the property back.
The Club is now once again operated as just that, a club (although it does take bookings from non-members). No one from Expert Africa has visited The Bulawayo Club since this change in management took place. The information we’ve provided here is based on our visit to The Bulawayo Club from before the change in management. With that in mind then, although we are still happy to book time at The Bulawayo Club for our travellers, we do always caveat this with the fact that we can’t vouch for the current quality of the accommodation, the service or the food here.
The main entrance into the Bulawayo Club leads from the bustling Bulawayo streets 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.
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 organise for Paul Hubbard, 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.
Located 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 a stay here is well worth talking to us about.
- Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- One or two nights - enough to explore the town, and possibly the museum.
- The Bulawayo Club is 20 minutes' drive from Bulawayo Airport and 45 minutes' drive to the Motopos National Park.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- 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.
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at The Bulawayo Club.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Water supply
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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.
- There are no safes in the rooms.
There is a bank next door to the club where it is possible to draw out cash.
- Accepted payment on location
- There are currently no credit card facilities at the There are currently no credit-card facilities at The Bulawayo Club, but cash can be withdrawn from the bank next door. Payment is preferred in US dollars or South African rand, but British pounds and euros are also accepted.
Other lodges in Bulawayo
Alternative places to stay in this same area.