Reviews of Bulawayo Club
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Bulawayo Club review
I did not actually stay at the Bulawayo Club. I had a room booked but it became apparent very shortly before I left, that the booking had been "mislaid". They had a big function that evening and presumably needed the room. I was warned that the Club was unreliable. I did visit during the day - it seemed nice. Bit disappointed.
I did stay instead at the Banff Lodge, which was good. It was a little noisy (Rugby World Cup Scotland vs. South Africa) and the rooms are close to the bar.
Kudos to Nick at Expert Africa - he arranged a change of accommodation at short notice and a driver for the day.
Bulawayo is very interesting. Railway museum is excellent.
A step back in history
The Club conjured up so many images of a different time and was delightful. The staff were very helpful and very apologetic about the noise from an evening celebration the night we were staying.
We weren't troubled by the noise, nor by the lack of electricity the following morning when our Full English was imaginatively cooked without electricity.
Bulawayo was an interesting town to visit, but the amount of litter lining the street and public places was a deterrent to the enjoyment. However, it was good to see local colour in absolute safety.
Charming old building and friendly staff
An excellent place to stay when viewing old Bulawayo where the Natural History museum and the Railway museum were both very good.
The Art Gallery did not have much to offer, other than the only political satire I saw in Zimbabwe (two paintings, one of a Mugabe postered vehicle with a flat tyre and a Changiri vehicle where the wheel had come off)
Everything in the Club was charming apart from the shower facilities which were not as good as Hwange or Amalinda
Bulawayo Club - a time capsule
Our pick-up from the airport was on time and efficient.
We loved this place, just one or two small points could have made it a really excellent stay.
Despite only a few guests, on one morning all the hot water was taken by the room next door so we had a cold bath.
Rooms were quite cold with no extra heating, so a hot water bottle would have been nice or an electric blanket perhaps?
Just a bit more TLC around the hotel would have made all the difference as it was a bit 'tired' in a few places - but we really loved the 'colonial' ambience and the quality of the woodwork and fixtures. Staff were good and attentive, although the breakfasts were not to the same standard as the rest on the trip, but still OK.
They also now accept VISA credit cards.
Bulawayo Club review
The Bulawayo Club is an interesting and unique experience, well situated for seeing Bulawayo. It tries hard to meet guests' needs but is hampered by not being a hotel, but a (men's) club. Eg, the only women's toilet in the downstairs area is for staff, not signed and not particularly clean. However, short of returning to your room upstairs, there is no choice but to use it. Freshening it up and cleaning it would not cost money as we appreciate that might be an issue. The men's toilet is huge - women seem to be an afterthought.
The tea-making facilities are not in the room but in a guest lounge. This is not a problem except they didn't refill the supplies or cups, or take away the used teabags etc. We were there for 3 days and eventually had to ask for teabags and cups
Shorts are not permitted in the bar as my husband found out, and we did not feel that women were particularly welcome there. However, as it was so cold, we rarely used it, preferring to sit by the log fire in the entrance hall.
The staff were very friendly and helpful but the club isn't geared up to modern tourist needs. The bar seems to close quite early in the evening without warning. There was no indication of whether we could get lunch and were only asked whether we wanted any after we had gone out to find somewhere else to eat.
It was unusually cold in Bulawayo, and the rooms were freezing. However the log fire in the reception area became the venue for dining and drinking.
These are nit picking comments really as we enjoyed our stay and would probably stay there again. We had an excellent guide in Paul Hudson.
Expert Africa comments
We were delighted to read that these guests had a very good time, overall, at the Bulawayo Club. We did forward their comments on to The Club however in order to give them a chance to reply. The Club's General Manager came back with the following response:
"Thank you for the report which is appreciated and valued. We are happy to say that we had already responded to some of the comments before we received this report, as a result of friendly feedback between the Millerman's and members of staff during their time with us - we were always happy to be of help and enjoyed hosting them. We know small things can make a big difference, and this is why we owe Mrs Millerman a huge apology on one count - the issue of the ladies' restroom. We are especially proud of our ladies restroom on the first floor, which we named the Marilyn Monroe Room because of it's quirky decor - it was our decor team's way of having a bit of fun at the expense of our historic men's Club ambience. Somehow, Mrs Millerman was never shown this restroom, and for that we owe her a sincere apology. We hope the rest of their tour went well, and we hope we can welcome them back to Bulawayo at a future date.
We are not sure why the cups and teas were not replaced upstairs in the VIP lounge but the staff are usually excellent at clearing and making sure that there is fresh cutlery etc. We have had a stern talk to the waiters on duty, it will not happen again."
Retro experience at Bulawayo Club
Relies heavily in its history and character. Ideally situated for a short visit to Bulawayo.
Our transfer/courtesy driver looked after us extremely well throughout the stay which enabled us to visit St Johns Cathedral, the Railway Museum (a must for children of all ages) and the very well presented Natural History Museum.
We were recommended not to take any street photographs which was a shame.
Another time, another place
It was an amazing experience, staying in this old colonial club, now sitting at the heart of a new, emerging Zimbabwe. Well done to the Amalinda Group for saving it from extinction.
We rated the overall facilities good rather than excellent but that is not to underestimate the work that the management have done in upgrading them. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the food is fine. The service can be slow but the staff were lovely.
The Club has the longest bar we've seen and is now letting women in every night (at last!). The snooker room was deserted (until we played a very amateurish game there) and the dusty side rooms echoed with history. The clientele, however, reflected modern Zimbabwe and an interesting mix of tourists.
We were accompanied by Paul Hubbard, our guide from Camp Amalinda, and he took us to the Railway Museum which was a fantastic experience, seeing Cecil Rhodes private coach, alongside the Garratt engines. He also took us on a pub crawl and architectural walk around the city centre. The next day we drove out to the Khami Ruins, a World Heritage Site second only to Great Zimbabwe. A great way to finish our trip before flying from out from Bulawayo Airport (quite an experience!) and home via Jo'burg.
Bulawayo Club review
Wonderful old building and nice staff. The room was a bit noisy at night so ask for one that faces away from the streets.
Good food, and we enjoyed a couple of special cultural events in Bulawayo. Nice town!
A lot done. A lot more to do.
Wonderful historic place. Great photos. It will take a long time and a lot of investment to make it into what it could be. First room had a noisy fan and a dirty duvet. Second room was bright and airy but again an unclean duvet which had to be replaced. Both bathrooms did not have a shower curtain!
Paul Murray in the Bradt Guide says that it has recently been restored inside and out. Really? Must have been bad before. Well the stairs could do with a good cleaning and the removal of tattered and frayed carpet for a start!
Again Murry says "excellent food served in truly elegant dining room". Diningroom is interesting without being elegant. And as for food. Breakfast was again mainly full English with a few other bits. Dinner was set menu and not very appealing with the result we found other places to dine for the two nights we were there.
Could be great with the right investment and management.
An amazing time capsule of 1930s colonial Africa - all the atmosphere preserved yet modern comfort ensured. Lovely atmospheric rooms, in our case with an adjoining sitting room. Lots of pictures, memorabilia etc. to explore around the building which has a central open air atrium, a front porch overlooking the street and a old-style bar. On the quiet side.
Took a really good walking tour of the city and its variety of architecture with Paul Hubbard (an affiliate guide who is an expert on local history and archaeology). The owners, Sharon and Phillip, were very friendly and helpful. The food is fine but the menu doesn't vary much so you may well want to eat out too.
Overall really enjoyed our 2 night stay. Convenient of course if you're flying out of Bulawayo airport.