Hotels (The originals) Avenue, Caledonian, Central, Charter, Gold Fields, Masonic, Maxim, Queens, Tattersalls & Waterworks.

In Davis’ Bulawayo Directory 1895-1896 10 hotels were listed in the town, 2 hotels nearby.
      1. Avenue Hotel (Poole, Goodwin & Mason), 180 Abercorn Street W. (Now a chemist)
      2. Caledonian Hotel (A. E. Wilson), 136 Main Street E. (Became Southampton now African Life)
      3. Central Hotel (H. L. Lloyd), Market Square S. (Became Le Chalet’ Hotel)
      4. Charter Hotel (Napier & Weir), 131 and 132, Main Street E. (Now Dolores)
      5. Gold Fields Hotel (Byrne & Ticton), 542, Grey Street E. (Now Greys Inn)
      6. Masonic Hotel (Dell & Harvey), 438, Rhodes Street E. (Now New Royal Hotel)
      7. Maxim Hotel (Parsons & Hay), Market Square W. (Became Savoy Hotel)
      8. Queen's Hotel (A. K. Morison), 232, Abercorn Street E. (Now Police Station)
      9. Sussex Hotel (G. James), 33, Fort Street E. (Now Colray House)
    10. Tattersall’s Hotel (E. A. Slater & Co.), 394, Market Square N. (Now Selborne Hotel)
    11. Waterworks Hotel, Jobson, A. T. B.,
    12. Waterworks Hotel (6 miles)

After 1895
        ⦁ Carlton Hotel
        ⦁ Cecil Hotel
        ⦁ The Grand Hotel
        ⦁ The Imperial (became The Fairways)
        ⦁ Great Northern
        ⦁ Hotel Victoria (now Bulawayo Sun)
        ⦁ Waverly Hotel
        ⦁ Palace
        ⦁ Plaza Hotel
        ⦁ Roslington Hotel
        ⦁ Doric Hotel

Unfortunately businesses leave little history. Often their closures did not make big news. The only way to track their existence is by trade directories and, when they have been caught on camera, by photo. One has to be somewhat of a detective, in these matters, as hotels changed names and in some cases locations. The reasons for their demise, is often clouded in mystery. The number of hotel rooms per head of population is explained by a large rural mining population who would need a place to stay when coming into town for supplies. Some early hotels were rudimentary, built of tin, bars, snooker rooms and a dining room with some accommodation provided by rooms, as well as stables in the rear yard. Others were more elaborate; however this was no guarantee of longevity. The first hotel below is a case in point.

Avenue Hotel


This two storey building was in 1896 according to contemporary pictures one of the finest in town. Later it was extended and acquired a balcony, however it does not seem to have survived long, while other contemporary businesses did.


Charter Hotel


This hotel on the corner of 8th/Main was in it’s day one of the most popular hotels. It was opposite the Magistrates court and the BSA Company offices and next to the place where the coaches stopped. It was once described by HM Stanley as ‘not fit for women and hardly fit for men either’ It occupied two stands on the Main Street frontage and a half stand on 8th. Bedrooms as stabling were provided to the rear.


In the early 1920’s it was rebuilt on a single stand with an entire frontage on 8th. The second stand was sold to provide space for Gifford House to expand on the Main St frontage. It is not certain when it closed, however it was converted into shops, though the block of rooms to the rear survived for many years. In the late 1950s the half stand originally occupied by Zeederbergs, the early company who provided links across the region, was sold to Cuthberts where they built a store.


Caledonian Hotel


The building on the corner of 9th/Main was once the Caledonian Hotel, built originally with two gables joined by a middle range. The northern wing was demolished within a few years to accommodate it’s next door neighbour, the Empire Theatre, it became the home of the Empire Bar whose name was preserved in the new 1950s development on the site.

Central Hotel


Located on the corner of Rhodes and 8th in a prominent position opposite the Market, the Central Hotel survived largely unchanged for nearly 70 years.


Know in its latter life as ‘Le Chalet’ in was closed in the late 1960s. A supermarket ‘Maceys’ was built on its site.

Goldfields Hotel


Located in Grey Street just off the corner of Selbourne, the hotel was eventually replaced by the Greys Inn in the 1950s.

Masonic Hotel


The Masonic hotel, shown in the background, on the corner of Rhodes and 6th avenue, is one of Bulawayo’s oldest functioning Hotels.


By 1910 it had been replaced by a more permanent structure.


In 1913 the building was destroyed and replaced with a building which stood on the site for the next 40 odd years. At some stage it was renamed ‘The Royal Hotel’.


In the early 1950s it was demolished and replaced with a multi storey complex, called The New Royal Hotel, possibly in preparation for the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition.

Maxim Hotel


It was on this spot that Bulawayo was declared ‘open’ as a town in 1894. Here in Fife Street, opposite the City hall, this hotel operated for the next 65 odd years. It was never a large establishment, bars, dining rooms and a row of rooms to the rear. Around 1913 there was a fire which burned the buildings in this row and it was possibly around this time that the building which to this day survives was built!
In it’s latter life it was known as the Savoy; it finally closed in the late 50’s when it was converted into a row of shops.

Queens Hotel


Located on the corner of Abercorn and 7th, sharing half the avenue frontage with Meikles, the licensee at one stage also owned the Tattersalls as well as the Palace.

Sussex Hotel


Located on the corner of 9th and Fort Street, this business was overshadowed by it’s next door neighbour. Within five years it had changed it’s name to The Victoria Hotel. It is not certain as to whether this is an ancestor of the later hotel on the corner of 10th Ave/Wilson. The name Sussex re-appears in a hotel on the corner of 14th Ave/Fort, a name which persisted into the 60s.

Tattersall’s Hotel


Located on the west corner of Rhodes/Selbourne. At some stage it was rebuilt and renamed the Selbourne.


Hotels built after 1895

The Palace Hotel


Opened in 1897 to coincide with the arrival of the railway. The inaugural banquets were held here. It is the oldest hotel in Bulawayo still functioning under it’s original name.


A cast iron balcony completed the front. This balcony and frontage came later. In 1912 a theatre was built on the corner site.


During the 1930s a multi-storey block was added to the north, with a beer garden.

The Grand Hotel


Opened in 1899, lit by electricity with eighty bedrooms. Dominated by a cupola in an Italian/Byzantine style it became a landmark for eighty years. The hotel had a number of function rooms such as the Connaught Room, named in honour of the visit to Bulawayo in 1910 of the Duke of Connaught, a son of Queen Victoria. There was also the McMurray Hall, named after the co -owner of the hotel. (Thomas Meikle owned the hotel in partnership with Harry Schur).


In 1933 the hotel was extended, but not in the same idiom, along the Main street frontage, replacing part of the original frontage.
The hotel provided a range of services for it’s patrons, tennis courts, gardens and even garaging for their cars with full service station facilities.


The hotel lost it’s pre-eminent status in 1953 when the Hotel Victoria opened. In 1969 plans were announced to demolish the hotel and build the ‘Bulawayo Centre’ part of which was the plan to construct a new Grand hotel on the Fort Street side, next to Colray House. The iconic buildings were replaced by a row of shops called Bombay House and housing a business trading in curios known as Bombay Bazaar. The cupola however survived as a summerhouse in a garden in the Suburbs.

The Imperial


Located on the south-west corner of 10th Ave and Rhodes Street. The hotel later became McGarry’s before finishing it’s life as an hotel called The Fairways. The building existed until the 1980s.

The Carlton


In 1923 this was expanded onto the next stand on the corner with 8th Avenue. However the business did not survive in this size. The new section was sold to McCullough and Bothwell who converted it into a store. The hotel, somewhat downsized, survived.


The balconied building built, probably in the early 1900’s, on the east side of Abercorn between 8th & 9th Avenue was the original Carlton Hotel.


In the 1950’s a new hotel was built on the original site. Image
This had a two level shopping arcade, basement and upper level and boasted a roof garden. Besides the Abercorn Street entrance the hotel had a rear entrance off the alley, local legend had it that this was to facilitate Standard Bank employees. The new hotel barely lasted 20 years and was redeveloped into shops and offices which covered both the stands that the 1923 hotel occupied.

Hotel Victoria


Located on 10th Avenue Wilson Street this was opened in 1953 on the site of and earlier hotel of the same name, to coincide with the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition. It replaced the Grand as Bulawayo’s premier hotel. In the 70s it was taken over by the Southern Sun Group and was renamed ‘The Southern Sun’.

Great Northern


This hotel in Lobengula Street between 13th and 14th Avenue opened in 1912. It finally closed in the early 70’s

Plaza Hotel


14th Ave between Fife and Abercorn St. Famous as the one time hide out of the infamous Aiden Diggeden

Cecil Hotel


Owned at one time by the Nesbitt’s

Waverly Hotel


Lobengula Street between 12th and 13th Avenues.