The Dragon’s Den will remain open and fully functional.

Nesbitt Castle

Situated 7 kms from Bulawayo city centre in the suburb of Hillside

Originally built as a private home the Nesbitt Castle offers ten suites and has an excellent restaurant and a number of internal areas in which to relax. It also has lovely gardens and an external bar area with seating.

The building of the ‘Castle’ commenced in 1910 and was the project and dream of the eccentric Theodore Albert Edward Holdengarde. He and his understanding wife Maude lived with their family in their medieval inspired home which became known as the  ‘Holdengarde Castle’. Much to Maude’s chagrin, when the ‘castle’ was first built, Theodore, as his eccentricity dictated, refused to have electricity, piped water or a telephone.  Maude Holdengarde secreted away her housekeeping money and eventually had electricity installed when Theodore was away at a conference in South Africa. Running water, flush toilets and a telephone were only installed after Thomas’ death in 1948.

Many Zimbabweans and indeed many Bulawayo residents did not know that the Holdengarde ‘castle’ home even existed and it was only after it was converted from a private residence and transformed into the Nesbitt Castle Hotel in 1990 that many people became aware of it.

Since that time the Nesbitt Castle has built up an enviable reputation for its quirky uniqueness, quality and comfort and the awards it has won over the years are testament to its success and standing as a boutique hotel.

The Nesbitt Castle has ten suites and is situated in beautifully maintained gardens. The lounges and corridors of the Nesbitt Castle are decorated by a very interesting assortment of artefacts, Gothic curiosities and antiques which combine both African and Scottish themes.

The suites are all of a different design and individually decorated, some having four poster beds.

Downstairs is a small but cozy bar and outside on the terrace is a more informal area where the Dragon’s Den is situated. Located by the pool , this is an open bar and cocktail area which has plenty of seating and from where meals are also served. It is a very picturesque setting and is very popular with guests and locals alike and is a great place to sit and enjoy a sun-downer in the evenings.  The Dragon’s Den also serves delicious kebabs straight off the grill.  

Upstairs in the main building is the award wining Coach House Restaurant which features a set table d’hôte menu, The restaurant offers fine dining and accommodates approximately thirty diners.

The Nesbitt Castle has a lovely, well established garden with plenty of lawn and a  number of shade trees. The large garden is often utilised for a variety functions including weddings. 


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At A Glance




Nesbitt Castle has ten suites, which are all individually furnished and decorated with clear attention to detail. Gold-framed oil paintings, historical wooden furniture and heavy drapes ensure the authenticity and feel of Nesbitt’s rooms. Whilst the rooms are well appointed and comfortable, due to the age of the property not all rooms offer all modern facilities and the hotel is currently embarking on an extensive upgrade of its offering.

Each suite is equipped with air conditioning, a fan, satellite TV, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and an en-suite bathroom. Not all rooms have a shower at present.


Airport and Location


Bulawayo Airport (Joshua Nkomo International) is 23 kms from Bulawayo. There are daily direct flights from Harare and others three times a week from Victoria Falls. There are also daily direct flights  from Johannesburg and other centres. Check with your travel agent.


The Nesbitt Castle is situated 7 kms (4.4 miles) from the centre of Bulawayo in the suburb of Hillside.

Taxis are also available at the airport.

Transfer fees are applicable.




There are a number of activities you can participate in whilst staying at Nesbitt Castle or you can simply relax.

Activities include:

  • Guided tours to see San Bushman paintings 
  • Visit to Cecil John Rhodes grave and ‘View of the World’ (Matobo Hills)
  • Guided tour through the Matobo Hills 
  • Walking safaris 
  • Game drives (Matobo Hills (Matopas)National Park)
  • Guided tours of Bulawayo
  • Visit to Khami Ruins (guide recommended)
  • Birding 
  • Tshabalala Game Sanctuary (approx 35 kms from Camp Amalinda on the  Bulawayo road)
  • Sunset sundowners in the National Park
  • Swimming
  • Day Trip to Great Zimbabwe – Rates apply.
  • Rates exclude museum and monument fees

Nearby Attrcations

  • Matobo Hills National Park
  • Cecil John Rhodes grave and ‘View of the World’
  • San Bushmen paintings in the Matobo Hills
  • Natural History Museum
  • Art Gallery
  • Railway Museum
  • Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre
  • Tshabalala Game Sanctuary 10 kms from Nesbitt Castle on the Matopas road towards Bulawayo)
  • Khami Ruins (22 kms from Bulawayo on Old Khami Road)
  • Maleme Dam
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Railway Museum & Khami Ruins

Two very worthwhile visits whilst in Bulawayo are the Railway Museum and the Khami Ruins. See pages on this site.

The Railway Museum is a fantastic snapshot of a bygone transport era and Zimbabwe’s history. The museum has a number of outstanding exhibits which are a reminder of past times when new frontiers were being opened up.

The Railway museum is a must see and would be of great interest to both railway enthusiasts and historians given the range of exhibits. The railways were a significant contributor to the development of the country from the 1890s and during its existence has had one of the best collections of steam engines in the world.

Khami Ruins is a national monument, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Khami was the capital of the Kingdom of Butua of the Torwa Dynasty for about 200 years from around 1450 and appears to have been founded at the time of the disappearance of the state at Great Zimbabwe. After that (the traditional date is 1683), it was ransacked by Changamire Dombo  who led an army of Rozvi rebels from the Mwenemutapa (“Monomotapa”) State.


Bulawayo Airport – Nesbitt Castle – 27 kms (17 miles)

Bulawayo Airport to Bulawayo City 23.8 kms (15 miles)

Bulawayo – Beitbridge 320 kms (200 miles)

Bulawayo – Matopas 35 kms (22 miles)

Bulawayo –  Gweru 164 kms (102 miles)

Bulawayo – Hwange 337 kms (210.63 miles)

Bulawayo – Harare 440 kms (274 miles)

Bulawayo – Kariba 803 kms (502 miles)

Bulawayo – Masvingo 280 kms (174 miles)

Bulawayo – Mutare 578 kms   (359 miles)

Bulawayo – Nyanga  686 kms (429 miles)

Bulawayo – Victoria Falls 438 kms (274 miles)

Gweru – Masvingo  164 kms (102.5 miles)

Hwange – Victoria Falls 102 kms (63.75 miles)

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Bulawayo Weather

Due to its relatively high altitude, the city has a subtropical climate despite lying within the tropics.

Bulawayo features a humid subtropical climate though it is a drier version of the climate. The mean annual temperature is 19.16 °C (66.44 °F).  

As with much of southern and eastern Zimbabwe, Bulawayo is cooled by a prevailing southeasterly airflow most of the year, and experiences three broad seasons: a dry, cool winter season from May to August; a hot dry period in early summer from late August to early November; and a warm wet period in the rest of the summer, early November to April.

The hottest month is October, which is usually the height of the dry season.

The average maximum temperature ranges from 21 °C (70 °F) in July to 30 °C (86 °F) in October. During the rainy season, daytime maxima are around 26 °C (79 °F). Nights are always cool, ranging from 8 °C (46 °F) in July to 16 °C (61 °F) in January.

The city’s average annual rainfall is 594 mm (23 in), which supports a natural vegetation of open woodland, dominated by Combretum and Terminalia trees.

Most rain falls in the December to February period, while June to August is usually rainless. Being close to the Kalahari Desert, Bulawayo is vulnerable to droughts and rainfall tends to vary sharply from one year to another.

In 1978, 888 mm (35 in) of rain fell in the three months up to February (February 1944 is the wettest month on record with 368 mm) while in the three months ending February 1983, only 84 mm (3 in) fell.



Monthly Average Temperatures:

 Summer highs can reach   38° to 40°c

Winter lows can reach          5° to 8°c

  • On average, the warmest month(s) are January, October and November.
  • Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in January, February and December.
  • Bulawayo has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September.
  • On average, the warmest month is October.
  • On average, the coolest month is July.
  • December is the wettest month. 
  • August is the driest month.
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Ancient ruinsArt galleryBirdingBungy jumpingCharity projectsCultural village visitsCity toursCurio shopsCrocodile farm visitDivingElephant ridesFishingFlying Fox (Vic Falls)Game viewingGuided bush walkingGolfGorge swing (Vic Falls)Helicopter flightsHouse boating (Kariba)
Horseback ridingHiking – Organised toursLocal sculpture and carvingsLocal musicMuseumsNatural history museumRailway museumPlants (flora)PhotographyRock formationsSan bushmen paintingSafari drivesSnorkellingSwimmingSunset river cruiseTownship toursUltralight flightWalking with lionsWhite water rafting