Have you ever seen that awesome looking hotel with giraffes sticking their heads in the window? I know its come up a lot on my Facebook and Instagram feed with people like @jarradseng showing off with giraffe selfies. In Nov 2016 I have had the pleasure of shooting in that very amazing Hotel "Giraffe Manor" for a Travel Magazine. I wish I had this information before my visit so here is how to take in the full experience of giraffe manor!
A little bit of History - This old building based on a Scottish hunting lodge was built in 1932 by David Duncan of the Macintosh Toffee Family boasts amazing views surrounded by forest and views of Kilimanjaro to the south. It was taken over in the Second World War by British Army Intelligence and returned as taken. Then Kenya started working on its independence and David moved to South Africa just outside Cape Town and decided to build a replica he loved that house so much. It was then owned but never occupied by an investor before being sold to Betty and Jack Leslie-Melville in 1974 and they became closely involved in preserving the endangered Rothschild Giraffes, and renamed their house to 'Giraffe Manor'. Giraffe Manor is now owned by the 'Safari Collection' (owning several premium camps located in areas of the Masai Mara, Samburu and Mt. Kenya) run by Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley who bought it in 2009 and have made it into what it is today. The infamous Giraffe Manor.
Location - Giraffe Manor is located at around a 30 minute drive from the centre of Nairobi. It took me 40 minutes and cost around 200 Kenyan Shillings or 24 AUD from my hotel the night before the 'Dusit D2 Nairobi'. It is a high altitude location which feels isolated from the city because of the lack of deforestation of the area and also benefits from its altitude from the lack of Malaria but nets are still provided in the rooms to keep any bugs away.
The Best Way to Enjoy the 'Giraffe Manor Experience' - First thing to do is to book well ahead of time! This location is very very popular and might be booked out for months in advance. The best rooms in my opinion to go for are Betty or Jocks Room, these give a premium opportunity at 630 AM when the giraffes head to the house to feed from the window and get your own private meeting (really cool experience) I was fortunate enough for Jocks Room. All their other rooms have their own rustic magnificence as well and the added buildings look exactly the same as the original.
Once booked and in Kenya arrive at 11AM (this is the earliest time to arrive at the manor you can get) You will be greeted but the amazingly friendly staff or curator with a fresh drink and taken up to your room to unpack. This allows you a good hour to get settled in and explore the Manor in the daylight before lunch which is excellently prepared and served with menus changing all the time, this was the best food I had in my whole trip to Kenya!! After lunch you then will have a few hours before 5pm afternoon tea on the front lawn where you get to meet the giraffes exclusively with the other guests from the hotel. This will give you an opportunity to walk across to the Giraffe feeding location where the public also feed and you can learn a bit about the different giraffes (access to this is included with your stay to Giraffe Manor).
After the evening feeding which you probably want to take as much time as possible doing, it will probably be almost dark. So it'll be time to come inside recline on one of the comfortable couches with some of their incredible photo books such as ones with the work of Nick Brant or several history books or if your a Gen Y sit in front of the fire with WIFI access! You can always play chess or mix an evening cocktail for yourself or get one of the friendly staff to do it for you! I taught them how to make an Old Fashioned so thats always an option, or take a glass of their ever flowing free wines. Dinner then will be announced and you'll be escorted to the dining room on the far side of the building which once again is incredible food, we had Arancini, fresh fish and the most chocolaty molten pudding with vanilla bean ice cream there ever was! Thats the day, you can stay up as long as you like enjoying the amazing company of the hotel guests and staff in the amazing atmosphere or head to bed. The rooms have great beds and space along with a spacious showoff bathroom, the only downside is you have to wait a little while for hot water to flow.
The next morning will be an early one I recommend with the option of a wake up knock by the staff and you can start feeding from your room at 630AM if you have Jocks or Betty's or you can head down stairs to the sun room where the giraffes will arrive a bit later than the rooms at 7 AM. Breakfast might almost be forgotten as you will be enthralled in feeding the giraffes and this is the prime time for profile pics and photos. The giraffes lean their heads in the windows and let you feed them as you take a selfie in the mirror, or get your friend/partner to take a shot of you sitting on the window sill, if the trainers feel its safe enough. (You have to remember these are wild animals and they will possibly headbutt or kick if they feel threatened or you are in their blind spot. Finally when you are ready for breakfast you're given an amazing option again and you can still be amazed as the giraffes continue to interact with guests or staff through the window.
This is a Day at giraffe manor, with checkout being strictly at 10AM the day of checkout. It is an amazing experience and well worth the cost! I would recommend staying for 2 nights, unfortunately my itinerary only allowed for one, but I already had done some of the other activity options such as going to the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage at 10AM on a morning or visit several museums or take a scenic flight, even visit Nairobi National Park.
It was a well worth visit and I recommend thoroughly adding this to your bucket list as well! Any other questions or enquiries comment below or send a message through to firstname.lastname@example.org - Thanks for Reading!