You’d probably expect a lodge named “Giraffe Manor” to have some sort of African decor. You might even guess that a lodge with such a name would be in Africa and perhaps be located within the vague vicinity of where giraffes sometimes roam. But you’d never imagine this . . .
Giraffe Manor is not merely in the vicinity of real giraffes. It is inundated by them!
What’s more surprising, Giraffe Manor is located in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, only a 30-minute drive from the bustling center of Kenya’s capital (where a giraffe would be as out of place as in Trafalgar Square).
Of course, when Giraffe Manor was built as a private residence in 1932 Nairobi was not as bustling, or as large, as it is today. But over time urban encroachment threatened the natural beauty of the estate. In 1974, the manor was sold to a family who turned it into a sanctuary for all giraffes, especially of the near-extinct Rothschild species. A decade later the family moved away and the estate was opened to visitors.
Today, the six-room Giraffe Manor sits on 140 acres of wilderness that’s home to warthogs, Bush Bucks and all manner of birds as well as dozens of giraffe. The Manor’s windows and doors are designed especially to allow the long-necked herbivores to peak in on—and get fed by—the estate’s human visitors. While enjoying your breakfast or reading a book in you room, expect to see a giraffe stick his head in through the window. The first time you turn around in the hotel and find yourself eyeball-to-eyeball with a giraffe you’ll find it a thrilling and surreal experience. Stay here for a few days and such giraffe encounters become oddly normal.
Even if it weren’t for the ubiquitous giraffes, Giraffe Manor would be a wonderful place to stay and it would still be Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite hotel in greater Nairobi. You’ll feel like a well-healed aristocrat residing in this mansion with its log fireplaces, candle lit dinning room and attentive butler service. The room amenities and furnishings are luxurious and stately.
The full board plan at Giraffe Manor costs $360 per person, which is quite reasonable considering that the rate includes all taxes and the entrance into the sanctuary as well as three (excellent) meals per day, an open bar, complimentary laundry service and use of a sightseeing vehicle. And, besides, where else can you get served a gourmet cup of coffee and ask a giraffe to pass you the sugar?
If you go: There’s nothing special you should bring, or not bring, as far as the giraffes are concerned. All of the Nairobi area can be quite cool in July and August.
Family friendly: Absolutely, though most guests stay sans children.
For your bookshelf: Field Guide to Larger Mammals of Africa