By Ken Hegan for MSN
So this is strange and fantastic:
A hotel in Kenya, Giraffe Manor, gets its name from the spotted looky-loos who stick their long necks through the hotel windows when they want to chow down.
Imagine you’re staying at this unique hotel and sitting in the sun room for breakfast. You’re huddled over your espresso, trying to wake up after a blurry night of gin and tonics.
You’re yawning, stretching, and tucking into your breakfast croissant, when suddenly —
— you’re face to face with the big, piercing eyes of a speckled 20-foot-high creature. Pretty trippy.
These are extremely rare Rothschild’s giraffes, one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies on Earth. Only a few hundred exist in the world, limited mostly to preserves and national parks in Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan.
Eight of these handsome creatures live at Giraffe Manor in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, roughly 20 kilometres from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and biggest city. You’ll also see warthogs, bushbuck, a small antelope called ‘dik dik’, and over 180 species of birds. Man, it’s like the whole place is run by critters!
By the way, Giraffe Manor was the setting for a 1979 made-for-TV movie called The Last Giraffe. It was based on the non-fiction picture book, Raising Daisy Rothschild, written by Betty and Jock Leslie-Melville who rescued giraffes back in the ’70s. The book now costs $532.80 (mint) on Amazon so it better be good.
Built in 1932 and modelled after a Scottish hunting lodge, Giraffe Manor became a luxury boutique hotel in 2009. Now owned and operated by Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley, the manor takes up 12 acres within 140 acres of indigenous forest.
According to the manor’s website, the hotel’s slogan is “1930’s traditional elegance meets modern comfort.” Upon arrival you’ll enter a two-storey entrance hall, walk through arched wood doorways, and climb their majestic staircase. Plus you’ll get “an unparalleled experience of the giraffes, with them vying for your attention at the breakfast table, the front door and even your bedroom window.”
There are now ten luxury double ensuite bedrooms at the Manor. All rooms include a large four-poster bed, antique furnishings, a big bathroom, cable TV, wi-fi, and air conditioning. Here’s their listing on Airbnb.
If you’re travelling with kids, stay in the Finch Hatton or Karen Blixen suites, as they have direct access to the courtyard. Rates start at $485/night per person, and include airport transfers, free parking, taxes, all your meals, house wines, local spirits, beers, soft drinks, laundry, use of a sightseeing vehicle, plus entrance fees to the AFEW Giraffe Centre.
Giraffes get pretty hungry, by the way. You would, too, if you were that big. Baby giraffe calves are 6 feet tall at birth, while adults eat up to 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of food each day. Oh, and don’t worry about giraffes devouring your kids’ hands and licking the bloody stumps. Giraffes are herbivores. So your kids are safe [unless their hands are made of acacia leaves].
Enjoy breakfast in the sun room. It boasts tall windows which the staff fling open so the giraffes can poke their heads in to say howdy. At dinner, you can enjoy a “candlelit hosted meal in the dramatic wood panelled dining room or at your own table under the stars surrounded by the glow created by lanterns and candles on the terrace.” The menu includes “Mount Kenya Smoked Trout pate, fillet of beef or watamu red snapper.”
And if it’s just drinks you’re after, the drawing room has a cozy fireplace for tippling. I have no idea if giraffes like alcohol but it’d be fun to find out.
What do you think of Giraffe Manor? Should Canadian resorts borrow the idea and let you dine with moose, wolves, and grizzly bears?
— Ken Hegan
Read more of Ken’s travel stories here
Photos courtesy Giraffe Manor