Ever since my first trip to Africa in 2000, giraffes have been my favorite animals. No matter what national park you’re in, you see them from miles away, moving slowly through the grass and trees, dining on acacia. I love how they seem to run in slow motion and how they lower their bodies to awkwardly drink from watering holes. Growing up near the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, I enjoyed going and feeding them. Seeing them in the wild though was far more magical.
So when I heard about Giraffe Manor in Nairobi years ago, I put it on my travel wish list. The photos I had seen were amazing – giraffes roaming the property and poking their heads into the dining room and bedrooms. Could it be that idyllic in real life? With our family safari ending in Nairobi, it was a perfect chance to find out.
Arrival at Giraffe Manor
With no front desk, the manor feels far more like a private home than a hotel. After arriving from our family safari at 3pm we were given lemonade and cold towels, we completed our address information on a tablet, and we were shown to our room.
We were in the Finch Hatton suite, which sleeps five. There was one queen-size bed, a twin bed downstairs and two twin beds up a spiral staircase in the loft. It was a great setup, and a perfect way to relax after our family safari. The only negative – it’s not one of the rooms that giraffes poke their heads into in the morning.
Afternoon Tea with Giraffes
At around 5pm every day the giraffes walk over to the manor, knowing that they’ll be fed. Giraffe Manor has chairs out for giraffe watching as well as bowls of giraffe treats. One of our kids fed the giraffes, one enjoyed watching the warthogs roaming around looking for fallen giraffe food and one just took everything in. Of course, I fed the giraffes too.
At Giraffe Manor all food and drinks are included in the room rate. Their afternoon “bites” were impressive – pineapple with peanut sauce, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and chocolate cake to name a few. It was a very fun afternoon.
FYI, the giraffes are still wild animals. They don’t bite, but you have to respect their strength and not do anything to irritate them. The GM said that the giraffes (especially Kelly) can headbutt you and send you flying if you let down your guard. Luckily we didn’t see that happen.
We walked over to the manor house at 7:30 and were directed into a candlelit wood-paneled room with one large table. We sat down, taking five seats, and were joined by seven other guests. The food was excellent, the setting was beautiful and the experience was fun. One of the other guests that night lives on the same street as my dad, which goes to show how small the world really is.
Breakfast with Giraffes
Leaving our room to walk over to breakfast, this was the view. All mornings should start with giraffes!
We had high expectations for breakfast, and we weren’t disappointed! We all sat down to start eating, but my daughter kept roaming around, feeding the giraffes from various windows. It could have gone on forever, but once we had our omelettes and pancakes we closed the windows behind us so that the giraffes would let us eat for a few minutes.
Unfortunately, check-out is at 10am. In theory 19 hours at Giraffe Manor should have been a lot of time to unwind after our family safari, but it flew by. Staying for one night we got the whole experience, but I easily could have spent another night there to do it all again. The other guests we spoke with were staying 2-4 nights. I think four is pushing it, but two would have been fun.
Next Door: The Giraffe Center
Separate from the Giraffe Manor is the Giraffe Center, a showcase and breeding center for endangered Rothschild’s giraffes. The giraffes go back and forth between the manor and the center throughout the day. We walked over, escorted by the hotel’s manager who was armed with an umbrella in case we were pestered by the ubiquitous warthogs, and spent half an hour there, feeding the giraffes and walking through the museum displays. It’s great to see how the center is engaging Kenyan schoolchildren in the fight to protect Africa’s wildlife. Always start with the kids!
Giraffe Manor Prices
Our stay was built into our overall family safari cost, which was moderately-priced as safaris go. According to the hotel’s website rooms are $500-600 per person per night depending on the season, with kids priced in the $300s. That would make Giraffe Manor by far the most expensive place we’ve stayed anywhere in the world, but it was also one of the most unique experiences. Maybe one night was enough after all!