Staying at Giraffe Manor in Kenya
Nairobi in Kenya is a home to the world renowned Giraffe Manor hotel. Where else in the world can you have a breakfast in a company of giraffes poking their heads right through a window? Giraffe Manor has become increasingly popular due to social media exposure. Nowadays, Giraffe Manor is one of the most desirable accommodations in Kenya. Staying at Giraffe Manor is on top of many people’s travel bucket lists, as it was in ours. We found out about this gem roughly ten years ago, when we were planning our Tanzanian Safari. Back in that day, Giraffe Manor wasn’t well known. Now – we had to book our two-nights stay almost a year in advance.
Giraffe Manor is situated in southern part of Nairobi’s suburb of Karen, within a sanctuary for the rare and endangered Rothschild giraffes. Giraffes visit the hotel twice a day – for a breakfast and for an afternoon tea. During the day they are either at the Giraffe Center or at the nearby forest.
The mansion was built in 1930s and has a very dreamy look and feel. The fact that the giraffes walk freely all around the property makes it even more magical. The Giraffe Manor has only 12 rooms: six of which are located in the Main Manor house, and six rooms are in the Garden Manor just few steps away. Although Garden Manor building is new, as it opened in 2011, it is equally lovely.
The common areas of this boutique hotel include lounge room with a fireplace, sofas and armchairs to rest and relax; the famous breakfast room in the Main House, known as the ‘Sun Room’; a cozy library with books, board games and TV; the formal dining room in the Main House; as well as dining room in the Garden Manor.
Between the Main House and the Garden Manor is a dining patio area, which is the usual location for lunch and dinner. Sometimes breakfast is also served there. In fact our first Giraffe Manor breakfast was served at the patio. We were the only people eating there, while other guests were divided between the ‘Sun Room’ in the Main House and the dining room in the Garden Manor. We had a company of giraffes joining our table the entire morning. It’s by far our favorite breakfast location at the Giraffe Manor.
Just behind the Main House there is a small gift shop and a massage room. There is also an outdoor sitting area in front of the main entrance of the manor house. From there you can see the Giraffe Center in a distance. This is also the place where an afternoon tea is served at 5PM, and where you can feed giraffes, or maybe even get a kiss from one.
Most of the rooms at Giraffe Manor are named after giraffe residents. If you are looking for an unique opportunity to feed a giraffe from your bedroom window, check the availability of Jock room in the Main Manor or Kelly and Helen rooms in the Garden Manor. Also Betty and Daisy rooms located in the Main Manor are only two rooms at the hotel with a balcony from which you can feed the giraffes when they visit in the early morning looking for treats.
Keep in mind, that when you go to breakfast or afternoon tea, it does not matter, which room you have – giraffes are everywhere!
Each of Giraffe Manor room has own stunning decor and unique personality. We stayed in Finch Hatton Suite located on the ground floor of the Garden Manor. It is one of two suites that can accommodate a family up to five people. The other suite is Karen Blixen Suite in the Main Manor. You can’t feed the giraffes directly from either of these rooms. We didn’t find this a determent though because you only need to walk a few steps to feed them from the courtyard or dining area.
Finch Hatton Suite is huge. It has a fireplace, a king-size bed, two single beds on a mezzanine level, which is accessed by a small spiral staircase, and a day bed, which can accommodate a third child if needed. There is also a small seating area and a wardrobe with in-room safe. The en-suite facilities have a large double-headed shower, twin sinks and a bathtub.
Obviously, the highlight of our stay was the breakfast with giraffes. We showed up for breakfast around 6:00 – 6:30 AM, and as soon as we left our room, we knew that giraffes are already there. Couple of giraffes were waiting for a morning treats at the entrance of Garden Manor house, while few more giraffes were already at breakfast with their heads inside the dining room. Guests feed giraffes with pellets made of dry grass, corn and molasses. Once the sun was completely up, more giraffes showed up. They were everywhere! Hungry warthogs followed around, eating leftovers from the grass. The whole scene was definitely magical!
Giraffes stayed with us till approximately 9 AM before leaving to Giraffe Center. So it’s plenty of time to interact with them, take photos and enjoy a delicious breakfast.
The staff at the Manor are all so friendly and accommodating, and they all know how to take excellent photos! Seriously, just look at our family photo!
We were delighted to repeat it again the next morning.
Unfortunately the second morning was rather short for us as we needed to catch a morning flight. Thus our departure time was at 7:30 AM.
Absolutely everything in Giraffe Manor is included in a room rate, from all meals and drinks, through laundry service, WiFi, chauffeured vehicles for sightseeing, to airport transfers.
For the first day lunch we had Kenyan-themed buffet. While on the second day – delicious and beautifully presented set menu.
Activities at Giraffe Manor include excursions to the nearby Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, the Karen Blixen Museum, various art and craft shops, such as Kazuri Beads, and the Maasai Market, as well as visit to Giraffe Center.
The Giraffe Center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week, including weekends and all public holidays. A ticket costs $10 USD per adult and $5 USD per child, but it is free if you’re staying at Giraffe Manor. Although Giraffe Center is busy throughout the day, it’s a great place to touch, feed, photograph and learn about the Rothschild giraffes.
Once the nearby Giraffe Center closes, the giraffes make their way over to the Giraffe Manor for afternoon tea.
Giraffes are very food-motivated, which makes for some pretty incredible photo opps!
The staff will be with you the entire time to instruct what to do and what you shouldn’t do, because some of your new tall friends can headbutt. Everyone at Giraffe Manor is a great source of information about giraffes personalities. For example, we learned that Edd, the only adult male of the tower, is the friendliest. Edd loves people! Or that we should be careful with Daisy, dark-coated giraffe with a clipped left ear. She doesn’t particularly like children. Or if we approach Kelly, the tallest of the females with light-brown coat, we should stand right in front of her, not by her side. And we better have some pellets in hand, ‘food for friendship’ is Kelly’s motto.
We don’t really know how best to sum up our experience at Giraffe Manor, other than WOW! We recommend staying here for 2 nights, it is a good amount of time to see everything. Hopefully we will be back one day.
Good to know:
- Book as far in advance as you possibly can. Check out their reservation calendar and plan your safari around available dates.
- Giraffe Manor is not far from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, yet, traffic in Nairobi can be heavy, so transfer can take from 35 mins to one and a half hour. Domestic flights operate out of Wilson Airport, which is even closer, but, again, due to the unpredictable nature of local traffic, it is advised to allow enough time to get there. Our flight from Wilson Airport was scheduled to depart at 9:30 AM, so we had to leave the Giraffe Manor by 7:30. We were lucky that it was a Sunday and there was no morning traffic. On a workday, we would have to leave at 6:30 AM, missing out the breakfast with giraffes.
- Our Safari and Beach Kenya itinerary can be found here.
We stayed at Giraffe Manor for 2 nights in July 2017.