If you’ve been on Pinterest (or read my travel wishlist), you’ve probably heard of Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, where the resident Rothschild giraffes pop their heads into the windows to eat breakfast from the palm of your hand.
The photos look absolutely magical, like something straight out of a whimsical storybook mixed with vintage Out of Africa glamour. Soooo dreamy that you may have looked up the hotel itself and balked at the price, wondering if it’s really that many dollars magical.
Kenya was our safari destination because of this hotel, and would choose it again in a heartbeat. Beyond the breakfast time photos and the per-night-rate, here’s what it’s like to spend a night at Giraffe Manor, and all my tips for making the most of this bucket-list stay.
We’d slept off some jet lag from our 15-hour flight at a lovely guest house nearby called Karen Gables, where a driver from Giraffe Manor arrived to pick us up at around 10am. I was delighted to find that we were the first guests to check in for the day when we arrived.
In the front garden, we were greeted with a cold drink and a cool eucalyptus-scented towel, which felt like the ultimate luxury in the February heat! While we sat in the shade and gazed around, the staff welcomed us, explaining the overall schedule and how things work.
Once our room was ready, we headed and our bags followed closely behind. We stayed in Helen’s Room – a gorgeous corner room in the Garden Manor with plenty of perfect giraffe-feeding windows and beautiful views.
It’s a little funny to arrive at Giraffe Manor while the giraffes are away, but it’s also perfect for exploring the place sans distraction. Because we were the first guests to arrive for the day, most other rooms were still being prepared with doors flung open and we nosily peeked in, saying hello to the staff, and generally agreeing that you can’t go wrong in choosing where to stay here.
Next, we explored the main manor and the grounds before lunch in the courtyard. All the meals at Giraffe Manor were fantastic – always three courses, creative, delicious – and always very attentive to any food restrictions.
After lunch we opted for a jet lag nap before tea time. Though, if you can keep your eyes open, I’d really recommend taking the staff up on their offer to whisk you just down the road to the Giraffe Center. That’s where the giraffes spend their days, and it’s a great chance to start getting to know them and to practice feeding them.
At around five o’clock the Giraffe Center closes for the day, and tea is set up in the front garden. The giraffes that are still feeling peckish after a day of snacking will make their way over – though they’re much more enthusiastic about breakfast in the morning!
We were already impressed by the Manor’s staff, and that only compounded as we watched them deftly manage the giraffes, the guests, and everyone’s supply of treats, while helping each guest get a chance to feed a giraffe and get a good photo.
They’re well aware of guests’ dreamy expectations, and are committed to making them come true. But save your tips for the Tip Box at the end of your stay!
When the last giraffe headed into the forest, we lingered a little to enjoy the sunset before washing up (soooo much giraffe saliva, haha!) for dinner.
Weather-permitting, the standard dinner plans at Giraffe Manor are at tables in the courtyard, lit with candles and a fire. It’s wonderful, to be sure.
But deep into our trip planning, I was surprised to find that there’s another option, so long as you’re the first to request it: a private dinner in a candlelit greenhouse full of orchids.
Just in case you didn’t already feel like you were in a fairy tale.
We were lucky enough to book our only dinner here, and I’d recommend it 1000000%. A single server took care of us for the evening, timing our courses and filling our wine glasses and checking in every now and then. It felt a lot like our dinner at La Sponda in Positano – special, romantic, luxurious.
When the final course was done, we leaned into the jet lag and slept as soon as possible, because the giraffes are early risers!
Our wakeup call was a giraffe tapping its nose at our window before sunrise. Already half-awake out of pure excitement, we grabbed our bowl of giraffe pellets and opened the window.
While the sun rose, we took turns feeding the giraffes and getting ready. We made coffee in the room and took hundreds of photos and videos. Of all the moments at Giraffe Manor, these were the most surreal and magical.
After an hour or so, we ran out of pellets (and coffee) and finally made our way downstairs to breakfast.
If feeding the giraffes from your room is the most magical, the breakfast downstairs is the most fun. Just like at tea time, the incredible staff will be around to make sure everyone’s safe, stocked up on pellets, and getting plenty of great photo opportunities. With all the guests there, it feels like a party.
The giraffes wander mostly along the breakfast rooms and the courtyard, stopping for snacks wherever you have them – in the palm of your hand, in a teacup, on your plate. They aren’t shy!
It’s so much fun that you might forget that you need to eat breakfast yourself. When you finally do sit down to your actual meal, don’t be surprised if a giraffe or two is still poking their head in through the window to check if you’re really out of snacks. (You’re not!)
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A one-night stay was fantastic, but stay for two nights if you can!
Book well in advance. We narrowly booked our off-season stay just 5 months in advance, but the manor (especially the main manor) is often booked a year or two out.
The main manor isn’t ‘better’ than the newer garden manor. It just books up more quickly because staying in the garden manor requires also staying at another Safari Collection property – not a sacrifice, if you ask me! Not only are the manors mere steps apart, but the garden manor was built with such incredible attention to detail that it feels like a natural extension of the main manor, and every bit as beautiful and storybook-feeling. In my opinion, the garden breakfast room is much prettier! Don’t forget that you’re free to spend time in either manor – the main living room space with a gin bar is amazing – regardless of where your room is.
Absolutely request a private dinner in the Orchid House – and if you’re celebrating something special, let them know!
Visit the Giraffe Center to practice feeding the giraffes before tea time. We skipped this in favor of a nap, but kind of wish we’d embraced the tiredness!
Know you might not get much sleep. Between jet lag, excitement, and giraffe noses tapping at your window before sunrise, don’t count on getting a blissful 8 hours. But it’s so worth it!
Make sure your camera has an extra memory card and charged battery at the ready. It’s a good rule of thumb for safari travel in general! Here, the staff will take plenty of photos for you, and will make sure that everyone gets the iconic breakfast room shot in the main manor.
Because there will be sooooo many photos, wear clothes that you want to be photographed in! Even if you’re not an Instagram fanatic, you’ll want photos to remember this by, and everyone back home will want to see them, too.
Speaking again of the wonderful staff, don’t forget to tip them via the tip box in the lobby before you leave. We found ourselves tipping beyond the suggested amount, and it’s split evenly among everyone. Did I mention they’re fantastic?
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