The Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

You’ve all seen the photographs of Giraffe Manor on Instagram — they’re so wild they almost look AI-created. You know the ones I mean: giraffes craning their heads into open windows, tall and resplendent, being hand-fed by faces overwhelmed with wonder and joy. But this is not a simulated experience — it’s real — and one of the most worthwhile bucket list moments a traveler is likely to have.

The exclusive boutique hotel, owned by the Safari Collection, is set on 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, Kenya. As one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings, Giraffe Manor has extraordinary appeal, that harks back to the 1930s when European visitors first flocked to East Africa to enjoy safaris. With its stately façade, elegant interior, verdant green gardens, sunny terraces and delightful courtyards, guests often remark that it’s like walking into the film Out of Africa: (which would be apt, as one of its 12 rooms is named after the author Karen Blixen).

To me, it was like walking into a dream. There are curated experiences involving an early morning feeding, breakfast, and afternoon tea, but it was the moments of complete stillness — pre-dawn — when one of the resident Rothschild’s giraffes  strode through the darkness, resplendent and alone, that felt the most magical. But carry on, haute readers, because I’m going to break down what this incredible experience is really like.

THE MANOR HOUSES

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

 

The original manor house, modeled after a Scottish hunting lodge, was built in 1932 and has six rooms: Betty, Daisy, Jock, Lynn, Marlon and the Karen Blixen Suite. In 2011, a new section of the manor was created – The Garden Manor – which sits right next door, with suites being Salma, Edd, Arlene, Helen, Kelly and the Finch Hatton Suite, which is where I stayed. The original manor house affords guests the opportunity for those in-bedroom feeding moments. Some of the Garden Manor rooms, including Finch Hatton, allow doorway dining from giraffes first thing in the morning. 

THE FINCH HATTON SUITE

Giraffe Manor
The Finch Hatton Suite

Photo Credit: The Safari Collection

The lovely Finch Hatton Suite is named after aristocratic big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton, who, in 1911, traveled to East Africa with an inheritance provided by his late uncle. He bought some land on the western side of the Rift Valley near what is now Eldoret. He met author Karen Blixen at the Muthaiga Club in 1918, and, when Karen got divorced in 1925, moved into her house where he lived until a few weeks before his death in 1931, when he crashed his beloved Gypsy Moth in Tsavo National Park. As per Finch Hatton’s wishes, Blixen buried him in the Ngong Hills.

This 800-square-foot ground floor room has a king-sized bed as well as two single beds in a loft area accessed by a small spiral staircase. The en-suite facilities have a uniquely large double-headed shower, twin sinks and a bathtub. There is also a small seating area with a fireplace which keeps the space wonderfully warm on the chillier Nairobi nights. It is elegant and, thanks to that spiral staircase, a bit whimsical. Everything here is giraffe-themed, be it the soap and its dispensers, kitschy yet not tacky decor, and even the latte brought upon arrival — which was stamped with a giraffe in foam.

EXPERIENCES

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

Waking up to breakfast with a giraffe must be one of the most incredible and unique experiences anyone can have. This activity is reserved exclusively for overnight guests of Giraffe Manor and is one not to be missed, starting pre-dawn with early morning feedings from the Manor House bedrooms or some of the Garden Manor doorways. As guests enjoy human breakfasts slightly later, they also have the ability to give the giraffes their breakfasts at the same time via pellets provided by the dedicated staff.

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

There is also an afternoon tea experience which is a can’t miss. As the sun sets behind the Ngong Hills, guests only can enjoy homemade cookies, cakes, sandwiches, scones and fruit platters and take copious photos with the giraffes, be it via a hug, on an over-sized garden swing, or via giraffe kiss (they have 20-inch-long tongues though, so don’t be surprised if you get a bit slobbery).   

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

Another special experience here a private dinner in the Orchid House. No giraffes are involved, sadly, but it’s still elegant and special, enjoying a candlelit dinner amid 150 orchids.

THE RETREAT

Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Retreat

Photo Credit: Brian Siambi

The Retreat is a thoughtful addition to Giraffe Manor, a wellness haven with a ‘farm to fork’ style fare at Daisy’s Café, as well as a small fitness center, pool, and spa. It’s also a great place to relax and let loose while waiting for your room to be ready should you have an early morning flight into Nairobi. The Retreat is an elegant mix of open plan indoor and outdoor spaces, with high ceilings and impressively large arched windows that give guests a glimpse of the giraffe-related wonders to come. Dispel jet lag with access to a sauna, steam room, fully equipped gym, and hot tub, as well as an indoor lounge with a fireplace and four sumptuous day rooms.

THE GIRAFFE CENTER

Giraffe ManorPhoto Credit: The Safari Collection

One of the best places to visit in Nairobi also happens to be a five-minute stroll from the Giraffe Manor grounds. Stroll across the front lawn of the house and you will reach the AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) Giraffe Center. Founded in 1979, the center’s mission is to educate school children about their country’s incredible wildlife and environment, alongside their breeding program of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. Each guest of Giraffe Manor pays a donation to AFEW which goes towards their wildlife conservation projects across Kenya. At the Giraffe Centre, visitors can get extremely up close and personal to the world’s tallest species from a raised platform where they can be fed and inspected from up close. It’s an educational experience that shouldn’t be missed. 

Giraffe Manor is located at Gogo Falls Road, Nairobi, Kenya