Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Giraffe Manor

Kenya

Giraffe Manor is a 5-star bucket-list imperative

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Giraffe Manor
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Giraffe Manor

Location

Set in 12 acres of private indigenous forest, still within Nairobi's city limits.

Travel Information

Depending on the traffic, 45-minutes drive from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and 15-minutes from Wilson Airport, where you leave on your internal charter flights.

Top Tips

One to two nights as a start or finish to a Kenyan safari. Book well in advance as demand is always high.

5-Star X-Factors

Getting up close and personal with these beautiful animals. Excellent cuisine. Timeless charm.

Giraffe Manor

Few hotels in the world have been talked about as much as Giraffe Manor. The press love it, patrons love it and it’s at the top of many travellers’ wish lists. So I went with high expectations and there was nothing that disappointed.

LOCATION AND HISTORY

In 1932 Sir David Duncan modelled the rambling Manor House, set in 12 acres of indigenous forest, on a Scottish hunting lodge. After decades as a private dwelling, it opened its doors as a small private hotel in the 80’s and has subsequently joined the exclusive ‘The Safari Collection’ stable, owned by Mikey and Tara Carr-Hartley.

It is 19-miles from Nairobi International Airport and a convenient 8-miles from the national Wilson Airport, where you meet charter flights for your onward safari. So, if you’re lucky enough to get a night here then it really is the perfect way to start or finish your safari adventure.

Giraffe Manor is a bucket-list imperative for many and it’s easy to understand why. That said, many have tried to stay a night, without luck, as it’s booked out way in advance. However, I believe it really is worth joining the waiting list.

Nearby there are two excellent but very different 5-star alternatives, including Hemmingways for colonial grand luxury, and One Forty Eight for a boutique hideaway.

THE ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFE

By the time you leave Kenya, if you are to enjoy a blend of fantastic safari lodges, you will become familiar with the different species of giraffes. That said, the only specimen that you will get up close and personal with, is the Rothschild giraffe; the resident herd that flourishes in the exotic forested grounds of Giraffe Manor. This giraffe is a sub-species of the Northern Giraffe, named in honour of the London Zoologist, Lionel Walter Rothschild. An endangered species, they are distinguishable by their slightly smaller size and the fact that their lower legs are without markings.

YOUR STAY IN BRIEF

Of course your greatest take-away is the connection you make with these magnificent animals.

All round though, this is an entrancing 5-star stay, filled with magical chances, exotic public spaces, vintage furnishings, crystal-dressed dining tables and that all time favourite, a laden gin bar (I couldn’t count how many different specimens there were) in the drawing room across from the wide stone, crackling hearth. Whilst it possesses a grand colonial charm, it is ubiquitously African in essence.

We all had a room named after a giraffe, whether alive or deceased, and each has an exceptional legacy. My suite, Helen, one of six in the new manor building, was on the second floor with a sumptuous 4-poster, dressed in Egyptian cotton with soft down pillows. The new manor house has been built in absolute keeping with the original and you would be hard pushed to spot the difference. It is already cloaked in climbers and surrounded by a plethora of soaring trees along with the elegant visitors at dawn and dusk. The bathroom was wonderful too, with a deep tub, twin vanities and plenty of products to lather on or pour into your bath. Each suite is designed differently, as if in your own home, making it feel more like a luxury private residence than a boutique hotel. The family suite on the ground floor was mind-blowing; an open-plan duplex of beams, original Kenyan designs and luscious drapes.

SERVICE, FOOD AND FAREWELL

The service was excellent: warm, obliging, friendly and extremely perspicacious. We lunched al fresco in the central courtyard, surrounded by fern beds and cobalt coloured butterflies the size of small saucers, while the smaller furry residents, the warthogs, snorted in and out of bushes. Menus are subtitled Browse, Munch, Graze, Drool and Slurp and although they make it sound like casual ‘slap up’ fare, it is anything but. The food was fabulous: innovative, well seasoned, skilled and local. The Swahili fish kebabs with pilau rice and a cashew nut and pineapple sauce were unforgettable. House wine is included and we enjoyed a glass of South African Pinot Grigio.

It doesn’t feel long before high tea, laid out in Victorian-styled splendour on the front terrace, is served. This is when the leggy herd emerge from the forest and gently stroll up for their human connection. This involves offering them a vegan pellet, via your hand or your mouth. Their endless black tongues have an antiseptic coating – good for germaphobes to be aware of. They are gentle and graceful with impossibly luscious eyelashes and it really is one of those lifetime treats to feel quite so connected to something quite so out of everyday reach. Even if you only experience this once in your lifetime, it really is something to treasure for the rest of it.

Soon the waft of earthy open fires consumes you and before you know it you are enjoying a uniquely blended gin and tonic aperitif slunk down in the comfort of an armchair or sofa beside a roaring fire. The congenial atmosphere makes it easy to talk to anyone, besides, you have all been blessed by this totally unique day.

We enjoyed a resplendent candlelit dinner in the private dining room, with hand crafted crystal, silverware and Wedgwood, seated in gorgeous soft cream leather chairs around a mahogany table with sweeping crimson drapes at the window. The menu matched the setting and for many of us, this was the unrivalled meal of our whole trip.

Your wakeup call is extraordinary. It’s a tap on the window from a now familiar giraffe and soon you are out of bed, sweeping aside the mosquito drapes, with the windows ajar stroking and feeding these magnificent dawn damsels. Mind you Eddie is male, he’s the tallest and our all-round favourite.

Our adventure took us next to Solio Lodge, where rhinos could become your favourite four-legged friend.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer