Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Breakfast is easy to ignore when there is a live giraffe poking his head in the window looking for treats. Courtesy of The Safari Collection
Breakfast is easy to ignore when there is a live giraffe poking his head in the window looking for treats. Courtesy of The Safari Collection

Hotel Insider: Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

Christine Iyer and family check into one of Kenya's most comfortable, entertaining and accessible safari properties.

The welcome

A 20-minute drive from Nairobi's Wilson Airport, Giraffe Manor is modelled on a Scottish hunting lodge and consists of two buildings - one built in the 1930s, with tall windows and every inch covered in creepers and the other constructed only two years ago but equally charming and old-fashioned. At the back of the property is a tiny shop selling handicrafts; out front is a wide, grassy terrace overlooking the sanctuary that is home to the endangered Rothschild giraffe. There is no lobby or reception, but a large hallway is made homely with squashy sofas and giraffe-inspired art and images. A magnificent wooden staircase leads to the rooms above. We were taken to our suite in the new building after a quick safety briefing: do not try to touch the animals or walk in the sanctuary.

The neighbourhood

A Safari Collection property, Giraffe Manor is located about 12 kilometres from the city centre in a hilly neighbourhood full of villas with gardens, high walls and signs on their gates that advertise - as a deterrent to thieves - its state-of-the-art security systems. The manor is beside the giraffe centre, a two-minute escorted walk through the sanctuary. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a 10-minute drive and worth a visit, if only to watch elephant calves stick their little trunks high in the air and clamour for milk.

The room

The property has 10 rooms, all named after the giraffes in the sanctuary. We were allotted "Kelly", an airy suite that sleeps three and is decorated in the traditional style of the rest of the manor. The high, comfortable beds had thin curtains around them and a soft, purple armchair sat by the fireplace. On the mantelpiece stood a crystal decanter filled with drinking water - and a bowl of food pellets to feed the giraffes when they came to the window. The bathroom had lush hanging plants, a deep bath, pretty enamel basins set in a wooden wash stand and a monsoon shower. A skylight and a delightful stained-glass window above the bath, depicting two surprised-looking giraffes, let in the sun.

The service

Intuitive and warm. A request for toothbrushes resulted in one of the staff nipping out to buy them. Our son - who spent all his time feeding the giraffes and gambolling with the warthogs and Bluka, the pet dog - was popular among the staff, who plied him with juice and cookies.

The scene

When we visited there were only a few guests, all occupying the chairs on the terrace and looking out over the green spaces of the sanctuary. The atmosphere was of an English country house - except there were giraffes all around us and warthogs underfoot.

The food

Meals were delicious, three-course affairs - my favourite was the mandarin salad in crisp Parmesan cups, fish kebabs served with sautéed cabbage rice and chilli and a tart melon and mango sorbet. At breakfast, we hardly paid any attention to our eggs, platter of local fruit and aromatic Kenyan coffee, busy as we were trying to persuade the giraffes to stick their long necks through the windows so that we could feed them.

Loved

Snuggling up to the hot-water bottles tucked into our beds at night and waking up in the morning to find a giraffe at our window, patiently waiting for a treat.

Hated

The enormous mosquitoes that appeared at dusk and set to work on us. Make sure you buy strong insect repellent before visiting.

The verdict

Genteel living in a beautiful old house and hanging out with exotic, endangered animals - holidays don't get better than this. Don't leave without a "kiss" from Ibrahim, one of the younger, bolder giraffes (put a pellet between your lips and he'll oblige).

The bottom line

A double room costs from US$485 (Dh1,780) per person, per night, full board, including Wi-Fi, a visit to the giraffe centre and taxes. Giraffe Manor, Langata, Nairobi, Kenya (www.giraffemanor.com; 00 254 20 502 0888).

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National