As some of you may know, this summer I spent six weeks travelling through East Africa, seeing parts of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. While there are many, many incredible experiences I’ve yet to cover on this blog (safaris! hot air ballooning! gorilla trekking!!) there’s one experience I’ve noticed people keep asking about again and again, whether online or in person. That experience is staying at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya.
You may recognise the photos before you recognise the name; I mean, where else in the world can you eat breakfast while a giraffe pokes her head in the window to say hello? Staying at Giraffe Manor is high on many people’s dream travel lists – as it was mine – and in this blog post I’d like to share my experience staying there as well as answer the questions I seem to get the most, which are: Giraffe Manor costs how much?! And… is staying at Giraffe Manor really worth the cost?!
First, a little bit of background about Giraffe Manor. Established in the 1930s, the manor is now a boutique hotel with 12 rooms set on an area of private land that measures 12 acres. Nearby is the Giraffe Centre, which is a sanctuary for the ten giraffes that live on this land (giraffes are endangered animals). The manor itself is gorgeous, with plenty of common space both indoors and outdoors. Everything from the towels to the chess set to the napkin ring – everything down to the finest detail – has obviously been meticulously chosen to represent Kenya and to represent the animal it calls neighbour: the Rothschild giraffe.
Because of course: as beautiful as this vine-covered manor is, the main draw is undoubtedly the fact that Giraffe Manor is frequented by a family of giraffes. While these are still wild animals and no interaction is guaranteed, the giraffes know that there are certain times of the day (early morning and mid-afternoon) where guests will be ready with buckets of grass pellets to feed them. Some of the front-facing rooms also get to feed giraffes through their windows if they’re lucky. At breakfast time, the giraffes stick their heads in the window in order to be fed, which looks a little something like this:
Sounds like a dream, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay here?
Alas, as many “big-ticket” experiences in East Africa go, staying at Giraffe Manor does indeed come with a hefty price tag. Rooms at Giraffe Manor start at $1100 USD – yes, you read that correctly – so the cheapest room averages to $550 per adult.
If you want to stay in a bigger room (honeymoons are popular here!), the price obviously goes up from there. You can check out the rate card here, and please note that these rates are only until December 15, 2017; as Giraffe Manor has become increasingly popular due to social media and other media coverage, I would expect these rates to go up in the new year. In fact, a quick look at their availability for 2018 is now showing $1130 for the same room I stayed in. FYI, it also appears that half of their rooms can only be booked if you stay at one of the other Safari Collection sites in Kenya.
As my trip to Giraffe Manor wasn’t sponsored (none of my East Africa trip was sponsored, as I wanted full control and I also wanted to, you know, not work while on my dream holiday), I forked over my $550 while my mum paid the other half. And so the
64,000 dollar 1100 dollar question is: Was the cost of Giraffe Manor worth it?
Hell yes. Worth every single penny. I would gladly pay another $1100 to stay at the manor again (once my giant credit card debt is paid off from the last trip). Because you’re not just paying to eat breakfast with giraffes, although that is a huge bonus. You’re also paying for full board (that’s three gourmet meals plus afternoon tea), all the alcohol you can drink (more on that in a second), a beautiful, luxury hotel with a top-of-the-line spa, and impeccable service. We even arranged with Giraffe Manor to pick us up from our first Nairobi hotel, take us to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to see the baby elephant feeding time, wait for us, and then take us to the manor.
To put this price in perspective, I paid the exact same price – $550 USD – to go hot air ballooning for one hour in the Serengeti. I also looked up what an average Four Seasons room was for a night in Florence, Italy, and surprise! Their junior suite is the same price. For one night. With no food or alcohol. And definitely no giraffes.
You don’t get that at the Four Seasons
Listen, I’m not trying to say that Giraffe Manor is cheap – it isn’t, especially for a person like me who normally goes for budget to mid-range travel options. What I am saying is that, for a big ticket item, the cost of Giraffe Manor is absolutely worth it. If you’re going to splurge here and there during your travels, this is one time I’d wholeheartedly say, “Go for it.”
There are few experiences as incredible as spending this much time up close and personal with these beautiful, graceful, gentle creatures. Each one has a name and a story – you can read about them here – and each has a very distinct personality. I felt overwhelmed in their presence, and not just because they are so freaking tall. Seriously. So tall.
There are some warthogs hanging around as well!
You can’t leave without getting a giraffe kiss (much better kisser than my ex, I’ll add)
I’m going to write an entire post just on eating breakfast with the giraffes, because that in itself is a pretty crazy experience, but I hope that the photos and video I’ve provided here can paint a fairly accurate picture of just how special staying at Giraffe Manor is. Of course, you can also visit the Giraffe Centre across the way for a tiny fraction of the price, but nothing compares to the experience of staying at the manor and having so much time with the giraffes (and in such a small group).
Here are some frequently asked questions that I’ve received about staying at Giraffe Manor:
How are the giraffes treated at Giraffe Manor?
I thought about this before visiting, as I would never want to participate in an activity where animals are under stress or forced to do something against their will (see: riding elephants, petting tigers, swimming with captive dolphins, etc). However, as Giraffe Manor shares its land with the Giraffe Centre, a fantastic sanctuary for these endangered animals, I felt confident that the giraffes were taken care of. The result: I didn’t for one second feel that these animals were under any stress whatsoever. We were told explicitly how we could interact with them, when we could interact with them, and so on. We were constantly monitored by staff. And as much as I’d like to think that the giraffes were just as excited to see us as we were to see them, let’s be honest: they just wanted those tasty grass pellets. As soon as the pellets were gone, they left for (literally) greener pastures.
When in Kenya my mum and I donated to both the Giraffe Centre as well as the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (I fostered a baby elephant for my mum for Mother’s Day) – I recommend both of these charities.
Can I visit Giraffe Manor if I’m not a paying guest, i.e. for a tour or for a coffee?
No. Plain and simple, no. I totally get it – this place would be overrun if they allowed non-paying guests to come by. According to the Safari Collection website, it seems they sometimes open up meals for non-paying guests, although I definitely wouldn’t rely on that.
What is the food like at Giraffe Manor?
Very, very tasty. I was totally satisfied with the three meals plus afternoon tea I had in my 24 hours there. I imagine the menu changes often but you can stipulate if you have food allergies or dietary requirements.
Browse, Munch, Graze, Drool, Slurp… I see what you did there
What is the staff like at Giraffe Manor?
The service at Giraffe Manor, as mentioned previously, is impeccable. I was extremely impressed with the level of care they took for each guest, making each of us feel instantly comfortable and at home. Not only that, the staff all know each giraffe very well, so can tell his or her story. They will also help you during the giraffe feeding time, helping to set up photos or even take the photos for you.
How far in advance should I book a room at Giraffe Manor?
Book as far in advance as you possibly can, at least six to twelve months. As there are only twelve rooms – only six that you can book on their own, without combining it with another Safari Collection stay – the schedule books up incredibly fast. My mum and I were extremely lucky, as there was obviously a cancellation that we were able to snatch up; we booked in March and got the only room available in all of June and July. We then planned our entire East Africa trip to make sure it was able to accommodate that day in Nairobi.
Check out their availability calendar here, and note that most of 2018 is already booked.
Are kids allowed at Giraffe Manor?
Yes! Kids under 11 years old get a discounted rate.
What should I wear at Giraffe Manor?
I’ve written an entire post about what to wear in Kenya, but my suggestion would be smart casual; think a sundress for women or a short-sleeve collared shirt for men. I deliberately chose clothing without too many patterns to let the giraffe print really stand out in photos.
When is the best time to visit Giraffe Manor?
Giraffe Manor is open all year with the exception of mid-April to mid-May, which is when they do maintenance and repairs. As Kenya is close to the equator, there are few seasonal differences, although the rainy seasons are mid-March to May and mid-October to December. When I was there, in June, the weather was lovely, although a gloomy morning meant disaster for trying to get good photos at breakfast. You never know what you’re going to get!
Will I get amazing photos at Giraffe Manor?
Hmm. This is a tricky question, and one I plan on going into in the next post about Giraffe Manor, which will specifically be about eating breakfast with giraffes.
Before I went to Giraffe Manor, I saw a couple of huge Instagram accounts with phenomenal photos. Like, jaw-dropping, beautifully-lit, holy-crap-I-want-that-experience photo. I can’t say with certainty that this is true, but I’d imagine that some of those photos were taken specifically as part of campaigns, where people were given lots of space and time. In reality, although the manor has plenty of room for all guests, every single person wants a great photo when the giraffes are around, especially at breakfast. That means that twenty-odd people are running around, all snapping photos and posing and trying to not get in each other’s ways. And oh yeah, you also have a whole bunch of giant animals walking around, too, sticking their heads in and out of windows.
So close to being a great photo
What that means is that a lot of the great photos come down to luck: you have to be in the right place at the right time, with no other people around, and with the giraffe also staying still long enough to get the right shot. I actually felt quite stressed in the morning as the lighting was horrible and there were a few guests who were completely oblivious to anyone else who wanted to get a photo (i.e. constantly walking in everyone’s shots to try to get their own). My mum and I got the table, the best table in the house, which meant that everyone else wanted a chance to sit at that table and get their own pictures, which… I totally understand, but let’s just say my mum and I didn’t eat very much.
Get ready for a whole lotta blurry action shots
I actually found that the afternoon tea the day before the infamous breakfast was much more relaxed, as it was outside and there was a lot more room for people to move around.
More on this in the next post, including some behind-the-scenes photos and a whole lot of bloopers! My recommendation? Go for the experience, not just the photos. Trust me, if you get about five great photos, that’s all you need.
Some final tips for staying at Giraffe Manor:
-Make sure to tip the staff. I am a big believer in tipping, especially when the service is so fantastic. There is a tip box in the foyer although you can also tip individuals who were especially helpful or kind.
-Don’t drink too much. I say this because there were two guests who definitely took advantage of the all-you-can-drink part of full board and not only made an absolute fool of themselves throughout the afternoon/evening (think falling out of chairs, openly weeping, shouting over other guests, etc) but were so hungover the next morning they had to skip a portion of the breakfast with giraffes. My mum and I can laugh about it now, but they were extremely annoying at the time!
-Get up as early as you can so that you can take your pick of the breakfast table, and also so that you can be there for the giraffes’ arrival! My mum and I were downstairs by 6:30am.
-Although some people were happy to just take photos on their phones, I recommend a camera with a bit more oomph to it so that you can get those high-quality shots. I used both the Canon G7X (a fantastic camera for quick photos, and it fits in your pocket!) and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, a great mirrorless camera that can make even a photography amateur like me take the occasional perfect shot. Please note that those are both affiliate links!
I made a little video of the slightly blurry/way too excited footage I took that day!
What do you think? Would you pay to stay at Giraffe Manor?
Huge shoutout to my mum, the staff at Giraffe Manor, and fellow guest Lizzie for being great photographers!
That looks so amazing! Definitely something I would splurge on. I hope I can get there before it’s absolutely unaffordable!
I definitely recommend it! Maybe 2019?? 😉
Wow this looks amazing! Looks totally worth the cost, definitely going on my list! I love your outfits so much! So cool Brenna
Thank you, Cate! I hope you get there soon 🙂
This sounds like the most amazing experience and I would totally have no issue forking over the money for something like this. I mean, how many people can really say the interacted with Giraffes in Africa? Also, I love the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (I donate to them and follow their Instagram) and loved seeing your Instagram stories from your time there 🙂
Thank you so much, Jenn! It was such a great experience. 🙂
Amazing! I would love to stay there sometime but wondered about the cost. Pricey for sure but it does seem like it would be an experience beyond measure.
It definitely is! Thanks, Melissa 🙂
My son (a veterinarian) and I visited here for my 70th birthday…totally blown away by the wonderful experience…fed the giraffes from my bedroom window ..wonderful food especially breakfast!!!!!!!!!giraffes poking head through windows..sheldrick elephants(another must go place..metDaphne herself…felt so utterly privileged…visited Kare Blixen shop..furniture from Karen Blixens home is in Giraffe Manor…will remember the giraffes coming out of the mist early morning…worth every single penny..would do it all again..go if you can ..cannot recommend it highly enough
I want to go to giraffe manor, looks like and sounds like it should cost even more.
Love the honest breakdown. I’d definitely splurge on this!
Thank you so much, Candice! I hope you get there soon 😀
I think experiences like this are definitely worth it!! I still remember when you facetimed me from there!
I agree – sometimes it’s OK to splurge! I’m so glad that you picked up 😀 xo
Awesome post and the photos are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! xx
Thank you so much, Helen! And thank you as always for all of your help with our East Africa trip xxxx
Loved this post!
It`s really nice to read an honest and detailed opinion about this place and how it works, I`ve seen many photos of it before but they all looked too staged for me, almost unreal… Nice to know that (if you have at least 550 dolars but anyway) a normal person can live this experience!
This must have been amazing, your photos look great, but I`ll love to see the bloopers too (being a photographer and travel blogger myself I know how much effort and time is put behind every great shot). But the photo of the giraffe kiss was definitely worth it!!!
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much! A few more bloopers coming in the next post for sure 🙂
I unfortunately didn’t have the chance to stay at Giraffe Manor during my recent trip to Kenya, but I did visit the centre which I didn’t overly love. To me, these Giraffes were not being treated like wild animals – They were totally and utterly surrounded by tourists, hand feeding them for images as if it were in a zoo. It seemed a little like a tourist trap to me unfortunately. When I was there during the middle of the day, I could see that no giraffes were at the manor, but all 10 were over at the centre, which gave me the idea that these animals simply went from one to the other all day to be hand fed…. It was so great to see them unclose, but the experience left me with mixed emotions. I guess I was expecting to see them a little more naturally… I’m sure Giraffe Manor would have been a totally incredibly experience though XX
I didn’t go to the Giraffe Centre so unfortunately I can’t say either way, but in my eyes, I look at it like this: these are endangered animals that have 12 acres to roam around in. They’re safe, they’re reproducing, and they ultimately can choose where they’d like to go. They absolutely go where the food is, but I also watched them for nearly two days and they often wandered into the surrounding forests to graze for a few hours, too. Many were grazing in the morning before the designated time for breakfast at the manor.
I understand what you’re saying that it could feel like a tourist trap, but if those paying tourists mean that these animals are able to lead happy, healthy lives, have babies (over 40 have been released into other safe game parks!), and have tons of land to explore, I’m ultimately OK with that. There are fewer than 700 Rothschild Giraffes left in the wild, so I’m totally on board with what the Giraffe Centre is doing.
Thank you for this post!! Jeff and I have been dreaming about going here and this really broke it down for us 🙂 I had a question though – how many nights did you stay? Would 1 be enough in your opinion?
I was only there for one night as that’s all that was available! Giraffe Manor recommends two nights, and a few guests were there for two nights, but most were just there for one. Of course two nights would be better than one, but if that’s all you have, don’t worry, one is enough! I hope you and Jeff get there soon xo
My aunt follows the Giraffe Manor on facebook and she’s DYING to go there too, so hopefully someday we can do a trip like yours! You’re right about the cost. Who knows when you’re going to be in Kenya again, so might as well have breakfast with giraffes!
Every time you travel with your mom I’m reminded of how interested I am in her story! Like, how did she get into writing books? How is travelling different when doing research for a novel? Do locations inspire her, or does she seek out specific places?
I’m just SO interested in her travel story! It’d be cool if you could do an interview series with her, or have her do guest posts. 🙂
The question is if there’s a good place you can safely run in the area… maybe alongside the giraffes? 🙂
It looks marvellous. And certainly, for a special celebration like a significant birthday, anniversary, honeymoon, etc it would be worth every penny.
And besides, accommodation in Africa is never that cheap to begin with, so including all meals and drinks, is an excellent bargain!
What a dream come true! Your pictures are gorgeous. This looks like such a once in a lifetime experience! Another post I had read about Giraffe Manor did not make me think it was really worth the price, but this post totally changed my mind! Maybe in 2019… 🙂
What a wonderful review of your stay! (And your outfits for the photos are gorgeous too!) Super love the blooper shots too Brenna! 😉
I totally admire the fact that the owners make the stay as – or more important – than just that get-Instagram-worthy-shots as a draw, that would have been a much more superficial experience. Now, you’ve got me dreaming about staying at this manor in the further future!
Great post Brenna! I’m like you, most of the time I only go for budget to mid-range accomodations and activities, but the time I do splash out big for an experience it has always been absolutely worth it and super-memorable!
Was hoping to be dissuaded by this review, but alas, Giraffe Manor remains atop my bucket list.
My family and I are considering one night at giraffe manor as part of a larger safari experience this winter. We have two kids (will be 4 and 6 at time of the visit.) Did you see other young children there and what activities did the manor offer for children? Do most guests stick around the property all day? I imagine this is “the experience”. It comes to you here at the manor.
I know this post is old, but oh-my-gawsh your pictures are amazing!! I want to go here so badly, but it will be a longgggg time before I’ll be able to come up with a thousand bucks for a room. I’m certain it will be well worth every penny though!!! Thanks so much for this review! <3
Thanks a lot, Jillian! I hope you get there soon 🙂
Gracias Brenna for the post, we loved it with my fiancee… planning our honey moon in Africa, after your tips, we will put it in our list of musts. Cheers.
Sounds amazing! I hope you have an incredible time 😀
Hey! I plan on going this January. Wanted to know that instead of staying can I just visit the manor for breakfast and still have interaction with the giraffes:)
As it says in the article, no, that is not possible! You have to be staying there to eat breakfast with the giraffes.
Thanks for your write-up on Giraffe Manor. You haven’t dispelled any of my dreams about the place, in fact reassuring me that I won’t be disappointed.
As a Girraffophile ( I dont think thats a made up word) it’s my lifes ambition to spend a whole week here. Still hoping for the lotto win to achieve it.
Ssshhhhhhh don’t tell anyone !
If you’re ever in Ireland, take a look at Clonakilty Distillery, a new medium sized distillery, producing some great whiskey. I look after all the casks and maturation warehouse in a truly spectacular location – no ‘Raffs though!
Happy travels with ya suitcase.
I’ve been to giraffe center many times and did not know that giraffe manor was so close by. It looks amazing would definitely love to stay.
I love you already! This post is very informative, honest and entertaining! We really wanna visit Giraffe Manor. Now I’m gonna have to work my ass off for the money! ?
Love your post here, i was planning to visit giraffe manor but after ur post i can hardly wait.
Thank you so much for spelling all this out! Reading this post (a few years later), but looking to go for a special occasion and this really cemented this trip for me. Just wondering how far ahead you need to book, and if there is a minimum stay? Also would you recommend booking this in conjunction with one of their other properties (if the rooms are really so much better being in front…?). Thanks!!
All I can say is this is a bucket list item that does not disappoint. Alright, so I didn’t tell my husband what it cost to stay in the Karen Blixen suite (the only room available when we planned our trip four months in advance and even that due to a cancellation), but even he would admit it was the crowning jewel of our trip to Kenya, and we stayed at fabulous places all trip long. . As I sat at breakfast with my husband and young adult children with a giraffe eating the flowers on our table, I was so happy I burst into tears. Put a price on that! Your article brought back those wonderful memories of my June 2018 visit. Thank you
[…] friend Brenna wrote an awesome and honest post about her stay at Giraffe Manor, if you want to know what it’s really like and, most importantly if it’s worth the […]
It’s always been a dream of mine to do what you do. Keep living your best life. ❤
A huge fan from Puerto Rico. I’m already planning this trip, it’s my dream, now the prices went to the roof ($850 pp).
I wanted to ask you; do you plan your trip yourself? I don’t know how to plan the transportation or activities. Let me know!
Hi Brenna, thank you so very much for you writing this! The Giraffe Manor is at the tippy-top of my dream bucket list! Your pictures made me want to visit even more!
Brenna, thank-you for the great review and pictures. How many days/nights do you recommend at the Giraffe Manor? Besides Giraffe Manor what else is there to do around the area?
Where can I find a copy of your Africa itinerary? It seems like it was an awesome trip
I can tell you that you can’t put a price tag on a trip of a lifetime to Giraffe Manor. When I visited Giraffe Manor in 2007, I paid much less than today’s rates and had a single room. (Traveled from Mn USA alone). Spent 5 magnificent days with these glorious creatures. I was the last guest before rainy season and had the whole place to myself for 3 days. I felt like and was treated like a queen. Someday when the unrest in the world settles down, I definitely want to return there. Staff was fantastic, tried food I had never had(delicious), and cried when I left My giraffe that carries my name. Make your dream come true and you’ll come home with more insight that will stay with you for years to come.
Reading all these makes me want to return! This should be tip top of the bucket list..it was on mine….I would return in a heartbeat to relive the whole experience. Wish this Covid would go away ….my memories are so fresh and will never pall.
I agree, I can’t wait to travel again! I would love to return to Kenya one day.
hello its now 1750 – is it still worth it?
I’m 86 and my last Big trip..I want to go to Giraffe Manor and Sheldrick Sanctuary. How do I make this work..who to contact?? Thanks for any ideas.
A 91-year old friend and world traveller told me today that her most outstanding travel memory was her visit to Giraffe Manor (only one giraffe at the time…Daisy Rothschild) . I shared your blog with her, and she was over-the-top impressed.
This write-up was great. I am taking my niece on a safari and have a stay booked at Giraffe Manor in June 2022. You are so right that it’s a super hard booking to get. Very excited.