If you’ve ever wanted a reason to become a morning person, having breakfast with giraffes would be it. Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, is the place where you can do just that. Breakfast is most certainly the most important meal of the day here — these friendly neighbors poke their heads in bright and early, so you want to make sure to set your alarms. A 6am wake up call isn’t so bad when the reward is a once in a lifetime experience, after all.
You may find some giraffes outside your terrace waiting for their pellets, but heading downstairs for breakfast in the front room is where the main action happens. The breakfast menu offers the standard fare like homemade muesli, yogurt and pancakes. As you dine, you can take part in feeding the giraffes in between bites of toast and sips of coffee, and of course, getting some amazing photos. You can also spend time with the giraffes during afternoon tea time outside, where there’s more space to enjoy the experience. You might even catch a glimpse of a warthog or two.
Though social media helped catapult Giraffe Manor to global fame, the manor has been around since the 1930s and was home to Sir David Duncan, a member of the family that created Mackintosh’s Toffee. After he sold the manor and the new owner let the house fall into disrepair, husband and wife Jock and Betty Leslie Meville took over in 1974. As they settled in, they heard that the Rothschild giraffe was going extinct due to loss of habitat. Being conservationists and friendly with three wild bull giraffes on the land, they purchased a baby named Daisy and brought her to roam on the manor. Eventually as they added more giraffes, they built the Giraffe Center as a place for visitors to feed the giraffes as they learn about protecting them.
So, the Mevilles planted the seeds for Giraffe Manor to become not only a tourist destination, but a safe haven for the Rothschild giraffes. After Jock’s death and Betty’s return to the USA, her son took over, and along with his wife, they turned Giraffe Manor into a hotel. In 2009, fourth generation Kenyans Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley gained ownership. It’s the flagship location of The Safari Collection, the couple’s tour operation company and brand that also includes three other luxury boutique camps and lodges. The commitment to conservation is kept alive through both the Giraffe Center and at the hotel.
The experience starts at $620 per person, but it is all-inclusive, meaning your three meals, afternoon tea and drinks won’t cost a penny extra. The food is freshly prepared and there’s even a “Gin and Giraffes” cocktail hour you can take part in. Gin and tonic for you, the giraffes will pass on the gin in exchange for more pellets.
Book ahead, as the Giraffe Manor is on a lot of people’s bucket lists and reservations are best made six to 12 months in advance. But if you’re going to plan the experience of a lifetime, you’ve got to do it right, so waiting until the last minute is not advised. You won’t regret the early breakfast times or extra planning, however, as you’re sitting next to an open window, beautiful landscapes in view, and that long-necked animal reaching in to say good morning.