Giraffe Manor is an exclusive boutique hotel, owned by The Safari Collection. Often referred to as one of the most instagrammed properties in the world, Giraffe Manor is set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi.
Giraffe Manor is one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings. The historic manor house has extraordinary appeal, that harks back to the 1930s when 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: indeed, one of its twelve rooms is named after the author Karen Blixen.
One of the most fascinating things about Giraffe Manor is its resident herd of Rothschild’s giraffes who may visit morning and evening, poking their long necks into the windows in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary.
Built in 1932, Giraffe Manor is the oldest of The Safari Collection’s properties and was modelled on a Scottish hunting lodge. The elegant long legged giraffes have roamed its lawns since the 1970s when Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville first adopted an orphaned Rothschild’s giraffe called Daisy.
Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley bought the manor in April 2009. Since then it has become a globally recognised hotel. Having grown up in the neighbourhood, Giraffe Manor has always played a significant role in Tanya Carr-Hartley’s life.
As a child, she rode through the grounds on horseback and would occasionally have a cup of tea with Betty before returning home. Tanya recalls that the horses did not like the smell of giraffe, so it was always a quick one!
To own Giraffe Manor was something of a childhood dream and in April 2009, this dream came true when The Safari Collection’s flagship property was added to their portfolio.
WHEN TO GO
At 5,889ft above sea level, Nairobi is cool at night and warm in the day, with two rainy seasons March to May and mid-October to December.
Situated close to the equator, seasonal differences are minimal, however in June, July and August, temperatures can be as low as 35˚F / 2˚C. As global weather patterns become less predictable, be prepared for all seasons. Giraffe Manor closes in May for maintenance.
The original manor house was built in 1932 and has six rooms: Betty, Daisy, Jock, Lynn, Marlon and the Karen Blixen Suite. Since the acquisition of the Giraffe Manor in April 2009, Tanya and Mikey have turned this property into one of the most sought-after hotels in the world.
They have lovingly remodelled the interiors with a passion to ensure that the manor retained its 1930s character and charming history. An original art deco bathroom, antique furniture and the names of each room all reveal something of the manor’s colourful past.
In 2011, a new section of the manor was created – The Garden Manor – which sits right next door. Although built 78 years later, Tanya and Mikey used reclaimed materials from the period in which the original manor was built and its design replicates that of the main house.
The Garden Manor also has six lovely guest rooms: Salma, Edd, Arlene, Helen, Kelly and the Finch Hatton Suite..
FINCH HATTON SUITE
In 1911, Denys Finch Hatton travelled to East Africa with money left to him by his deceased uncle. He bought some land on the western side of the Rift Valley near what is now Eldoret. He met Karen Blixen at the Muthaiga Club in 1918.
When Karen got divorced in 1925, Denys moved into her house where he lived until a few weeks before his final flight in May 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.
The room named after him is on the ground floor of the Garden Manor from where you’ll often see the legs of our patterned residents when you open the curtains in the early morning as they come looking for treats from the rooms above and the adjoining dining room.
This ground floor room of 74 square-metres has a king-sized bed as well as two single beds in a loft area accessed by a small spiral staircase. There is also a small sofa bed which can accommodate a third child if needed.
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.
KAREN BLIXEN SUITE
Karen Blixen came to Kenya from Denmark to marry her friend, Baron Bror von Blixen Fincke, and start a dairy farm. However, when she arrived in the country she found, much to her surprise, that the Baron had invested in coffee instead.
Whilst her attempts at growing coffee failed, her courage and stamina earned her enormous respect from those around her. As the area in which she once lived became more developed, the district of Karen was named after her.
The Danish government gave Blixen’s house to the Kenyan government as an independence gift in 1964. In 1985 when her autobiography ‘Out of Africa’ became an Academy Award-winning Hollywood film, the house was turned into a museum.
The 113 square-metre Karen Blixen room at Giraffe Manor is located on the top floor of the main manor house. Its spacious balcony enjoys lovely south-facing views and provides guests with the opportunity to feed the giraffes in the early morning hours.
This two-bedroomed suite – the largest of all the rooms at the manor – was rebuilt and moved to its new location in 2019. Each bedroom has its own en-suite facilities with bathtub, shower and twin sinks.
The master bedroom has a king-sized four poster bed, whilst the second bedroom has two single four poster beds and a small daybed which can accommodate a young child. The room also has a spacious lounge with a fireplace and a writing desk.
This delightful suite is adorned with a little piece of history; a dressing table and wardrobe that were both from Karen Blixen’s original guest bedroom.
The mother of Jock Leslie-Melville (who bought the manor in the 1970s) was a friend of Karen’s and the furniture was given to her as a parting gift when Karen returned to Denmark in 1931
WHAT TO DO
If you are not too busy feeding our resident herd of endangered Rothchild’s giraffes, you’ll find plenty to do during your stay.
Relax within the manor’s grounds or explore the leafy surrounding suburbs which offer several acclaimed local craft centres and some lovely boutiques. Entrance fees to local attractions are additional.
BREAKFAST WITH GIRAFFES
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.
Loping across the manor lawns and peering in through the large windows with their elegant necks, encountering our endangered Rothschild’s giraffes at such close quarters gives a real appreciation of just how beautiful and soulful these creatures are.
Watch out for their inquisitive tongues, which can grow up to twenty inches long, as they investigate what’s on offer; luckily, it’s nutritious dried grass pellets that they’re after, not your pancakes!
Depending on where you are staying, you will have breakfast either in the Main Manor or in the Garden Manor breakfast room, but don’t worry, the giraffes know exactly where to find you.
GARDEN TREATMENT ROOM
Tucked in the corner of the manor garden is a tranquil treatment room offering a range of massage and beauty treatments designed to restore your body’s natural balance and soothe away your stress.
We use products by Healing Earth, a premium organic brand inspired by ancient African healing traditions. They use one hundred percent pure and natural active ingredients which support local organic farming.
Why not treat yourself to a therapeutic pre and post safari massage to relax your whole body? Price list available upon request at Giraffe Manor. Speak to a member of our team at the manor to book your treatment.
VISIT THE GIRAFFE CENTRE
Stroll across the front lawn of the house and you will reach the AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) Giraffe Centre. Founded in 1979, the centre’s mission is to educate school children about their country’s incredible wildlife and environment, alongside their breeding programme 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!
Up on the feeding platform the giraffes love to interact with visitors, reaching out with their long, inquisitive tongues in hope of a treat. Seeing their mascara-like eyelashes from just inches away, feeling the roughness of their dark tongues and witnessing their different personalities is fascinating.
ADOPT & MEET A BABY ELEPHANT
Visit the orphaned elephants at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and watch their keepers feed and interact with them. This is an incredibly inspiring and moving experience and is highly recommended for anyone that has the time. SWT is the world’s most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme and the life-saving conservation work they carry out is incredible.
At the 11:00 am viewing visitors can watch the babies enjoy their midday mud bath and feed, tumbling over each other in the red earth or playing football with their friends!
If you adopt an elephant, it allows you the special privilege of visiting at 5:00 pm when your will see your baby running in eagerly from the bush to be fed and put to bed. You can then spend time visiting each orphan in their stockade.
Both experiences are very special but the afternoon one is less busy. The 5:00 pm visit must be pre-booked and is for foster parents only. Adoption can be done at the time of visiting. Contact Sheldrick Wildlife Trust directly and make a reservation using the online form on their website.
AFTERNOON TEA WITH GIRAFFES
Enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace as the sun sets behind the Ngong Hills, accompanied by a few long-legged friends. Reserved exclusively for in-house guests, an afternoon tea at the manor is a delightful occasion not to be missed.
Relaxing in the tranquil setting of the manor gardens with a giraffe or two in view, you will be served with a tasty assortment of homemade cookies, cakes, sandwiches, scones and fruit platters.
It is also a great chance to kick your legs into the air on our over-sized garden swing and perhaps even snap a swing selfie as you feed a giraffe!
SHOPPING IN NAIROBI
Indulge in some retail therapy and discover some of the talented local artisans creating beautiful handmade crafts in Nairobi. Shopping in Nairobi can be fun, especially if you’re up for a little bartering.
Most guests are interested in visiting some of the nearby curio (souvenir) markets where all manner of locally crafted goods can be found, from beaded leather belts and sandals to beautifully carved olive wood bowls and chopping boards, as well as jewellery, traditional masks, baskets and Maasai blankets.
There are a host of nearby shops with fixed prices, showcasing a diverse range of local designer clothing, jewellery, artwork and interiors, including Kazuri Beads, Langata Link Shops, MatBronze and Utamaduni.
There are also several nearby shopping malls with large grocery stores, pharmacies and other shops. If you prefer to maximise your time at the manor, we also have our own gift shop with a range of carefully selected, unique items all handmade by talented local artisans.
Visit any time during your stay or arrange a special private dinner. Fragrant and filled with light, the orchid house grew out of Tanya and Mikey’s shared passion for orchids and is a delightful little hidden corner of the manor in which to spend time.
Reading, meditating or sketching one of the 150 orchids that grow there can be a soothing escape. If a romantic, candlelit dining experience amongst the foliage of our beautiful orchid collection appeals to you, then we would love to make it happen – just let us know.
Croquet and boules are an ideal way to while away the hours between breakfast and afternoon tea when the giraffes are browsing out in the sanctuary and will not get in the way.
Our luscious lawns are perfectly suited to a leisurely game of croquet and you will find a purpose-built boules pit next to the Orchid House. Ask any of our friendly team and they will be happy to assist you in setting up either game.
In the manor sitting room you will find a lovely handmade chess board, which of course features giraffes (as Bishops), as well as lions, cheetah, zebras and rhinos in place of the traditional figures.
Feel free to bring your chess game out onto the terrace so that you can enjoy viewing the giraffes and sunset over the Ngong Hills as you play.
NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK DAY TRIP
This iconic park is the only national park within the limits of a capital city. It is home to a diverse array of wildlife including lions, leopards, buffalos, zebra, antelopes, giraffe and over 400 species of birds.
Once inside the park, it really does feel like you have left the city far behind. Sunset over the Ngong Hills and vast vistas stretching down over acacia-dotted plains are evocative of the true spirit of Africa.
Although fenced on three sides, the 117 square kilometre park is open to the south and teeming with wildlife. Game drives into the park can be arranged with a private vehicle and guide.
HORSE RIDING IN NAIROBI
Malo stables offer fantastic forest rides with views of the Ngong Hills. The horses are highly trained and the hosts extremely professional. There are a variety of options available, including breakfast and sundowner rides through the forest.
It is not well known that giraffes are under serious threat in many areas of Africa and their numbers have suffered a sharp decline across the continent.
In recent years they have already become extinct in seven African countries and their numbers have fallen by 40% in the last 30 years. Work towards their conservation is more important now than it has ever been.
Giraffe Manor has been a breeding centre for the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes for even longer than it has been a hotel. In the 1970s there were just 80 Rothschild’s giraffes remaining in Kenya.
Now, thanks in part to the careful breeding programme run at the Giraffe Centre, their numbers have reached over 1000 in the wild. Many of the giraffes born at the manor are eventually released into the wild to grow natural populations.
It is now possible for giraffe lovers worldwide to help us ‘stand tall for giraffes’ and contribute to their protection by sponsoring one of our resident Rothschild’s at Giraffe Manor.
In collaboration with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), The Safari Collection’s Giraffe Sponsorship Programme raises funds for the conservation of these elegant and endangered mammals. 50% of each donation goes directly to the GCF, supporting their efforts to save wild giraffe species in danger.
The GCF is the only NGO in the world to focus solely on the conservation of giraffe in Africa and is pioneering a sustainable future for this iconic mammal.
The remaining 50% is donated to The Safari Collection Footprint, our dedicated foundation which supports several carefully chosen community and conservation projects across Kenya.