This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Skip to main content

Talk to an expert 1-800-242-2434 Lines open now

User menu
Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor
Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor: Our full report

A temple to the benign cult of the giraffe, Giraffe Manor is one of Kenya's most popular luxury lodges.

Originally built in 1932, it has been a country house hotel since 1984. Most of the hotel's patch of land comprises the Giraffe Centre, and a group of these gentle creatures roams the grounds. They visit the house and gardens daily to be fed through the windows. If you're aiming to stay here, book as early as you possibly can, as rooms are often taken a year or more ahead.

Located in the southern part of Nairobi's suburb of Karen, Giraffe Manor was founded by the US conservationist Betty Leslie-Melville and her husband Jock, who bought the house in 1974, rescued it from dereliction, and opened it to guests in 1984. It was bought by its present owners in 2007.

With the original building in the style of a Scottish hunting lodge, the hotel now has two main buildings – the original Giraffe Manor or Historic Manor, with six rooms, and Garden Manor, a six-room annexe architecturally in keeping with the original, that was first completed in 2011, and extended with two further rooms in 2017.

Giraffe Manor's style hovers somewhere between playing at lord of the manor and doing it for real. The quite formal physical surroundings are tempered by a focus on comfort and a practical informality of management style that places guests' needs at the top of the agenda.

The main shared areas of Giraffe Manor are all on the ground floor of the original manor house – the comfortable lounge, furnished with a mix of armchairs, sofas, occasional tables and artworks, and the famous breakfast room, known as the 'Sun Room', where the resident giraffes crane their heads every morning through the huge windows to feed on giraffe pellets that guests are encouraged to offer them. Some guests are even up for a 'giraffe kiss' – holding a pellet between the lips for it to be retrieved by a giraffe's sticky tongue. Also in the main house is a formal wood-panelled dining room, where dinner is served to guests who dine together at the large table. At the south-east corner of the main manor is the library - a cosy hideaway with books, board games and TV, for evenings or rare indoor days.

The Garden Manor has its own manorial hallway and staircase, stylish sitting room and formal dining room. Behind the Garden Manor, there's a separate, small conservatory or greenhouse called the Orchid House, where people sometimes have private dinners.

Between the main house and the Garden Manor is a pleasant courtyard patio area, which is the usual location for lunch, or for guests wanting to eat dinner privately. To the left of the Garden Manor is a shop that carries a good range of interesting and stylish crafts and souvenirs, and a treatment room.

All ten superior rooms and two suites at Giraffe Manor are en-suite and well furnished. Formerly, the eight superior rooms were noticeably larger and/or had better views than the two standard rooms, and were also more expensive. In 2019, the two former standard rooms, both in the east wing of the Main Manor (Lynn and Marlon) were rebuilt and considerably expanded and remodelled to become superior rooms.

Please note that until the end of 2024, rooms in the Historic Manor can be booked on a no-strings basis, while rooms in the Garden Manor can only be booked by people who are also staying at one or more of Giraffe Manor's sister properties for a minimum of two nights: Solio, Sasaab or Sala's Camp. The only exception is if you are booking Giraffe Manor within four weeks of arrival, in which case you can book Garden rooms without having to book one of the sister properties. This policy switches round from 1 January 2025, when the Garden Manor rooms will be bookable with no strings attached, while rooms in the Historic Manor will only be bookable alongside a booking at one of the sister properties.

All the rooms at Giraffe Manor are named after living or former giraffe residents of the manor grounds. Incorporated on the first floor of the main manor are four superior rooms:
  • Jock, a fine twin room with two single beds (can be pushed together to make one large bed) on the south-east corner above the library;
  • Betty, with a king-size, four-poster bed and a big sofa, on the south-west corner above the Sun Room;
  • Daisy, with a double bed convertible to twin beds, on the north-west corner, above the Sun Room.
  • Marlon, with a double bed convertible to twin beds, on the east side of the house, with a separate lounge area and private balcony.
Beneath Marlon, on the east side of the old manor house, is one other superior room:
  • Lynn on the ground floor in the northeast corner (double or twin).
The adult giraffes come to the south-facing windows at Betty's Room, to the south- and east-facing windows at Jock's Room and to the east-facing balcony at Marlon's Room, from about 6.30am onwards, so if you're keen to get lots of giraffe-feeding photographs, then these rooms may be the three to go for. Daisy is also a good fourth choice: Daisy and Betty share a lovely, first-floor patio terrace above the Sun Room, from which it is easy to stoop down and feed the adult giraffes through the railings, even though it's a good five metres (16ft) above ground level. You'll need to be on your hands and knees, though, and only the tallest of the giraffes can reach. Another good giraffe-feeding option would be Lynn, on the ground floor, which has a terrace and a private outside seating area.

The Karen Blixen Suite in the Historic Manor is huge (113m² or 1,216ft²), and includes a lounge, an en-suite double room and an en-suite twin room, with a shared terrace from where you can feed the giraffes.

The Garden Manor has been beautifully built to stay architecturally close, and as far as possible similar in details and furnishings, to the main house. Being set back from the main lawns, you don't get the same degree of giraffe interaction here, but all the rooms (Arlene, Kelly, Helen, Salma, Edd and the Finch Hatton Suite) are superior standard and you can sometimes feed giraffes from Kelly and Helen. On our most recent visit to Giraffe Manor, in 2018, we stayed in Kelly and were greeted by two giraffes nosing through the window first thing in the morning.

Not surprisingly, the bathrooms in the Garden Manor rooms are more contemporary in style than those in the main house, with glass-walled walk-in rainfall showers and features such as Kitengela stained-glass windows and skylights.

There's a large, family suite – Finch Hatton – with a big, four-poster bed plus a single on the ground floor and twins in a loft/mezzanine area.

Then there are three lovely first-floor rooms in the Garden Manor:
  • Kelly which can be a twin or a triple, and features a skylight and Kitengela glass;
  • Helen, a twin or double;
  • Arlene which is a double.
In 2017, two new rooms opened in the garden manor, both of which can be double or twin – Edd and Salma.

All the rooms on the property are equipped with hairdryers, torches, safes, designer toiletries – and small buckets of giraffe pellets of course – but there are no locks from the outside on the doors in the Manor House (Garden Manor rooms are lockable, and all rooms can be locked from within). All the rooms have UK-style, three-pin sockets and you can charge equipment or use hairdryers at any time. Superior rooms all have bath tubs (the two standard rooms do not), and Jock, Betty, Kelly, Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen have big fireplaces – you may well want to have a fire lit on a chilly July evening.

The nearby Retreat offers guests spa facilities, an infinity pool, breezy roof top terrace and cafe, all available at an extra cost. The Retreat also has several bookable day rooms. Please note, however, the day rooms can only be booked if you are a guest of one Giraffe Manor's sister properties, Solio, Sasaab or Sala's Camp.

The most popular activity at Giraffe Manor is simply relaxing: there's a blissfully comfortable atmosphere here and the sort of staff who tend to anticipate your habitual needs, whatever they may be – cold beer, cup of tea, snack, glass of water…

Meeting, feeding and observing the delightful Rothschild giraffes is itself hugely enjoyable and amusingly chaotic, and particularly fun for children. You can do this a breakfast time (either in the Historic Manor's Sun Room or from the breakfast room of the Garden Manor), or out on the terrace at tea time in the afternoon. As the property generally runs at capacity all year round, it is worth noting that experiences like afternoon tea with the giraffes are typically shared between 15-25 guests at a time.

The Giraffe Centre, which gives Giraffe Manor its raison d'être, is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife to conserve rare Rothschild giraffes, and it's open daily from 9am to 6pm (no charge for Giraffe Manor guests). You can feed and photograph giraffes from the high-level viewing platform here.

While at Giraffe Manor (between the 1pm check-in and 10am check-out) you have use of a driver and vehicle for any local excursions you wish to make. Local visits around the suburb of Karen include the Elephant Orphanage run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the Utamaduni crafts shop, the Karen Blixen Museum and several small galleries and shopping centres. When you stay at Giraffe Manor, transport to visit all of them is included, but entrance fees, where applicable, are extra. Only visits to the AFEW Giraffe Centre itself, across the lawn, are included in the rates.

To visit Nairobi National Park, it's best to book an early morning or late afternoon visit in advance with Expert Africa, as the lodge has to organise a suitable 4x4 vehicle (additional costs). You can also spend the day volunteering at a One Horizon feeding centre in one of Nairobi's slums (additional costs) – which is about as far from Giraffe Manor in every sense but distance as you could possibly imagine.

Our view

Giraffe Manor is a unique and charmingly eccentric country house hotel that has enduring appeal. When it first opened, it was neck and shoulders above Nairobi's other places to stay. Our many visits, including stays in both the Main and Garden Manors in 2017 and 2018, have convinced us that it's still one of the best places around the city. Having long outgrown its early novelty appeal, Giraffe Manor is somewhere to which people can happily return over and over again. The frequent difficulty of getting a room here, often as much as a year or more in advance, is testament to its allure.

Claire Scott

Claire Scott

Kenya expert


Nairobi, Kenya
Ideal length of stay
2 nights
By day, allow one hour for the transfer to/from Wilson Airport, and 1.5 hours to/from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Arriving late at night into JKIA, we reached Giraffe Manor in 25 minutes.
Accessible by

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
Breakfast includes homemade muesli, pastries, fruit and the whole works if you'd like a cooked breakfast. But the food is somewhat overshadowed by the interaction with the giraffes!

At both lunch and dinner there is a set three-course menu. During our last stay in November 2018, we found the food to be nicely balanced, plentiful and with an element of sophistication. Dishes included a roasted vegetable, feta and tomato relish mezze; Swahili red snapper kebabs with a coconut cashew sauce; and apple crumble with Chantilly cream.

If you arrive very late, off a flight for example, you will be offered a later supper.
Dining style
Individual Tables
Dining locations
Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Further dining info, including room service
Breakfast is eaten in the Sun Room (if staying in the main manor), a conservatory-style room at the west end of the main manor, which is the daily venue for the famous giraffe-feeding when the giraffes crane their necks through the large windows for pellets. Guests usually eat lunch in the outdoor patio area between the main manor and the garden manor and dine together in the evenings around a large table in the formal main manor dining room. Arranged in advance, you can also eat in your room. Betty and Daisy rooms share a first-floor patio/roof terrace, which is a popular spot for a romantic dinner.
Drinks included
All standard alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are included, except Champagne, luxury spirits and premium wines for which there are set charges. You can also put in special requests in advance which will be supplied at cost where possible.

Special interests

Photography holidays
Giraffe Manor is a wonderful place to get close-up photos of giraffes. It also makes a very appropriate venue for photographing special occcasions. If you prefer to have this done by a professional photographer, Giraffe Manor can lay on a photo shoot at extra cost.
See ideas for Photography holidays in Kenya
From its grand hallway to the designer toiletries, everything about this lodge makes a statement of luxury. While every room is exceptionally comfortable, it is the unique attraction of the giraffes that makes this Nairobi’s most popular luxury base.
See ideas for Luxury in Kenya


Attitude towards children
Children of all ages are welcome.
Property’s age restrictions
Special activities & services
Feeding giraffes at the house and visiting the Giraffe Centre itself are both very popular with children.
Cots and highchairs are available.
Generally recommended for children
We warmly recommend Giraffe Manor for children. Most children will love the whole set-up and the house is clearly very welcoming to them. However, parents need to be wary of mixing little ones with giraffe hooves. If your children want to run around or play in the gardens, please be sure to enlist the help of staff to clear the area of megafauna and stay with the children the whole time.


Power supply notes
There's a backup generator to ensure 24 hour power.
There's free WiFi throughout the Main Manor and Garden Manor. There are good mobile signals for most networks.
TV & radio
There's a TV in the library in the main manor.
Water supply
Water supply notes
The Nairobi Water company provides treated water for the plumbing, while drinking water is decanted to flasks and jugs from bought-in supplies.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Medical care
Karen Hospital is a seven-minute drive away. There’s also a branch of Nairobi Hospital nearby that’s open 24 hours.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
The giraffes around the grounds have a gentle demeanour but they are very large and can headbutt or kick, so guests need to observe house rules when getting anywhere near them while outside. The manor has round-the-clock security, including a guarded gate.
Fire safety
There are fire extinguishers in all the buildings and Giraffe Manor’s fire policy is detailed in the room packs.


  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching


  • Cultural excursion

    Cultural excursion

  • Elephant encounter

    Elephant encounter


Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Full Laundry Service is included, and takes 24-48 hours depending on the weather.
There are digital room safes in every room. Foreign exchange is available or can be facilitated at nearby forex centres. There are ATMs at nearby shopping centres in Karen, which can be included in your excursions in lodge vehicles.
Accepted payment on location
Cash payments may be made in US dollars, euros, pounds sterling or Kenyan shillings. Visa, MasterCard and Amex are accepted with no surcharge.

Other lodges in Nairobi

Alternative places to stay in this same area.

Four Points Nairobi Airport

Four Points Nairobi Airport

The Four Points by Sheraton, set within the perimeter of Nairobi International Airport, is ideally located for a first or last night in Kenya.

91% (147 reviews)
The Emakoko

The Emakoko

The Emakoko is a luxurious, owner-managed safari lodge in a beautiful gorge on the edge of Nairobi National Park.

97% (116 reviews)
Eka Hotel

Eka Hotel

The Eka is an affordably priced business-class hotel in a relatively convenient location between Nairobi International Airport and Wilson Airport.

86% (62 reviews)


The Ole-Sereni is a modern, stylish hotel neighbouring Nairobi National Park and located 6km from Wilson domestic airport.

79% (59 reviews)
Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport

Crowne Plaza Nbi Apt

The Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport (formerly known as the Lazizi Premiere and now part of the InterContinental Hotels Group) is the oldest hotel at Nairobi International Airport.

88% (59 reviews)
Macushla House

Macushla House

Macushla House is a very pleasant, small, owner-managed bed and breakfast hotel in a leafy part of southwest Nairobi, very convenient for visiting the Giraffe Centre and Sheldrick's Elephant Orphanage.

91% (53 reviews)
Aero Club of East Africa

Aero Club of East Africa

The Aero Club of East Africa is a private members' club in the grounds of Wilson Airport, Nairobi, offering offering comfortable rooms and a good restaurant, bar and swimming pool to non-members.

82% (34 reviews)
Tamarind Tree Hotel

Tamarind Tree Hotel

The Tamarind Tree is a stylish international hotel in a great location next to Wilson Airport.

90% (22 reviews)
Karen Gables

Karen Gables

Karen Gables is a small, high quality hotel in Nairobi with expansive gardens and only seven rooms.

100% (14 reviews)
Hemingways Nairobi

Hemingways Nairobi

Hemingways Nairobi is a luxury country-house style hotel, with a spa and gym, in the wealthy suburb of Karen.

98% (8 reviews)
Nairobi Tented Camp

Nairobi Tented Camp

Nairobi Tented Camp is the only tented camp located inside Nairobi National Park, making it a great option for a true safari stay close to the city and airports.

88% (5 reviews)
The Norfolk Hotel

The Norfolk Hotel

The Norfolk Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Nairobi and has a reputation for its colourful history dating back to 1904.

100% (6 reviews)


The Palacina is a complex of accommodation options in a quieter part of central Nairobi.

84% (5 reviews)


Hogmead is a stylish, luxury boutique hotel/homestay in a secluded part of Langata in south-west Nairobi, very close to Nairobi National Park and the elephant orphanage.

80% (2 reviews)
Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and Cottages

Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and Cottages

Karen Blixen Coffee Gardens and Cottages is small luxury boutique hotel located in the peaceful suburb of Karen.

70% (2 reviews)


Sankara is a strikingly built hotel in the bustling central Nairobi suburb of Westlands, primarily used as a business stay, with very good dining and leisure facilities.

90% (2 reviews)
Eden Nairobi

Eden Nairobi

One Forty Eight is a very stylish boutique hotel in one of the leafiest corners of the southwest Nairobi suburb of Karen-Langata. The Giraffe Centre at Giraffe Manor is just a 10-minute walk away.

100% (1 review)
Ololo Safari Lodge

Ololo Safari Lodge

Ololo Safari Lodge and Farm is a luxury property on the southern edge of Nairobi National Park.

100% (1 review)
The Stanley

The Stanley

The Stanley is a large, traditional hotel – the oldest in Nairobi – offering a range of facilities.

No reviews yet


Design-led, contemporary hotel in the Village Market area of Gigiri, a largely diplomatic and luxury residential suburb 10km north of Nairobi’s central business district.

No reviews yet
Acacia Camp

Acacia Camp

Acacia Camp is a rustic and affordable safari camp in a wildlife sanctuary a 30-minute drive towards Mombasa from Nairobi’s international airport.

No reviews yet

Login to Expert Africa

Sign in with password

Sign in with email link

New to Expert Africa? Create an account

Forgotten your details?

It's free & quick to set up

  • Save your wish-list
  • Send us an enquiry
  • Pay online for your trip
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Give us feedback on your trip
  • Full site benefits of the site

Need some help? Talk to our team