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By Christine Pemberton

Before we start.
If you are not a happy, chatty morning person...
If you are a grouchy, no company/no talking at breakfast kind of person...
If you hate sharing your table with outsiders...
Then a word of advice : do not go to the Giraffe Lodge in Kenya. Understood?
Because at Giraffe Lodge, sharing your breakfast is what they do there. It's non-negotiable, really.

Giraffe manor Image

Actually, the giraffes don't really like bacon and eggs and coffee, so you're safe. But they do like to be fed, by you, at breakfast time, so don't say we didn't warn you.

Giraffe manor Image

And as a thank you for their breakfast, they have been known to give their human friends big slobbery kisses.

Giraffe manor Image

Welcome to life at Giraffe Manor, a gorgeous boutique hotel in Karen, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya. And you might as well say "Jambo" to the endangered Rothschild giraffes while you are at it, because you are going to be seeing a lot of them. This is their home, if you hadn't already guessed.

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Giraffe Manor, built in 1932, was modelled on a Scottish hunting lodge. It was built by Sir David Duncan, a member of the Mackintosh family - of Mackintosh toffee fame. In the 1960s the Manor was sold and went through several years of changing hands before it sadly fell into disrepair, unoccupied and neglected.

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In 1974 Betty & Jock Leslie-Melville bought the Manor, and shortly afterwards, they learned that the only remaining Rothschild giraffes in Kenya were in danger due to a compulsory purchase by the Kenyan government of a privately owned ranch which was their sole habitat. The purchase would result in the land being sub-divided into smallholdings, and, almost certainly, the giraffes being slaughtered. Since the Manor was already home to three wild bull giraffes (called Tom, Dick and Harry), the Leslie-Melvilles agreed to rehome one of the giraffes, an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m), 450-pound baby they named Daisy.

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Since then the Manor has run a successful breeding programme to reintroduce the Rothschild giraffe into the wild, to expand the gene pool. By tradition the giraffes are named after individuals who have contributed significantly (whether financially or otherwise) to the work of AFEW (the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife).

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So yes, a day in the life of Giraffe Manor...you have the company of these long-necked beauties for breakfast.

Giraffe manor Image

And they are there at tea-time, too.

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And if you thought you might have a romantic giraffe-less dinner...nope. Not a chance. Someone is clearly very interested in the candel-lit dinner arrangements.

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In 1984 Giraffe manor opened its doors to - no, not the giraffes - to guests, as a small privately hosted hotel. But as you can see from the photo, the giraffes do tend to stick their heads inside the hotel's front door, so yes, in fact, the Manor is indeed open to both its human guests as well as those who live in the garden.

Giraffe manor Image

There is a delightful country-house feel to Giraffe Manor, an atmosphere of colonial nostalgia.

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One of the bedrooms, with a relaxed homely feel to it. A cosy sofa, a fire for those chilly evenings...and a balcony outside to feed the giraffes. It doesn't get more special than this, now, does it?

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By now we trust that anyone who started out being a grouchy "I'm not a morning person" has changed their mind completely...to get up close and personal with these gentle giants is a treat and a privilege and - yes - a mystical moment.

Giraffe manor Image

Where else can you share your afternoon snacks with hungry fellas like these, clearly salivating at the treats on offer.

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Who wants privacy when you can have amazing neighbours like these sticking their noses, literally, into your life, for a few magical hours?

Giraffe manor Image

Giraffe Manor.
Amazing perspectives on life guaranteed.

Giraffe manor Image

And a kiss you will remember all your life...


 

 

 

 

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