Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

We arrived into Nairobi after dark and were whisked through passport control and customs by the A&K team. A 45-minute drive took us to the exclusive suburb of Karen where we would spend a much anticipated night at Giraffe Manor, the 10-room Manor property which enjoys quite possibly the highest occupancy rate of any hotel! I was worried that arriving so late we would not be able to get a bite to eat, but my fears were put to rest with a chilled bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc on the bar and a lovely chicken pot pie served in the candle lit dining room. I was shown to the Finch Hatton Suite, one of the larger accommodations there, with the mosquito netting romantically pulled—so inviting after the 9 hour flight from London.

The 6 a.m. wake up call came all too soon but we knew the giraffes would arrive with their keepers around 6:30 a.m. and we sure did not want to miss that! The Rothschild Giraffes live in the adjacent Giraffe Center, which is open to the public and come to the Manor daily for breakfast and afternoon tea, much to the delight of the guests. We stepped outside with cameras charged and tangible excitement – there was a giraffe peeking into one of the upstairs bedroom windows and another pair with necks stretched into the breakfast room. Guests who wanted to interact with these elegant giants were given bowls of pellets (the giraffe version of dog treats) and the giraffes would extend their blue-tone tongues some 12″ to snap up the nibble.

It was magical and we spent over an hour watching and feeding them. I cannot think of a finer way to start an African safari than this, and especially fun for families with children. There was an Australian family staying there also, and a young lass put the treats between her lips and the giraffe actually took it out of her mouth with a slobbery kiss! She was clearly enthralled by the experience and so at ease, one could not help wondering if her experience was the beginning of a career with wildlife.

It is pricey (starting at $550 pp/night) but very special! Unusually, they have a mandatory 10am check out policy which enables them to offer day room packages and thus “double dip” on the occupancy!

I could not be in Karen and not pop into Anna Trzebinski’s studio for a look at her latest designs. She specializes in African-inspired women’s apparel, handbags and home decor items. Pashminas adorned with Masai beadwork, guinea fowl feathers, peacock feathers or ostrich are super distinctive with a price tag to match! I was interested to learn that Anna has moved to Aspen and has turned her house and part of her studio into an 8-room boutique hotel, called “148.” Newly opened in December, it is contemporary in style with African touches. It would be perfect for a group of friends or family to take over privately.

My dear friend, David Sugden, owner of Africa House, a bespoke on-site supplier for East Africa, joined us for lunch at The Talisman, an iconic restaurant in Nairobi. I was encouraged to try the spinach and feta samosas, apparently a signature dish served with sweet chili sauce and confirm they are outstanding as was the sushi and risotto! We enjoyed the convivial open air atmosphere and eclectic menu and then my short stay in Nairobi drew to a close and we headed to the airport.

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