News & Reviews Africa Kenya Review: Giraffe Manor, Kenya

Giraffe Manor is a terrible hotel, but one with a unique offering.  I don’t mean the interaction with giraffes, I’m on about being able to witness our dystopian, narcissistic fuelled near-future.  Basically, watch an episode of Black Mirror or just listen to anything that comes out of Zuckberg’s mouth whilst you’re on acid, and you get the idea.

Like all diseases, it has an origin.  Ours started on arrival at Wilson airport, to find no one waiting for us.  Thirty minutes later Giraffe Manor show up; they happened to be dropping someone off at the same time, so it seemed they were not late but arrived exactly when they wanted.  It’s easy not to care about guests when most will come for a day and never return again.  Prior to this, my experience with Giraffe Manor was their reservations department, whereby upon all flights being cancelled to Kenya they classified that as my cancelling and forfeiting the booking.  I asked them to reconsider and unfortunately, they did.  Why did they have to be so decent?!

But decent some things are.  They were the only property in Kenya to offer drinks on collection; they did a reasonable job of setting the room up for a night stay and everyone that worked at Giraffe Manor truly was kind, caring and did try to make it special.  But it isn’t special. It’s an all-inclusive zoo where we are the animals.  You know when I said “everyone” made it special?  I lied.  After I mentioned they were 30 minutes late, the GM gave his own version of a warm welcome: “ah, it happens”.  Cool, bro.  I guess time is just a concept designed to subjugate us, bro.  Who needs such thing as timekeeping, except when it benefits you and we need to check out by 10 am or face the firing squad?  Totaaally.  When the GM is like that it often doesn’t bode well elsewhere but the staff did everything they could to ensure a wonderful experience. It’s just that not even Nelson Mandela hosting would have fixed the issues here.  The next and last person I took offence to was the spa therapist touting during lunch.  What could be more relaxing than being sold to whilst you’re eating?  Probably not a massage with the therapist disturbing you.  When you’re copying Soneva, you’re immediately in bad company.

The deets

Giraffe Manor is a dump.  A dump split into two separate houses, each with 6 bedrooms.  Whichever room you pick will make no difference to the very simple fact: they’re all a crime against humanity for people with even partially remaining eyesight.  I call it an abomination, they likely call it having character.  It’s not 1920s style, it looks like it was built in the 1920s and left to rot, like in some Ted Lasso owner vengeance plot.  I’ll present it as a pilot for a new show called Giraffe Wrath.  It leaves quite the taste in your mouth, the same cannot be said of the smell of our room – it had that distinct odour like a giraffe recently had a gastric bypass.

The key features of the room are walls, a ceiling, no fan and an incredible amount of heat, which surprisingly was not from my anger of being there.  The only amenity is a fridge, which is so loud it sounds like it’s auditioning for Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  In their defence, the room is so worn down I was pleasantly surprised they even had electricity.  It’s a dark, depressing hole.  Going from Arijiju to Giraffe Manor is like from the White House to prison.  Hopefully Trump can clarify that for me one day.

There’s a few rooms around each house that look like they were stolen from Disney’s Haunted Mansion.  The only room anyone will care about is where you’ll eat breakfast, as that’s where the giraffes poke their head in so you can get a picture that will convince other idiots to come stay here.

Recently opened is The Retreat, a new addition to the property that includes a pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.  Giraffe Manor is a dreadful property, but it’s astonishing to think that just six weeks ago there was no Retreat, so it was somehow worse.  The designers were clearly inspired from the existing property or looking at sewers, as the poor workmanship and absence of luxury beautifully reflected Giraffe Manor.  It’s so badly decorated I think they gave the interior design job to the vet as a dare, yet their self-esteem is so elevated that they decided to go against the all-inclusive policy of the rest of the property and charge extra if you want to eat/drink here.  That feels incredibly cheap, whilst it’s actually extremely expensive.

If you have stayed at Giraffe Manor, you can return to use The Retreat on a day rate of $250 per person.  The giraffes must have terrible cocaine problems to cost this much.  If we’re stupid enough to know of our impending doom from climate change and still do nothing then we’re stupid enough to come here regardless of the price. Yet $250 for The Retreat? I almost coughed up my kidney when they told me, which would have been useful to fund all the optional extras they charge for.  Is it called The Retreat as you should retreat back to wherever you came from?  I’m going to go with a yes.

I was pre-warned that the food wasn’t good, so was surprised that lunch was of a good standard, yet dinner was worse and breakfast was poor.  However, whoever the pastry chef is, give that person a raise and ideally a job elsewhere.  Speaking of elsewhere, I’m still not sure what happens around dinner time, as everyone seems to finish by 8pm and vanish.  Where does everyone run off to after dinner? Back to their rooms? To do what? Huddle in the foetus position and pray for death?

Giraffe; manners

You’re obviously here to engage with the giraffes whilst doing your best to disengage with the tourist horde known as the other guests.  They (the giraffes) come to the property during afternoon tea, stick their heads in your bedroom from 6 am and then you can have breakfast with/around them until 9 am and fuck off from the property at 10 am, or 10:01 at gunpoint if that’s more your thing.  It’s absolutely brilliant.  Except for the bit where it’s not, in any way.  If cameras didn’t exist we’d all spend 10 minutes here and move on. There is nothing luxurious about the experience, nor anything particularly enjoyable.  It’s just a bunch of Instagram-hungry guests clamouring around in hope of a dopamine hit.  You’d see more decency if Charlie Sheen was making it rain with free cocaine in his crack den.

Guests are running around in a panicked frenzy, some even changing clothes, desperate for that picture of themselves that proves they’ve been here and validates their meaningless existence, ignoring that being at Giraffe Manor is like being proud of attending a Bill Cosby concert.  Just take a moment to enjoy yourself people!  Not that there’s much to enjoy. It’s some symbolic representation of class struggle through life. The rich using an animal for their own entertainment whilst the servants serve. Let them eat cake/giraffe kibble. You can just go to a zoo and feed giraffes in a more private environment, the difference is you won’t have a head sticking through a window whilst you eat breakfast.  Grab a Starbucks beforehand and thank me later.

Even with only 12 rooms, it still felt crowded and resulted in queues.  Is it cool? Yes, but you know what else used to be cool? Ingesting cancer into your mouth through tobacco.  Less cool was when the water supply ran out, so no one could wash their hands.  “ah, it happens”, I guess.  

If you looked at the hard product and cost, which is $1750/n, I’d consider Giraffe Manor as one of the worst value-for-money stays.  But when you throw in the giraffes? Well then it’s only top 10 worst stays.  The quality is comparable to a 3-star hotel in Czech Republic and regrettably, I have the first-hand experience to give that comparison.  Things you could buy instead of staying here: a) over 1750 condoms so there’s fewer humans to spend money here in the future b) therapy to overcome narcissism.

The Good

  • We all know conservation is good, but it gave us Giraffe Manor, so is it? Is it really? It’s like discovering Hitler invented the internet
  • The team at Giraffe Manor are like those Red Cross volunteers in warzones.  You really have to admire them working under such circumstances

The Bad

  • The Manor
  • The Giraffes

The Luxurious

  • N/A

Conclusion

The only way I could have enjoyed Giraffe Manor is if I were kicked in the head by a giraffe. It couldn’t just be any kick, it would need to be the perfect kick; everything would need to align; the hoof would have to hit me in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex so I experienced short-term memory loss.  Not a lot of loss, just the right amount, shall we say from arriving at Wilson airport to departing Giraffe Manor? Then I could visit their Instagram account and go “I guess that’s what it was like” and live happy that I got to experience that small moment of joy.

When you see an action movie and the protagonist is walking into a trap, you know that ultimately things will work out. Yet when that trap is Giraffe Manor and the enemy is my own stupidly, it’s hard to escape it.

It’s one of the most insufferable and vacuous properties you could ever hope to avoid.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 16th Nov '21

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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