Nairobi, Kenya: Up close and personal
The house seems to have been designed for a Merchant and Ivory film. You'll probably be surprised when you don't see Helena Bonham Carter roaming the grounds of this country manor, built in 1932 for a Scottish toffee heir, just outside of Nairobi.
You'll like your room. You'll appreciate the staff. You'll be delighted with the views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. But you will never, ever forget the gorgeous, gentle creatures who roam freely here in this giraffic park.
In the 1970s, the estate's new owners, Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville, learned that the remaining Rothschild giraffes were facing extinction, and they brought a baby girl giraffe they named Daisy onto the estate to join three wild bull giraffes already there. They also founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and created a Giraffe Center on the property. Since then, many new giraffes have been born and become an indelible part of the landscape—and the experience.
Even if you're the leave-me-alone-at-breakfast type, how can you resist the long neck and lovely eyes of a giraffe peering in through the window of the breakfast room? You are welcome to feed them when they pay a visit there or to the second floor bedroom window. It's so crazily enchanting that for a moment you think all hotels should have giraffes.
Those in the Karen Blixen room (her Out of Africa farm was nearby) will be surrounded by some of Blixen's furniture. Nice touch, but remember, views of Kilimanjaro are playing second fiddle here, too.
Giraffe Manor isn't cheap: figure north of $400 a night per person, which includes all meals and alcohol. But the fact that rooms are hard to come by, many booked by repeat guests, is a testament to the universal appeal of the place.