Fluffy pillows and spa amenities are great, but nothing makes a hotel stay more memorable than a giraffe peeking in your window when you wake up in the morning or ducks marching regally through the hotel lobby. Most hotels go out of their way to keep animals out, but a few make stars of their dogs, fish, dolphins, polar bears, and other furry and finned friends. Here are 10 of our favorite hotels that feature animals large and small.
Read the original story: “From Goldfish to Giraffes: 10 Incredible Hotel Animals’’ by Christine Sarkis who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.
Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
Rise and shine! The great thing about being a giraffe is that you don’t have to stand on a ladder to say good morning to guests in the second-story bedrooms of Giraffe Manor. Endangered Rothschild giraffes make up the resident herd at this Nairobi hotel. Guests can watch them wander the grounds and even duck their heads inside to say hello or ask for a snack. Reviewers on TripAdvisor are almost uniformly positive about the hotel, citing the caring staff, beautiful manor house, and incredible one-on-one giraffe encounters.
The Peabody, Memphis, Tenn.
Like many good stories, the tale of The Peabody’s famous ducks begins with a little too much whiskey. But what started as a drunken gag in the 1930s has grown into one of Memphis’ top attractions, drawing generations of families and a host of stars who come to watch the parade of the Peabody Ducks as they make their way from their rooftop digs to the lobby fountain each morning and back each afternoon. Anyone can witness the march of the ducks, which takes place daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. But if you stick around for a meal at the hotel afterward, don’t expect duck: It’s taboo at the hotel’s restaurants.
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston
Scan the lobby of the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston and you’re likely to see Catie or Carly, the hotel’s two black Lab “canine ambassadors.’’ The friendly and easygoing dogs greet visitors and accompany hotel guests on walks or runs. Guests who book an outing with one of the dogs receive a “walk pack’’ that includes maps of the dogs’ favorite walks, a cheat sheet outlining their command words, and a dog treat. Like Matilda III at The Algonquin, Catie and Carly Copley can be reached via e-mail.
Boston isn’t the only place you’ll find a lobby dog: Eight other Fairmont hotels have canine ambassadors and six Kimpton hotels have lobby dogs as “directors of pet relations.’’
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Find your inner elephant whisperer at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort. The resort offers a number of unique ways to get close to its rescued elephants. Arrive by car, or for a more immersive experience, ride an elephant through the jungle and rice fields to reach the hotel lobby. During your stay, you can shadow a mahout (an elephant trainer), feed and bathe the elephants, go on an elephant trek, join in on some elephant yoga, have a candlelit dinner at the Baby Elephant Camp, or go on an elephant picnic. And if that’s still not enough, you can wake up and do it all again.
Kimpton Hotels, Various Locations, United States
Puppy love is nice, but it’s all about guppy love at Kimpton hotels. Research has shown that watching colorful fish swim reduces a person’s anxiety and lowers blood pressure. As a de-stressing perk for guests, Kimpton will deliver a goldfish to your room. The staff deals with feeding and caring for the fish, so all you have to do is name your new friend and watch it dart about happily in its bowl. The Guppy Love program is available at almost all Kimpton hotels nationwide, including locations of Hotel Monaco and Hotel Palomar around the country.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu
Swimming is a standard part of any Hawaii resort experience, but The Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu takes splashing around in the water to the next level. Its Dolphin Quest offers guests the chance to frolic with a family of dolphins in a natural lagoon on the hotel’s grounds. Offerings range from a 15-minute meet and greet to a “Trainer for a Week’’ experience. TripAdvisor reviewers report that the dolphins are well cared for and respected and that the trainers are knowledgeable and prioritize the needs of the animals.
Wilderness Lodges, Various Locations, Manitoba
You’ll have to steel yourself before committing to a polar bear encounter. The massive animals are among the world’s largest carnivores, weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and can stand 10 feet tall. The wild tundra surrounding isolated Churchill, Manitoba, is the place to go to see polar bears in the wild. Wilderness lodges, usually hundreds of miles from civilization and only accessible by plane or helicopter, blend basic accommodations, safety measures, and polar bears with once-in-a-lifetime results. Each lodge offers something unique. For instance, the Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge (as well as Churchill Wild’s other remote lodges) are known for ground walking safaris among polar bears, and the Tundra Lodge is actually a “rolling hotel’’ that moves with the polar bears to maximize viewing opportunities.
Algonquin Hotel, New York City
Since the 1930s, New York City’s Algonquin Hotel has been home to a resident cat who roams the property (but isn’t allowed in the kitchen or dining areas). The current cat, Matilda III (Matilda II retired in 2011), is the hotel’s 10th, and she leads a charmed life full of parties (each year, the hotel throws her a birthday celebration) and fan mail. Matilda even maintains a lively correspondence with fans via e-mail. You can contact her at [email protected]
Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, Fla.
A mouse isn’t the only animal you’ll see at Walt Disney World if you stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The savannas surrounding the resort are home to more than 200 exotic animals, including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and kudu. Many rooms offer safari views and all come equipped with a Wildlife Field Guide for easy animal identification. And specialists lead educational programs for kids and adults who want to learn more about their wild neighbors.
Flamingo, Las Vegas
From tigers at The Mirage to revelers on the Strip, there’s no shortage of wildlife in Vegas. But Flamingo’s
Wildlife Habitat offers a total change of pace and some of the city’s happiest animals. The peaceful habitat is free of charge and features a flock of Chilean flamingos, Sacred ibis, turtles, and even two rescued pelicans, which you can watch in all their fish-catching glory during daily feeding times at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m