Sorry to all the crazy cat ladies (and gentlemen) out there, this isn’t a list of pet-friendly hotels (although some of the featured hotels may indeed welcome pets!) We’re going even more extreme. We’re talking hotels for die-hard animal fans, the kind who think a holiday isn’t complete unless they can have a giraffe over for breakfast, or stay in a giant thatched elephant. That kind. There must be some of them out there, how else do you explain these weird and wonderful accommodations?
Kumbuk River Resort – Buttala, Sri Lanka
© Kumbuk River Resort
If you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Kumbuk River Resort eco-lodge could be just the place for you. And the fact that it’s shaped like an elephant is just the whimsical cherry on top of the cake! You’ll find it in Dambeyaya, a sleepy farming village in south-west Sri Lanka.
Made by village workers using local resources, the elephant can sleep up to 10 people. Oh, and there’s no electricity inside (well, who ever heard of an electric elephant? That would be ridiculous). You can explore the Kumbukkan Oya riverfront or go trekking in nearby Yala National Park, and tours to beach resorts and ancient cities can also be arranged.
It’s not just riverside relaxing and (real) elephant-spotting though; you’ll learn how to protect Sri Lanka’s bio-diversity and will receive tips on how to overcome the perils of city living. You might even plant a tree or two, and should return home feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho
I’ll come clean, this isn’t the first time we’ve come across a bizarre animal hotel, and some time ago the Dog Bark Park Inn caught our eye. Quite simply, this is your chance to sleep inside a giant beagle (or B&Beagle?) named Sweet Willy.
You enter from a first-floor wooden deck and will find much more space than you bargained for; his head is loft space and you can even sleep in his muzzle! Don’t forget to admire his baby brother, 12-foot tall Toby who sits obediently next to him. If you’d like to find out more about this hotel (who wouldn’t?), take a look at our previous blog post here.
If you thought that that’s it when it comes to hotels shaped like animals, think again! If you find yourself in the Australian outback, make sure to check out Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn in the heart of the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. It’s pretty much your standard Holiday Inn with the décor and amenities you’d expect to find, until you see a bird’s-eye view of it and realise you’ve been sleeping inside a giant crocodile. And it’s an eco-friendly croc at that – the indigenous owners carry out various green initiatives to sustain the environment.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Orlando, Florida
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando must be the ideal destination for animal-loving families. It’s an African lodge-style resort within a 43-acre wildlife preserve, and is part of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom® theme park area. From the resort with its African-inspired architecture, you can observe over 30 species of animals in four lush, tropical savannas.
Some animals you might spot are the bontebok, the okapi, the Abyssinian ground hornbill and the Greater kudu – it’s definitely not your average trip to the local safari park. Your holiday will be complete with visits to the 11,000-square foot Uzima pool and to the two on-site restaurants offering award-winning African cuisine.
Giraffe Manor – Nairobi, Kenya
It has 10 luxury en-suite bedrooms, a large veranda and terraces and a striking view of the Ngong hills. It offers you an unparalleled experience of the giraffes, with them vying for your attention at the breakfast table, the front door and even your bedroom window. Seriously, they’re not exactly shy and retiring; you’re likely to find an extra guest at breakfast if you’ve got the window open!
The manor is also home to many other creatures including warthogs, bushbuck, dik dik and more than 180 species of bird. Nearby is the Giraffe Centre, a breeding centre for the endangered Rothschild Giraffe, and the hotel will also organise trips to the Kenyan National Museum and the Maasai Market.
Lindner Park Hotel Hagenbeck – Hamburg
© Lindner Park Hotel Hagenbeck
The Lindner Park Hotel Hagenbeck is the world’s first animal park-themed hotel. It’s on the doorstep of the “Tierpark und Tropenaquarium Hagenbeck” (Hamburg‘s zoo and aquarium) which provide a really exciting day out for animal fans.
The zoo is home to 1,850 animals from around the world, and the aquarium boasts an incredible 14,300 creatures. Inspired by its surroundings, the hotel reflects the wildlife theme, and you can’t fault the owners for effort. Each floor represents a different continent, such as Africa, Asia and the Arctic, and each room recounts the tale of an animal native to that region, with plenty of authentic details. You’ll even be greeted by wildlife noises when you step out of the lift.
The hotel also features the Augila and Baobab Bar & Café, decorated in an exotic 19th-century style, and an Arctic-themed fitness centre, great for making going to the gym much more fun.
La Villa Hamster – Nantes, France
So far we’ve had hotels shaped like animals, hotels attached to zoos and hotels where the animals roam just outside. I’ve saved the best (and strangest) for last, which is a hotel where you can pretend to BE an animal!
In Nantes, western France, La Villa Hamster contains fur costumes, an adult-sized hamster wheel, a water tube to drink from and containers of organic grain. You can also only reach the bed by way of a stepladder. Eagle-eyed readers might remember this from a previous blog post (spotting bizarre hotels is one of our many talents) which you can read here.