The World’s Best Zoo Hotels & Animal Park Experiences

Team Hoo
27th April 2020

What could be better than a day at the zoo? Spending the night and the morning there too!

Your next visit at the zoo does not have to end when the sun goes down – many sites across the globe now offer the exciting chance to spend the night surrounded by your favourite denizens of the Animal Kingdom. Whether it’s sleep overs within an actual zoo or hotels that have exotic animals roaming the grounds outside your balcony, there are lots of options to explore if you want a bit of an untamed spin to your next holiday.

Best Animal Encounter Hotels

Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve, Kent, UK

Offering numerous options for your stay, from comfortable lodges to more rustic pods giving 360° views, the Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve truly gives the broadest scope when it comes to animal encounter hotels. Situated within Kent, and therefore easily reached from London, visitors can be assured to a truly unforgettable experience of sleeping alongside nature without having to sacrifice comfort.

Further, profits from the Hotel all go back into animal conservation, so you can sleep easily knowing your visit has been ethical too.

The Lodge at Bristol Zoo, Bristol, UK

Formerly the accommodation for Bristol Zoo’s keeper, the Lodge now functions as a stylish accommodation for guests seeking a longer wildlife experience. Comprising of two double bedrooms, adjoining lounges and a private terrace, guests at the lodge will also enjoy exclusive access to the zoo when all other visitors have left. A private chef is also on hand to provide mouth watering meals to be enjoyed on the terrace or in your private dining room.

Durrell Wildlife Camp, Jersey, Channel Islands

Enjoy the sunniest spot in the British Isles in style by spending a night camping at Durrell Wildlife Park on the island of Jersey. Home to some of the world’s most endangered species, guests can enjoy their stay in cosy camping pods that offer all the excitement of a camp with all the comfort of a hotel room. A log burning fire will keep you warm at night, while the morning is greeted with the hoots and calls of nearby monkeys and apes amidst the trees.

Never look at camping the same way again!

Zoo Miami, FL, USA

Give your family the sleepover of a lifetime at Zoo Miami, found in the balmy subtropical getaway of Miami. Here guests are invited to set up a tent and lay down their sleeping bags on the grassy plans just beyond the exhibits. Children should six years old or older before they can attend, and book early as spots quickly fill out. As well as the beaches and theme parks of Florida, this should definitely make the itinerary of any trip to the Panhandle state!

Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo, NSW, Australia

Offering unrivalled views of the world-famous Sydney Harbour, the Roar and Snore offer at Taronga Zoo gives guests an unmissable experience Down Under. As well providing comfortable and luxurious accommodations guests are given exclusive after-dark guided and behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo, including sights of native Australian reptiles and reclusive big cats. Meanwhile the evening is celebrated with feasts and refreshments, and the comfort of tents offering all the luxuries of a hotel room.

Adding A Touch Of Luxury

Treetops Hotel, Kenya

Famously, it was here that Elizabeth II ascended a tree a princess and climbed down it again a Queen. The Treetops Hotel in Kenya has long been a luxurious African getaway for famous figures across the planet, be they monarchs or celebrities. Proudly maintaining its iconic links to the British Royal Family, it continues to offer unparalleled sights of African elephant migration tracks and the experiences of the best of African fauna. Luxurious accommodation and dining are only enhanced by guided tours of the Kenyan bush, and numerous outdoor activities that show the best of African wildlife.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge, NSW, Australia

Australia’s multi-award winning animal park hotel, found within the capital city of Canberra, gives its guests some of the best of Antipodean hospitality and a chance for wildlife encounters unlike any outside of the Serengeti. Rates cover not just the accommodation, but also all food, drinks and exclusive tours. Depending on guest preference they can stay in the comfort and style of the uShaka Lodge, share breakfast with giraffes at the Giraffe Treehouses, or get up and close with tigers at the Jungle Bungalow.

First class dining, exclusive safaris and tours, and unusually hairy (or feathery or scaly) neighbours are all on offer at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge.

Travellers’ Tips: Keeping Your Animal Hotel Visits Ethical

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement, romanticism and idealisation of an animal-themed hotel. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s good to get excited by an idea. However this always must be tempered with a degree of responsibility, and a recognition that demand for animal experiences can fuel some highly questionable businesses across the globe.

Animals do not exist for our entertainment and have their own experiences and needs. Your holiday should never be at their expense or suffering.

That does not mean you should avoid any and all hotels or attractions that feature from them. Far from it; we are notPETA, thank you very much! However it’s important to be ethical when considering hotels and know which ones should be avoided. As such, here are a few friendly tips to make sure everyone enjoys your visit – the animals included.

  • Is the hotel sponsored or recognised by any major animal welfare charities, such as the RSPCA/SPCA or WWF? Endorsements by such organisations are a promising sign that the hotel is properly minded in its practices and has been acknowledged as such by their peers. The inverse is also true – if the hotel supports a major animal charity, it’s also a good indicator that their hearts are in the right place.
  • A good sign is if the hotel engages in any conservation work. Projects such as taking in foster animals to be eventually released back into the wild, breeding programmes for rare species, and efforts to preserve natural habitats are great indicators of an animal-friendly hotel.
  • How liberated are the animals? Do they live according to their own schedules, eating, sleeping, and playing as they please? Or do they live their lives in accordance to the guests’ demands and expectations? If they spend their days as performers rather than their own creatures, it’s a major red flag that the hotel should be avoided. Always make sure that animals are free to follow their own habits, including the freedom to not engage with guests if they don’t want to.
  • Word of mouth is another indicator. Poor reports in the press are one way you can be warned of ethically dubious hotels, so do some research if you’re looking any up. Customer reviews on Trip Advisor another way to keep clued up on the experience of the hotel. Do past guests comment on animals being unusually dirty, malnourished, or engaging in atypical behaviour?
  • Attitudes of the staff and hotel managers are also a big sign. Staff should be animal-focused as well as guest focused, with a keen empathy for the animals under their care. Ideally they should treat them almost like permanent guests, and talk at length about their care and habits. If staff regard them more as being akin to objects or amenities, steer clear.

We may be in lockdown right now but it won’t last forever – how are you going to get up close and personal with nature on your next holiday?

Team hoo.


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