| Everyday Luxury Travel Europe UK

Staying at a Treehouse at Port Lympne

A stay at Port Lympne Safari Park, Wild Animal Hotel and Reserve has been on mine and Oscar’s bucketlist for a while now… and October half term felt like the perfect time to book in a stay at this unique hotel in Kent along with my sister and Oscar’s cousins, Charlie and Jackson.

To give a brief overview, Port Lympne is a safari experience located over hundreds of acres of the Kent countryside. The reserve also encompasses a hotel with multiple unique accommodations ranging in style from stylish lodges to luxury glamping. Guests can stay at the hotel or simply take a day trip to Port Lympne and sister venue Howlett’s Animal Park, both of which are established and run by international charity, The Aspinall Foundation. Port Lympne and Howlett’s pride themselves on not being a zoo but a breeding sanctuary for rare and endangered animals with a dedication to returning animals to their natural habitat. Animal care, enclosure design, enrichment and breeding are all at the forefront of the project and all the profits from the park and hotel go back to the conservation work of the charity.

As well as safaris and animal encounters, the reserve includes a Dinosaur Forest, multiple play grounds and a Treetop Challenge, making it perfect for children… but the luxury accommodation and fantastic restaurants mean it’s parent pleasing too! As I mentioned there are lots of different room categories, the very top being Lion Lodge an immersive room which puts you right in the heart of the Lion’s den. There are viewing windows in the lodge straight on to the Lion enclosure! There is a similar concept for Tiger, Wolf and Rhino but unfortunately there is only one of each and they are very popular and were all booked out. We opted for one of the other luxury options, the Treehouse which is less experiential than the animal lodges but still very spacious and unique. Other options include the shepherds huts, luxury tents and pods… there’s even a Treetop Bubble which gives a 180 degree panoramic view. You can also opt to stay in Mansion house, a 4 star boutique hotel on the reserve. A real selling point for us was that many of the rooms come with a personal golf buggy so that guests can explore this vast resort at their leisure.

(Don’t worry I wasn’t driving with baby like this, just posing for the pictures!)

The day we were due to arrive there was torrential rain… we were very disappointed as Port Lympne is very much an outdoor place. We had a very easy journey up (37 minutes to Ashford International station from St Pancras and then a short taxi drive) we checked in with the ‘Short breaks’ concierge and we were allocated our golf buggies before a very wet drive to our Treehouses. Our families had treehouses next to each other which was perfect for the boys to move between the two.

The treehouses are completely self-catering so they have a fully equipped kitchen and living area and can sleep four guests in the double and twin room.
High above the trees, you have a great view from your private balcony! Staying at the hotel also means you have exclusive access outside visitors hours and it’s easy to explore in the golf buggy. I will say that the treehouses did look a little tired and could do with an update but the space and location were good for our group. Though they are self catering you still have full access to the restaurants and there is house keeping every day.
We were feeling a bit down due to the rain which was due to continue tomorrow and threatened to ruin our planned safari. We decided to avoid another very wet trip in the golf buggy and asked the hotel to drive us to the mansion house. We perked up once we were here as we entered the cosy bar and enjoyed some drinks by the fire.
Our dinner that night was in the Garden Room also located in the mansion house and we were actually very impressed by our food. This is not just a ‘gimmicky’ hotel with minimal effort food, it’s seriously good quality.
I didn’t get the best pictures of the meal but we really enjoyed starters of smoked salmon and burrata along with salmon ramen mains and steak for the adults. Of course in every restaurants there is a kids menu as this is a hotel especially designed for kids! Our boys loved the burgers and the mac ‘n cheese.

The next day we were really happy to see the sunshine on the horizon and the possibility of saving our short break from the bad weather! We jumped in our golf buggies (which were still soaked from the night before) and headed back to the Mansion House for breakfast which was again, great quality.

Fortunately the rain was still holding off as we’d booked our safari for that morning. A stay at Port Lympne actually comes with a safari included but I opted to ‘upgrade’ ours to the Rangers Tour which meant we’d have a longer tour of the park with a smaller group. There are also options to book a giraffe and / or rhino safari which come with extra experiences at a longer duration and added cost. The min. age for the rhino safari is 5 years so with Oscar and Noah that wasn’t an option anyway.

The rangers safari is in smaller Land Rover truck as opposed to the standard safari which is in a large army truck with no stops for photos. We met with Claire, our knowledgable guide and jumped into our Land Rover with only two other people. It’s perfectly fine to bring a baby into the truck, they just request that they are kept in a baby carrier. The Rangers Tour takes you on a journey through Asian and African experiences in the park on a 90 minute tour which allowed us to see black rhinos, Nubian giraffes, western lowland gorillas, painted dogs, spectacled bears, zebra, ostriches, camels and many more animals. I will say it was a little bit long for the younger kids who started to get quite fidgety at the end but Charlie loved it as did I!

 
After our safari we were happy to see that the sun was still shining so we were keen to explore ourselves on foot. We had the the all important visit to the hotel shop before looking around to check out the animals and the quirky accommodation around the park. Finishing up at the Mansion House, we had a chance to explore the beautiful landscapes gardens including the Lime Tree avenue, the Trojan Steps and the Morroccan courtyard before getting back into our buggies.

We drove past more animals on our way to the hotel’s Dinosaur Forest, the biggest of it’s kind in the UK. Here you can explore the prehistoric creatures in life-sized form!

We also came here to find Babydoll’s Woodfired Pizza Restaurant! The food here was another hit, though the pizza oven was broken, we loved the pasta dishes.
It seemed a good time to head back to the room and give the boys a chance to enjoy the shaded garden.

Just before dinner we headed to the Treehouse Lodge to enjoy free prosecco and soft drinks which toasting marshmallows on an open fire… super cosy and cute.
Dinner that night was at Bear Lodge, a glamping site which was a short walk from our Treehouse rooms. We had another great meal here, once again impressed by the quality for adults and children. Here you’ll find good hearty meals with a lovely family friendly atmosphere.

Afterwards we headed back to our cosy after a busy day of fun.

The next day we really were thwarted by the weather so we had breakfast and a last look around before home. We really had an amazing time at Port Lympne and I’d love to come back to stay in the Lion Lodge!

Great For Kids

A unique opportunity to get close to the animals.

Lots of activities including animal encounters, dinosaur forest and play grounds.

Great food options for kids. Kids menu in every restaurant.

Great for Parents

Fantastic food in cosy environment.

Stylish and unique accommodation.

Your stay funds the reserve’s conservation work.