Many people have bucket lists – things they want to do before they kick the bucket, I presume.
And on those lists are certain activities and achievements those people want to get done before it’s too late. For example, swimming with dolphins seems to be the classic, or perhaps swimming with the Miami Dolphins, though I’ve heard you do have to pay a bit more for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
But what if you’re not in Miami? Or not anywhere near a dolphin’s natural habitat? Would lions make a decent replacement? And instead of swimming, you’re sleeping? Sound good?
If you’re immediately amending your bucket list, scratching out ‘running a marathon’ and swiftly replacing it with ‘sleeping with lions’, then listen up – there’s no training involved, you don’t need to buy any fancy running shoes (though it can’t help to be prepared – just in case something goes wrong, y’know?), in fact all you have to do is book a night in a hotel! I know!
Situated in the idyllic grounds of Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent is, inevitably, the Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve. It’s home to over 760 animals, and offers guests the chance to stay in lodges where tigers roam outside and lions walk right up to window.
Rooms have private balconies, which are presumably high enough for the big cats to not climb up, and offer ‘breathtaking views across the sea.’ Guests will also get their own personal golf buggy to use (presumably to play fetch with the wild animals, right?) and be able to enjoy ‘exclusive access to the reserve, before and after visiting hours.’
The Tiger Lodge sleeps up to four people, and comes with equipped with all mod cons – 4k TV, high tech sound system and, erm, free parking. Guests will also have use of Babydoll’s Wood Fired Pizza, Treehouse Club lounge, and Bear Lodge Clubhouse, so there’s certainly no shortage of lodges with cool names.
Fancy it? Of course you do, sleeping in a hotel with big cats outside your window is way more relaxing than swimming with dolphins.
Prices start at £1,000 a night, because the cats need feeding too, but as well as staying in the lodge the reserve offers safari rides, animal experiences, hot air ballooning and nature photography courses.
If you’re up for it, check out the Port Lympne website here.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.