West Midland Safari Park Tiger Lodge review: The most unique luxury experience in the region
We walked in and were immediately wowed. The tiger lodges at West Midland Safari Park are not average hotel rooms.
After a very brief taxi by Land Rover to the Tiger Tropics section of the park, which certainly adds to the luxurious nature of the experience, we were guided into the two-storey Sembilang Tiger Lodge.
As the door opens, your eyes are immediately drawn to the two enormous windows, which provide an expansive view into the Sumatran tiger habitat.
But the windows and the exciting-but-nerve-wracking prospect of spending the night with just a few inches of glass between you and several ferocious big cats is just the tip of the iceberg.
The lodge is effortlessly stylish. The soft lighting and classic safari decor go a long way to helping you forget that Kidderminster is just down the road. You quite literally could be “on safari” in another part of the world.
And because my family and I were lucky enough to visit during December, the heaters were blasting and there was an immaculately decorated Christmas tree inside. The cosy festive luxury impressed the adults and children in equal measure.
The tiger enclosure itself had recently had a light dusting of snow and, far from being cold and inactive, the tigers were lively and playful in the white stuff. A pair of old world binoculars mean you can spot the animals even when they’re camouflaged in the long bamboo.
After a spot of tiger watching, it was time to explore the rest of the lodge, which is all perfectly designed to make you feel, at least temporarily, like some kind of National Geographic explorer.
There are two tiger-themed bedrooms - one upstairs, one downstairs. Both have their own tiger viewing windows skirted by comfortable cushioned seats, and both have their own bathrooms.
The kitchen is modern and comes with everything you need to enjoy your stay, including a decent pod-based coffee machine and fresh milk in the fridge.
There is a large television in what you might call the lounge, which has access to all the streaming platforms you’d expect. While I wasn’t interested in catching up with the latest Harry and Meghan episode on Netflix simply because tigers interest me more, it was handy at one point to be able to login to Disney+ for my four-year-old son’s sake. Home Alone always goes down well at this time of year.
Before dinner, which you order prior to your stay and is delivered to your lodge, we decided to go for a short walk to build up an appetite.
A seasonal Lantern Festival kept us busy for an hour as we explored the park in the dark. It was festive and fun, and the experience of being out late among the lights was special for the kids.
So far so good. Usually you’d find something mildly critical to say at this point of a review but I’m afraid I can’t conform to the template. Dinner, delivered to our door at the allotted time, was excellent and it would be amiss of me not to recommend the beef burger. The Continental Breakfast the following morning was faultless too.
Cosy and homey is how I’d describe the evening, but the night had a surprise in store.
Having two children, one of them just seven months old, inevitably means at least one overnight wake-up. On this occasion there were several. But this was a blessing in disguise.
As I tried to rock my daughter back to sleep in the lounge area of the lodge, I was a little taken aback to see the tigers roaming around their enclosure in the dark. While I was a little unnerved when I first saw one of the majestic beasts appear out of nowhere and apparently stare at me through the window, it has to be said that there is something special about seeing them in such close proximity at night. It makes you feel privileged, and that’s what the tiger lodge experience is all about.
The tiger lodges are immersive, unique and without a doubt one of the most interesting experiences you can have in the region.
It is possibly true that you're going to need relatively deep pockets and long arms if you want to stay in one of them, but there's surely nothing wrong with something costing what it should.
As lodge guests you're constantly reminded of your special guest status. In the morning, after the aforementioned breakfast, we were treated to a sea lion training session - which take place 365 days a year and are actually important for the animals' welfare - before going to see Santa with the children. It has to be said he was a particularly good Santa. As my son told me afterwards: "Santa was a very nice man."
Overall, The tiger lodge experience at West Midlands Safari Park was as unforgettable as the marketing material claimed it would be, made even more fantastic by the festive extras due to the time of year.
I'd even go so far to say that it may well be one of the best touristy experiences you can have in the entire region, and I haven't even got the word count to relay how enjoyable the actual drive-round safari is.
Save up the money and give it a go.
For more information, visit the Safari Lodges website: https://www.safari-lodges.co.uk/.