Wildlife Retreat is Taronga's first permanent accommodation. Taronga Zoo boasts some of the best views of the Harbour anywhere in Sydney. Those breathtaking vistas coupled with after-hours access to the zoo’s cutest critters have long been the major selling points of Taronga’s overnight glamping attraction, Roar and Snore. We were lucky enough to be invited to spend a night at the new edition to the Zoo, The Wildlife Retreat.
The purpose-built complex features 62 high-end, stylishly appointed suites, seamlessly built into the wooded slopes of the Australian Habitat section. Guests can look forward to a nocturnal encounter with a passing bandicoot or share a harbourside sunrise with a sleepy echidna, all from the comfort of five sustainably designed lodges, created by Cox Architecture.
Upon arrival at the designated drop off zone we were welcomed into the impressive circular N'gurra Lounge area and greeted with cold drinks and a personal check in experience where were take through our itinerary for stay.
The rooms are nestled amongst the natural landscape of Taronga Zoo Sydney, thoughtfully curated designer rooms allow you to overlook either the city, bushland or in our case the animals with in the inner circle of the hotel "The Sanctuary". Our fully folding back balcony doors opened up to have the gum trees and Koala's climb and perch among the branches right outside our window.
Once settled into the rooms we begun or first tour. The Sanctuary’ is a thoughtfully designed habitat, created especially for guests of the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga. Nestled amongst the accommodation lodges, views of the Sanctuary and the unique Australian animals that live within it can be enjoyed from the rooms.
The Guides lead us on a journey where we got VERY close to Australian animals.
Top-quality dining is also an integral part of the Wildlife Retreat experience, with a carefully curated menu focused on Australian cuisine at Taronga’s Me-Gal restaurant. Locally sourced and seasonally specific are the watch-words of this kitchen, overseen by award-winning Turkish-Australian executive chef Gursu Mertel.
After an amazing night sleep (occasionally worked up by the Load "burping noise" from the Koala's) we went back to the Me-Gal restaurant for an amazing buffet breakfast offering an array of delicious items and importantly focuses on free range and sustainably sourced produce.
After a delicious breakfast overlooking Sydney Harbour, we headed off for a morning tour with the Guides to enjoy more of the Zoo before our gates open to the general public. We were lead through the Wollemi Aviary, where we were surrounded by rare, unique Australian birdlife as they fill the air with song to welcome the new day. The tour also included seeing the iconic Red Kangaroos and Tasmanian Devils, whilst enjoying the unique early-morning atmosphere of the Zoo.
The stay is truly a nice in a lifetime experience. Venice loved the tours and getting to be up and close to all the animals.
Knowing that you are giving back to the zoo while being able to enjoy exquisite food and animal encounters is just amazing.
The architecture of the hotel is something to behold and really works well with the surroundings.
Not unlike Roar and Snore (which costs $320 per adult), the price of a night at the Wildlife Retreat isn’t cheap, with prices for two guests for one night from $790, including two-course dinner, buffet breakfast, after-dark zoo tours, as well as complimentary general access to the entire zoo during normal opening hours. While this might sound steep, it’s not just the luxury accommodation, top-shelf food and unprecedented animal access you’re paying for. Income from the Retreat goes towards this not-for-profit wildlife organisation’s important conservation efforts, preserving Australia’s under-threat wildlife for future generations.