A small cottage in the Free State lets you sleep near 77 lions for R1,500 a night

Business Insider US
Lion House is a rentable cottage in South Africa.
Courtesy of Suzanne Scott
  • Lion House is an Airbnb in South Africa that allows guests to stay in a cottage just a few feet away from 77 lions.
  • The cottage is on a lion conservation that aims to protect the endangered species.
  • For R1,500 per night, you can experience the natural predator up close, while also catching sightings of zebra and ostrich.

For some, vacations are meant to be calming and relaxing, and for others, trips are all about adventure. For the latter half of people, there are places like Lion House in Harrismith, in the Free State.

Lion House is an Airbnb on a lion conservation where you can experience the natural predator up close, as they roam just a few feet from the front door. Business Insider spoke to host and director Suzanne Scott to learn more about what it's like to stay amongst the lions.

Keep reading to learn about everything Lion House has to offer its adventurous guests.

Tourists from all over the world come to South Africa to stay in this quaint cottage — but it's what's outside that is really attracting travelers.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

The small cottage is called Lion House because it sits on the GG Conservation, which is home to over 70 lions, including three lion kings.

It's a 15 minute drive outside Harrismith, Free State.

Upon arrival, you are immediately greeted by lions at the gate.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

Scott explains that guests have to be escorted onto the conservation by car.

"The reason guests have to be escorted in and out of the property is because we have to drive through a lion camp," Scott told INSIDER, "with double security gates to get in and out."

The cottage itself is surrounded 360 degrees by lions who can get quite close to the home.

Courtesy of Suzanne Collins

Scott said there's always a lion at least 10 feet away.

It's common for the lions to come up right to the fence that's between the sanctuary and the cottage.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"Lion House stands out from the rest as we are unique," Scott told INSIDER. "Seventy-seven surround sound roaring lions is not the norm."

Imagine taking a sip of coffee on this patio while staring down a natural predator.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"The best part of Lion House is the outside patio area," Scott told INSIDER, "where guests can sit and relax, watch the sunset/sunrise and observe the lion prides getting up to their daily lion business in their organic, natural habitat camps."

From the patio, you can also watch the lions as they play and roam the premises.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

Scott says the lions love to swim and play in the water, despite the fact that "lion experts claim that lions hate water".

Other times, you can catch them having a little snack.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

As natural predators, lions love to eat raw meats. But that shouldn't scare you because Scott says these creatures are more interesting than frightening.

"Watching lions is food for the soul. There are many life lessons to be learned from them," she told INSIDER. "They are highly intelligent animals, full of unique idiosyncrasies and personalities."

When you're not outside enjoying the natural scenery, you can enjoy the cozy cottage inside.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

Each room is equipped with a double size bed that is decorated with pictures of the view outside.

For R1,500 per night, you can stay in the cozy cottage with lions roaming out the windows.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

With three bedrooms, a full kitchen, a fireplace, and even WiFi, this cottage has something for every type of traveler.

But people don't travel to the Lion House to stay inside. It's the nature and scenery that captivates guests, including the Drakensberg mountains.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

While the lion sanctuary surrounds the cottage, the GG Conservation actually goes on for thousands of acres.

While lions are the main attraction, you can also see zebra on the conservatory.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

While staying at the cottage, you can book tours of the conservation where you can witness zebra, rare black wildebeest, bontebok, waterbuck, eland, impala, red hartebeest, oryx, and wildcats.

The ostriches are also a common sight at the conservation.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

All of the scenery surrounding Lion House will take your breath away.

But the conservation's main purpose is to protect the lions.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"Our lions live in prides," Scott said, "and we leave them to live as natural a life as possible within the confines of captivity. We fundraise to help cover our astronomical monthly costs, in excess of R150,000, and all the booking fees for Lion House and Lion Lodge help to support the lions."

Scott explains that the lions are kept on the sanctuary because they are in danger elsewhere.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

On the conservation, the organization is protecting the lions from habitat loss, human conflict, poaching, hunting, and disease.

Scott says most people don't know that lions are actually considered endangered, despite being at the top of the food chain.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"It's critical we conserve and protect the lions in our care," she said. "The wild lion species has declined from 500,000 to now approximately 20,000 in the space of 50 years."

The money for each booking of the cottage goes right back to helping the conservation, Scott says.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"Lion House is a once in a lifetime experience - we're still pinching ourselves," one review from Cherie on Airbnb reads. "The lions are the most magnificent and captivating creatures imaginable. And most importantly they are completely happy and content! All of the lions are spoiled with huge camps to frolic in, plenty of food and endless love and attention."

There are plenty of positive reviews for the cottage, highlighting the organization's work to help the lions.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"GG Conservation is a fantastic place to go and experience lions up close," a reviewer named Craig wrote. "They are doing a wonderful job of keeping their lions fit, healthy, and enriched. To see what a lion (or any animal) conservation project should be like, go and see GG Conservation."

Reviewers on TripAdvisor love it, describing the venue as being magical and the lions majestic with their own unique characteristics.

The Lion House is meant for any traveler who wants to reconnect with nature and help a good cause.

Courtesy of Suzanne Scott

"At Lion House, one can hear nothing but the natural sounds of Africa," Scott told INSIDER. "Lions communicating, birds singing, cicada beetles chirping, antelope alarm calling. It really grounds you and presses the human reset button."

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa:

    Rand - Dollar
    Rand - Pound
    Rand - Euro
    Rand - Aus dollar
    Rand - Yen
    Brent Crude
    Top 40
    All Share
    Resource 10
    Industrial 25
    Financial 15
    All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo