11 Exciting UK Zoos with Overnight Stay

If you want to visit a zoo in the UK and stay overnight there, then you’ve come to right place.

The UK is famous for a whole load of things, including hiking, hills, beaches, road trips, terrible food, and even-more-terrible accents.

But here’s something you might not know us for: we’re also home to some excellent and innovative zoos.

And lots of them offer exciting experiences, including immersive overnight stays inside the zoos.

So in this guide… and you can probably see where this is going… I’ve brought you 11 UK zoos where you can spend the night.

Slip into your safari gear, bash out your binoculars, and come join the beast-based excitement!

Uk Zoos with Overnight Stay

1. Whipsnade Zoo

Outskirts-of-London Whipsnade Zoo is home to more than 10,000 animals, of almost 250 different species. But to experience the best of the place, get yourself on one of their semi-rudimentary overnight stays.

These sleepy experiences are based in the on-site Lookout Lodges, which are right beside where the reindeer and white rhinos roam. So you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some of those guys from your lodge… and you might also see and hear a whole bunch of other beasts.

Although the shacks look pretty basic from the outside, they’re relatively comfortable and well-equipped. Each one offers cozy beds, a private veranda, and nearby showers and toilets. And included as part of your overnight fee, you also get a tasty breakfast and a two-course dinner.

If you stay in the cabins, you also get three special tours of the zoo. One takes place during and after sunset, another is a torch-lit after-dark affair, and the third is an early-morning tour. During all three, you have free rein to privately roam the zoo, and crowd-free access to all the animals.

During these special private tours, you also get facts and insights from the staff, and some juicy behind-the-scenes gossip.

2. London Zoo

Because canalside London Zoo is right in the heart of the city, it’s a brilliant option for any capital-city visitors short on time.

But although it’s super central, it’s surprisingly huge, and surprisingly diverse. Sitting inside its sprawling confines, you get more than 20,000 animals, and over 750 different species.

Because both London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo are managed and operated by the same team (that’s the Zoological Society of London, in case you’re curious), the overnight experiences here are pretty similar to the overnight experiences at Whipsnade (and they come with similar perks).

Again, you stay in basic-but-comfortable wooden lodges. These lodges are inside the Land of the Lions exhibit, right beside where the zoo’s Asiatic lions prowl about.

And as part of your overnight-stay package, you get loads more sweet little perks. You get three private tours (one at sunset, one after dark, and one in the morning), a two course dinner, a buffet breakfast, free entry to London Zoo, and additional free access to Whipsnade Zoo. You also get some handy discounts on other London Zoo experiences.

If you’re looking to do something different while you’re exploring London, these overnight stays are exciting, adventurous and convenient.

3. Longleat Safari Park

The first safari-style place on our list, Longleat Safari Park is way more than just a standard zoo.

It was the first outside-of-Africa venue to host safaris… and they still offer multi-faceted safari-style experiences today. As part of the tours here, you can sail, drive, and ride a railway, spotting up to 500 animals as you explore.

If you want to see creatures and critters wandering around in a close-to-wild way, Longleat is one of the best options on our list. Included among the bulky beasts given rein to roam here, you’ll find monkeys, tigers, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, zebras, an elephant, and more.

In addition to all that fun, Longleat offers a large number of varied overnight stays. Some are in the park, while others are on the wooded outskirts.

Depending on which accommodation you choose, potential perks include personal guided tours, free entrance to the park, free entrance to on-site Longleat House, drool-inducing locally-sourced food, and more.

I recommend choosing one of the options that come with a personal guided tour. Because the safari park is so huge, spotting animals can sometimes be hard… but the guides know exactly where to look, and exactly where to find the particular animals you’re searching for.

4. Drayton Manor

Drayton Manor isn’t just a zoo. Instead, it’s a whole bunch of different things, and it’s brilliant for families.

Crammed inside the confines of the place, you’ll also find a theme park (featuring more than 100 rides and attractions), a so-called ‘Thomas Land’ (a Thomas The Tank funfest for young kids), and lots more themed zones and areas.

The zoo is a little smaller than some of the others we’ve featured, but it has more than 500 animals, and stretches for 15 acres. Some of the most impressive creatures include lynxes, red pandas, spider monkeys, white-faced saki monkeys, tamarins, gibbons, and macaques.

Staying at the place is a pretty luxurious experience—you’ll overnight in a modern and clean 5-star hotel. As part of your stay, you get a buffet breakfast, and a choice between four different types of rooms: standard, luxury, Thomas The Tank-themed rooms, and Viking-themed rooms.

No matter which you choose, you’re close to all the action… and if you book a Stay & Play package, you can explore both the zoo and the theme park as part of your overnight fee.

If you have both young kids and teens, Drayton Manor is perfect—it’s varied and fun, and it’ll keep everyone happy.

5. Flamingo Land

In lots of ways, Flamingo Land is pretty similar to Drayton Manor.

Although it’s home to a zoo, it’s also most famous for being a theme park—and it’s one of the best theme parks in the UK. It has rides for both older kids and younger kids, including some massively-impressive roller coasters.

The zoo is currently home to around 70 different species, including lemurs, red pandas, zebras, rhinos, monkeys, kangaroos, and hippos. It also offers immersive experiences with giraffes, meerkats and penguins (but not all at the same time, obviously. That would be chaos).

There are loads of options for overnighting here, for a whole range of different prices. You get lodges, cottages, holiday homes, luxury stays, basic lodgings, and plenty more.

And get this: because Flamingo Land also offers on-site camping and caravanning, it’s a great budget-friendly option.

All of the overnight options come with some nice perks. They include access to a small waterpark, live entertainment, and even an on-site golf course.

If you want lots of adrenaline-fuelled fun with a side-serving of creatures and critters, this is the zoo for you. It’s impossible to get bored here, and it’s perfect for kids of all ages.

  • Prices: A camping pitch starts from £25 per tent per night, while some of the most luxurious accomodations can cost up to £4,959 per night.
  • Book your stay in Flamingo Land here

6. Port Lympne Safari Park

Our second safari park, Port Lympne is massive, and the place is more like a sanctuary than a zoo.

Stretching over a hefty 600 acres of land, it’s home to more than 900 animals of over 75 species.

The team at Port Lympne Safari Park place a massive emphasis on education and conservation—and endangered animals are often brought here to breed before being re-released into the wild. If you want to learn about conservation and animal welfare, you’ll absolutely love this place; it’s clear the team are hugely passionate.

Some of the most impressive animals here include gorillas, rhinos, bears, giraffes, wildebeests, lions, camels, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, baboons, and more. On-site, there’s also a dinosaur forest, with hordes of models and facts related to prehistoric life.

If you overnight here, you get the option of a big fat slice of luxury. The on-site 4-star hotel sits inside 15 acres of landscaped gardens, and has great terrace views.

If you want something a little more exciting, you have many other choices: a wood-crafted Forest Hideaway tucked secretly among some trees, or the different lodges dotted in and around some of the park’s enclosures (options include cabins and cottages beside wolves, bears, tigers, rhinos, giraffes, leopards and deer).

7. Chessington Zoo

If you’re looking for endless forms of kid-friendly fun, Chessington Zoo is the best UK zoo for spending the night.

Just like both Flamingo Land and Drayton Manor, the place is home to both a zoo and a theme park.

But on top of all that fun, Chessington also houses an excellent aquarium. In total, you’ll meet more than 1,000 animals on a visit here, including gorillas, lions, tigers, penguins, armadillos, giraffes, sea lions, stingrays, sharks and seahorses.

For sheer variety, this place is incredible. And if you’re traveling with little ones who need endless engaging entertainment (or if you’re an adult who needs endless engaging entertainment, like me), this is a perfect pick.

For overnighting at Chessington Zoo, you have several options. If you’re looking for budget-friendly, the venue offers comfy and cozy glamping pods. But for something a little more luxurious, they have a resort hotel, offering both themed rooms and standard rooms. Themed rooms include a Tiger Room, a Monkey Temple Room, and a Gruffalo Room.

If you overnight here, you get access to the on-site waterpark… while other Chessington overnight experiences include festive sleepovers, Halloween-themed sleepovers, and chances to visit Santa’s grotto.

8. National Marine Aquarium

Okay, this is a little different to most other places on our list… and we know it’s not really what you asked for (please forgive us), but we promise you’ll love it.

Every October, Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium offers a so-called ‘Sleeping with Sharks Spooky Sleepover’ experience.

You don’t need a degree in animal biology to work out what these experiences entail. You spend the night in front of a big glass-fronted tank, filled with crabs, eels, lobsters, and (the main event!) sharks. As part of the package, you also get an after-dark tour, a big-screen movie, lots more activities and events, a small breakfast, and some late-night snacks.

Tickets pretty much always sell out, so you should absolutely book in advance.

For mixing education with eeriness, overnight stays don’t get much more terrifyingly toothy than this. For unique and unusual, I massively recommend it.

9. West Midlands Safari Park

West Midlands Safari Park isn’t the most well-known venue in the UK.

But you’re here for overnight stays… and the overnight stays here are genuinely unique and immersive. For special experiences with a wide range of interesting options, you won’t find much better than this.

Each of the 6 overnight options comes in the form of a different ‘Safari Lodge.’ Those options are… a Rhino Lodge, a Red Panda Cottage, an Elephant Lodge, a Giraffe Lodge, a Cheetah Lodge, and a Tiger Lodge.

All are integrated into the zoo, giving you up-close views of whichever animal you’ve chosen. The wood-paneled lodges are clean and luxurious, and super beautiful—and some even have hot tubs. All overnight stays come with a tasty evening meal.

Like some of the other zoos we’ve already featured, this place is a safari-style venue rather than a traditional zoo… and it has plenty of big beasts. As part of their safari-esque offerings, you get walking trails, drive-through experiences, a theme park, an ice age exhibition, and loads more themed stuff.

  • Prices: Typically from between £490 and £790 per lodge per night, depending on which animal-themed offering you choose
  • Lodges booking here

10. Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Yorkshire Wildlife Park sits halfway between Sheffield and Scunthorpe, and is home to approximately 500 animals of 100 different species.

One more walk-through adventure, it’s yet another safari-style place… but it offers unique and unusual themed zones.

These themed areas include Amazonian lowlands, lemur woods, African plains, a baboon reserve, an Ethiopian experience, and plenty more. All areas are recreated with detail and attention.

Along with themed zones, Yorkshire Wildlife Park specializes in experiential events—some of the most popular include a primates of Africa tour, a South America-themed tour, a carnivore experience, a polar bear experience, tapir-feeding, and meetings with various animals (including bush dogs, maned wolves, giraffes, and more).

For overnighting here, you have three options. There’s the comfort and class of the lovely Hex Hotel (which even offers upmarket suites!), the no-frills summer campsite, and some luxury yurt-style glamping pods.

Of all three options, I recommend camping—the campsite offers a unique way to see the zoo, but with some decent conveniences. The showers and toilets are clean, and the pitches are nice and spacious.

11. Jersey Zoo

Okay, our last entry isn’t actually in the UK—but it’s very close-by, and it still sits inside the British Isles (yeah, all that stuff is quite confusing, but we’ve helped clear it up with our handy UK regions guide).

Residing on the little island of Jersey, Jersey Zoo (formerly known as Durrell Wildlife Park) places a pretty big focus on rare and endangered species. And no matter where it is, you’ll love it.

Jersey Zoo has 100 different types of animals… and some of the highlights include deadly poison frogs, western lowland gorillas, nocturnal aye-ayes, and Sunda wrinkled hornbills.

Because it’s super close to the UK mainland, Jersey Zoo is a great option if you’re on the hunt for something unique and lesser-known. It’s also worth visiting if you’re interested in education and conservation, and not just pointing and laughing at cute little animals.

And as a nice bonus, the venue specialises in strange species, with lots of animals you might have never seen before.

If you want to stay here, you have two overnight options: luxury glamping, or a bed in the on-site hostel. Both are well-equipped and comfortable. The yurt-style pods are a better experience, but they’re a little more pricey.

Before You Go

There they are—the 11 best UK zoos where you can spend the night.

For more information on beastly retreats, check out our guide to all the best zoos in the UK… and for further animal-spotting adventures, here’s our list of the 15 best aquariums in the UK.

Thanks for reading, thanks for visiting Travelness, and thanks in advance for coming back again in the future.

Being a Digital Nomad - Book by Paul Mcdougal

Being a Digital Nomad: Tips, Tricks and Places

Do you want to be a digital nomad?

If you do, maybe you don’t know where you might want to live. Or how to live there. Or whether you need a visa. Or how to make friends in the scary sprawl of a brand-new city. Or how to stay productive while you travel. Or how to find an apartment. Or whether this lifestyle really is for you. Or… I’m sure you get the idea.

But with some insight and experience, it’s not as difficult as you think. So in this book, I’ve gathered my 6 years of digital-nomadding experience… and I’ve used it to answer all your questions, soothe all your fears, and get you on your way. After reading this, you’ll realise being a digital nomad is much easier (and much more possible!) than you think.