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bears looking into accommodation
Photograph: Pairi Daiza

You can sleep next to brown bears at this immersive zoo hotel

Animal lovers can also cosy up to walruses, tigers, wolves and penguins at Pairi Daiza in Belgium

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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Picture this. Your alarm goes off. You rub your eyes. You roll over, and find yourself face to face with a brown bear. No, you’re not dreaming – it’s all part of the experience at a zoo in southern Belgium. Pairi Daiza, in Brugelette, has its own hotel, allowing you to get tucked up next to your fave creatures for the night.

The zoo itself was once just a tiny bird sanctuary, but now it’s home to a whopping 7,000 animals. That’s a huge number, making it hard for visitors to see absolutely everything in just one trip. Spending the night there is one solution. The hotel has 100 rooms, enabling you to peep out at wolves, walruses, sea lions, tigers, penguins, deer and – most thrillingly of all – the bears. Just don’t expect the animals to have the same sleep schedule as you: brace yourself for a dawn chorus of yelps, roars and growls.

Pairi Daiza
Photograph: Pairi Daiza

By staying in the accommodation, you’re helping support the zoo’s conservation efforts. Pairi Daiza recently worked with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation to introduce nine of its apes into the wild, and is also working with a vaccine company to develop a jab for elephant herpes.

The zoo is also eco-friendly: more than 60,000 solar panels, installed on top of its car park, provide it with energy. And the residual heat from the penguin cave is used to power the café and restaurant.

Rooms start from €128 per person, and that includes 24-hour access to the park for two days, plus dinner and breakfast. Find out more here

More great places to stay:

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Sweden’s real-life ice palace is back – and more spectacular than ever

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