Situated in a small town within Australia’s largest national park lies a delightfully unique and quirky hotel. As the name suggests, the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is a hotel in Kakadu National Park shaped like a crocodile and owned by the hotel chain Mercure. Yeah, Australia isn’t known for its creative names. I’m looking at you Great Ocean Road, South Australia, Western Australia, 90-Mile Beach and the Sunshine Coast.
I was out Kakadu way recently, and I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to get devoured by a modern-day dinosaur and explore its insides pass me by! Sure, it’s not an actual crocodile, and I’m not going to be dismembered and disembowelled and end up being nutrients for the fishes and the fauna, even though there are plenty of crocs in Kakadu who’d love to tear a human to shreds, but sometimes you just got to use your imagination!*
The Crocodile Facade
Pulling into Jabiru, it wouldn’t be wrong to expect to see the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel popping out at you, drawing your attention, and putting a big grin on your face. You’re about to be devoured, right. No, that’s not how this crocodile rolls. As the poster child for all the crocs in Kakadu, it’s got a reputation to maintain, so true to form, it hides in plain sight, camouflaged between the trees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike ’cause “snapping necks and cashing checks” is what they do!
Duo toned to match its real-life counterparts hardened upper side with a greenish colour, and soft yellow for the unexposed underside furthermore helps the savage primordial beast blend into its environment. Adding to the facade, corrugated roofing and curved lines along with angular shapes help complete Mr Crocodile’s rugged look.
Though The Chompers (Reception)
You best believe that you’re making your way into the crocodiles’ innards through the mouth. You can’t call it devouring without first getting nibbled on first. Welcome to the crocs inner den. The reception is beautiful and modern for a reasonably old hotel as though Mr Crocodile just had some dental work done.
Ironically, bizarrely and confusingly adorned above the reception desk was the skin of another crocodile, presumably, a real-life crocodile that was beautifully framed and seemed like the pride of the establishment. Umm, why.
There’s also a mini display, a gallery, a rock art water feature and a gift shop, so you can buy some souvenirs before you get vomited up, because as it turns out, Mr Crocodile doesn’t like the taste of humans, and by the end of your visit, you’ll be hurls you back out the way you came.
The Tail End (Room/Cell 129)
Opening the door to 129 in the tail section of the Crocodile Hotel, curious heavy browns of yesteryear opened up into light modern washes of brown and intense Kakadu orange.
With the entry point from inside the organs and being on the belly side of the beast, it meant the large wall-sized window doorway was facing outward towards a high traffic area: the car park. EEK!
Back inside, the room was noticeably absent of all the crocodile themed charm that one would expect from a unique and quirky novelty hotel. Aside from the access cards, the foot runners and the pillow (I’m not sure what the artwork depicted), it was just another room. No in-your-face mini crocodile adornments everywhere to light up your face with zealous glee. One would think, one would hope that the cells of the creature would be oozing crocodilian reptilian everywhere you looked.
The bathroom stocked with a toilet (essential), a combined bath shower (also essential), and a sink was moderately sized and noticeably white, with a dash of Kakadu orange. It was evenn more absent of any crocodile embellishments.
Snack Time (Escarpment Restaurant)
Like the tongue-eating louse parasite devours all the food when it takes over a fish’s tongue, the Escarpment Restaurant at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is where the food diverts from going down into the crocodile’s belly into yours.
Here you can take your pick off the menu in a beautifully modern and spacious dining hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the throat of the host: Crocodilian and be served by friendly wait staff.
Just like the rooms though, there’s not a whole lot by way of crocodile themed adornments.
The Innards (Organs)
Popping out into the open-area midsection like it’s splayed out for an autopsy (I NOW REALISE WHERE YOU GOT THE CROC SKIN!), you’ve got lush gardens, tall trees, ponds, streams and dining areas which give it a cosy, parkland feel.
Most notably and excitingly is the crocodile bladder (pool), and who wouldn’t want to swim in that! I mean, if you’re staying inside a crocodile, you gotta go the whole hog. It’s not that often you can boast you’ve swum in an animals wastewater, now can you! Tick that one off the bucket list.
The Room (129)
Room 129 in the swishy tail end of the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel felt noticeably dated. It did look like some effort to update the main space was made, but I don’t think it managed to pull it off.
The entranceway and bathroom seemed untouched for an extended period. I felt like I had travelled back in time in those areas. The quality of the furnishings also didn’t match the expense of the room either. The laundry line in the shower area that didn’t extend to the other side when I needed it that day also didn’t help. It just felt tired and lacklustre.
The full-size glass sliding doors that doubled as windows looking straight out at the nearby high-traffic car park made me uncomfortable having the blinds open and letting natural light in (aside from taking photos).
I was also disappointed that there weren’t more crocodile themed adornments everywhere. There was the foot runner, the pillow, but they didn’t stand out. Aside from the room access cards, they didn’t fill me with delight and joy. I wanted that novelty and frivolity of staying at a cool, unique and quirky hotel shaped like a crocodile in prime crocodile territory, but it didn’t extend too much further than the actual shape of the hotel. It didn’t need to hit me over the head with it, but a few things in there to not make it feel like just another hotel room would have been fantastic.
Public Areas (Reception & Gallery)
The reception area along with the gallery showcasing beautiful Aboriginal art and souvenir shop were classy, modern, spacious and inviting.
The only things that made me raise an eyebrow were the real crocodile skin adorned on the wall and the just as real baby crocodile skulls for sale in the souvenir shop.
Is the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel appreciating and paying homage to the crocodile as a wild, living descendant of the dinosaurs or are these trophies of humans dominance over it? If it’s the latter and the more I think about it, it seems like the latter, that’s rather unsettling for me.
I’m not sure how the skin was obtained, whether the crocodile died naturally or whatnot, but somehow getting an inflow of real baby crocodile skulls to sell to the public just has wrong written all over it.
The Escarpment Restaurant
The Escarpment Restaurant in the throat section of Mr Crocodile was a warm, inviting, spacious place with friendly waitstaff and the chefs went out of their way to cater to my dietary requirements and made something for me from scratch, which I very much appreciated. The two people I interacted with working the floor were kind, courteous, welcoming and friendly, making the wait for my meal a pleasant and enjoyable one.
The meal itself, pizza, was spectacularly delicious and one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, and I don’t even eat olives. Being a pizza to share, it was huge, but you better believe I chowed down on it the next day. And it still tasted amazing.
I’m sad this place was so far away from where I live because I’m salivating just thinking about that incredible pizza.
Open Areas (Pool & Gardens)
The open areas in the middle of this unusual hotel were also suffering from aging. It felt more like a neglected park than it did a 4-star hotel. The yellow walls and brick pathways had gathered years of dirt and the gardens and pools were a little wild.
While it would be expensive and time-consuming to modernize the whole area, a high-pressure hose over the walls and walkways would do wonders to its appearance and appeal. The styling would still feel a few decades old, but it would feel refreshed and inviting.
The layout was also quite curious. Walking throughout, the brick pathways didn’t seem purposeful and were just there in some places. In other places, where it rose to meet the water features, instead of curving gently, there were mini brick steps to meet up with it which was a toe and tripping hazard.
Manoeuvring around the pool was also odd. If I wanted to get to or from the restaurant from the open areas without going into the fenced pool area, I would have had to go around the sides, except it was very narrow and I didn’t want to encroach that close to the people who were enjoying sitting there by themselves.
The Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is unique thanks to its delightful shape, but the crocodile theme sadly stops pretty much stops there. Inside, there’s not a whole lot that distinguishes itself from other hotel stays.
While the reception, gallery, shop and restaurant felt clean, classy, modern and inviting, the overnight guest areas and rooms are a lot less so. They appear as though they haven’t updated it in a long time, and where they have tried to with half of the room, it didn’t amount to something that felt like value-for-money. It lacked cohesion as well.
I also didn’t appreciate the parts of dead animals being displayed and sold as souvenirs and the message that gave.
My favourite part of the stay was the restaurant. The staff there went above and beyond and friendly, attentive and courteous. I couldn’t fault them.
I’d go back to dine again in a heartbeat if they allow outside guests to eat but to stay here again as it, I don’t think the overall experience warranted the price of admission.
- *Doesn’t really want to be eaten by a crocodile.
- Based on my experience in February 2021
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