Kids sleep in the belly of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel from the air. Profile.
Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel from the air. Profile.

Our Rating

10 Booking process

10 Location

7 Rooms

9 Service

8 Facilities

10 Tour Desk

5 Dining

5 Value for money

The scenery on the way to Kakadu is of red dirt and endless grassy plains, as uniquely wonderful as this vista is, kids do not share the same appreciation. With the limited attention span of young kids and an ease of which boredom sets in, a vice is needed for the 3.5 hour drive from Darwin. Our vice was the Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, a resort complex shaped as a giant green saltwater crocodile.

In car banter straight out of a cliche National Lampoons road trip, would go something along the lines of “That’s enough or we won’t see the crocodile hotel.” Surprisingly this worked a treat, because what child doesn’t want to sleep in the belly of a crocodile hotel?

Scenery of endless plains on the way to Kakadu

Scenery of endless plains on the way to Kakadu

Whilst we don’t make it a point to stay in large animal shaped lodgings, the practicality of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel makes it the most family friendly option. Located inside Kakadu National Park in the popular Jabiru region. It’s the only resort in the area, offering creature comforts such as: air conditioning which is very important whilst staying in the Top End, satellite TV and a swimming pool. The resort taking on the shape of Kakadu’s most fierce creature, is an added bonus and one that kids got a kick out of.

Truth be told, it’s not just the kids that take pleasure in this crocodile, it also makes me smile. Simply because it’s so kitschy and unique, built with Aussie tongue in cheek flare.

I admire the bravery for that one person who suggested the hotel to be built as a crocodile. Obviously, everyone agreed it was a genius idea and now Kakadu Crocodile Hotel stands as one of the select zoomorphic buildings (animal shaped buildings) in the world and only a very few that you can stay in.

Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel from the air.

Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel from the air

Whilst this review comes courtesy of Gagudju Dreaming, we were full paying customers and did not travel or receive preferential treatment as guests of Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel.
All opinions are my very own. 

The profile of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

From the ground, it’s tricky to make out the crocodile shape. However, drive around to the side to get a better view of the crocodiles huge profile.

Side profile view of the croc's head

Profile view of the crocodile’s head

For kids it may be a little harder to conceptualise the idea as the crocodile is best viewed by air. A visual of the building, such as a printout or postcard can help point out the yellow eye on top of the roof of the lobby, the series of hotel room doors running along the side, that form the belly, the staircases that forms it’s arms and legs and the green roofs of the buildings at the back that make it’s tail. Once explained our 4 year was able to see the croc easily, as for the 2 year we could have pointed out any building and she would have played along with the idea that it was a crocodile.

The location of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

With kids, the 3.5 hour road trip from Darwin is about as long as little ones can endure in the car, making the township of Jabiru where the Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is located, an ideal family base.

Jabiru offers family friendly amenities including a small supermarket, bakery, a few dining options and a petrol station. Within the Kakadu National Park, it’s close proximity to the East Alligator and South Alligator regions makes visits to the popular attractions of: Ubirr, Megella Creek and Bowali Visitors Centre easy. From Jabiru, manageable day trips can be taken further afield to Norlangie, Yellow Water and Mary River regions. Click here to read about the best things to do in Kakadu with kids.

The lobby and reception of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

The mouth of the crocodile welcomes guests to the undercover hotel entrance and reception where you can temporarily park the car.

The mouth of the crocodile is the undercover entrance to the hotel.

The mouth of the crocodile is the undercover entrance to the hotel.

It is tempting to have one parent check-in, whilst the other parent with kids remain in the car, safe from running riot. However, the large open marbled lobby is worth a browse. There are walls adorned with Aboriginal art, a huge crocodile skin hangs behind the reception desk and an impressive taxidermic crocodile suspended in air, hunting barramundi underwater takes center stage in the lobby.

Don't miss the lobby's crocodile exhibit

Don’t miss the lobby’s crocodile exhibit

After admiring the art, quick and helpful staff are available to check the family in, answer any questions and provide useful information on the resort and nearby attractions. Here is also where reservations are made for the restaurant which they highly recommend during the peak season.

The rooms in the belly of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Similar to a motel, once checked in you can drive the car around and park by the front door of your room. All rooms exit out towards the parking area, running along either side of the resort which forms the belly of the crocodile. For families, request a ground floor room for easy access and to avoid lugging gear upstairs.

Stepping inside the belly of the crocodile, you will find a clean room, comfortable beds and everything a family needs for an enjoyable stay. The rooms at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel are sizable, with a separate seating area, small writing desk, the all important flat screen TV and broadband internet is available at an additional cost. Sliding doors leads out to centre of the crocodile where all the rooms share an internal garden, which was looking a little untamed.

The bathrooms are small, basic and has a shower over a bathtub, which is perfect for smaller kids. Each room has a tea and coffee making area with plenty of cupboard space, a kettle and small fridge. For families wanting to self cater the room does not offer any cooking facilities such as microwave, stove, sink or kitchen utensils.

Whilst the resort boasts 4 stars, it is looking a little tired. A modern refurbishment would give it a bit of character to match it’s external persona. However as there is little competition in Kakadu, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a makeover at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel.

The facilities at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Once settled into the room the kids can explore the rest of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel’s facilities. Kids can climb up the croc’s arms and legs and run along the corridors which form the sides of it’s belly. In the middle of the crocodile lies the resort pool which is, according to Parks Australia one of the only safe swimming spots in the Northern Territory.

Unfortunately, there is a reason why the saltwater crocodile was picked as Kakadu Crocodile Hotels animal form. With over 10,000 saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory, the local water holes are never guaranteed risk free swimming. Luckily, the pool at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is shaded, croc free and always a hit with kids.

Pool area at Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel. Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

Pool area at Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel. Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

In addition to the pool, Kakadu Crocodile Hotel also offers self service laundry facilities, WI-FI in the public areas of the resort, room service and casual dining at the on-site Escarpment Restaurant and Bar.

The food at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

8pm was quite late for dinner at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel’s own Escarpment Restaurant, most tables were filled with groups of grey nomads and a few families with older kids. Although the local caught barramundi with bush herbs looked particularly appetising from the buffet menu, we were not hungry enough for the buffet to justify the cost and chose to order al-la-carte.

On the menu the standard Aussie pub fare such as: steak and chips, chicken parmigiana, pasta and seafood options. The kids menu had all the usual choices of: sausages, chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. Each meal was served with chips and salad accompanied by a drink and ice-cream.

Kids meal at Escarpment Restaurant

Kids meal at Escarpment Restaurant

The setting is relaxed, with a large self-serving buffet in the center.  The decor like the rest of the resort has seen better days, however the restaurant area was clean and comfortable. Everything needed for family friendly dining.

Staff were inundated with orders and meals were served very slowly, which is never a great thing when dining out with kids. What they lacked in speed was made up for in attentiveness and courtesy.

Chicken parmigiana with a side of crazy kids waiting for meals

Chicken parmigiana with a side of crazy kids waiting for meals

The meals themselves is as you expect of pub food, and the premium price charged is for the convenience rather than the taste. If you wish to dine elsewhere, be mindful of closing times. The supermarket and bakery close very early at 4pm. The only other restaurant in the Jabiru township is the nearby Golf Club with positive reviews. The only disadvantage, a short drive required, compared with a short walk within the resort.

How to save money at Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Bring your own food to Kakadu Crocodile Hotel
Purchase all your food supplies at the supermarket in Darwin before driving to Kakadu. For breakfasts, we bought along our own cereal, fruit, bowls and plastic containers as make-shift bowls. For lunch we purchased sandwich supplies, snacks and drinks.

The tours available from Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Morning Yellow Water Cruise

Morning Yellow Water Cruise

Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is owned by the same indigenous group that operate the popular tours run by Gagudju Dreaming. It’s a smooth and easy process to arrange a tour with choices including: the unmissable Yellow Water Cruises, fishing trips and 4WD tours around Kakadu National Park. For more information on tours check out Gagudju Dreaming and my review on Yellow Water river cruise to come.

If considering the Yellow Waters Crusie, there is a 50 minute drive from Kakadu Crocodile Hotel to Yellow Waters Billabong

Don't miss Yellow Water River Cruise with the kids

Don’t miss Yellow Water River Cruise with the kids

The value for money of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel

Prices are fairly fixed in the Northern Territory with limited competition and high demand it’s hard to find a bargain. Expect to pay higher rates (we paid aprox $330 a night) during the peak period, which is also Kakadu’s dry season running from May through September.

Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is quite pricey, what we paid for is the convenience, comfort and excellent location inside Kakadu National Park. To get better value for your money, consider travelling on the shoulder periods of April through May or October through December or for the more adventurous travel during the wet season to find drops in room rates.

Have your kids stayed in the belly of Kakadu Crocodile Hotel? What are your thoughts on zoomorphic buildings?  Love to hear from you, please post below:

3 Comments

  • Hi there, you’ve brough back happy memories for me. I stayed there once over 20 years ago and loved it. I did an early morning flight over Kakadu from there, stunning, and then joined a day trip which took us to many spots. I revisited Kakadu with one son in 2011, he was about 11 or 12 and we joined a backpacker type trip and did lots of walking and swimming at the bottom of the falls, it was fantastic. Would love to stay at the croc one day again.

  • It’s been 10 years since we stayed at the Gadudju Crocodile and your review suggests it is much the same. I love the NT but even when airfares are reasonable I have been put off visiting with the kids because of the price of accommodation during the dry season. I visited Kakadu in both the dry and the wet and have to say in all honesty that it is really only worth heading there in the dry. My memory of the Yellow Water Cruise is of being in a boat with water torrenting down, and no wildlife in site. Because we had pre-booked and pre-paid there was no way to change. Kakadu in the dry is just magic though. The biggest issue if we went there with the kids would be the distances between the major tourist draw cards in the National Park.

    • Rene Young says:

      The only thing about travelling around Australia is the cost. Australia is an expensive place to get around to, particularly the trickier places such as Kakadu. Still, we enjoyed every bit of it. Hopefully in the next 10 years they may consider giving the hotel a facelift. Ah yes, I only mentioned going in the wet for the more adventurous and to save some $ on accommodation, I shall update to caveat with flooded roads, little access and your insight. There are many people that swear that the wet is better than the dry, with roaring waterfalls and dramatic storms though, not with little ones. I agree with you, we went at a great time go during the start of the dry season.

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