Whale watching and luxury in South Africa

3 min read

The magnificent Birkenhead House is located in whale watching country in the breathtaking Western Cape; it was recently voted the fifth best hotel in Africa as well as the 17th best in the world in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Baroque Travel finds out more

Perched high on a cliff in heavenly Hermanus, Birkenhead House is a regal deluxe hotel overlooking Walker Bay, a paradise for watching Southern Right and Humpback Whales in South Africa’s Western Cape. Every year from May to December, Walker Bay is where to go for the best land-based whale watching in the world. For the rest of the year, the whales head for the Antarctic, but while they’re in the Cape, these magnificent mammals are center stage if you’re lucky enough to see them frolicking. August is birthing season, and the views of calves and their mothers is a common sight at Birkenhead House.

Of course, Birkenhead House is not just one of the best places to whale watch. This elegant seaside retreat is far from the madding crowds of Cape Town, yet close enough to escape there for a visit (it’s just 90 minutes’ drive to reach the breathtaking Mother City). The scenic town of Hermanus itself is a joy to explore, wildly beautiful with excellent food and its close proximity to one of the Cape’s most popular wine routes in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. It’s full of quaint boutiques, little markets and sophisticated art galleries and restaurants, all begging to be explored.

The cliff where Birkenhead House sits so proudly leads down to two white sand beaches, both the finest in the area, where bathing is safe and great fun. There’s also magnificent Grotto Beach, which is just 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel. Guests often venture out for the day with a specially packed picnic basket from the hotel. (An added plus of this unique boutique hotel is that all meals and drinks are included, offering a luxe resort experience, and giving visitors the choice to stay put or venture forth at whim.)

This stunning hotel is one of Hermanus’ most famous luxury establishments and its cliff-top location offers an unsurpassed coastal experience as well as breathtaking ocean views. The hotel is decorated in a sophisticated contemporary style, the perfect blend of beach-house chic and eclectic opulence. Guests enjoy numerous activities here aside from whale watching, from shark cage diving to horse riding, golf, hiking, quad biking, kite surfing, cycling, surfing, mussel picking and even wine tasting in the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is close by.

Accommodation at this stylish boutique hotel is in a choice of just 11 exquisite guest rooms, each individually decorated by stylish owner Liz Biden. The rooms are located in three separate houses that together make up the property. The Birkenhead House Spa is legendary, offering a range of treatments including beauty and grooming offerings.

Facilities at the hotel include three swimming pools, a gym, complementary mini bar in the room as guests stay on an all-inclusive basis, and sumptuous, whimsical décor throughout. And with weather that is glorious most of the year, this is an ideal South African vacation destination.

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