Of wine and whale song

APRIL 2016 – Every year whales come to wallow in the warm waters of Walker Bay in Hermanus. Sitting atop the cliffs of this sheltered sanctuary is the magnificent Birkenhead House, an open-plan beachside private hotel, offering the discerning traveller expansive views of the ocean and the far-flung heights of the Overberg mountains. Eleven opulent suites combine the luxuries of elegant furnishings, comfortable beds and the peace and quiet in which to enjoy the ultimate in seaside living. Each suite is lovingly decorated, modern and stylish, yet with a touch of Art Deco or Oriental flair. The bathrooms are perfect extensions to the rooms, offering huge bathtubs and every other amenity imaginable. Contributing to the achingly romantic atmosphere are the fresh flowers, lazy wicker loungers, champagne on ice and doors flung wide open to let in the ocean air. Mealtimes are flexible and there’s an honesty bar where you can help yourself at any time. You’re invited to treat the place as your own private villa, complete with attentive staff and personal chef. No stay is complete without delighting in the lavish, ever-changing menus. Fresh seafood, local game and a delicate handling of touches and tastes from Asia and Europe are a matter of course. Whether served in the cosy candlelit restaurant, on the expansive patio or savoured in the privacy of your bedroom, the world-class cuisine is something quite special.

Of its many facilities, the plunge pool running down the centre of the house, an infinity swimming pool with ocean views out on the deck and a gym and treatment centre are only a wonderful warm-up for the two temperate beaches below.

Birkenhead House is a part of The Royal Portfolio, as are Royal Malewane Private Lodge – on a private game reserve on the western fringe of the Kruger Park – and La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa’s gourmet capital. Birkenhead House is also a favourite wedding and honeymoon venue.

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