It’s the most famous whale-watching spot in the world – and Hermanus, south of Cape Town, in South Africa, has sea-facing hotels so you don’t even have to leave your room to see them go by. From colonial-style guesthouses to boutique properties, here’s our selection of places to stay, bookable on Culture Trip.
This cute little seaside village, 90 minutes from Cape Town, is all about whales. You can watch them out at sea – on a cruise or cliff walk – from June to December, or come in September for the Whale Festival. Then there’s the Whale Museum, complete with massive whale skeleton, and the Old Harbour Museum, detailing the whaling industry before the animals were protected.
But if you’re not into whales, Hermanus also has art galleries, charming markets, unique bookshops, restaurants that celebrate wines from the nearby estates and glistening white beaches.
Set on the cliff path above Walker Bay, this is a prime spot to watch whales in season (around June to December) – sometimes from your bedroom or bathroom window in the Marine’s 10 unostentatious yet luxury premier suites. All overlook the sea, but ask for a private balcony. You’ll need to drag yourself away for sundowners in the Sun Lounge & Bar before dinner at Origins, where head chef Tronette Dippenaar does clever things with fresh seafood and the bounty of the Overberg, including artisanal cheeses.
Rooms at this colonial-style guesthouse, which sits right on the cliff, have high ceilings and teak floors. Suites feature buttoned headboards and white cane armchairs, while the luxury apartment has a French bateau bed. Decor is elegant yet understated, as it needs to be when windows offer what TheTimes of London has voted one of the top 20 views in the world (with a room).
A five-star contemporary boutique villa, the Mosselberg has a huge deck overlooking indigenous fynbos gardens and direct access to the Blue Flag-bearing Grotto Beach below. Five suites feature blond wood and pale fabrics, lit by subtle colour accents. The emphasis here is on privacy, and each suite has its own stairwell, private balcony and honesty bar. They also all come with a kitchenette, although breakfast is provided – a feast of local fresh produce.
This is just that, a thatched house, but an enormous one with six suites overlooking the Hermanus lagoon and ancient Cape Fold Mountains. The most sensational suite is the Waterfall on the upper floor, with its own entrance hall and terrace, chandeliers and sophisticated deep-green and black furnishings. Service is impeccable, as is the food: think crispy pork belly with green pea purée and burned onion mash, followed by sticky toffee date pudding with crème anglaise.
The old-world French charm at the Auberge starts at its stately wooden doors and continues in the stone finishes, wrought-iron railings, arched walkways and a central courtyard with a charcoal and travertine pool and bronze sculptures. Five suites are classically decorated in soft colours and natural woods, and the bathrooms are equally spacious. Ask for one with its own plunge pool or jacuzzi – perfect for watching the whales in Walker Bay.
The manor house, with its distinctive slate roof, built in 1920, has a new wing with light, modern decor in 18 big rooms. Each comes with a kitchenette, lounge and private balcony, and within walking distance, Harbour Square. There are 18 additional stylish, contemporary rooms, and a rooftop pool. The romantic rooms of the old house have been restored as open-plan with mill-stone floor, walk-in shower and a big freestanding solid-cast bath for some serious relaxation.
This four-star lodge has a prime position on Siever’s Point, a landmark seafront spot halfway between the village centre and Hermanus’s Blue Flag beaches. The capacious ensuite rooms are fresh and bright in white with soft blues and greys, and all have balconies with sweeping views of the ocean and surrounding fynbos and mountains. In a setting like this, you’ll hardly feel a need for the on-site wellness centre, but will relish dips in the pool.
The lodge has a classic elegance, with plump couches and Persian rugs – and old-fashioned hospitality. This gives it as much an edge as its setting – the narrow stretch of land between Moonshine Hill and popular Voelklip Beach, a favourite haunt of bathers, surfers and the southern right whales that come here to play each year. From the four suites and the penthouse, you can hear the surf while you watch them, and catch a fantastic sunset.