When you think of Hermanus, the quaint little seaside town in the heart of the Overberg, three things generally spring to mind: sprawling coastline, quaint, turn-of-the-century architecture, and, of course, whales.
While a visit to the serene seaside settlement in late-May didn’t deliver any whale sightings, it made up for the lack of mammoth mammals in several other, amazing ways.
Hermanus, situated just under two hours away from Cape Town, has long since been a must-see for any die hard South African traveler. Whether you’re on a mission to see the whales around September, or simply making a pitstop on a Garden Route tour, there’s no denying that the charm of this little town will linger with you for quite some time.
Before reaching Hermanus, several other, charming dorpies adorn the right-hand side of the N2. Fisherhaven, Onrusrivier and Vermont seem like fairytale villages with their own, unique flair.
While observing the natural beauty en route to Hermanus, it’s easy to see why several famous South African and international artists, poets and painters have sung the praises of this stretch of coastline.
First things first: Hermanus can certainly not be labeled as ‘modern’. While that doesn’t mean that there aren’t modern – and luxurious – amenities available (think 5-star restaurants, sophisticated shopping malls and ultra luxe hotels). The charm of the town is blended perfectly with the heaps of activities available.
Hermanus is also not lacking accommodation options. The main road is filled with quaint guest houses, self-catering apartments and luxury hotels.
However, it’s the Harbour House Hotel, situated in the heart of ‘Old Town’ Hermanus and overlooking the gorgeous bay, that is undoubtedly the star of the show.
It is here that we check-in, ready to spend a day (and night) in Hermanus.
The Harbour House Hotel is comprised of a drop-dead gorgeous Manor House, and several other, luxury rooms sprawled across the property.
It’s no surprise that the rooms in the Manor House are fully booked. And while it is disappointing that we will not be able to spend a night in one of these stunning rooms, we’re more than thrilled to be shown to our luxury room (complete with balcony overlooking the bay) directly adjacent to the Manor House and, conveniently, a stone’s throw away from reception.
Fitted with a stunning, King-sized bed and sporting a comfortable lounge area and small kitchenette, it is the perfect place to relax after the (not so long) trek from Cape Town.
It’s shortly after four, and we would love nothing more than a drink on the hotel’s stunning deck. While it’s (more than) a little cold for a dip in the stunning, crystal clear infinity pool, the deck still offers breathtaking views of the bay – and accompanied by a glass of Wildekrans Brut MCC, the scene feels magical.
After unwinding and seeing the sky turn a dusty pink from a perfect blue, we make our way across the road to the little market stalls on Hermanus’ famous square. Surrounded by lovely restaurants, cute shops and cocktail venues, the charm of this historical town only grows as the sun sets.
We decide to try a local favourite dining spot, located right across the road from the Harbour House Hotel at the recommendation of the friendly hotel staff. After freshening up in our hotel room, we brave the cold and meander over the road, ready to the indulge in some of the best, fresh seafood Hermanus has to offer.
Naturally, one would indulge in the plethora of seafood dishes available – and we certainly did. Mussels in garlic and white wine sauce, calamari steaks, beer-battered hake and fresh, garden salads, to say we ate our way through the menu is an understatement.
As we paid our bill, we made our way back across the road to the Harbour House Hotel – and we were certainly very grateful for the hotel’s central location: if I had to walk anywhere further than across the road with a thoroughly full belly, I would’ve probably fainted!
Back in our room we quickly get dressed in comfy, winter pajamas and decide that a nightcap would round off the evening perfectly.
I was very happy that I could simply pick up the phone in our room, call reception and order a bottle of Creation Whale Pod Syrah Merlot – having it delivered to our room within minutes by the friendly host manager.
Creation Wines are local wines, and their Whale Pod series pays homage to Hermanus and all it has to offer. Needless to say, cuddling up on the couch in our room, wine glass in hand, was the perfect way to end an amazing day in Hermanus.
The next morning we awoke to the sounds of the crashing waves in the bay just outside our balcony door, and the bustling sounds of the village square and all its people waking up for Sunday morning breakfast.
We, too, decide to head to the hotel’s restaurant, Selkirk’s, for breakfast.
The hotel offers both a fresh, continental breakfast and hot breakfasts. Add to that fresh fruit juices, delicious teas and coffees and you have a winning combo.
As if we didn’t eat our own body weight last night, we tuck in once more to the delicious, fresh food laid out beautifully in their sunny dining room.
We opt for croissants, gorgonzola, camembert and figs, fresh fruit and a scrumptious serving of salmon Eggs Benedict.
It’s late morning when we check out, and we’re bid farewell by several of the hotel’s friendly and attentive staff, encouraging us to return to the hotel soon – and soon we will!
As we drive out of Hermanus, we are in full agreement that the quick getaway to Hermanus was nothing short of incredible, and while we may not have spotted any whales, we did walk away with a mammoth adoration for this little slice of coastal heaven.