I’ve had many wonderful Saturdays in my never-ending Travelife this 2014. In fact, every single Saturday was probably spent somewhere lovely, as I was on a plane or a boat almost every week of this year.
But one morning in January, in South Africa living a never-ending Travelife, I woke up in the most perfect place possible.
It’s called Birkenhead House, in a picture-pretty town called Hermanus, along the coast of Western Cape.
If I could have a house by the sea, this would certainly be it.
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It’s just like coming home — or visiting a friend at home.
There are no particular rules, everyone knows who you are, and you can basically help yourself to what you want, do what you please, or simply do nothing.
There’s a full complement of spirits on a table in the living room, the mini bar is free, and there’s always something yummy to eat by the buffet.
And just in case nothing on show strikes your fancy, the kitchen will try and whip something else up.
The staff at Birkenhead House are just wonderful.
Everyone is happy to do something for you, or to do what they can, including this massage on the terrace overlooking the sea, that’s pictured in this photo.
I put in all kinds of requests during my time here, including my usual raw vegetable juices at breakfast, a foot massage by the infinity pool, and a couple of other things besides.
Nothing is too much of a bother for the super friendly and professional staff here.
I happen to know of this house very well, because I’d stayed in Birkenhead’s sister property in Franschhoek about two yeas ago.
I just chose La Residence out of a handful of properties on my shortlist in Franschhoek, for that first visit to South Africa.
That hotel, La Residence, blew my mind away the minute I set foot in it, and I went on to write about the beautiful La Residence for Travelife Magazine.
No one in Asia really knew about it back then, but I’d booked this for our stay in Franschhoek on my first trip to South Africa because it seemed like a truly interesting hotel.
I loved everything about La Residence, including the amazing Chef’s Table they prepared for us. This was not only a gastronomic feast, but a visual and multi-sensory one.
And my favourite memory associated with this hotel is an after-dinner walk we took in the rain. We stood outside taking photos, and, perhaps because of the light, the rain came out like snowflakes instead.
After staying in La Residence, it became one of my favorite hotels in the world.
And, of course, its sister properties went onto my bucket list for hotels. Now that I’ve stayed at Birkenhead, I have just one more property to go.
By the way, the suite I stayed in at La Residence, which is known as the Elton John suite, is also one of my favorite hotel rooms of all time.
It just happens to be the best suite in the hotel, although every suite here is impeccably beautiful. I also liked the Armani suite, which is decorated with a black and white theme.
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Then — guess what.
In 2013, La Residence was named the best hotel in the world.
Travelife was probably the first magazine in Asia to feature La Residence in a major way because it’s so out of the way and it was still so under the mainstream radar in late 2012.
You heard it from us first at Travelife Magazine.
Of course, now everyone wants to stay here, as it’s the best hotel in the world, and La Residence is on the travel plans of every luxury hotel junkie on the planet.
Well, Birkenhead House is its slightly more understated sister.
It’s small and intimate, and on the casual side, but in an ever so stylish way. Everything about it is perfect.
|The companion doing yoga by the beach…|
So was this one Saturday in January at Birkenhead, living a Travelife.
The companion woke up early to do yoga by the beach with a private trainer. Meanwhile, I sat by the pool answering emails and drinking my favorite rooibos tea.
Then, mid-morning, I went to get a massage at the spa.
This was one of the most amazing massages I’ve had in recent memory, in a never-ending Travelife full of massages and spa treatments.
Midway into my massage, the companion burst into my massage room without even knocking. I’d left him fiddling with his iPad by the pool, you see.
“I’m going surfing,” he announced. “Sean’s taking me down to the beach.”
I guess he went to tell me this so that I wouldn’t look for him after my massage. Sean is one of the staff working at Birkenhead House.
Apparently, while I was getting my massage, they’d started talking about surfing.
Then Sean had suggested they go out for a ride on the waves.
The companion had done lots of surfing in Hawaii in a previous lifetime, you see, way before he went into global investment banking and became a big shot.
It was really nice of Sean to take him out to surf. But that’s the service at Birkenhead House, for you. They always go the extra kilometre with a smile.
It just makes you want to keep coming back.
Or actually, it just makes you want to never check out. I so didn’t want to. Truly.
Even in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.