Whale Cottage, Cape Town, South Africa

This site is a little collection about "The cape´s dirtiest hotel", the Whale Cottage Bakoven in Cape Town.

Some accounts: WhaleCottage "Awful service, awful place", "This place is terrible", "The cape's dirtiest hotel", Whale Cottage "Overated, overpriced and never again", “A Bad Experience”, "Cheat", “Disappointing”, “Do not venture here if you have children!!!!”, Whale Cottage "rip costumers off", “Give it a wide berth ! Tacky and tasteless”, "diarrhoea splashes at the toilet seat“,"mouldy bread", "Don't Expect a Refund!", “Horrible and Filthy!”...

NEW 2010 - Whale Cottage Franschhoek, Hermanus - "Owner Christiane von Ulmenstein" - abstract of some records: "“Whale Cottage - a health risk”, “An agressive owner, no service, no telephone and a dirty pool..not a 4*”, “A squalid hovel with horrendous staff and owner”. “A filthy run down and disgusting dump Do...”,“Horribly overrated”, "Hell Hole", "Christiane von Ulmenstein the owner did not inform us that the rooms are damp before booking, to me this is being dishonest and stealing her guests money as she refused to refund our money.", "rude owner"...

Have a look to the european reports, too whalecottage.de or have a look to dirtywhale.com or Twitter http://twitter.com/Whalespottersa

link to a foto of Chris von Ulmenstein the "very aggressive" CEO of "cape´s dirtiest hotel"

March 2008 Whale Cottage Cape Town

"Awful service, awful place,"

This place is terrible.
We were put in a tiny room at the back which is not even part of the main place.
The room is tiny and the bed hideously small. The shower and bathroom were virtually in the bath room.

When we went there it was very windy and the room sounded like it was going to be blown down. We tried to move and get somewhere else, which we did but were given no refund for the awful accomodation
and the owner put up a huge fight

She is a very aggressive business woman who cares less about holiday makers needs and more about making money.
This will be her downfall! I felt that the place was looking tired and 'shoddy' and really think that it needs money

spent on it to freshen it up.
It was a really really disappointing (expensive in the end!) experience, the only one on a great trip to South Africa.


“Dreadful Hotel Whale Cottage"

Having been in South Africa for a month we chose to end our honeymoon in Whale Cottage, Camps Bay.
This proved to be a huge mistake.
Despite very helpful staff, thanks to Marianne in particular, the whole whale cottage camps bay expriance was a HUGE letdown.
In summary
The photos on the website do not reflect this property. There is no way this is a 4 star property. Facilities are basic and old fashioned and overall the hotel is tatty and in desparate need of refurbishment.
Our room, advertised as a mountain facing room was very small with a pretty poor view of the mountains. THeer was a fantastic view of the people opposite's verander so you have to keep the curtains closed anyway!
In the room we had very old, basic furnature, no tea or coffee making facilities, an aircon machine so noisy having it on was a joke, windows that required all my strength to open, a plug socket by the sink that fell out of the wall, ancient towels, grouting round the bathroom tiles that was a disgusting browny mould colour and a standard sized bed that had seen better days.
Towels weren't changed, the bath and floor weren't cleaned properly-prompting an argument with the staff. No money back but a bottle of champers - nice touch. Being drunk in this place made it almost bearable.......
......until their burgular alarm kept going off. When I say kept going off its was more the control unit that bleeped for close to 30 hours. I had to fix it myself in the end. This I do not expect from a 4 star property.
Breakfast is an uninspiring collection of coldmeat and cheese. If you were in the right place at the right time you may be offered bacon and eggs, Every other place we atayed in Africa offered a cooked breakfast as standard. Why can't this place?
Deposit and payment of account is yet again different from any other 4 star establishment. 50% up front and the remaining 50% the second, and I mean the second, you walk in the front door. Paints yet more of a picture that Whale Cottage seems more about making money. Walking up the stairs all you can see is newspaper articles saying what a great place this is and what a genius in marketing Whale Cottage has achieved. This simply rubs ones nose in the dirt.
Tee swimming pool (website says they have two which is nonsense!!!) is very small with water a very dubious green colour. It sits in a garden that is dirt and scrub. No landscaping and not enough sunloungers.
One plus points is the location, its a 10 minute walk to the main beach.
However, I would not recommend a stay here. I was in two minds before I left for Africa and the subsequent bad reviews on tripadvisor add fuel to this.
I have written to the African Tourism Grading Board sugesting a review of this establishment. One only hopes a re-assessement will indicate the true nature of Whale Cottage, Camps Bay

Whalecottage, the ugly pool

Whalecottage, Dezember 2006
Chris von Ulmenstein

“Overated, overpriced and never again"

Having had the misfortune to experience this overrated example of a so-called Top3 Guest House by the Guardian (UK), I have to wonder how they managed to come up with such a claim. During our recent holiday to the Western Cape we travelled from Cape Town to Knysna and back and experienced many guest houses en-route, and this was categorically the worst stayed in. Not only the room, taken by my partner's daughter (the Penguin Room), which was in the backyard of the establisment up steep steps. Initially when she moved in she noticed the toilet was dirty, the room itself was sad and unwelcoming, no tea/coffee facilities in the room, and the "mountain views" description was the truth in very economical form, as it was just a far off view of Lion's Head in the distance. In this regard the description in the Capestay website [-] clearly states the property has "2 sparkling pools", all we ever found was just one tiny pool, and that was a murky green colour which you could not see the bottom of, due to the cloudy water.
Then the morning "wake-up" call was the gurgling from the wash-basin drain as it obviously shared the same drain as some downstairs washing machine, and the smell emanating from this washbasin drain was disgusting, The room apart, nowhere on our journey did any guest house demand 50% payment up-front, as Whale Cottage did, and to be confronted, as soon as one entered reception, by the first words from the manageress being a request for our credit card for immediate payment of the remaining balance, was hardly the welcome we expected. Every single other place we stayed granted us the honesty and trust of paying only on departure. The breakfasts (only served after 08:30, so no good if you wanted to get onto the road early) were a cold continental platter, no cooked breakfasts were available, contrary again to everywhere else we stayed, which without exception offered us hearty cooked breakfasts. I wanted to experience the place and swopped with my partner's daughter (as we were in another establishment in Camps Bay) These comments are based on this experience.
Don't believe the advertising about this place, its misleading, give this one a wide berth if you've got the choice.


“Unjustified Whale Cottage bashing? Whale Cottage”

The Whale Cottage was suggested to us by our trustworthy travel agent Touraco, Pretoria. Before booking we found the devastating reports about the Whale Cottage in the tripadvisor. However Touraco assured us that there is nothing wrong with the Whale Cottage. We decided to follow the advice by the professionals and not personal opinions by xxxxxxxx travellers. (If it would have come to the worst we would have written another bad report, which easy to do.) When we arrived at the Whale Cottage we were pleasantly surprised by the relaxed and friendly staff. (Despite xxxx reports in the Tripadisor.) Recently the place was renovated and presented itself in the best light. The blue colours might not be to everybody’s taste, but the new trendy fittings show that the owners try hard to offer something special. As early risers we moaned about the late breakfast at 08.30. The staff made an effort to be early for us. Over all the Whale Cottage is as good as any other place we stayed during our many years of restless travelling. Kurt Maring Airlie Beach Qld, Australia

chris von ulmenstein

Running water in the room!

whalecottage, Oktober 2006 whalecottage

“Too commercialised and impersonal”

We stayed at the Whale Cottage in Camps Bay for three nights at the end of a two week stay in South Africa. The holiday was fantastic but Whale Cottage was really quite disappointing.
The main problem has been identified by the previous reviewer. You can't help but feel that they are in it just for the cash. Obviously this is the bottom line of all businesses but it lacks the charm, personailty and homeliness of many of the other guest houses that we stayed in throughout the western cape and garden route.
Those of you who have seen the Whale Cottage web site will know that there are four different Whale Cottages in various locations. I believe that it is still 'chain' approach to the business that is probably the root of the problem. The Camps Bay version is looking slightly tired and slightly rough around the edges. This makes you think that most of the money has been spent on marketing and not on maintenenance.
The room we had was incredibly small (avoid the 'boat' room) and was not within the main building. Considering Whale Cottage is actually quite expensive this room was charged at the same rate as the others. This is very unreasonable - considering our friends we charged the same rate for a room that is approximately twice the size.
An example of how they are always on the make was the honesty bar. Our experience of all other guest houses was that a mini bar was made available as a convenience. Therefore, they did not make any profit on this. The guesthouses do this as very few have a license. Whale Cottage also does not have a license but the drinks were heavily marked up. This is a bit cheeky.
Breakfast is really nothing special - being a bit on the basic side given the cost of the stay (there is no cooked breakfast).
It is always easy to moan, but these things are easily fixed assuming the owners take note. On the plus side, the location, communal pool area, views are all fantastic.

May 2003
Christiane von Ulmenstein
Loud whale"

A while back you reported on a controversy in the B&B industry, referring inter alia to a set-to between Portfolio of Places and Christiane von Ulmenstein, the owner of Whale Cottages, Hermanus.
You might like to know that my wife and I suffered badly at Ms Von Ulmenstein’s hands. I was due on a business visit to SA last November and decided also to have a fortnight’s holiday. I phoned Whale Cottages and specified that we wanted a view of the sea and privacy. I stressed privacy as we were badly in need of a quiet break.
I was told we would have the Lighthouse room at the new Whale Cottage and that it had its own patio area. We paid in advance.
When we arrived we were deeply upset to find that the room was indeed on a patio, which had lots of tables and chairs – because that’s where everyone had tea and breakfast!
It was like a public walkway. The side of the room facing the patio was all glass so the only way we could have had even minimum privacy was to keep the large glass door and curtains tightly shut. We refused to stay there.
We would not have dreamed of making a booking had we not been so misled.
We have been trying to recover the money we paid. I wrote to Cape Town Tourism Council but thus far have had only a bromide response. I am sure that this cannot be connected with the fact that Ms von Ulmenstein is vice-chair of the council.
Whale Cottages have offered a weekend at one of their cottages. I’ll probably have to sue.
Warmest good wishes to you for your muckraking. Great stuff.
Benjamin Pogrund

22. February 2008, Whale Cottage Franschhoek

“Do not venture here if you have children!!!!”

I lost my father to cancer in Dec so we thought we'd visit friends in SA. My husband had decided to book our last couple of days in SA at the Whale House. He thought it would be a fabulous destination for valentines day. We were travelling with a 3 year old toddler and a 11 month old baby. We were assured by the owner "Chris" (Christiane von Ulmenstein) that young children were welcome to stay so we went ahead with the booking.

Having travelled for five hours from Oudtshoorn to Franschhoek, we get a phone call from Chris asking us how long we would be. We had given her an estimated time of arrival as 4pm. I'm sure the parents amoung you will appreciate that time keeping can get thrown out of balance when you're travelling with children. When we told her we wouldn't get to her until 7:30pm she went on to tell us that her staff finished at 7pm and that we should have told her etc. Needless to say at the time we found this entire conversation a bit odd, but decided to ignore it.

I can't begin to describe my disappointment once we got to the hotel. There were mosquitos in the room (kept all of us up all night) the tiles on the floor were old and dirty, the bathroom towels smelt of damp, there was no shower curtain, there was dry rot on the window sills, no adapter for the hairdryer, the list is endless. To top it all we felt as though we were sleeping in a little boys room, with its child like drawing of a light house on the wall, nautical themed bed sheets and irritating petals strewn all over the bed. The childrens bed (sofa bed) was callously placed under the air con unit. So the children ended up with us thanks to the aircon freezing them to death. The images potrayed on the web site are totally misleading.

The next morning, things just got worse. My son had been up all night (thanks to mozzi's, aircon, sleeping with us, teething and cold from the aircon unit) inevitably he was going to be a bit groggy in the morning. Once we had calmed him down we decided to venture downstairs for a spot of breakfast.

On our arrival (we were the only ones in the dining room) we were told they didn't have a high chair, so our son had to sit in his pram (he hates that) We were met by Chris (Christiane von Ulmenstein) who insisted on making my toast for me and getting me a pot of tea (I had helped myself). I thought she was being helpful, but with hindsight, she was waiting for my son to make a noise so she could pounce on us.

My son merely whimpered and Chris von Ulmenstein ( Christiane von Ulmenstein, the owner) barked at me and I quote "can you make your baby be quiet. He is annoying the other guests and its not fair" to which I responded "i'm sorry, you can't just push a button that will stop a baby from crying Chris "well, just because you've paid to stay here doesn't mean you own the place and you can let your baby do what ever he wants. I've have a child too and I know some babies are really good and some are really bad (her son is prob 17
years old) and they normally want something. You aren't stopping your baby from crying"

Lets just say the conversation ended when my husband and I decided to by pass breakfast and leave her shoddy establishment.

She refused to give us a refund and continued to watch our every move. She even waited for us to get into our car. Lord only knows what she was thinking. Personally I think she had racist tendencies although when I confronted her about it she said we were in the wrong country for that sort of thing and closed the door almost immediately!

I've often wondered why she has such an affiliation with whales. Having met her I now understand why.

“Don't Expect a Refund!"
6. Okt 2008

Be careful if you prepay for this property and then have to cancel, trying to get a refund, even canceling a month in advance, is impossible!



Jan 19, 2009

“Do not believe the hype!”
Whale Cottage Camps Bay

1/1 found this review helpful
We stayed for 6 nights at Whale Cottage in Camps Bay. We'd decided to book into Whale Cottage simply after the 4 star rating and excellent marketing which is displayed on their website. The guest houses in the portfolio looked immaculate, minimalist high spec bedrooms/bathrooms a wonderful pool with crystal blue water along with decking furniture.

So our expectations were set, and OH MY WORD the place was a complete disappointment. Similarly to one of the previous reviews, it took ages to open the gates and the reception was rather limp and unfriendly! I would also like to reiterate that the single most important objective as far as Whale Cottage was concerned was to was to get the FULL payment from us on arrival. I have never experienced this approach anywhere else in the world. This as it turned out gives the guests very little room for negotiation if, heaven forbid should the experience not live up to expectations or not go as planned..... SUCH AS ARRIVING HOME AFTER DINNER ON OUR FIRST EVENING TO FIND OUR BEDROOM WAS FLOODED WITH OVER 5 INCHES OF WATER! Our only saving grace was that because we were staying for a number of nights we had unpacked our suitcases. Therefore most of our stuff was in shelves above the water line.... had we not have unpacked I dread to think of the consequences.

This situation alone was handled appallingly. It was 11pm and we were asked to pack our room and valuables as we were to be moved to another guest house for the evening. On returning to the room to collect our valuables, toiletries, night clothes etc I slipped and fell, not only did this cause some injury to my ribs and back (for which I am still receiving treatment) it also lead to my blackberry and ipod being irreparable due to cracked facias and water-logging. It was also expected that we drive ourselves to replacement accommodation for the night; and only after insisting that we would rather not drive after a couple of glasses of wine a member of staff reluctantly agreed to do so. The staff member was unfamiliar with the area and we got lost on the way and then deposited at the wrong house on the first attempt! Eventually finding our temporary home for the evening in the back of beyond of Camps Bay.

That evening and the following morning we made it very clear that we were not entirely happy with the situation and would not wish to stay in the same room for the remainder of our stay and indeed that we would not wish to be charged for that night's accommodation due to the inconvenience caused. The following day we were collected at 7.45am and taken back to Whale Cottage. We were then moved to another room - apparently an "upgrade", despite being smaller, having less storage space, no bath, no DVD player and broken furniture! On enquiring about the refund for the disastrous night's accommodation, the staff members at Whale Cottage would not comment and insisted that I had to email / call Christine von Ulmenstein directly as no other staff member was empowered to make any decisions. Thinking this rather odd, I emailed Chris and outlined the situation requesting the refund and also enquired into insurance for my damaged items. Two days later I still did not receive any response, neither had the staff, apparently she had been in meetings for the entire time???? I decided to call instead only to receive a very aggressive verbal response to my requests. It appears she was not going to refund the night's accommodation as the flood was simply an accident and no-one could be put at fault; neither was she prepared to provide any insurance on my damaged items - besides she couldn't understand why I would be carrying my blackberry or ipod during my "alleged" fall in the bedroom which was a result of being "inebriated" and had nothing to do with the 5 inches of water!!!

The entire experience was not only insulting but also handled so appallingly. I feel it is important to warn off other travelers as I would not wish this experience on anyone else. I notice on the most part the previous reviews for this property are relatively positive. However there are increasingly more REALISTIC reviews being posted and I would seriously recommend that you reconsider this guest house as an option. In fact I would tread with caution before booking any Whale Cottage affiliated property if this is the style of management.

I notice that another guest had a similarly appalling experience... "We tried to move and get somewhere else, which we did but were given no refund for the awful accommodation and the owner put up a huge fight. She is a very aggressive business woman who cares less about holiday makers needs and more about making money. This will be her downfall"

Other points to note:
- all decor, fixtures and fittings are very tired and shabby (broken shower head, sink unit hanging off the wall, lose wires and cables, ripped and damaged sun-beds, ripped and damaged parasol)
- dirty bathroom, cracked tiles, mould, pubic hairs
- dirty balcony, weeds growing, nail clippings
- dirty pool, full of leaves / insects
- plug socket connections coming away from the wall
- side lamps did not work, despite changing light-bulbs
- laundry service DO NOT USE... lost various items of our laundry, however gained a few other items from other guests!!... this was not addressed or compensated despite chasing on numerous occasions
- access door buzzer seemed to be rung early every morning at around 6.30am and can be heard in most bedrooms
- breakfast was not worth getting out of bed for, flies buzzing around rather unfresh produce
- staff unhelpful and limp
- even the potentially amazing view was slightly tainted as there is a large crane directly in front of the guest house


One of the previous reviewers sums Chris von Ulmenstein's priority, noting that she spends... "more time on the Internet improving her credibility than living it up in real life" Her quotes/endorsements date back over 10 years, I'm sure those reviews would paint a very different picture if published today!

- We tried to move and get somewhere else, which we did but were given no refund for the awful accommodation and the owner put up a huge fight. She is a very aggressive business woman who cares less about holiday makers needs and more about making money. This will be her downfall!



Juli 2010 von klwickham
21. Jul 2010

“Whale Cottage - a health risk”
Whale Cottage Franschhoek

My friend, her 3yr old child & I booked two rooms at Whale Cottage in Franschhoek 16-18 July 2010, we were showed to our rooms Dolphin and Starfish, the rooms were cold and the walls covered in damp.

We were showed 3 alternative rooms, all of which were also not in favourable condition.

The rooms and the whole cottaged reeked of damp which was health risk to me as I have damp sensitivity/allergy and I am in my first trimester of pregnancy and my friends child is young still building his immune system.

Christiane von Ulmenstein the owner did not inform us that the rooms are damp before booking, to me this is being dishonest and stealing her guests money as she refused to refund our money.



10. Mrz. 2010 Bertouille

“An agressive owner, no service, no telephone and a dirty pool..not a 4*”

Whale Cottage Franschhoek
Welcome to the Whale Cottage with a second credit card debt request for the same amount of what has been withdrawn from your account a few weeks before your trip. The owner is not based here and the team (1 person who leaves the premises at 7pm) doesn't have access to a phone. Use your own phone (and pay roaming charges) and get as confirmation that this is always like that in any hotel in the world (surprising as I spend 100 nights / year in hotels and never had that before) or that they won't give you the keys... when all hotels are full and you are with young children you have to accept their conditions.
Great articles in the lobby on how the owner has done at marketing her hotels...maybe she should now learn how to take care of the people coming.
The rooms are not bad (but nothing to do with the picture on the website but clearly overpriced. Breakfast is simple but acceptable, the swimming pool is small and dirty with broken tiles on the side. Relax by the pool but make sure that you pick the right chair as 1/3 rd are broken.
Internet access is free but off between 7 pm and 8 am.

Would NOT recommend this place.



9. Mrz 2010, Kent_Couple_9

“A squalid hovel with horrendous staff and owner”
Whale Cottage Franschhoek

We were tricked into staying here because of the smart website and pictures.
The reality is that the place is a squalid and run down hovel, The garden is a joke of over-grown grass, unkept verges and pathetic flowers. Inside is a dark and dirty roadside motel which may once have been something to look at.
The staff are slovenly and could not care less. Any request is met with an attitude that we were a bothersome reality they had to deal with.
The owner is a real piece of work. She is a negative and sullen person who is only interested in how much cash she can rake in from unsuspecting tourists.
Franschhoek is very beautiful and there are many much better options.


Atreides77 21. Feb 2010

“A filthy run down and disgusting dump Do...”
Whale Cottage Franschhoek

A filthy run down and disgusting dump Do not get fooled by their flashy web site The staff are incredibly rude and treated us like a major inconvenience We are very saddened that tourists to South Africa have to endure this hell hole.



Weaverbird 13. Jan 2010

“Horribly overrated”
Whale Cottage Franschhoek

The owner has done a skilled job positioning this hotel as a good 4 star option with lodges in 4 locations in SA. Unfortunately rooms are very very dirty, breakfast is poor, and service is dysmal at best.





Chris von Ulmenstein

Whale Cottage Franschhoek








Photo 1: Whale Cottages dirty terrace and dirty pool. Close by the noisy main street.

whalecottage cape town southafrica

Photo 2: Whale Cottages "wonderful" dirty grotty terrace.

cape town whale cottage

Photo 3: DANGER!!! Whale Cottages towle heater

whale cottage camps bay

Februar 2006, Whale Cottage Bakoven, Camps Bay, Cape Town

“The cape's dirtiest hotel”
Whale Cottage, Camps Bay, Bakoven, Capetown, South Africa

Without a doubt the worst hotel I have ever stayed in(and I work in the travel industry).

1. Dirty sheets
2. Mould and rust in bathroom
3. An open window from reception into the bathroom! Christine denies this but if you are over six foot it is quite a shocking view.
4. A full height shower, but no screen, right next to a hairdryer. Apparently this complies with SA standards but I don't believe it.
5. Cupboards falling apart.
6. The owners refusal to get out of bed until after 10 am to discuss our problems

If anyone has experienced similar problems please contact Brian Josselowitz at Community newspapers and also the Tourism Grading council of south africa.

whale cottage chris von ulmenstein

The room next to our door!



“A Bad Experience”
Whale Cottage Camps Bay

We have recently returned from a 12 night stay at Whale Cottage, Camps Bay, Cape Town.
During our stay at this Guest House we had the equivalent of £460 minimum, stolen out of our locked room safe.
The theft which took place over 2 days involved GBP, Euros, & SAR, notes. Initially we only suspected that money had been stolen from the locked room safe and could not confirm this until we had counted and documented the notes that remained in the safe, then on the second day we had further money stolen from the locked safe, the theft was then confirmed. We advised the owner who involved the Police. The owner does not accept or acknowledge that this theft ever took place at her Guest House, as she commented that nothing like this has ever happened before.
Six weeks have now passed and we have had no contact from the Police regarding this matter.
Regarding the Guest House.
The photographs on their web site, which I think might be a few years old, show the rooms in a newly decorated state, our room was well over due for refurbishment and re-decoration. There was no dressing table or chair in the bedroom, and the shower fitting over the bath was broken.
During our 12 night stay the bedding was changed only once, and the towels changed every 4 days.
This Guest House has been given a 4* grading, personally I would only rate it as 2*.
We will definitely not be returning to Whale Cottage Camps Bay any time in the future.

Oktober 2006, Whale Cottage Bakoven Chris von Ulmenstein, Camps Bay, Capetown

“Definitely not 4 Star”

I stayed at this guesthouse recently and have to say I was disappointed. I am surprised it has a 4 star rating, the room I stayed in was definitely overdue a revamp and the facilites are somewhat lacking. There was no tea/coffee in the room and breakfasts are about as basic as you can get. The towels we were given each day looked like something my nan had dragged out the back of her cupboard, well worn and stained. The guesthouse seems to be run purely as a money making venture and there are none of the nice touches you expect from somewhere like this.

chris-von-ulmenstein whalecottage capetown southafrica

The hall (hell) way!



whalecottage, September 2006
“Disastrous second visit”

Whale Cottage Bakoven Camps Bay, Capetown

I returned to the Whale Cottage Camps Bay because I had such a good experience some years ago, however this second stay was disastrous.
They gave me a room with an open sewage view which smell became more and more unbearable as the weather improved. The only thing that was done to mitigate this fact was to try to cover half of the sewage hole which obviously did not work.
The manager could not give us any information about attractions close to the hotel. She did not even know what or where the "Twelve Apostoles Hotel" was. For God's sake; this hotel won 2005 best small luxury hotel in Africa and Asia and it is located at 8040 Camps Bay!!! She made us walk 1 hour for what she informed to be a 20 min walk up to the cable car! And so forth..
After I left the owner sent me a note advising that they would charge us for cab trips that we never took
Frankly, I am ashamed for having invited my friend to stay there.

14. April 2008 Whale Cottage Franschhoek, Cape Town

“Not such a Whale of a time; in Franschhoek”

The Whale that saved Jonah is nothing like the Whale that raids your credit card in Franschhhoek, except perhaps in size!

This story is about a tourist in South Africa who used the Cape Town & West Cape Official Travel Guide and through its pages, booked what he thought was a hotel in Franschhoek to be precise, “ The 4 Star Franschhoek Inn.”
BUT the only place you will be able to find this hotel is in the form of a picture & description that exists in this publication... What does exist is the quoted phone number, a number that connects to a Guest House called; “Whale Cottage.”

After making contact with the fictitious Franschhoek Inn, this tourist made a provisional booking and was confirmed by fax, a fax that was received the following morning. Like myself, you may now realise, the fax was from the owner of Whale Cottage who was contacted immediately and told that I did not want to go through with this reservation since there was a misunderstanding from Travel Guide. Against a 4 Star Hotel, I was now being offered a 4 Star Guest House, only to be told that 50% of the booking fee had already been taken & was not refundable!

Being held to ransom for 3 nights is not the sort of hospitality I or any other tourist to South Africa expects.

For your information; if anybody ever visits the Whale Cottage establishment, they will see a pictured newspaper cutting in its hallway, which basically explains the owner’s managerial & entrepreneurial skills. e.g. “the time spent on her degree for an MBA was a waste, as she’d learnt more from her divorce.”

So what is this residence really like? As one American tourist was heard to mutter when entering its portals, “Is this it!?”

As for my experience of this accommodation: there was a regiment of ants marching over the bed as well as petals and a small box of chocolates. On the floor, more blown petals along with dead leaves, that had come under the poolside door. Trapped in the mosquito netting over the bed a live cricket. Another cricket was found in the bathroom. During the night more crickets,’ located under the bed high in testosterone, kept this hapless tourist awake throughout the night.

The Tourist Information Office in Franschhoek was sympathetic but not prepared to move, other than offering me a very nice hotel but with no guarantees on help in returning money taken off my credit card. The Tourist Guide, they said, was not their publication, even though they had it on display.

I have worked all over the world for more than 25 years & never had any doubts about the hotels and other such establishments with which I have dealt. They were straight, honest & understanding when dealing with their guests, but there is always the first time and for me this was it!

I hope such a lovely place, as South Africa, does not succumb to the diabolical treatment that this tourist has just experienced.
Cape Town

whale cottage cape town chris von ulmenstein

The whale cottage rubbish!

22. Oktober 2006 Whale Cottage Franschhoek


This was disappointing for its four star rating. The room was small and averagely decorated (and not the one we had booked), and the shower ran cold (probably because the toilet used hot water to flush!). The breakfast was self service and average, and overall this did not compare well with other excellent four star accommodation we had stayed in in SA. The location is good, a couple of blocks off the main drag, and there is secure parking. A convenient stop-off but with so much choice in the town, we wouldn't return.
Bournemouth, UK

“Horrible and Filthy!”
26. Nov 2008 Peter Miami

We stayed at the Whale Cottage for 2 nights and it was awful. The innkeeper was extremely rude and unhelpful. Luckily, we had a Lonely Planet book to guide us because she made no effort in informing us about good restaurants and attractions when we asked. However, this was not the worst part of the stay. The bathroom smelled like a sewer. The shower was in dire need of a good cleaning and a powerful disinfectant. It was full of mildew and soap scum. As a result, we had to shower with our flipflops on. Also the floor in the room had dead insects that were never swept throughout our stay. If it weren't for the fact that we could not get a refund, we would have left immediately. It is truely a shame this place is under such poor management and maintenance because it is a very nice property and has a very good location. Overall, I would NEVER recommend this place to anyone!!!!

christiane von ulmenstein cape town whalecottage
The dirty suite!

“Give it a wide berth ! Tacky and tasteless.”
17. Jun 2008

I travelled here with my husband and son -we needed to be in Hermanus for a family weekend.

I was gobsmacked to say the least to be asked for my credit card before we had even been shown the room. I have never before experienced such eagerness anywhere else in the world. The rooms were nothing special, all done rather on the cheap- hard wooden antiques with cheap ' faux ' paint finishes-nothing cosy or welcoming. The shower tiles were cracked with some mould .Hard cheap mattresses . The breakfast was called continental-but consisted of some stale( yesterdays bread, cheap local cheeses and polonies. All set out the night before ( ? ) with the minimum of effort and no personalised service which is the norm in most South African B & B's or guesthouses.
there are so many better establishments than this to choose from.


Amsterdam, 15 November 2008

"The WORSE experience I EVER had as a traveller."

What kind of stunt they were trying to pull us... After arriving in the early afternoon (November 8th, 2008) after a very long flight we were looking forward to stay at the Whale Cottage in Camps Bay.

At arrival we notice the they were renovating the room next to us with more than 10 people. Drilling, sawing, etc. Our room was also very, very dirty despite somebody had cleaned it a few hours before as was said. The room (in fact your whole cottage) was not suitable for stay and we asked for a solution. We have pictures to prove it.

After long discussions at the reception were we felt treated like idiots the staff we were offered to wait until 5 PM to clean and repair our room (something what would have been impossible during our whole stay). As a compensation we were offered a cop of coffee(!) Of course we did not agree with this deal(?) and to make a long story short, we were kicked out on the street in the late afternoon to find ourselves a place to stay that night. They did not offer us any compensation or help.

Whale Cottage/Christiane (Chris) von Ulmenstein is spending more time on the Internet improving her credibility than living it up in real life.


After visiting other places in the Cape Town/West Cape area I can tell that even if they had cleaned and repaired the whole place they can't meet the quality of the competition we have met.


whalecottage chrisvonulmenstein

Dirty, THE DIRTY COTTAGE by Chris von Ulmenstein


Denmark Dec 17, 2008

“Don't stay at Whale Cottage!!!!”
Whale Cottage Camps Bay


The Whale Cottage in Camps Bay is an absolutly terrible place. The staff is freindly but for 10 days I experienced nothing but endless problems. The internet only worked three out of ten days, the pool was very dirty and the aircon broke.

The worst though is the owner Chris. Don't believe the stuff on the homepage - the 'warm whale wishes' and such. She behaves badly and is nothing like the friendly housemom she tries to brand herself as.

And don't believe the guestbook if you actualy go to the place. I wrote my opponion when I left - that I had a horrible time there - but they removed the page. I told the girl in reception that I thought that was wrong and she told me that her boss, Chris, makes them remove all negative comments. Not very honest, is it..





"Whale Cottage Owner lies about availiability"
nicolepenn Thu 7 Oct 2010

On Saturday the 2nd October we went to Whale Cottage Hermanus and requested to book for Dec the 22nd and 23rd for the sea facing room. The lady at the lodge looked in her diary and said that the whole of December was available but I was to contact the owner Chris who handles the bookings for her 4 lodges being Camps Bay, Franschoek and Plettenberg Bay. I called on Sunday and left a message for Chris to please call my cell. She then called my mother's landline number back when i had asked her not to. She then sent me an email to confirm that there was 'awhaleability' for those dates for the seafacing room. I asked a few questions:does the room have dstv and sport channels and is there a bath as we were not able to view any rooms when there. She rudely answered no sports channels. We then proceeded to fill out the credit card form and sent it through on Tues, no response. My Credit card details were fully exposed and she would not return my phonecalls or emails. My mother gets an email to her work email address wed - quite scary how she got this info that there is no more availabilty and now she sits with my cc details. The arrogance that you don't need local business.


"Whale Cottage- Rude Service"
richlaw Sat 25 Sep 2010

I checked into Whale Cottage Hermanus, and in my opinion the standard of the 4 Star Room, was below par- as it was dirty, bathroom smelled; sheets had rust stains, only x1 dstv channel, room was apart of a niosy entrance to the guest house, and the room smelled- all for R900 per night- we then decided not to stay the night and leave. I fist complained to the owner Chris- who didnt apologize on the phone and disagreed with me, and eventually got frustrated and in my opinion hung the phone up on me. I then posted this complaint on hellopeter.com where she then e-mailed me- and said she would be calling my employer to complain about my 'unprofessionalism'. This I find rediculous- as I voiced my opinions on a personal nature, and my work has nothing to do with my dissatisfaction.



"Dirty room, overpriced- not 4 star quality!"
Richlaw82 Fri 24 Sep 2010

We just checked out of Hermanus whale cottage guest house,and am writing to voice our shock at the low standard of the room. Noisy, too close to the dining room, dirty sheets, bathroom that smells, old dirty towels, no dstv, no coffee cups, small bed- definitely not 4 star, and above all over priced for R900 a night.The test will now come, too see if we hear back from them, and see some form of reimburesement.

After this I called the owner and communicated this, to which she didn't apologise but disagreed with me- and eventually hung the phone up.

Rude owner, who is in denial about her below standard tired guest house.

Utterly disgusted: After placing the complaint on hellopeter, I received an email from the owner Chris Von ulmenstein- saying I was unprofessional and she would be contacting my employer. This is a personal matter, and has nothing to do with my work.


"Dirty Accommodation - Whale Cottage"
johnson11 Wed 23 Jun 2010

I have had the misfortune of staying at the Whale Cottage. Whilst it was one thing to stay in a accommdation that that ruins your holiday, it is another to be spoken to in the manner in which my family and I were by the owner Chris Von Ulmenstain; a horrible German woman that has no sense of diplomacy; when I simply made a gentle comment about the food standard (which incidentally made my family to say the least uncomfortable), I received infront of other guests at breakfast, an aggressive response which each guest that I spoke to later agreed was completely uncalled for (and which each guest agreed would ensure their final stay there). The accommodation was dirty, the food standard dispicable and the hospitality atrocious. I would not wish for my worst enemy to stay here.