HERMANUS, SOUTH AFRICA
“This is one of our favorite boutique-sized properties in the world – absolutely love it, and feel so at home here. During whale season is when it must be experienced – you’ll just not believe how many, how large and how close! Peak season runs July to October but there were so many during our stay in dearly December as well. Atmosphere is one of an extensive private home: nothing is too much trouble for the super friendly and efficient staff. And the setting: Wow, wow and wow. The property perches on cliffs overlooking Walker Bay and is so close that you feel as if you practically are in the ocean — the whales smiling at you!”
- Trusted Friends: David & Betsey Weiss, Miami
(Date Experienced: December 2013)
Marine life lovers. A few days of relaxed activity away from the hustle bustle of Cape Town, getting out and about in the dreamy, beach-side setting for hikes, picnics and whale-watching.
Take a romantic few days as part of a longer trip in the South African region and truly treat yourselves.
Staff set up breakfast for us on the edge of the patio, from where we saw about twenty 15-metre whales frolicking in the ocean. we’ll never forget the awe...
Best time to go
August-November are best for whale-watching (with August as calving season). Just magical and the weather is perfect: crisp sea breeze, sun shining and these incredible creatures surfacing meters in front of you.
Children under 12 are not permitted unless you book the whole property.
Just 11 individually styled suites – feels very intimate and welcoming. All rooms and bathrooms are quite spacious, and have radiant heated floors. Décor is a mix of contemporary and classic; very aesthetically pleasing. Love the private plunge pool in room 5, but the sea views are the thing here and they don’t come better than rooms 1 and 2 – we stayed in room 2.
Service & vibe
Relaxed yet polished. Friendly and helpful. Wonderful fresh flower arrangements throughout the property. Met at the front door by several staff members who kindly greeted us, presented us with nice bubbly, took our bags, showed us the property, and brought us to our room. Turn-down with candles...
A delicious selection of modern African and traditional French cuisine with strong Asian and Italian influences. The chef takes requests and food allergy/ intolerances into account so just ask/say. Dine wherever you would like to, but the ‘top table’ is next to the pool, overlooking the bay. Incredible selection of meats, cheeses, and vegetables, mainly locally sourced, and especially fresh and delicious. The presentations were perfection as well.
From $500 per person per night: meals included/season depending
To Do & See
Apart from the whales... Ask for a picnic packed and walk to one of the two nearby beaches. Swimming is possible, but beware of the strong currents – perhaps keep your energy for horse riding, golf and hiking instead. To see some of South Africa’s other marine wildlife a cruise to Dyer Island is a MUST and the hotel can arrange scuba, shark diving, kayaking and surfing – and, of course, wine tasting in the nearby environs... A quick car ride from the Birkenhead House is the delightful Hamilton Russell Vineyards – exceptional and easily arranged for by the staff!
Sport & Activity
Scuba and shark diving for the braver amongst you (not me), hiking the scenery for those who just want to soak up as much of this fabulous setting as possible. The hiking paths are extensive and provide for plenty of photo opportunities as well. To make for an enjoyable outing, try the cliff path from the Birkenhead House into town, where you can browse the shops, etc. Then just ask the concierge at a nearby hotel to phone the Birkenhead staff to request a ride back. Beach runs are easy.
Spa & Grooming
In either the relaxing, fully-equipped Lavender room, or warm and cosy in the delicious-smelling Cinnamon room... Mmmm... Both offer a selection of aromatherapy, massage and holistic treatments.
Although the menu at Birkenhead is genuinely delicious, there are also some cute places nearby. Try the fresh-as-it-gets seafood from Bietang's Cave (+27 (0)28 312 3454), right on the waterfront, or local wines and cooks garden ingredients at Moggs Country Cookhouse (+27 (0)28 312 1516).
A Guide to Hermanus South Africa