Birkenhead House – Walker Bay, South Africa
Not many hotels can boast such a stunning vantage point as Birkenhead House. Straddling a promontory, with beaches either side and cinematic views of Walker Bay and the Atlantic, it is also widely recognised as one of the finest places to stay, not only in Hermanus, but in the whole of Africa. Eclectically furnished and decorated with dramatic flair by its designer owner, Birkenhead House draws a sophisticated guest list.
Intimate, it has the air of a private house, with faultless service and excellent cuisine to match. The centre of Hermanus is a short stroll away, and if you’re here during the migratory season, there’s no better place to whale watch.
At A Glance
Why We Love It:As it's one of the best land based whale watching spots in South Africa.
Location:On a cliff promontory in Hermanus, with coves either side – just 3 miles from the centre, & a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.
Rooms:11 lavishly styled rooms.
Swimming:There is an infinity pool on site, & room 5 has a private plunge pool.
Children:Only for children 10 & over.
Accessibility:This is not suitable for wheelchair users.
Open From:All year round.
Spread across three separate houses, each room is unique in design, décor and outlook. From ornate chinoiserie to Indian haveli style, from Venetian to Victorian, each one is unique, but all with extravagant bathrooms. Many have balconies, some have a plunge pool, and most have ocean views. We love Room six with its wraparound balcony and fabulous turquoise colour scheme.
With a restaurant that looks out over Walker Bay and most of the seafood sourced therein, dining at Birkenhead House is a delight. The cuisine matches the style of the hotel – eclectic – and utterly delicious, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. During mussel season, guests can forage along the shoreline, bringing their catch back to the kitchens and be shown how to cook them to perfection, using other edible fynbos ingredients. The wine list is no less impressive, with a number of excellent wines from the nearby Hemel en Aarde valley. We recommend a wine tasting whilst you’re here, in the hotel’s cellar or on the deck.
Hermanus enjoys a laid back vibe, with numerous galleries, boutiques and cafés for mellow days. It is also one of the best places in South Africa for whale watching, and between the months of June and December, you can’t fail to see Humpback and Southern Right Whales in the waters in front of the hotel. A telescope and a large collection of binoculars are there for guests to use. Pods of dolphins are also a common sight. There are around sixty species of birds on this stretch of coast too.
The coastal path makes for great walking, and keen hikers can also head up into the mountains behind Hermanus – for some very rewarding views. With the Atlantic waves, surfing is a popular pursuit – Birkenhead has boards and wetsuits and can easily arrange lessons. Then make sure you book a tailor made Spa treatment, or sip a sundowner by the infinity pool, for a truly relaxing end to the day.
Walker Bay, South Africa
On a cliff promontory in Hermanus, with coves either side – just 3 miles from the centre, & a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.