South Africa’s Birkenhead House By Suzanne Aaronson

Suzanne Aaronson, founder of, reviews Birkenhead House in Hermanus, South Africa….

Birkenhead House

This is one of my favourite lesser-known 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 and how close! 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!” – Suzanne

Need To Know

Great For:
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.

With Whom:
Take a romantic few days as part of a longer trip in the South African region and truly treat yourselves.

Memorable Moment:
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. I’ll never forget the feeling.

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.

Be Aware:
No kids under 12 unless the whole property is booked.

The Specifics

Room Options:
Just eleven individually styled suites – feels very intimate and welcoming. Décor varies between contemporary and classic, so something to suit everyone. 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 And Vibe:
Relaxed yet polished. Friendly and helpful.

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. Dine wherever you would like to, but the ‘top table’ is next to the pool, overlooking the bay.

Nightly – 2,540ZARpp (approx $370) – 4,325ZARpp (approx $630). 
Whole house from 66,745ZARpn (approx $9,720).

Experience It

To Do And See:
Apart from the whales? Ask for a packed picnic 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, hiking and golf 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….

Sport And 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. Beach runs are easy.

Spa And 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.

Local Insights

To Eat:
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).


Birkenhead House
7th Avenue
 Voelklip, Hermanus, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 28 314 8000
General Manager: Shane Brummer
Deputy General Manager: Corinne Conradie