Birkenhead House Hotel

South Africa

Birkenhead House Cliffs

Whether gazing at whales from your sun lounger, heading off to dive with great whites or discovering fine local wines, this food-centric spot in South Africa's Western Cape has everything covered

Sitting atop a craggy corner of South Africa's Western Cape overlooking the endless ocean and sipping a sundowner on your sunlounger at Birkenhead House in Hermanus might just be the best way to end any day. And that’s after visiting a 2,000-strong penguin colony, perhaps, learning to surf or sea kayak, touring the best local vineyards, diving with great white sharks, or embarking on a sea safari in search of humpbacks and southern right whales. Although, such is the location of Birkenhead House, you don’t even need to leave your lounger to see the latter, as they’re regular visitors to these waters. Even a stroll along the stunning sandy shores that stretch beneath your hotel terrace could be enough to catch sight of nature’s wonders, be it a blue beast of the sea or the unique birdlife that also resides here.

Mussel picking and sea foraging is another popular activity, especially as your harvest will be brought together with the help of the hotel’s expert chefs, who will cook them over an open fire to be served with freshly baked bread and the finest chilled local whites.

Of course, you don’t have to leave for an epic adventure every day. You could just stay and enjoy the spa with all manner of massages, wraps and beauty treatments on offer, or just laze beside the two-tier pool in the courtyard or take a dip in the ocean-facing infinity pool.

There are only 11 rooms at Birkenhead House, several with full ocean-view balconies, others making do with the glorious mountain, and all having plenty of space, to ensure you never feel you have to escape your room. Simply enjoying the quiet of this idyllic corner of South Africa, glass of sauv blanc in hand, while watching the whales go by, is as good as it gets.

Food-wise, as you’d expect, any excuse is made for tucking into a traditional braai – meat and fish are equally excellent in these parts – and the everyday menu mixes its influences while also delivering plenty of local flavours at every opportunity.

Doubles from £264pp, including meals. 00 27 21 671 5502,

Words by Alex Mead.

This review was taken from the February 2024 issue of Food and Travel. To subscribe today, click here.

Birkenhead House Cliffs

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