I wasn’t planning on a lengthy Hermanus visit. Most folks stay just a few days at the most, but the pleasant, small-town vibe won me over and I couldn’t help sticking around. I didn’t do a whole lot aside from wandering the shops and galleries in town, indulging in fresh seafood and gazing at the Southern Right Whales in Walker Bay, but I didn’t need to do more than that to have an enjoyable stay. Check out my thoughts on where to stay in Hermanus!
On the Vermont Bed & Breakfast
On the Vermont is a quiet bed & breakfast with four guest rooms just outside of the main town of Hermanus. Near to beaches and wineries, it’s a great location if you have rented a car to drive to attractions and restaurants.
Pauli prepares breakfast
The owners, Jan & Pauli, are two of the sweetest people in South Africa and they take excellent care of their guests, especially at breakfast. They serve up a massive homemade feast with so many choices, you couldn’t possibly try every dish in one sitting! They’re also enthusiastic concierges, too, so I didn’t need to crack a guidebook – Jan & Pauli filled me on on everything I needed to know about the area, from history to great restaurants in town to the best value whale watching cruises. And they were sweet enough to drop me off in town a few times and to take me to church with them. If you want a really local experience, definitely check out On the Vermont.
My room at On the Vermont
As for my room – it was clean, quiet and comfortable with a distant view of the sea. Everything was functional and very much like staying with friends. Jan & Pauli also place a great deal of importance on their handicap accessible accommodations, and there’s a lift just in case anyone needs it. Really an accommodating, peaceful, pleasant place to spend a view days and the WiFi is fast and free.
As the only 5-star hotel in Hermanus, The Marine’s reputation for elegance preceded it, so I had high expectations for this 42-room boutique. It’s certainly the most storied of all the hotels in Hermanus and the place to stay for celebs and VIPs (Brad Pitt stayed here years ago – ooh la la!).
The Marine is perched, seriously, perched, on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay. It’s so close you can whale watch from breakfast if you so desire. My room was sunnily decorated in yellows and peaches and had plenty of space for me to kick out some morning yoga before continuing my whale-watching and cliff-path-hiking endeavors. The bathroom was rather less modern than I expected, but that was the only design critique I could come up with.
After the view of the Overberg Mountains and proximity to Walker Bay and its whales, I found that the staff was the best part of the Marine Hotel. What service! What big smiles and helpful tips for seeing the sites! They couldn’t have been more helpful and obliging and I certainly appreciated the extra little nibbles they left on my pillow each night.
The Marine Hotel from the Cliff Path
Though I didn’t patronize the on-site restaurants due to price, I did gorge myself on the extensive breakfast spread included in the room rate, and if the brekkie is any indication, I probably should’ve checked out Seafood and the other dining options in-house. YUM.
I only stayed at the Marine Hotel for two nights but easily could’ve made a week out of it. Though elegant and luxurious, thanks to the staff it was still warm and friendly and a great choice for a visit. My tip: get a room with a sea view, no matter the cost. That’s the whole point! I had an interior room and it was fine, but I’d rather be able to open my window and wave to the whales.
The Harbour House Hotel and the Marine Hotel bookend the main part of Hermanus, so restaurants, galleries and shops in between the two are within easy walking distance. For me, proximity to town is secondary to proximity to the water, and Harbour House’s views of the bay and the mountains are second to none. I could hear and feel the thunderous waves crashing on the cliffs from my bed.
Harbour House’s magical pool deck
Harbour House was designed as a thatched roof seaside manor house and maintains its old school charm despite modern renovations. HHH has the best infinity pool in town, though it was under renovation while I was there and too cold to swim in anyhow. In good or bad weather, the pool deck is one of the best spots in town to enjoy a glass of local wine while watching the whales frolic below.
Bright, airy & functional
My room was modern and functional, with everything I needed and nothing extra. The huge freestanding bathtub was a toasty, relaxing bonus on a particularly chilly night. Lighty & airy, the room was simple enough that it didn’t overpower the gorgeous views just outside.
The property’s Mint Wellness Salon opened on the day I arrived, so I was treated to the very first massage ever given to a customer! And it was oh.so.good. Definitely check it out if you’re in town.. and say hi to Moses, one of the friendly folks at the front desk. He’s awesome!
Just a smidge outside of Hermanus, I found Schulphoek Guest House, an understated, sophisticated property overlooking Schulphoek Bay – no, I can’t pronounce it either. Equally unpronounceable are some of the suite names: alikreukel and the name of my room, perlemoen, named for creatures indigenous the the Cape’s coastline.
Chocolate cupcakes in bed? Yes please.
The scent of locally grown lavender welcomed me to my modern room, which I’d come to expect would have a giant bathtub. (Nine out of ten rooms in South Africa had massive tubs and I loved it!)
The common area
Schulphoek is as warm and welcoming a place as I’ve ever stayed, and my host Petro made me feel like a long-lost friend come for a visit to her house. Communal dinner is served nightly for those interested for around $30, and it’s well worth it for both the food and the socializing. First, guests gather in the wine cellar to choose a tasty beverage from 12,000 bottles and then the magnificent, locally sourced supper is served. I had springbok with Jack Daniels sauce and a heavenly vanilla creme brulee.
Breakfast at Schulphoek
Schulphoek’s menu incorporates the seasonal produce and catches of local farmers and fishermen in order to focus on sustainability. The menu changes every day according to what’s available, and I loved that! Community dinner was definitely my favorite part of the whole stay at Schulphoek.
The view from the common area
Like On the Vermont, you really need a car to stay at a place outside of town like this, otherwise taxis could get pricey. I can’t stress it enough – public transportation in South Africa is pretty much non-existent. As for me, I was quite satisfied to sit in the common room and take in the views of the bay, waiting for whales to swim in and say hello.
Just about a 10 minute walk from the center of Hermanus is the cozy Hermanus Backpacker run by seasoned travelers Hayley and Braam. It has everything you might need from a hostel – good location, deals on shark cage diving, a pool, a community braai (BBQ), kitchen for self-catering and a very basic breakfast included.
One of the dorms
The WiFi isn’t free, so I had to spend more time at the cafes in town than actually at the hostel, but it was still a surprisingly quiet stay considering the lively, party-friendly atmosphere.
Special thanks to all the hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and hostels who provided a home for me in Hermanus. As always, reviews on Angie Away are my own.