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Is there a hideaway in the world where you open your eyes and with a small adjustment of your down pillows, watch whales breaching from the cocooned warmth of your bed? Lie quite still and count the seconds between the giant swells of Walker Bay pushed by a strong north-easter. The seven metre waves undulating over Great Whites and Southern Rights ‘demand respect’ say the locals who surf them. So do the creators of this extraordinary home that is so sensitively rooted to the land. Their choice was to ‘grow’ the house organically on the cliffs of Hermanus with rock in muted earth shades of pink and ochre, quarried and set painstakingly down over three years. From the ocean, it is at one with the skyline of clinging fynbos and the cliff face.
You approach the house over a low wall and enter the front courtyard that houses a boules court shaded by a giant Madagascan cedar. Over the threshold, you enter the true heart of the house, a double-volume courtyard and living area. You may look around and upwards but you cannot escape the instant pull of a 180 degree view of the bay. Should the wind pick up, it is here, sheltered by glass and stone that you will live and entertain. The one fireplace is topped by a massive yellowwood beam salvaged from a harbour. Sea worn and battered over a century, the ‘find’ started out as the owner’s rather unconventional birthday gift to be stored until it could take centre stage in the interior architecture. The hearth is one of several sheltered gathering points in this expansive courtyard. A low stone boma surrounded by benches is another. It is here that guests relax, read, chat and braai. No-one need use a car when staying here. The town and all its provisions from specialist shops to food markets is a five minute walk away – or a short cycle. When summer comes, throw on a gown, sandals and grab a beach towel.
Past the plunge pool and outdoor shower and through the fynbos, you reach the cliff path and bracingly cold tidal pools beyond. Be brave and swim. Your children will explore the rock pools and play. On their return, they will empty their buckets of shell treasure and dash back to their den, where four over-size bunks and a secret hideaway space above it will let imagination create their own memories of this holiday. For any adult with an eye for design, it is a house of rich inspiration: Indian shutters; a giant paper chandelier that is a witty interpretation of concrete dolosse; wrought iron standing lamps by a local blacksmith; hand-made tiles with a hint of a Moroccan heritage; a granite basin hewn from solid rock; natural linen drapes and raw textured surfaces; a giant woven cane nest chair. And now and then, a pop of colour. Wrought, hewn, carved, skimmed and joined, it is a house born of patience, imagination and great skill.
What we love!
The design of the house encourages full use of communal space but large enough for individual pursuits with alcoves, daybeds and loungers well placed throughout the home.
Although secluded and private, the house is literally 5 minutes from the town. Bar exploration of the surrounding area, vehicles can remain in the secure double garage on the property.
Whale watching season is between July and November. This will be one of the best winter breaks you could experience.
What you need to know…
Children are very welcome here. The plunge pool has a net which can be installed by the houseman.
The house accommodates eight adults and up to four children in the ‘bunk den’
Guests are responsible for any international calls made by landline during their stay
Winter – now until 31 July – R12 875
Whale season – 1 August until 30 September – R15 000
Shoulder season – 1 October until 11 December – R20 000
Peak – 12 December until 9 January 2019 – R40 000
Shoulder season – 10 January until 19 April (post Easter) – R20 000