Birkenhead House – South Africa
Hotel Type: 5* luxury boutique beach house.
Location: On a cliff promontory in Hermanus, with coves either side – just three miles from the centre, and a two hour drive from Cape Town.
Style: Eclectic opulence.
Rooms: 11 lavishly styled rooms.
Ideal For: Lazy days and ocean views.
Swimming: There is an infinity pool on site, and Room 5 has a private plunge pool.
Dining: The restaurant champions fresh and seasonal ingredients, and guests can forage their dinner along the shoreline during mussel season.
Children: Only for children 10 and over.
Activities: There’s plenty to do both at and near Birkenhead House – from a surfing lesson and whale watching to wine tasting and mussel picking. Guests can also enjoy guided walks along the cliff path, kite surfing, paragliding, fishing, sea kayaking, golf and cycling. Rest those tired legs with a spa treatment at Birkenhead House.
Spa: The spa at Birkenhead House has four treatment rooms and a wide range of treatments. These include massages and body wraps, as well as beauty and grooming treatments. They also offer a number of rituals including one designed for jet lag.
Accessibility: This is not suitable for wheelchair users.
Low Season Price From: £250 for a Standard room on a full board basis.
High Season Price From: £375 for a Standard room on a full board basis.
Open From: All year round.
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 also is widely recognized 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.
Spread across three separate houses, each room is unique in design, décor and outlook. The very intimate Standard Rooms (10 & 11) are both in the Back House, with mountain views. You step up onto the bed in Room 10, with its stylish mix of Venetian and Victorian furnishings, and its extravagant bathroom. It also features a private balcony. Room 11 is furnished with a hand painted four poster bed and Chinese antiques, and a free standing bath that you can soak in looking up at the view. There are three Luxury Rooms – two in the Middle House and one in the Back House. Room 5 has an Indian Haveli feel with its intricately carved woodwork framing the bed. It comes with a terrace and private plunge pool. The very spacious Room 7 has two balconies – one with ocean views off the bedroom and the other from the bathroom looking up over the mountains. Not to be outdone, Room 9 has three balconies and sophisticated décor. The Superior Rooms (3, 4, 6 & 8) are spread across the Front and Middle Houses. Room 3 is resplendent in white and gold, with views out over the ocean; a verandah leading to the garden, and an opulent mirrored and marble bathroom. Room 4 is packed full of beautiful antique furniture and has far reaching sea views. We love the wraparound balcony of Room 6, and its vivid turquoise colour scheme. The ocean view isn’t bad either. Room 8 mixes classic English design with African touches – the four poster bed is magnificent and the chaise longue in the bathroom is very decadent. The Front House is home to the two Deluxe Superior Rooms (1 & 2) with their multiple balconies and ocean views. Furnished with period pieces, they are the epitome of glamour.
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.
Birkenhead House has a very grown up feel, and only children over the age of 10 are able to stay here – with no specific facilities.
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 60 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.