Hotel Highlights

  • Breathtaking ocean-view setting
  • Whalewatch from the swimming pool
  • Delicious food

Overview

Set dramatically on a cliff two hours from Cape Town, Birkenhead House hotel is an art deco-inspired hideaway of ostrich-feather lampshades and welcoming wicker lounge chairs. In addition to the inspired décor, views include two sandy beaches popular with both surfers and whales, the latter in season from June to November. This is a retreat of simple pleasures, with deep marble bathtubs and a plunge pool gazing out to sea.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Birkenhead House with us:

A fantastic private dinner for two

Facilities

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Birkenhead House Hotel - Hermanus - South Africa

Need To Know

Rooms

11 luxury suites.

Check–out

11am but flexible depending on how busy it is. Check-in: 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $379.88 (ZAR4,035), excluding tax at 14 per cent.

More details

Rates include tranfers to/from Hermanus, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks.

Also

As well as Hermanus' poster activity – whale watching – you can arrange a huge variety of activities around Birkenhead House, including scuba trips, shark diving, quad biking, coastal kayaking, surfing, para gliding, golf, and wine tasting.

At the hotel

Three pools, spa, gym, free WiFi throughout, off-street parking. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player and library, complimentary minibar.

Our favourite rooms

All rooms are individually decorated, and all are luxurious. One room has an Oriental feel with Chinese yellow-silk chairs and black-lacquer wardrobes. Rooms 1 and 2 are sea-facing (1 is more spacious). Rooms 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 have balconies, as does Room 8 (albeit small) and Room 6 has a wrap-around balcony with mountain views. Rooms 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9 have sea views (6 and 10 have balconies, 9 has three). Room 5 has a plunge pool and sunken marble bath, but no sea view. 8 has a four-poster and a sea-view, but only just.

Packing tips

Boutique beach essentials, and binoculars for whale- and dolphin-watching.

Also

No pets. No smoking in the hotel, but a smoking area is provided.

Children

No children under 12, unless the entire property is booked for an exclusive stay. An extra bed for a third person can be added to rooms 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 for R750.

Eco‐friendly

The hotel recycles all paper, glass and metal and creates its own compost from a wormery. All food is sourced locally, seasonally and organically.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Birkenhead House Hotel - Hermanus - South Africa

Hotel Restaurant

There is no restaurant as such. Snacks and meals are included in the room rate. Two menus have Thai and French influences.

Hotel Bar

You can help yourself to an honesty bar day and night: a selection of quality local wines, spirits, liqueurs, beers and soft drinks.

Last orders

Breakfasts are a treat: full English and Continental are served daily 8am–10am. Mealtimes are flexible: usually, the latest you can have lunch is 4pm, and dinner about 10pm.

Room service

Snacks are provided free of charge.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Beach casual by day, breezy sophistication by night.

Top table

The best place is next to the rim-flow pool on the front patio overlooking Walker Bay (weather permitting). Private meals may be served in the card room or, if your room allows, on its balcony.

Local Guide

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Birkenhead House Hotel - Hermanus - South Africa
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Hermanus is about an hour and a half's drive from Cape Town, so consult our guide to the city if you're combining your visit with a trip there. Also see our local guide to Hermanus.

For fish and sushi in Hermanus, pop into Harbour Rock, a large restaurant overlooking the anchored fishing fleet in the new harbour (+27 (0)28 312 2920). Piazza Paradiso at the old harbour (+27 (0)28 313 1153) is a relaxed spot in which to enjoy pizza or pasta. Seafood at The Marine on Marine Drive in Hermanus (+27 (0)28 313 1000) serves local fresh fish and shellfish from Walker Bay in bright and stylish surroundings. Make sure to book a table with a sea view. Also on Marine Drive, Savannah Café (+27 (0)28 312 4259) is great for light lunches. It’s a popular place but it’s not possible to book. The seaside location is wonderful though if you need to wait a short time. B’s Steakhouse in Hemel-en-Aarde village (+27 (0)28 316 3625) serves fabulously juicy steaks. Moggs Country Cookhouse, also in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley (+27 (0)28 312 1516), is a rustic venue surrounded by several well-respected vineyards which supply the restaurant with excellent wine. The fresh ingredients, used in dishes like asparagus salad, come from the cook’s garden next door.

+ Enlarge
Private Hermanus peninsula

Birkenhead House

P.O.Box 1552, Hermanus, Hermanus, South Africa, 7200

Planes

The nearest airport is Cape Town International, 128km away (allow an hour and a half by car).

Trains

An hour and a half away in Cape Town, luxury companies such as Blue Train (www.bluetrain.co.za) and Rovos Rail (www.rovos.com) set off for scenic railway rides to Worcester, Beaufot West, Kroonstad and Bloemfontein.

Automobiles

From the airport, take the N2 and then the R43. There’s free parking when you arrive.

Reviews

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Birkenhead House Hotel - Hermanus - South Africa

Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

We've done beach-bum duty for the Smiths before: this time, instead of being flown off for a first-time dirty weekend in Barcelona, our Smith reviewing duties fell during a decadent eight-week African honeymoon. Having spent 21 days in the Namibian desert (sand, yes; water, not much) followed by a week of late nights ...

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Birkenhead House

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

We've done beach-bum duty for the Smiths before: this time, instead of being flown off for a first-time dirty weekend in Barcelona, our Smith reviewing duties fell during a decadent eight-week African honeymoon. Having spent 21 days in the Namibian desert (sand, yes; water, not much) followed by a week of late nights and partying in Cape Town and a marathon hike up Table Mountain, we arrived at Birkenhead House hot, sweaty, grumpy and desperate for the beach, only to be greeted by the warmest welcome we could possibly have asked for. That meant lavender-scented hot towels, a glass of champagne, the ocean smack-bang in our faces and a friendly team of smiling folk who made us feel like we were the only honeymooners in the world. A very good start to round two for these Smith reviewers.

Having driven through Hermanus, past retirement villages and golf carts, we’d begun to question whether we were doing the right thing – until we reached the magnificent cream stone steps of Birkenhead House. Suddenly a weight had lifted from our shoulders and we knew that the next few days were going to be pretty darn special.

The hotel is perched on a peninsula on the Indian Ocean, so there is an overwhelming sense of privacy; it feels almost like being on an island. We padded through the sumptuous, mouthwatering interior, with elegant pillars everywhere; a long, slim pool flanked by cream wicker loungers; a stylish and inviting bar with huge arrangements of lilies; and an impressive fridge of chilled wines. We could even see the ocean shimmering beyond the restaurant, a stunning terrace in between. The view from the verandah is spectacular: a pretty little bay is directly beneath, so whether you’re sipping cocktails in the infinity pool or taking breakfast with waves crashing at your feet, you feel as though the beautiful paradise beach out front belongs to you.

We were given a brief introduction to our new surroundings by the front-of-house manager, who cleverly picked up on the fact that, while we were trying desperately to appear sophisticated grown-ups, all we really wanted to do was go to our room and jump around like over-excited small children. He kept it brief. Champagne in hand, smiles on our faces, we were taken to the ocean-view honeymoon suite. Although not the grandest in the hotel, it is definitely the most romantic. Like all the rooms, ours was big, light and airy, yet warm and inviting, with a big gilt bed facing the sea, flowers everywhere, bohemian details and a feeling of decadent luxury.

From the moment we arrived, the team went out of their way to make us comfortable, and ensure our every need was met. This continued throughout our stay: we really felt they wanted us to have the best time ever, and the little details and personal touches did not go unnoticed: a floating flower in the loo; lanterns that appeared within seconds of a power cut; a cheerful phone call after we'd ordered breakfast, to tell us that dolphins were in the bay; rose petals on the floor; a ready-run bath; candles everywhere on our return from dinner; a candlelit supper another evening, next to a lit fire; hot-water bottles in bed on a chilly night; peppermint tea in bed at 3am after a big night out; and bathrobes so luxuriant that even Hugh Hefner would have been proud.

Honeymooners aside, Birkenhead House is a hotel to suit all Mr and Mrs Smiths. Designed by owner Liz Biden, in conjunction with Cape Town interior designer Ralph Krall, the hotel (named not after northern English town, but after HMS Birkenhead, which ran aground just up the coast) is minimalist in its stylings’ simplicity, with clever warm flourishes.

After 48 hours of hibernating – sunbathing, backgammon, champagne-sipping, a facial and massage in the fantastic spa, being waited on hand and foot – we ventured out to sample the local restaurants and nightlife. Hermanus is a small provincial, seaside town, so we didn’t expect much, and the candlelit dining experience at Birkenhead took some beating, but we feasted on fish at La Mediterrea, owned by Taki, surfer by day, chef by night.

We happened upon an over-Sixties dance party and egged on by the oldies, we ended up having an unexpected dance of our lives to the local Van Morrison on his electric keyboard. Never have ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ and ‘Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool’ sounded so good. A hilarious experience fuelled by a skinful of South African red, and we left giggling and feeling pretty youthful.

The following day, we thought we should explore inland. A 45-minute drive later, we were in the heart of the winelands. After seven vineyards, we rated Hamilton Russell the tastiest, particularly as it’s also blessed with a charming restaurant where we soaked up the morning’s tasting.

The dreaded day of leaving finally arrived, and we headed back to the city with heavy hearts, feeling as though we’d had the highlight of our honeymoon. We’d been treated like king and queen, felt pampered, rested, fat and happy, and couldn’t wait to share tales of our adventure with our friends. Now tell me… What’s an acceptable amount of time to wait before you’re eligible for a second honeymoon?

This South Africa boutique hotel was reviewed by Harriet Marshall

The Guestbook

Reviews of Birkenhead House from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

SilverSmith

Stayed on 18 Dec 2012

We loved

The attention to detail by all the staff and the service levels - from the moment you arrive till the farewell right at your (cleaned) car... absolutely fantastic!! And the Smith extra was a private dinner, with the chefs taking the time to prepare our favourite dishes as we were celebrating our engagement, making it extra special. An extended thanks to Corinne Janine from the hotel for helping with my booking and proposal details, prior to my arrival from the UK. Not forgetting Susannah Garcia from Mr & Mrs Smith for her efforts and putting me in direct touch, much appreciated.

Don’t expect

Our stay could have been for longer!

Rating: 10/10 stars