Birkenhead House is perched on the cliffs above a small beach ...
Birkenhead House: Our full report
Perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean Birkenhead House is a luxurious hotel on the outskirts of Hermanus and is a beautiful, opulent base for exploring this part of the Cape Coast. Between the months of June and November it’s also an amazing spot to view Southern Right Whales just metres from the shore or from your room.
Birkenhead House is built on the site of the old Birkenhead Hotel – named after a ship carrying British troops, which sank nearby in 1852.
Inside, the Birkenhead is as stunning as the views are outside. The décor, artwork and furnishings are a mix of contemporary and quirky and may be seen as some as being slightly “over the top", however the staff here are very professional and friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed.
The main areas at Birkenhead House are located in three separate buildings over three levels, sloping down towards the sea. The first building, which is quite unimposing from the outside, is entered at street level, where you will find the reception and a friendly welcome. In this building (known as the back house) you will also find three of the bedrooms. Steps lead down into a courtyard with a tinkling fountain and into the “middle house". Four of the bedrooms are located here - three upstairs and one downstairs. Here you will also find the spa and small gym. More stairs lead down into a larger sheltered rectangular courtyard where you will find the main swimming pool which is built over two levels with the upper pool cascading into the lower pool. Numerous cream sunloungers with matching sun umbrellas line the one side of the pool. On the other side of the pool sliding doors lead into the bar and dining area.
At the far end of the courtyard more glass sliding doors lead into an impressive lounge (located in the front house) with windows on three sides offering breathtaking views of the sea in front and a beach on either side. Here you will find comfortable furniture, mixed with antiques, divided into different seating areas. Sofas and chairs are covered in white and cream fabric with splashes of colour from individual pieces of furniture and the artwork on the walls. Persian rugs are scattered on cream marble floors. A large fireplace dominates one wall to the side flanked by two floor to ceiling windows. In the centre of the lounge a stone staircase leads to the four upstairs bedrooms.
Sliding doors lead out onto a paved patio with sunloungers, as well as a covered veranda, with comfortable lounge furniture, looking out over an infinity pool which seems to flow into the sea! Stairs lead down from the patio straight onto the clifftop path and also down onto the beach.
Birkenhead House has 11 individually designed rooms. All rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV, a DVD player, complimentary minibar, fresh fruit on arrival and a couple of magazines for guests to enjoy.
The rooms in the Front House are:
- Room one is at the front of the house with views of the ocean from its two balconies. Its décor is light and stylish with a king-size antique bed complimented with white, gold and yellow furniture and pale stone floors. Its en suite bathroom is fitted with a bath, a separate shower and twin basins.
- Room two is adjacent to room one. It is a bright room with pinks and reds dominating the furniture and cream walls. It has an ocean view from is large balcony, which has a table and chairs for guest to relax in the sun. Its en suite bathroom has a bath, shower and twin basins.
- Room three has a French four-poster bed from where you can enjoy the views of ocean. It also has a private balcony with uninterrupted views. It includes an antique desk and some original paintings on the walls, which add to the rooms character. A high white painted loft-style roof adds to the space and feeling of light. The en suite bathroom has a Victorian bath, separate shower and twin basins.
- Room four is decorated in soft natural tones and has a gold framed headboard behind the queen size bed. It is furnished with a hand-carved antique chair, leather desk and original paintings. Its en suite bathroom includes a shell mirror, single basin, shower and a Victorian bath.
The rooms in the Middle House are:
- Room five located downstairs and has its own private patio and plunge pool, including a daybed and table and chairs. Inside is a King-size four-poster bed, antique English writing desk, antique French chair and original artwork. In the bathroom, cupboards with double basins surround the marble sunken bath and shower.
- Room six is upstairs and is decorated in green and blue tones with a large king-sized bed with a dark wooden headboard. It is furnished with a two-seater silk couch, zebra skin mirror and footstool. The en suite bathroom features a Victorian bath with twin basins. Its wrap around balcony offers views towards the ocean and mountains.
- Room seven is upstairs and has two ¾ beds with padded headboards and can be converted into a king-sized bed on request. There is a French gold antique chair and desk. The en suite bathroom opens onto a mountain-facing balcony and is fitted with two shell mirrors above twin marble basins and a freestanding Victorian bath. There are lovely views of the sea from its balcony.
- Room eight is also upstairs and features two balconies, one at the back and one at the front offering both a view of the mountains and the sea. Inside, there is a king size English antique bed and two red suede armchairs and bright artwork on the walls. It has a spacious en suite bathroom with a freestanding bath, separate shower and twin basins.
- Room nine is decorated in red and white tones and includes a king size bed with a leather headboard and high loft-style ceiling. A few steps lead down into the en suite bathroom has a freestanding bath, shower and twin basins. The room has three balconies furnished with old furniture to enjoy views of the mountains as well as partial sea views.
- Room ten has a king size bed on top of a stone base, with steps leading up to it and a green velvet and wood headboard. The room also features antique furniture and original artworks on the walls. The room also includes a separate dressing room. The en suite bathroom has a stone floor, a stone freestanding egg-shaped bath in front of a window, a shower and twin basins. This room also includes a nice balcony with two chairs to enjoy the views of the mountains/ocean. .
- Room 11 has a hand painted king size four-poster bed with a mirrored desk and bedside table. Its balconies offer views of the mountains, whilst its interior is furnished with black lacquered cupboards, antique Chinese vases, original paintings and antique tub chairs in yellow silk. The en suite features a freestanding bath, double basin and a walk-in shower.
The Spa at Birkenhead house has two treatment rooms with an array of choices on the menu from massages, aromatherapy, reflexology and various treatments. Beside the spa is also a small gym.
Birkenhead House stands on a rocky outcrop between two beaches. To the left is Voelklip Beach (Afrikaans for bird rock) and to the right is Nannys Beach. Ask for a picnic basket and enjoy a day relaxing in the sun.
An 8km cliff top walk will take you into Hermanus (about an hour and a half) where you can wander around the shops and enjoy the restaurants and cafes there. When you are ready a driver will collect you and return you to the hotel.
Our viewBirkenhead House is a top quality all inclusive hotel with the emphasis on luxury, friendliness and good service. With all meals and drinks included it’s the type of place where guests may prefer to hang around and enjoy the facilities there, with the occasional foray out to do activities in the area.
Ideal length of stay: 2 - 3 nights is ideal to explore this part of the coast
Directions: Drive straight into Hermanus ' Main Road. Drive straight through the city centre until you reach a roundabout(approx 6km). Take the second turn off out of the roundabout and continue (still Main Road) until the first road on your right (approx 1km) into 7th Avenue. Continue (approx 200m ) towards Voelklip Beach. Birkenhead House is situated on the corner of 7th Avenue and 11th Street.
Accessible by: Self-drive
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Unfortunately we did not stay long enough here to sample any of their meals but we believe their food is really good. Birkenhead House includes all meals and most drinks in their rate and all meals are enjoyed in the dining room overlooking the pool, outside in the courtyard beside the pool, or on the patio overlooking the sea.
Breakfast is a vast buffet, laid out for guests to help themselves, followed by a cooked breakfast to order. Lunchis a light a la carte three course menu which changes daily. Dinneris a four course a la carte menu, which also changes daily, and here is an idea of what you might expect: Starters might be seared prawns, roast duck and onion ravioli or pickled beetroot ravioli. Following this is a soup before the main course, which could be lamb shank bredie (a local South African stew), cob breyani or wild mushroom lasagna. Desert could be a chocolate pavlova or a cheese plate with biscuits and preserves.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are included at Birkenhead House, except for premium wines champagnes and spirits.
Further dining info: Room service is available.
Attitude towards children: Children 12 years and older are welcome at Birkenhead House.
Property’s age restrictions: Children 12 years and older are welcome at Birkenhead House.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities and services here for children. For older there are two swimming pools and two beaches within walking distance. At the time of our visit the General Manager was a keen surfer and he would be happy to teach children how to surf.
Generally recommended for children: Birkenhead House is a very adult property and we feel that it is suitable for children 16 years and older.
Notes: We feel that Brikenhead House is a very adult property and is not suitable for children under 16 years.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Each room has a direct dial telephone and the area has good cellphone reception. There is complimentary WiFi throughout the house.
TV & radio: Each room has a satellite TV and DVD player.
Water supply: Mains
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: There are doctors and a hospital nearby in Hermanus.
Security measures: Security guards are on duty 24 hours and each room is fitted with an emergency panic button. There are perimeter alarms around the property.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers located in each house.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A 24 hour laundry service is available and is included in the rate. Dry cleaning is available at an additional cost.
Money: Each room has a digital safe. There is no currency exchange available here but there are a lot of banks and cash point machines in Hermanus.
Accepted payment on location: All credit cards are accepted and cash in SA rands.