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 an opulent base for exploring this part of the Cape Coast. Between 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, which was named after a ship that was carrying British troops, and 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’, but the staff here are professional and friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed.
The main areas at Birkenhead House are located in three separate buildings, set on three levels sloping down towards the sea. The first building, known as the ‘back house’, is entered at street level, and is quite unimposing from the outside. Here you will find the reception and a friendly welcome, and three of the bedrooms.
Steps lead down into a courtyard with a tinkling fountain and into the ‘middle house’. Here you will find the spa and a small gym, as well as four of the bedrooms – three upstairs and one downstairs. More stairs lead down into a larger sheltered rectangular courtyard which features the main swimming pool, built over two levels with the upper pool cascading into the lower one. Cream sunloungers with matching sun umbrellas line one side of the pool, and on the other, sliding doors lead into the bar and dining area. All meals are enjoyed either here, overlooking the pool, or outside on the courtyard beside the pool, or on the patio overlooking the sea.
At the far end of the courtyard more glass sliding doors lead into the ‘front house’, where an impressive lounge has windows on three sides offering breathtaking views of the sea and the beach. A large fireplace dominates one wall, flanked by two floor-to-ceiling windows, and Persian rugs are scattered on cream marble floors. The room is divided into different seating areas, its comfortable furniture mixed with antiques. Sofas and chairs are covered in white and cream fabric, with splashes of colour introduced by individual pieces of furniture and artwork on the walls. In the centre of the lounge a stone staircase leads to the four upstairs bedrooms.
From the lounge, sliding doors lead out onto a paved patio with more 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 from the patio lead straight onto the clifftop path and also down to the beach.
Birkenhead House has 11 individually designed rooms. All have en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, satellite TV, a DVD player, complimentary minibar, fresh fruit on arrival and a couple of magazines for guests to enjoy.
Four rooms are located in the front house:
- 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 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. Its large balcony, with an ocean view, has a table and chairs for guests to relax in the sun. The 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, with character added by an antique desk and some original paintings. It also has a private balcony with uninterrupted views. A high white-painted loft-style roof accentuates the space and feeling of light. The bathroom has a Victorian bath, separate shower and twin basins.
- Room four is decorated in soft natural tones, with a gold-framed headboard behind the queen-size bed. It is furnished with a hand-carved antique chair, leather desk and original paintings. Its bathroom includes a shell mirror, single basin, shower and a Victorian bath.
A further four rooms are in the middle house, one downstairs and three upstairs:
- Room five, downstairs, has its own private patio and plunge pool, including a daybed and table and chairs. Inside are 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, upstairs, is decorated in green and blue tones with a large king-size bed with a dark wooden headboard. It is furnished with a two-seater silk couch, zebra-skin mirror and footstool. The bathroom features a Victorian bath with twin basins. Its wraparound balcony offers views towards the ocean and mountains.
- Room seven has two ¾-size beds, with padded headboards, which can be converted into a king-size bed on request. There is a French gold antique chair and desk, and lovely views of the sea from the balcony. The bathroom opens onto a mountain-facing balcony and is fitted with two shell mirrors above twin marble basins and a freestanding Victorian bath.
- Room eight features two balconies, one at the back and one at the front, offering views of both the mountains and the sea. Inside, there is a king-size English antique bed, two red suede armchairs, and bright artwork on the walls. The spacious bathroom has a freestanding bath, separate shower and twin basins.
The remaining three rooms are located upstairs in the back house:
- 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 bathroom where you’ll find 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 features a separate dressing room, and a nice balcony with two chairs to enjoy the views of the mountains/ocean. Alongside antique furniture and original artwork on the walls, it has a king-size bed on a stone base, with steps leading up to it and a green velvet-and-wood headboard. The bathroom has a stone floor, a stone freestanding egg-shaped bath in front of a window, a shower and twin basins. .
- 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 that include 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. Alternatively, 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 cafés. When you are ready, you can arrange for a driver to 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, with the occasional foray out to explore the area.
Ideal length of stay: 2-3 nights is ideal to explore this part of the coast.
Directions: Drive straight into Hermanus on the Main Road and through the city centre until you reach a roundabout (approx 6km). Take the second turn off the roundabout and continue (still Main Road) for about 1km until the first road on your right, into 7th Avenue. Continue (approx 200m ) towards Voelklip Beach. Birkenhead House is on the corner of 7th Avenue and 11th Street.
Accessible by: Self-drive
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Birkenhead House includes all meals and most drinks in their rates. Unfortunately we did not stay long enough here to sample any of the meals but here is an idea of what you might expect..
Breakfast is a vast buffet, laid out for guests to help themselves, followed by a cooked breakfast prepared to order.
Lunch is a light à la carte three-course menu which changes daily.
Dinner is a four-course à la carte menu, which also changes daily. Starters may include options such as 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 lasagne. To follow you could have a dessert such as 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 of 12 years and older are welcome at Birkenhead House.
Property’s age restrictions: Children of 12 years and older are welcome at Birkenhead House.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities and services here for children, although 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.
Notes: We feel that Birkenhead 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 major credit cards are accepted, as well as cash in SA rands.