The Marine stands at the coast of Hermanus in South Africa.
The Marine: Our full report
The Marine is a stylish hotel, perched on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay and is just a two-minute walk from the centre of Hermanus. It is part of the luxury Relais & Châteaux group - and is a beautiful seaside spot to be based, especially for whale watching between the months of June and November.
There are 40 rooms at the Marine Hotel, divided into different categories - based on their size and location within the hotel. All the rooms, irrespective of their category, feature en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, underfloor heating, satellite TV, direct-dial phone, electronic safes, a welcome bottle of wine, tea and coffee making facilities, a minibar, hotwater bottles in the beds in winter and a complimentary newspaper.
The décor in each room is stylish and understated, some with cream and soft sandy colours and others with cream, greens or soft blue. On a previous, visit in November 2011, we found the décor to be bright, flowery and a bit “chintzy", however following a more recent visit in May 2014, we found it to be toned down and a lot more stylish.
- The standard rooms have mountain views or partial sea views and some have a private balcony.
- The luxury rooms are bigger than the standard rooms and have a comfortable seating area. The en-suite bathrooms have separate showers and a bath. Some of these rooms are sea facing or partially seafacing and others overlook the pool towards the Overberg Mountains. Three of the sea-facing rooms have balconies or patios.
- Each of the suites have a separate sitting room. All but one have a sea view, while the last, which is larger, has a partial sea view to the side. Two of these suites have a balcony or patio, one is set on a split level and one has a four-poster the bed.
- The premier suites all have sea views. Two of the suites have balconies, and two have working fireplaces/log burning stoves.
- The largest suite is the David Rawdon Suite named after the previous owner of the Marine. It is built over two levels, with the lounge downstairs, with beautiful antique furniture and a large bay window with beautiful sea views. Upstairs is a loft-style bedroom with views looking out of a porthole window to the sea.
Extra beds can be added in the suites and premium suites only at an additional cost of ZAR950 (about £56) per night, for families travelling with young children.
The bedrooms at The Marine are located on the ground floor as well as the first floor. There is no lift here so the ground floor rooms are ideal for elderly guests who aren’t able to manage the stairs.
The main areas at the Marine include the welcoming Sun Lounge, where comfortable sofas and armchairs are arranged into different seating areas. The décor is relaxed and sophisticated in beiges and pastel colours. There is a large fireplace and floor to ceiling windows letting in lots of light. This is a great place to relax and enjoy a snack while enjoying the sea and cliff top views and whales in season. Here you will also find the bar, making this a great spot for a drink or cocktail.
There are two restaurants at The Marine: The Pavilion and the Seafood. The Pavilion, where breakfast is served daily, is also open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday in season (it is open daily out of season when the Seafood restaurant is closed). This is an elegant room, with black and white checked tiled floors and black and white décor to match. The wall at the back of the restaurant is a floor to ceiling “floating cellar" with a wide selection of South African wines to choose from. Big arched windows afford views of the cliffs and the sea beyond.
Less formal than The Pavilion, and more fun, Seafood at The Marine is open daily for lunch and dinner in season, and has an open kitchen which allows diners to watch the chefs at work. Divided by a glass wall panel, the room is contemporary in style, with pots in bold graphic designs, black-and-white photographs and glass sculptures. Sustainably caught, and locally sourced seafood is their speciality offering fresh shellfish and line fish. This restaurant gets very busy in high season so reservations are recommended. In low season the Seafood restaurant is closed (May to July) when all meals are served at The Pavillion.
Beside the reception desk, where guests are met by friendly staff, is a small boutique selling items of clothing and curios, as well as an internet lounge and a travel desk where day tours can be arranged for guests. Staff here will also be happy to reconfirm guest’s flights and other arrangements.
The corridors are lined with old black and white photos of Hermanus and of the Marine Hotel when it first opened nearly 100 years ago. Outside, in a small courtyard garden is a solar-heated salt water swimming pool, as well as the Carchele health and beauty spa with five treatment rooms and a steam room.
An attraction for many guests is the hotel’s own tidal pool, set amongst the rocks on the beach below the hotel and is a fantastic spot to see whales close up. The hotel can supply you with towels and a picnic – and there are toilets and an outdoor shower there too.
Hermanus has its own wine route with some lovely wineries for visitors to explore, some also have a restaurant where you can stop for a delicious lunch. Horseriding, quad biking and kayaking can be arranged from the hotel too. (NB: It’s essential that you read the Quadbike warning in the ‘Health & Safety’ section below for our comments on insurance issues regarding this activity.) The surrounding area is covered with fynbos (a distinctive type of vegetation only found in this part of Africa) and there are some lovely botanical hiking trails in the area. Otherwise lovely cliff top walks are right on your doorstep.
Our viewThe Marine is a luxurious but unpretentious five-star hotel set in a beautiful seafront location. It is very elegant and the staff are very friendly. It is a great spot to explore Hermanus and its surrounding areas and it combines well with its two sister properties The Cellars Hohenort in Cape Town and The Plettenberg in Plettenberg Bay.
Ideal length of stay: 2 to 3 nights to explore the Hermanus area.
Directions: The hotel is on Marine Drive in Hermanus and is well sign-posted.
Accessible by: Self-drive
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: Breakfast is served in The Pavilion restaurant daily between 7.00am and 10.30am. On a recent visit (May 2015) we did not stay here long enough to enjoy a meal, but on a previous visit breakfast was beautifully laid out on a long table with a selection of cereals, breads, pastries, cold meat, fruit, local cheeses, yoghurt and fruit juice. A choice of hot breakfasts is available to order from friendly waiting staff.
Sadly we did not have lunch here but this is served either in the Pavillion or Seafood restaurants in high season, or just the Pavillion in low season.
Here is an idea of what the menu is at the Seafood at The Marine : starters range from soups, salads, fish cakes and ravioli priced from ZAR70 to R110 (£4 to £6.50). Main courses range from fish and chips, stir fried calamari, seafood pasta and grilled fish and surf ‘n turf (a combination and meat and fish). A vegetarian option is also available. These prices vary from ZAR110 to ZAR195 (£6.50 to £12). Crustaceans are also available such as oysters, mussels, crayfish and prawns at a cost of ZAR90 to ZAR395 (£6 to £23). A seafood platter with all of the above costs ZAR850 for two (£50 for two).
Dinner is usually served from 7.00pm onwards in either The Pavilion (Tuesday to Saturday) or Seafood at The Marine (daily in season). The Pavillion offers a 6 course tasting menu for R510 (about £30) as well as an a la carte menu. For dinner expect their menu to feature the following : starter of salmon trout brulee cured and braised pork, foie gras escalope, aubergine cheesecake with prices from ZAR80 to ZAR130 (from £5 to £7.50). Main course of vegetable wellington, pan seared sole fillets, linefish and mussels, springbok loins and beef fillet from ZAR130 to ZAR180 (about £7.50 to £10).
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £10-15
Drinks included: No drinks are included.
Further dining info: Room service is available
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages welcome
Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction
Special activities & services: Babysitting is available on request. This is either outsourced or provided by a member of staff at a cost of about ZAR80 an hour (just under £5) and must be paid direct to the child minder. Children are given a gift on arrival, popcorn and DVDs while watching the Disney channel and beach equipment such as buckets and spades are also provided.
Equipment: Cots and high chairs are available. Between the months of July and November, Hermanus offers some superb land-based whale-watching, and the nearby tidal pool is somewhere from where you can view these amazing creatures up close. Children of all ages will find this fascinating.
Generally recommended for children: We think that the Marine is very child friendly and caters well for children. Extra beds can be added in the suites and premium suites only – at an additional cost of ZAR950 (about £56) per night, for families travelling with children.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Each bedroom has free WiFi access but not the main areas. Each room also has a direct-dial telephone. The hotel has a separate 24-hour internet lounge, with a couple of computers for guests to use free of charge. The area has good cellphone reception.
TV & radio: The rooms are all fitted with 18 channel satellite TVs.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: There are doctors and a hospital in Hermanus.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity from The Marine. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it’s vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: There is a 24-hour security guard at the entrance gate as well as safe and secure parking.
Fire safety: Fire alarm and smoke detector systems are fitted throughout the hotel and fire extinguishers are strategically dotted around the hotel.
Disabled access: In Place
Laundry facilities: A full same-day laundry service is available at an extra charge provided that laundry is handed in by 8.30am. A valet and shoe cleaning service is also available between 8.00am and 10.00pm.
Money: Each of the rooms is fitted with an electronic safe. The hotel offers a currency exchange service for small amounts of money and charges a 20% handling fee for this. There are many banks and foreign exchange shops in Hermanus.
Accepted payment on location: Diners, Amex, Visa and Mastercard are accepted methods of payment as well as SA rands in cash.