Don’t underestimate the restorative powers of The Marine. One of the oldest buildings in Hermanus, The Marine was originally founded as a healing sanatorium where guests could benefit from the rejuvenating power of the sometimes bracing sometimes balmy sea air. Doctors have been recommending trips to the shore for “bathing holidays” since the 18th century. It follows that The Marine was first built around this time, so that visitors could get suitably drunk on Hermanus’ famed “Champagne Air”. The sanatorium graduated to a hotel in 1902.
The medical dictates of days-gone-by have been borne out by modern scientists, who have ably demonstrated how waves charge the frail bodies of us mere mortals with all sorts of negative ions that do indeed promote good health. But it certainly won’t take a doctor or scientist to tell you you’re in the right place once you arrive at The Marine.
Perched on the Hermanus clifftop overlooking a tidal pool, there’s no faulting the location of this historic gem with its pristine views over Walker Bay, the Overberg and beyond. You can most certainly spot whales from your hotel window and the sea shouts a seductive Siren’s song from the rocky seashore below the cliffs. Situated on a prominent headland, The Marine is embedded in the very beginnings of Hermanus. It is easy to imagine the unabated glee of its founders as they broke unclaimed ground to build on the most auspicious promontory in what was then only a small fishing village.
Despite its significant history – and a fine collection of antique furniture – the hotel is by no means locked in the past. It was fully restored and brought into the present by the late Mrs Liz McGrath and today the hotel remains part of The Liz McGrath Collection, now managed by her son. The five-star luxury property retains the aura and majesty of an exalted Grande Dame, but one who has suddenly found herself flush in the bloom of youth. Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, visited there in 1923 and modern-day Hollywood “royalty” Brad Pitt has made it his pitstop.
Classic-contemporary decor render the Sun Lounge and Bar, Origins restaurant and Pavilion restaurant pleasant, stylish places to dine or take breakfast or simply while away the time. The Sun Lounge is especially inspired by its context and touches of ocean in the form of shells and coral can be found throughout the interior scheme.
The outdoor pool area offers a particularly fine form of respite. The heated water is just right after a decidedly fresh dip in the tidal pool. The strong, almost monastic architecture with repeating arches that shield the courtyard creates a cloister-like calm. There is poolside service and an abundance of deeply plush, fluffy towels.
The rooms themselves soothe in soft, muted blues that echo the hues of the ocean. Ours oozed character: situated in the distinctive bay window section of the hotel, the double-storey room had lofty volume and a big double bed with plump pillows on a mezzanine level beneath a gently curving ceiling. A large porthole window looking out onto the bay, complete with its own custom shutters, made us feel as though our ship had come in!
Turn-down service, free mini-bar and complimentary wifi are de rigueur at The Marine. Add to this the friendly and informed staff, a trip to the on-site spa for a massage and a breakfast buffet that will turn into brunch. That’s not forgetting all that sea air you’ll take in…