As a child we had a memorable family holiday at The Windsor Hotel in the 1980s, during which we fell in love with the place. I've been fortunate enough to stay there several more times subsequently, and it remains attractive - it's situated right in the heart of Hermanus, close to the vibe of the restaurants & pubs, and is perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea - so from July to November it's easy to see our friends, the Southern Right Whales.
We once stayed at a guest house which advertised itself as being across the road from the beach, but in reality the road was so far back that we could hardly even see the ocean or beach. I'm happy The Windsor Hotel is indeed just across the road from the sea, as it is perched on top of a craggy area. The best way to get an idea of its positioning is by looking at this photo we took from the upstairs lounge.
As we arrived at the Windsor, I was reminded of exactly how close it is to the sea - our 1-year-old son just kept staring at the waves breaking, as we checked-in. Although south-facing, in the summers the hotel is protected from the Western Cape's notorious south-easter by the double-doors and glass fronts to the hotel. There was practically no queue at check-in, and we got through quickly & efficiently. The interior is decorated with beautiful woody furniture & pictures of whales are everywhere.
There are lounges all over the Windsor Hotel. All along the ground floor overlooking the sea, are little areas where you can sit and chat or do some work. But don't miss out on the lounges on the 2nd floor - these are the best, they have better views and are more plush. There's also a TV room on the 2nd floor where everybody congregated to watch the rugby whilst I was there (Springboks v Argentina) - a good spot to get to meet other visitors.
And here's the view from a downstairs lounge.
We had 2 interleading rooms (101 & 103), which are perfect for when you've got 2 kids. Our bedrooms were non sea-facing rooms. We had 2 chocolates in each, which our daughter happily munched on :) The curtain & backboard are coloured yellow with flowers on them, the roof is white and the walls are cream-coloured. The TV is small, but we weren't planning on spending much time staring at the box. We were on the ground floor (the Windsor has 2 more floors above us) and had a little stoep facing onto the car park (we parked the car there and easily carried our luggage into our room). There's no fridge in the room, but the staff were kind enough to keep our medication in the hotel's fridge.
Housekeeping were excellent. Our rooms were spotlessly clean. On our first night, our son got sick in the bed, and housekeeping arrived at 9pm and changed all the sheeting for us :) Some real heroes there.
Here's the back entrance to The Windsor Hotel, from the parking lot. I imagine on a hot mid-summer day it would be great to sit here in the shade & read a novel.
The Windsor Hotel serves breakfast. There is no room service, but you can get hold of tea, coffee and hot chocolates. The hotel staff go all out to assist you.
We had a hearty breakfast in a room in the hotel which overlooks the bay. It's worthwhile trying to get there early so you can get a table at the window. For breakfast I had cereal, fried eggs and baked beans, and our daughter enjoyed the toast & bacon.
Fabio's is a 2 minute walk around the block and it seemed quite safe to do. We walked there in the evening with our 5-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. They serve great pizza in a relaxed atmosphere (I enjoyed their take on minestrone soup), and a well-decorated restaurant.
On our 2nd evening we phoned Debonair's, and then drove there (about 1 minute away), and picked up some pizza.
We didn't eat there, but The Bistro is very close to the Windsor Hotel, and like the Windsor it is across the road from the beach.
The Spur is also very close to the Windsor.
Second only to the stories the rooms could tell, I guess.
I spent most of my corporate career working for 2 large companies, both of whom had getaways at The Windsor Hotel - the hotel has conference facilities for the work part, and we also spent time on the beaches & in the clubs.
Even the parking lot has a nice view of the mountains.
I didn't try the wireless, but my 3G card worked fine.
On the seaside of The Windsor Hotel is a rocky descent to the sea, seats to sit and ponder life whilst looking at the waves crashing and a boardwalk. It's not just birds & whales you'll see, but look carefully and you may see the dassies in the rocks -this one & I looked each other in the eye & for a few seconds, our souls touched. Fun fact - the Dassie is the closest living relative of the elephant.
Sit on a bench & watch the waves break.
The bay of plenty.
Here's the "beach" opposite The Windsor Hotel. If you wonder down the steep slope, like I did, you'll find the sea lapping up to a lot of pebbles and rocks (no sand).
A visit to Hermanus is not complete without a stroll along the boardwalk.
And then walk back to The Windsor Hotel.
If you want a beach with sand you'll need to get into a car and take a drive. We spent Saturday at Voelklip Beach, building sandcastles and playing in the water (there are signs warning of strong currents, so we did't go in too far).
The fastest way to travel to Hermanus from Cape Town is along the N2 National Road, but if you've got time on your hand take the route past Betty's Bay - it's far more scenic.
Our kids had a wonderful time, exemplified by our daughter crying out that 2 days weren't enough, when we had to go home.
Along with whales & beaches, The Windsor Hotel is synonymous with Hermanus. With its friendly efficient staff, prime location, nice visitors, great views and comfy lounges; I'm happy to recommend The Windsor Hotel & would love to visit again.
The Windsor Hotel is a great spot to stay in Hermanus.
Rob, Karen, Bella & Quinn