If you’re looking for somewhere romantic to get away to, but don’t have the time to travel all the way to Zanzibar or Paris, don’t worry because although you might not know it, South Africa is basically The Notebook personified as a country. I wrote this story for the Jan/Feb 2017 edition of Travel Ideas Magazine, featuring some seriously romantic spots around the country – from the Eastern Cape to the Kruger and even Pretoria.
The Most Romantic Hotels in South Africa
Romance is not dead. And it certainly doesn’t have to break the bank. While thoughts of a romantic getaway might immediately fill your head with images of Santorini sunsets and cocktails on the beach in Zanzibar, there just isn’t always the time or money for an overseas getaway, which doesn’t have to mean that there isn’t always time or money for romance.
Locally, amorous South Africans have the choice of watching the sun go down from a clifftop bath, dining on a ten course feast in a luxurious oriental suite or spending the night in a “million star campsite”.
I’ve put together a list of idyllic local spots that are sure to ignite a fire in the heart your loved one. All within the borders of our own beautiful country and ranging from backpacker to luxurious hotel, to suit every budget. Because nothing kills romance like worrying about what your credit card statement is going to look like when you get home.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration to rekindle a long-term love affair, make some time for a technology-free break, or ask a very important question, I think you’ll find just the spot in the list below.
Away with the Fairies, Hogsback
With a secluded outdoor bath set atop a cliff overlooking a vast valley, you’re bound to find time for passion here. Add to this scenario a bottle of fine wine, some eco-friendly bath bubbles and the distinct lack of cellphones, you’re all set for an blissful getaway.
Located in Hogsback, about ten hours from Cape Town, nine hours from Joburg and nine hours from Durban, in other words, in the middle of nowhere, you’ll have lots of time to stare into each other’s eyes.
Once you’ve said all the sweet nothings you can say, you might want to lose yourself in one of the world’s largest labyrinths at The Edge, find some magic along the Fairy Meander or, for the active travellers, work up a sweat on the Amatola Hiking Trail.
Private rooms offer en-suites and a detached 2-bedroom cottage offers the addition of a kitchenette. Facilities include a low-key bar and a communal kitchen. Homemade breakfast and pizzas are served for a fee.
Timamoon Lodge, near the Kruger
Outdoor showers framed by dramatic views, in-room fireplaces, private pools, four poster beds and exotic decor make this one of South Africa’s most romantic lodges.
Sunrise skinny dips or late-night showers under the stars are what romantic films are built on, and the opportunity to submerge yourself in one of their enormous baths will undoubtedly raise the bar for romantic escapes.
Located near the Kruger Park & Blyderiver Canyon, each of the lavish Moroccan and Zanzibar styled lodges are private and unique, making your stay all the more special.
Riverside picnics, hot air ballooning, horse riding and long walks are all on the cards. If you’re into something a little more adrenalin-fuelled, abseiling, quad biking or a safari in the Kruger can all be arranged.
The Orient Hotel, Pretoria
If food is the way to your or your partner’s heart, you’re sure to fall passionately in love with The Orient Hotel, just outside Pretoria. Plush, ornate suites are individually decorated, inspired by destinations of the Orient. Described as “a restaurant with rooms” the intimate eight-seater restaurant will blow your mind with ten courses of thoughtful, exquisite food by award-winning Chef Chantal Dartnal.
The opulent suites and secluded location will transport you to a far-away state of mind, where romance-killers like finding a plumber to fix the leaky geyser will feel like distant memories from a previous life. The hotel is located within a private nature conservancy, and offers views that make it hard to believe you’re only 27km from central Pretoria.
Exquisite service means that nothing is too much to ask for; Champagne on arrival, a romantic turn-down, whatever makes your heart sing can be arranged.
Foodie couples will feel like you’re in a different country, without having to stress about forgetting your passport at home.
Read my full review on this magnificent place here.
Rooftop Tenting in the Kagga Kamma Reserve
If adventure is what you and your partner find most exciting, a trip to the Kagga Kamma Reserve, where you can cuddle up in a rooftop tent and wish upon a million stars is sure to get your heart racing.
Located in the Cederberg, the reserve facilities include a restaurant and bar, a spa and a swimming pool. Spend the evening reminiscing around a romantic camp fire and wake up early to catch the sunrise from your cozy double sleeping bag, “moerkoffie” in hand.
Depending on your budget, you could even get Hey Pioneer, a bespoke camping company that sets up idyllic glamping sites at a location of your choice, to set up the ultimate romantic hideaway for you.
*Technically, not a hotel at all. Also, thank you so much to the talented Adriaan Louw for allowing me to use this awesome photo.
While every day romance may be wishful thinking, it’s easy to bring excitement back to a relationship with a little planning and a few days together. And with these four local destinations to choose from, it’s a wonder South Africa hasn’t been dubbed as the most romantic country in the world.
**Originally written for Travel Ideas Magazine.
Do you have a favourite romantic spot in South Africa? Please tell me in the comments below!