From breathtaking views to spas and places that offer some of the most delicious food, we have just the ideal list on how to spoil your partner rotten this Valentine’s Day – or throughout the year.
Here’s our list of some of the most romantic getaways in South Africa – as rated by our accommodation expert Pippa de Bruyn. Although many of these are luxury spots (with the price tag to match), just think of them as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
1. Umvangati house, Hoedspruit
Nothing can really prepare you for the view from this house, perched high above a carpet of dense vegetation rising steeply towards the pink cliffs, their rounded mounds dusted in green. It’s surreal, the 360-degree surrounds uninhabited and unmarred, and all perfectly framed by the monumental scale of the architecture. umVangati is a luxury purpose-built lodge reached via an increasingly steep road that winds deep within the Moholoholo reserve. It’s not cheap but this is a very special place, the kind where you propose, make amends, celebrate, or simply blow your partner away with a surprise weekend.
Cost: From R3750 for two sharing B&B for the King or Queen Luxury rooms which have private entrances.
2. Bushriver Lodge, Hoedspruit
This is one of those places that makes your heart soar. There is the location at the end of a long track that takes you through a variety of gates and situated on the banks of the Olifants River, so the water lullaby is a constant soundtrack. Enquire into the bush dinners ‒ a very romantic set-up in a dry riverbed.
Cost: From R1200 if you self-cater in Main Lodge (sleeps a maximum of three) and R2950 for Marula Camp (sleeps eight).
3. Valley Lodge & Spa, Hekpoort Valley, Magaliesberg
Here you really have the best of both worlds: a serene view from your veranda, combined with the pleasures of being in a large hotel. These include an enormous resort-style pool, that fabulous spa (heated mineral pool, Jacuzzi, saunas, great treatment menu), a very convivial pub, tennis court, babysitting and a few dining options, including wood-fired pizzas delivered to your room.
Cost: Luxury rooms from R2330 for two sharing B&B, under 6s stay for free. Check online for specials that include spa treatments – it’s worth booking these in advance.
4. Quiet Mountain Country House, Hekpoort Valley, Magaliesberg
The pleasures are many at Quiet Mountain House, located in the Hartebeestfontein Conservancy. There’s the food, prepared with quality ingredients, including milk, cream and butter produced from resident cows, and eggs from their obliging hens; the rambling gardens; and the excellent service that John and his partner Terence have given guests for more than 22 years.
Cost: From R1300 per person sharing which includes an early morning tea/coffee service, breakfast and a four-course dinner. Minimum two-night stay on weekends. No children under 12.
5. Saamrus Guest Farm, Hekpoort Valley, Magaliesberg
The website does Saamrus no justice – this 500-hectare farm offers by far the most private and romantic collection of self-catering cottages in the area and the best views. The only drawback is the 4×4 required to reach hillside cottages, or you’ll have to brave it on foot: it’s a 200 – to 400-metre trudge uphill, but two strong men are always on duty to help carry for a tip.
Contact: From R1040 per cottage on weekends for singles or two sharing; R200 per extra guest/child in the lounge. Weekends minimum two-night stay. Midweek from R840 for two sharing and from R420 for a single person.
6. African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa, Magaliesberg
Experience the luxury of time at African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa. Nestled amongst the ruggedly beautiful Magaliesburg Mountains, merely an hour’s drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Here you can indulge in a massage at their on-site spa, or dine in style at the acclaimed Rambling Vine Restaurant.
Cost: From R2980 for a room per night.
Contact: Book online via booking.com
7. The Boathouse, Vermaaklikheid
Here you will share the 20-hectare farm and 600 metres of river frontage with just three other houses. Stripping down and walking into the balmy water at night to float under an enormous star-spangled heaven will restore your faith if you’re that way inclined. At night it’s romantically lit with candles, paraffin lanterns and the Godin wood stove; the fridge and geyser are powered by gas.
Cost: From R800 per night; minimum two-night stay except in winter. Canoes are included.
8. Haesfarm, Stanford
The two spacious en-suite bedrooms on this40-hectare organic fynbos farm perched atop the rolling hills east of Stanford share a lounge/library/bar, warmed with underfloor heating, a combustion fireplace and a profusion of books and art, plus a covered terrace (with braai) from which to enjoy the sweeping valley views.
Cost: From R1650 double B&B.
9. Springfontein Sleeps, Stanford
A few minutes out of town, off the gravel track that skirts the Klein River estuary, are three recently renovated cottages spread across Springfontein wine farm. Of them all, Milkwood is much larger and the most private, with a lounge centred on a big open fireplace and a patio with an outdoor fireplace. The farm restaurant, Springfield Eats, is rated No. 1 in Stanford on TripAdvisor.
Cost: From R1400 for a cottage that sleep from two to six.
10. Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel, Paternoster
This hotel is tucked away on a prime Mosselbank location right at the northern edge of the village, and the owners also purchased a further three kilometres of the coast to protect the untrammelled views and halt further development. It’s listed as a B&B on TripAdvisor, but Strandloper is very much a boutique hotel, offering a full spectrum of pampering to guests
Cost: From R2250 for two sharing B&B. The Nature King Suites take kids aged 14 and up in the loft for R950 per child.
11. The Oystercatcher’s Haven, Paternoster
Just four rooms ‒ each furnished in eclectic boho style and with a private entrance and veranda to enjoy those glorious sea views. Breakfast is served on your veranda if you prefer, and the intimacy and privacy enjoyed here are very conducive to romance. Located on the southern edge of the village, right on the quietest beach in Paternoster.
Cost: From R1950 for two sharing B&B.
12. Gelukkie, Paternoster
Spacious and very private, each cottage has its own landscaped garden, both offer a complete escape from the world. On spring and autumn days you can while away lounging on the swinging al fresco double beds, but come the really hot months you will, however, need to take a drive to the beach.
Cost: From R900 for each cottage (both sleep two).
13. Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, Franschhoek
Tucked deep into the crook of the Hottentots Holland Mountains, the setting is fantastic, matched only by (far pricier) Mont Rochelle and La Petite Ferme when it comes to exceptional views.
Cost: From R2248 for two sharing B&B.
14. La Petite Dauphine, Franschhoek
La Petite Dauphine is a working farm, the gardens surrounded by plum orchards, olive groves and vineyards, but the atmosphere is more grand estate than agricultural. Café BonBon, the delightful on-site restaurant where breakfast and lunch are served every day and dinner on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights was also designed by owner/decorator Gert Gertzen.
Cost: From R4640 per night for two sharing B&B for two nights (rates inflate hugely for one-night stays).
15. Angala Boutique Hotel, Franschhoek
It’s quite a surprise coming to the end of the bumpy dirt track that twists up through the vineyards behind Vrede en Lust to find this contemporary glass box with sweeping valley views and stylish furnishings. The modern design – comprising just 11 rooms dotted in terraced grounds – sits remarkably easy in this natural idyll.
Cost: From R2475 for deluxe rooms that sleep two; luxury suites are from R3825 per suite. Rates include breakfast and a complimentary minibar.
16. Montusi Mountain Lodge, Bergville
Montusi Mountain Lodge opened in 2000 and offers luxuries such as a nightly turn-down with homemade chocolates and haute cuisine dinners that are a real highlight. Having rehabilitated the 1000-hectare farm to encourage the return of birdlife and antelope, the hosts are extremely hospitable. There is lots to do on the farm, plus All Out Adventure Centre is just down the drag.
Cost: From R1885 per Garden Suite DBB, including a daily guided hike.
17. Morgan Bay Hotel
Apart from a handful of beach bungalows erected here during the First World War, the Morgan Bay Hotel was the first development in the bay. Yet when you sink into the white sheets and listen to the ocean beyond your balcony, you wouldn’t believe it’s almost a century old. The sound of crashing waves follows you to the Milkwood Spa, where the treatment rooms are built to face the ocean.
Cost: From R1155 for the deluxe rooms that sleep two, and R995 for rooms with no sea views.
18. Summerfields Rose retreat Spa
The luxury retreat is geared for romance and you can choose a king-size bed unit on the gurgling river or a quieter forest option that’s great for birding. The two on-site restaurants use only vegetables grown on the 1 000-hectare macadamia farm. Expect luxury details such as Charlotte Rhys toiletries, macadamia nut snacks and home-made shortbread, filter coffee and plush downy duvets.
Cost: R6590 for a luxury Double Suite, including a two-course gourmet breakfast, complimentary welcome drinks and a 60-minute massage of your choice.
Contact: 0137376500, summerfields.co.za
19. Mamagalie Mountain Lodge, Mooinooi
Roughly 100 kilometres from Joburg the landscape transforms from highveld to bushveld near Buffelspoort Dam. Here, five lodges, cleverly nestled in a secluded valley, make up the Mamagalie self-catering collection. Expect to find hornbills floating from the trees and hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra and gemsbok roaming the slopes. Walk in the bush and explore the rock pools in the protected Magaliesberg green belt.
Cost: From R375 per person sharing for cottages that sleep up to four.
Contact: Tel 0845139480, mamagalie.co.za
20. Sibuya River camp, Kenton on Sea
The adventure starts when you board the boat moored outside the reception on Eastbourne Road, and slowly head down the Kariega, stopping to identify birds en route. It’s a magical stretch of water, a deep turquoise-green ribbon twisting and turning its way through steep banks, the blue-sky horizon sculpted by euphorbias and aloes. Skimming across the river while watching the play of light on the water, you feel a million miles from civilisation.
Cost: From R8216 for a luxury tent that sleeps two. Upon arrival, guests are transported on a relaxing 45-minute boat cruise up the Estuary to arrive at Sibuya River camp.
21. Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa, Port St Johns
Umngazi River Bungalows punctuate the peaceful banks and give the best of river and sea views. Civilisation is miles away and the surrounding hills are only sparsely dotted with colourful Xhosa huts. The resort is geared for family vacations so while you get your far-from-it- all holiday, the children won’t be complaining of boredom as the area offers plenty of outdoor activities.
Cost: From R1240 per person including all meals – in low season.
Contact: 0475641115, umngazi.co.za