If you are looking for somewhere romantic to escape to with your partner, these guesthouses offer everything you could want.
La Cotte Guest House
The French have always been good at being romantic, so it’s not surprising that Franschhoek, the ‘French corner’ of the Cape, is a popular escape for lovers. Situated on one of the oldest Huguenot estates in the area, a short walk from the classy restaurants, boutiques and galleries in town, the newly opened La Cotte Guest House epitomises charm and sophistication. Surrounded by vineyards, the eight guest rooms either open on to a swimming pool or the magnificently landscaped
It’s a special experience to have a swathe of magnificent desert to yourself, and even more so to enjoy it in unique state-of-the-art accommodation. Desert Whisper, an exclusive, private desert pod in the Namib Desert, 60 kilometres north of the famed Sesriem Canyon, is such a place. Designed as a hideaway for two, this is the spot to raise glasses with your partner at sunset and wait for the peace of the desert night when only owls hoot and barking geckoes call.
During the day, dappled light filters into the comfortable interior, where a range of artisanal gins awaits sampling, and a fully equipped kitchen is stocked with a selection of delicious pre-prepared meals to either cook indoors or braai on the patio. Desert Whisper is the perfect place to be together without any disturbance and to relax. Laze in bed in the morning with a cup of coffee while appreciating the spectacular views, later dip into some of the reading material provided, and then pad down to your own plunge pool in the heat of the day to refresh. – Ron Swilling
Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge
Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge is situated below the ridge, its natural palette and simple design interfering as little as possible with the spectacular surroundings. The spacious interiors of the main farmhouse and separate suites feature wood, exposed beams, raw linen, wickerwork and steel. Outside, indigenous planting is in keeping with the ancient landscape and, in spring, patches of wildflowers are in bloom. The lodge offers a programme of activities, such as guided walks, biking, rock art excursions, and farm tours.
If you’re less actively inclined, cool off in the pool, tone up in the spa or just sit on your veranda and enjoy the birdsong and changing colours of the rocks at sunset. At night, there’s a sunken stone firepit from which to do some uninterrupted stargazing with a glass in hand. Creative chef on-site, Christiaan Amon mixes foraged, veld delicacies into his Berg to Plate menu, which includes eland sirloin served with cranberry and buchu jus, sweet-potatoe fries and rooibos honey-roasted baby vegetables, and a special mention for his deconstructed cheesecake for the perfect romantic dinner. Picnics are available if you want to spend the day exploring, or if you prefer to relax in your room, nibble on the home-made cookies and other treats while gazing across the vista. Owner Kate Bergh’s vision is to share the Cederberg at its best, and there is much to be shared.
– Nancy Richards
How lucky we were to discover this charming stone cottage for two on the 70-hectare Puschka Farm in the Naauwpoort Valley. Built entirely of stone from the koppie on the farm, the self-catering cottage is largely off the grid. A solar system is the main source of power for lighting (or you can choose from the abundance of candles and the wood-burning fireplaces in both the living room and the bedroom for romantic nights indoors) and for heating water when you want to soak in the large tub.
After our arrival, we shared a picnic on the banks of the Hex River on the property, before tackling a walk up the hill for a view of the valley. On our return, we had a refreshing dip in our natural, chemical-free private plunge pool. As the light faded, we lit a braai in our secluded garden. The next morning, we had coffee and rusks on the stoep, enjoying the peace of our surroundings, with the occasional noise of activities in the farmyard. – Riaan Hattingh
Noetzie Forest Hideaway
At the bottom of a steep road near the tourist town of Knysna is the secluded, little bay of Noetzie. Here, hidden among ferns and trees, and overlooking the river and ocean, is the aptly named Noetzie Forest Hideaway. Off the grid but luxurious, this self-catering timber house has large floor-to-ceiling windows, and in every room, we were rewarded with a vista of greenery and a glimpse of glistening water and felt immersed in the natural surroundings. Even the bathroom has a majestic woodland view.
In the evening, we dined by the soft, romantic glow of candelabras and lanterns in the open-plan living area. We drifted off to sleep with our doors open, to the sound of rumbling waves, accompanied by the chorus of tree frogs and crickets. We also enjoyed hikes into the adjacent Sinclair Nature Reserve and took an afternoon canoe trip on the meandering Noetzie River, where we searched for the resident otters.
If you are planning on making the most of what the Garden Route offers but want to avoid the crowds, this makes an excellent choice. – Dale Morris
Russells on the Port
Watching a yacht slowly steer into its mooring from the veranda of the elegant Russells on the Port, we felt as
if we’d arrived at an exotic Mediterranean destination.Yet this boutique guest house and restaurant on the Port Owen Marina in Velddrif is only a 90-minute drive from Cape Town.
The brainchild of UK entrepreneur Russell Foster, whose experience in the hospitality industry shows in the courtesy of the staff and the luxurious touches in the beach-themed suites, this is an ideal place to reconnect and revive. On a stroll along the walkway to the beach, we watched the boats and resident ducks, and then joined a Berg River Cruise to the natural harbour and wetlands of this area.
There’s also a trip to the docks at quaint Laaiplek. Back in our suite, there was nothing not to like about relaxing on our king-size bed with a view of the activity of the marina, and luckily, come sunset, found the energy to admire it, over a cocktail at the bar. For dinner we chose to forego the gourmet restaurant in favour of a wood-fired pizza delivered to our private patio. Heaven. – Ann Gadd
40 on Longmarket
For some, glitz and glamour is exciting, but I prefer understated simplicity in a getaway, so I was elated when treated to a break in Stanford. The quaint Overberg village, alongside the Klein River and about 20 minutes from Hermanus, has a relaxed feel, and we stayed in the charming 40 on Longmarket.
Exceptionally well-appointed, this cottage for two has a large, open-plan living and sleeping area with a separate, spacious bathroom. Many unique features include the dining table made of recycled materials, and the double-volume ceiling, which creates a light, airy ambience. The veranda overlooks a large indigenous garden with a view of the Kleinrivier Mountains. Quality linen, plenty of storage, and a wood-burning stove for chilly nights are welcome additions to an already comfortable stay. The accommodation is on a self-catering basis, but with many excellent restaurants within walking distance, and this being a romantic escape after-all, we indulged in great food in the village.
Stanford also has many interesting shops where creative locals display their goods, which makes for a happy morning of browsing. – Olivia Schaffer
Mamagalie Mountain Lodge
We arrived just before sunset at Mamagalie Mountain Lodge, near the small town of Mooinooi, and were hastily shown
to our accommodation at Tranquility Lodge with a friendly but firm ‘while there is still some light’. That was the last of any movement faster than a snail’s pace for the rest of our stay on this 300-hectare nature reserve and farm.
A getaway spot built for two, the treehouse is tucked away, up in massive trees, where it looks down on a stream – just the place for feeling like we were the last people on Earth. Or Tarzan and Jane. Our bedroom was surrounded by glass doors, which was heaven when waking up to the dawn chorus in the branches and the early light on the leaves. The kitchen is fully equipped for self-catering, and there’s a lounge, double Jacuzzi, and an outdoor shower suspended from a deck that doubles as a bird hide, sometimes visited by a troop of monkeys.
Our footwork on this nature reserve was confined to leisurely strolls looking for antelope such as waterbuck, gemsbok, blesbok and red hartebeest. There’s also a great walk to the rock pools but I confess to preferring our private plunge pool at the back of the cottage, while my dear wife kept an eye on the coals of our braai. – Riaan Hattingh
The Vineyard Country House
“Oh I’d like to find myself trapped in some desert town with you,” sings Shannon McNally in her hauntingly romantic song Pale Moon. But even better than a simple desert town, is one with vineyards, good restaurants and spectacular mountainscapes. And that’s exactly what Montagu is. Although in the centre of town, the Vineyard Country House backs onto a small farm with vines, olive trees and orchards. Perfect for a romantic tryst, the bedrooms are private, plush and full of thoughtful details, such as a DVD player with a choice of movies, freshly ground coffee, and honesty bar with local wines. In the main house is a book-filled lounge in which to relax, and outside, a swimming pool with loungers. This is a place where you will be sorely tempted to sleep late but, whatever you do, don’t miss breakfast. It is rightly famous. For the rest of your stay, it is enough just to loiter on your own veranda, gaze at the mountains, wander through town to explore shops or eateries, and enjoy being in one another’s company. – Julienne du Toit
Wildekrans Country House
Tucked away in the Houw Hoek Valley, historic Wildekrans country house dates back to the early 19th century. Combining antique furniture with modern amenities, it offers the kind of hospitality that makes you feel special but at home at the same time. With only four suites, it’s private and luxurious, with romantic four-poster beds and outdoor views. The service is attentive and thoughtful, yet discreet so that those on romantic getaways can tune into their significant other without distraction.
Although the area brims with wine farms, fine food and outdoor activities, we chose to hole up, enjoying candlelit, home-cooked meals washed down with some fine local wines (including part-owner Barry Gould’s own blend), lazing under the trees in the garden and by the pool, and discovering the hosts’ collection of contemporary South African art and sculpture in the extensive, leafy grounds. Those who prefer to reconnect in a more active way can take a picnic on one of the hiking trails that lead from the homestead onto the Groenlandberg, or explore Elgin’s numerous mountain-biking trails. Whatever romance means to you, you’ll find it at Wildekrans. – Fiona McIntosh