Longing for a weekend away with the love of your life? Take a look at our list of romantic spots for the Western Cape.
Feeling the need to reignite the passion in your relationship? Treat your partner (and yourself) to some time away at one of these romantic weekend getaways in the Western Cape.
1. Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek
Franschhoek may be old hat to many Cape Town day-trippers, but Le Quartier Français, to my mind the grand dame of the high street, is looking as beautiful as the first day I stayed there some 15 years ago. Stepping off the busy street on a typical Franschhoek weekend, I felt the invitation to relax into romance immediately beckon. The garden around the pool is alive with summer colours, bees and the scent of jasmine. Beautifully decorated rooms, framed by Victorian gables and surrounding the pool, have large bathrooms with open showers. And large beds.
The exquisite landscaped sculpture garden will hold your attention for only so long, so take a bicycle and ride to Sir Richard Branson’s manor house for a wine tasting. And finish the day with the exquisite Indian flavours and fragrances of the Marigold restaurant which is part of the same group and comes highly recommended by Le Quartier Français, for meals prepared by the rising culinary star that is Vani Padayachee.
Breakfast was incredible and was served at The Dining Room. There is also The Bar at LQF and the Garden Room for tapas and scenic views.
You won’t ever need your car.
+27 (0) 21 492 2222; [email protected]
Words Angus Begg
2. Embizweni Cottage, Karoo National Park
Find that perfect spot for a romantic break at the Embizweni Cottage in the Karoo National Park. This secluded, unfenced cottage is situated nearly 50 kilometres from the reception and main rest camp on the Nuweveld 4×4 Trail. It is remote and offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy the sheer magnitude of the park without the intrusion of other tourists. This is a fully equipped self-catering cottage and there is a gas-powered stove, but we opted for a braai while watching the Karoo sky change to pastel pinks and blue hues.
There is also a fridge and solar-powered lights, but luckily no chance to watch television or even charge your cellphone, so it’s perfect for switching off completely and reconnecting with your beloved. The unit has a private water hole, so you might even spot some game during your compulsory two-night stay.
You need a 4×4 to access the unit. Basic 4×4 skills will get you there as there are only some steep sections and a dry riverbed to cross if it does not rain.
+27 (0) 23 415 2828/9; +27 (0) 23 414 7080; [email protected]
Words René de Klerk
3. The Last Word, Franschhoek
My first choice for a romantic getaway is here in the heart of Franschhoek, where you’ll be enchanted by understated elegance and attention to detail. From the charming wisteria, rose and bougainvillea-lined path to the picturesque setting, this five-star, intimate hotel really resonated.
There are 10 en-suite bedrooms, and we booked into one of two with a private pool. A stylish living room opens onto it and we soaked up the sun in our sheltered spot. Positioned away from the crowd, we enjoyed French Provençal living and personalised attention.
Apart from a sumptuous breakfast included in the rate, we chose to experience the many restaurants in this, the country’s food-and-wine heartland. Activities include anything from boutique shopping, hiking and mountain biking, to a historic tour of the town with its beautiful architecture, chocolate and cheese tasting, championship golf courses, and wine tasting on horseback. It’s a place where memories are made.
+27 (0) 21 876 4723; [email protected]
Words Olivia Schaffer
4. Just Rest, Paternoster
The name evokes a feeling of calm, and the house encourages serious quiet time. On a hillside overlooking a boulder-strewn point with the Atlantic Ocean just below, this classic West Coast cottage is breathtaking. It’s spacious, gorgeously appointed, and fitted with a queen-size bed.
Arriving in the early evening on a still summer’s day made the experience idyllic. We sipped iced tea on the private veranda and felt cosseted from the world. The view of boulders and brightly painted fishing boats heading out to sea felt strangely European, but then much of Paternoster village is reminiscent of a romantic Greek island with postcard-pretty houses.
Later in the evening, we curled up on the spacious couch and played games as the sun set crimson over the sea. A soak in the oversized stone bath was thoroughly relaxing but waking up and looking out to sea with gulls circling overhead really felt like we’d used our passports to be here.
Most of the village restaurants are a short walk away, but we dined in on fresh seafood along with sea views. The kitchen is well equipped to make cooking easy and the countertop dishwasher kept it all really simple. Kicking back, chilling, stretching out in the sun with a thick book and watching the tides and the fishermen, made a weekend away feel like a full summer holiday in a romantic and comfortable setting.
+27 (0) 22 752 2048; [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
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5. Dune Ridge Cottage, Paternoster
A beach view for treasured memories, moonlight on water, going to sleep to the sigh of the surf… what could be more romantic?
Perched above a secluded beach, Dune Ridge Cottage is a honeymoon hideaway with a 180-degree sea view. It’s the last beachfront dwelling at the south end of the traditional, whitewashed fishing village of Paternoster. The chic interior of this fisherman-style cottage with all modern conveniences has a blue and white theme and a veranda overlooking the beach.
We were spoilt by the enticing treats nearby – delicious breakfasts in the four-star Dunes Boutique Guest House, pampering at the Dunes Beauty Clinic, or a fish feast for two at Gaaitjie’s restaurant on the shore.
+27 (0) 22 752 2215; [email protected]
Words Marianne Heron
6. South Hill Vineyards, Elgin
Taking in an open-air concert at the magnificent amphitheatre at the Paul Cluver estate in Elgin Valley is one of my favourite summer treats, but after an evening of festivities I’m always loathe to drive back to Cape Town. So for my most recent visit, I checked in to the lovely guest house on South Hill wine farm just down the road.
What a find. The six en-suite rooms in the spacious main villa can be booked on a B&B basis. Groups who want to party can book the whole place, which comes with an open-plan living area, spacious well-equipped kitchen, pizza oven and braai area, all on a self-catering basis.
All the rooms open onto private patios with gorgeous views over the vineyards and surrounding mountains, and there’s a big pool and lovely garden. This seclusion means that it’s a great spot to chill but, if you’re feeling active, there are easy hiking and mountain-biking trails on the farm, as well as access to the scenic Lebanon, Paul Cluver, Oak Valley and Cape Pine trails.
I’m almost reluctant to pass on the best-kept secret of South Hill lest I never get a booking there again, but if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, check out the Pumphouse Honeymoon Cottage on the side of the dam. Just perfect.
+27 (0) 21 844 0888; [email protected]
For concert details, visit Cluver.com
Words Fiona McIntosh
You also might like: 4 Reasons to Linger in the Elgin Valley
7. Kendall Cottage, Franschhoek
Driving down the tree-lined avenue of Allée Bleue always lifts my soul. I feel the shackles of everyday life falling away as I slow down and take in the grand buildings, the orderly vineyards and orchards and the majestic backdrop of the Franschhoek mountains.
The estate’s Kendall Cottage, a 30-minute drive from Cape Town, makes for an easy romantic escape. The quaint, self-catering cottage, which dates back nearly a hundred years, retains its historic charm but has been stylishly renovated with all the mod cons, chic furniture and artworks and, of course, all the necessary ingredients for those seeking a romantic retreat.
Soak in the big freestanding bath, enjoy a lazy breakfast on the terrace as you gaze over the vineyards, tour the famous herb garden, sample award-winning wines from the house bar or take a short drive into Franschhoek.
+27 (0) 21 874 1021; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
8. Overseers Mountain Cottage, Cape Town
Let’s get one thing straight. If your idea of romance is returning to your luxury suite after a gourmet dinner to find Champagne on ice, steam rising from the clawfoot bathtub and rose petals scattered on the turned-down bed, read no further. But if romance means spending time with your loved one in a really special place, then the Overseers Cottage on Table Mountain is hard to beat.
The old stone cottage on the ‘Back Table’ (the lower, southern section of the main plateau) is in a spectacular location right on the mountain edge. It’s nothing fancy but the beds have crisp white linen; paraffin lamps and candles create romantic lighting and there’s a fireplace to snuggle in front of on a chilly night. But your best is to take a bottle of bubbles to the nearby koppie and gaze down at the lights of Cape Town or at the twinkling stars, as you toast the fact that you have the whole mountain to yourselves.
The cottage is for exclusive occupancy but I should mention that there are no double beds and no en-suite bathrooms. And since you can’t drive up Table Mountain you’ll either have to hike up (the shortest route from Constantia Nek takes about 90 minutes) or walk from the Upper Cable Station. Fortunately your bags and cooler box will be waiting for you on arrival.
+27 (0) 12 428 9111; [email protected]
Words Fiona McIntosh
9. Fraaigelegen Farm Cottages, Between Tulbagh and Wolseley
The sunsets at Fraaigelegen Farm are the kind that stay with you forever. And what’s more romantic than watching a sunset together from the stoep of your cottage, sundowner in hand? First the furrowed walls of the Witzenberg mountains behind the idyllically situated self-catering cottages blush deep pink. Then, as the sun sets behind the distant Waterval Mountains, the waters of the dam turn vermillion.
The three guest cottages on this wine and olive farm have two double bedrooms, double showers, fireplaces and braai areas. Two of the cottages overlook the dam, while the other one has mountain views. For fishermen, there are trout in the dam, and bird life is plentiful. The farm is an ideal base for exploring local attractions like the wine estates, and for enjoying activities such as horse riding. Just 130km from Cape Town, it’s a perfect romantic weekend getaway and all you need bring are your provisions.
+27 (0) 83 288 4685, [email protected]
Words Marianne Heron
10. Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse, Wellington
The magnificent Victorian homestead on the working sheep and wheat farm of Bartholomeus Klip is set under ancient oak trees, with the towering Elandsberg as backdrop and wild gardens of roses and agapanthus surrounding it. Sitting in the tangled gardens, good book in hand and drinking fine coffee as the sun set was our choice on the first day.
There are just a handful of en-suite rooms – all private and beautifully appointed. Bunches of fresh roses and home-baked biscuits await in the suites, which have cotton linen, a Victorian bathroom and Bartholomeus Klip toiletries.
Meals in the conservatory, overlooking the colourful gardens, are sensational. Fine South African-inspired menus are created by chef Louise while her sister Lesley is the host. The following day we headed out on game drive in the 10 000 hectare nature reserve to see buffalo, eland, bontebok, black wildebeest and zebra. Quagga and the endangered geometric tortoise are bred and conserved on the farm.
Activities include swimming, hiking, fishing or cycling along farm roads if you’re feeling energetic.
+27 (0) 22 448 1087; +27 (0)82 829 4131, [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
11. Devon Valley Hotel, Stellenbosch
Champagne and romance go together, so it was quite convenient to find this charming country hotel just down the road from the House of JC Le Roux outside Stellenbosch, where we’d been to taste South Africa’s most popular bubbly. Of course, the sparkling wine and Méthode Cap Classic had gone to our heads and the lovely view of vineyards and the Helderberg mountains from the terrace at Devon Valley Hotel compounded things, so we gaily booked in.
The spacious en-suite room in the new section boasted plenty of luxurious touches. The fine cotton bed linen, king-size bed and a large flat-screen TV with multiple satellite channels made it feel like the kind of place where staying in bed could be an occupation in itself.
Dinner at Flavours restaurant presented difficult choices: the buffet comprised traditional South African dishes such as bobotie and lamb curry, plus all the trimmings, while the à la carte menu had its own temptations with wine pairings of the estate’s own SylvanVale wines. In the interests of over the-top-romance, we went for the buffet.
The good news is that they do two-night romantic escape packages at special prices for couples for much of the year, not just in February.
+27 (0) 21 865 2012, [email protected]
Words Marion Whitehead
12. Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel, Paternoster
Perfectly private with the sound of the sea as background music, Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel is situated in the quaint fishing village of Paternoster.
Any closer to the ocean and you’d get wet, while the 4km deserted beach before you inspires long sunset walks, hand-in-hand. En route we encountered traditional fishermen launching their brightly coloured wooden boats and heading out to sea, while at other times we were the only souls there taking a stroll. Strandloper’s 14 suites with folding doors opening onto either an ocean view and private terrace, or a private garden courtyard, all blend seamlessly into the natural environment of fynbos and seashells. Inside, the rooms are spacious, featuring handmade stone baths, outdoor showers and luxury linen.
The hotel is known for excellent cuisine, showcasing local delicacies – we had oysters, pan-fried cob and lemon cheesecake. You can also book their romantic getaway package that includes dinner under the stars and a special turndown service with a petal-strewn bath, candles and champagne.
+27 (0) 21 794 5858, [email protected]
Words Keri Harvey
We’ve also got a list of romantic weekend getaways in Gauteng.
A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.