"Romantic Valentine's Escapes"

Country Life Magazine
Posted on Febuary 10, 2015 by Country Life

From secluded island retreats to mountain love nests and remote bungalows, here are three more of our Valentine’s escapes for 2015

1. Overseers Mountain Cottage, Cape Town, Western Cape
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 andthere’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. – Fiona McIntosh
021 712 7471, www.tmnp.co.za

2. The Shire Ecolodge, Stutterheim, Eastern Cape
A nature-lover’s romantic hideaway is The Shire Ecolodge, comprising unusual chalets with curved timber walls and roofs and surrounded by an air of enchantment. Situated on the fringe of the indigenous Xholora Forest cloaking the Amathole Mountains outside Stutterheim, they look like giant mushrooms that have erupted from the earth. Step inside and you’ll be charmed by the fine craftsmanship that owner Rob Scott put into fashioning each laminated beam of local wood himself, and marvel at the curved windows he bent into place to let the forest views in. Sleeping inside these chalets feels like being cocooned in a cosy womb.

An outdoor braai and a bush shower above a tinkling stream, accompanied by birdsong and the chatter of rare samango monkeys foraging in the canopy, nurture and revive the spirit. Spend quality time together rambling along one of the forest trails to gushing waterfalls, do a little birdwatching from your stoep and visit Rob’s remarkable nursery of indigenous Eastern Cape bulbs. Go canoeing on Gubu Dam or ask Rob to take you out in his boat on the Wriggleswade Dam outside Stutterheim. – Marion Whitehead

072 364 8077, 043 683 2452, www.shire.co.za

3. Ibo Island Lodge, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
When Kevin and Fiona Record first visited Ibo 20 years ago, a remote island on the far northern coast of Mozambique in the Quirimbas National Park, they were captivated by a row of derelict colonial manor houses on the ocean edge. They meticulously restored the buildings, but retained the features of traditional Mozambique architecture, and the result was Ibo Island Lodge.

Open since 2006, the lodge is set in lush gardens and the rooms feature high ceilings, white walls, oversized, carved, four-poster beds festooned in white netting, some with ocean views from the veranda, others overlooking the beautiful gardens. Picnic like castaways on a secluded sandbar mid-ocean or snorkel freely with dolphins; indulge in a couple’s massage or spend the evening enjoying a private candlelit dinner in a secret location before retiring to a petal-strewn turndown. Ibo Island Lodge spells pure romance. – Keri Harvey

021 785 2657, www.iboisland.com