Hotel experiences to sweep you off your feet
From sleepouts beneath the stars in South Africa to having champagne delivered by zip-line in St Lucia, we’ve hand-picked hotels that know how to deliver romance.
Sleep Beneath the Stars
Tswalu Kalahari - South Africa
There are few more romantic ways to spend an African evening than sleeping out beneath a star-strewn desert sky. Set within the Tswalu Kalahari camp in a private slice of the Kalahari Desert, the Malori is possibly the most picturesque sleep-out deck of them all. Malori means ‘dreamer’ in Tswana, and a night here is certainly the stuff of dreams.
After a sweeping savannah sunset and romantic candlelit dinner, you’ll head to the raised platform to cosy up for the most luxurious camp out you’ll ever experience. Wake up at dawn to the sound of birdsong while the sun’s first rays light up the surrounding wilderness. You can then choose to have breakfast served on deck, or as a picnic on your way back to the main camp.
"With a maximum of 30 guests at any given time, Tswalu feels like your own private and vast grassland paradise.”
When you’re not snuggling beneath the stars, look out for black-maned lions, black and white rhinos, zebras, leopards and a host of other species on safaris by vehicle, foot or horseback.
Cap Maison - St Lucia
St Lucia has long been the Caribbean island of choice for newlyweds and old romantics alike. Rugged and tropical, its soft white sands and spectacular Pitons are the perfect backdrop to an intimate meal for two.
Cap Maison’s open-air Cliff at Cap is a strong contender for the island’s best restaurant. But to raise the romance stakes, share a bottle of bubbles with the one you love at Rock Maison, a wooden deck on a rocky outcrop at the foot of the cliffs below the restaurant, to which champagne can be delivered to your table in a basket on a zip-line, accompanied by a selection of mouth-watering canapes. It’s an impressively flamboyant touch and a great way to ensure your privacy remains undisturbed.
The deck is also available for private dining. Surrounded by the ocean on three sides, you’ll feel like the only people on earth as you dine together while the setting sun turns the sky a fiery red. After dark, lanterns and tiki torches light the night sky while the waves crash around you.
“One of the things we love most about Cap Maison is the staff, who are among the friendliest and most efficient on the island.”
For a truly romantic meal, don’t miss the Rock Maison sharing dinner for two, complete with cocktails to start and wine pairings throughout.
Taste of the Taj Mahal
Oberoi Amarvilas - India
Forgive us if this one seems a bit obvious, but the world’s greatest monument to love takes some beating in the romance stakes. Heartbroken Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, and while we can’t all match that level of romantic gesture, an in-suite dinner overlooking the Taj from your balcony is a pretty good alternative.
The Oberoi Amarvilas is the only hotel in Agra with uninterrupted views of the Taj Mahal from every room. The Taj-facing balconies were practically designed for romantic meals. Your personal butler will lead you out to your flower-strewn, candlelit table where one of the chef’s signature Royal Indian thalis will be waiting. Feast on the flavours of the Raj while enjoying the view of the Taj over the hotel’s landscaped gardens.
“The only hotel where every room has a view of the Taj Mahal, just 600 metres away.”
If you’re thinking about a trip to India, don’t skip the Taj Mahal. You might have seen its image a thousand times, but nothing can prepare you for its ethereal luminescence, looming presence and exquisite pietra dura. It’s at its best at dawn and sunset, and at Oberoi Amarvilas you can see both while lolling on your bed.
Canaves Oia Suites – Santorini, Greece
Is Santorini the most romantic of all the Greek Islands? With its combination of caldera views, whitewashed towns, blue-domed churches and scorching sunsets, we think it could be. That’s not to mention its array of luxury boutique hotels, of which Canaves Oia Suites is among the very best.
Enhance the romance by opting to stay in the Honeymoon Suite. The pretty town of Oia is undoubtedly charming but the cheek-by-jowl nature of the architecture means rooms at even the best hotels are often overlooked. The Honeymoon Suite here, though, is blissfully private, with its own outdoor plunge pool and sensational Aegean views.
Complete the picture with a day cruising around the awe-inspiring caldera and nearby Greek islands on your own sleek catamaran, swimming and sipping bubbles before returning to your suite’s private terrace for a candlelit dinner for two.
“A romantic Greek getaway fit for Eros himself.”
A 17th century wine cave has been beautifully transformed into the Canaves Oia spa; we recommend the signature Terra Sigillata Therapy, which uses three different freshly prepared mineral muds, each as valuable as gold.
Sunset Sea Kayaking
Pousada Picinguaba – Brazil
Beach hideaways don’t come much more hidden away than Pousada Picinguaba. Set above a sleepy fishing village on the edge of an unspoilt rainforest, this converted colonial mansion offers the perfect ‘back to nature’ experience for couples.
Kayak out into the turquoise waters of Picinguaba Bay, keeping your eyes peeled for sea turtles and stingrays while you paddle. Cross the bay until you reach Praia da Fazenda beach, which you’re almost certain to have all to yourselves for a sunset swim. Sunrise is equally romantic and offers the opportunity to venture along the mangrove swamps of the Picinguaba River while exotic butterflies flutter overheard.
With no TVs, intermittent wi-fi and limited mobile coverage, there’s nothing to distract you from the natural beauty, and each other. Rainforest hikes, surf lessons and boat trips to snorkel the crystal-clear waters can also all be arranged. Afterwards, it’s back to the pousada to swing lazily in a hammock with a passion fruit caipirinha in hand, before a candlelit dinner of the day’s fresh catch.
“The very definition of ‘off the beaten path’, Picinguaba is the perfect place to reconnect with a loved one.”
This tiny 10-room hotel is close to Paraty, whose historic district is a joy to explore, with cobblestone streets winding between whitewashed buildings and baroque churches.
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