Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if red roses and rampant consumerism aren't your thing, there's always the option of ditching the madness in favour of an out-of-city escape. Try one of these beautiful destinations - you won't be sorry.
Perched on a natural bluff that overlooks the Indian Ocean on one side and a picturesque expanse of the Bitou River valley on the other, Emily Moon appears out of the surrounding subtropical foliage like a Moorish playground – carved wooden doorways, fringed umbrellas and an azure lap pool that is able to inspire wanderlust in even the most unadventurous souls. Six luxurious suites, two honeymoon suites and two family suites make up the accommodation at this sumptuous lodge. Cocktail hour spent at Simon's Bar followed by an explorative safari-style dinner at Emily's Restaurant is the tastiest way to up the spice in your relationship.
Named one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve prides itself on offering an eco-friendly escape that doesn't skimp on luxury. Ancient milkwood trees surround the lodges and the reserve itself looks out across the expanse of whale-haven Walker Bay. One of three accommodation choices, the Forest Lodge Pool Suite is the most intimate, with a spacious bedroom, private deck and plunge pool for your exclusive use. A mere two-hour drive from Cape Town means that this escape could be a spontaneous one – and what's sexier than that?
Set in a halo of lush forest, Bramasole Lodge appears out of the foliage – like an Alpine chalet – from the expanse of lake that it overlooks. It embraces a sense of peregrination from the themed rooms too (stay in suites inspired by exotic locations such as Venice, Paris and the East) to the forest walks and trout fishing offered in the lodge's surrounds. Farm the kids off to friends and take the weekend to rediscover each other – the lodge has a strict policy of no children under the age of 14.
4. Hillhouse Farm – Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands
Overlooking Midmar Dam, Hillhouse Farm offers three self-catering houses within walking distance from one another. Suitable for those who want to escape Valentine's Day by upping their numbers, Hillhouse and Foresthouse sleeps about 12 people, while Lakehouse is suited to four. Whatever your circumstance, Hillhouse Farm offers home-style touches such as fine cotton bed linen and fully equipped kitchens coupled with bespoke decor touches and unusual architecture (Hillhouse is a reclaimed farm shed) set in a breathtaking location rich in indigenous flora and fauna.