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When Love Calls

Perfect Venues for Romantic Escapes

Ahh, Love,

Inspiration of poets, muse of musicians, purveyor of bruised hearts, magical moments and life’s most precious purpose.

So much about Africa imbibes us with a heightened sense of romance. Perhaps it is the misty-eyed nostalgia of the early colonial days, the hope of finding our very own charismatic Robert Redford somewhere Out in Africa. Or maybe it is the sheer uniqueness of it, that you can’t quite believe what you are seeing, so to share it with another is to form an exquisite union that few other things can evoke.

Whatever the reason, Africa infuses romance into every moment, whether you are sharing your new love or breathing a fresh spark into the glow of a long-established relationship.

So however you wish to celebrate your love, read on as I share five of my favorite romantic African retreats.

Jao Camp Okavango Delta Star Bed
It’s impossible to stave off the romance of a venue so exquisite as Jao Camp‘s Okavango Star Bed.

KENYA

Nay Palad Bird Nest, Laikipia

Set upon the spectacularly abundant plains of Laikipia, Nay Palad’s Bird Nest is as romantic as it is remarkable. Collaborating with conservationist Jochen Zeitz, the founder of Segera Retreat, and architect, Daniel Pouzet, Nay Palad has developed an utterly unique venue.

Combining impeccable design and sumptuous furnishings with complete natural immersion, Bird Nest places you in the unparalleled privacy of the Laikipia Plains. Wake to the sounds of nature, perch atop your very own nest for a bird’s-eye view across the grasslands and nearby river teeming with life, and conclude your day with a rooftop champagne under an unfettered canopy of stars.

 The Laikipia Plains are celebrated as one of Africa’s finest game viewing destinations, the rolling hills bustling with life, though thankfully bereft of crowds. With game drives, walking safaris and much more to fill your daytime hours, the solitude of the Bird Nest is what makes it a truly romantic venue.

Yet despite this unbridled privacy, you are never too far away from the hosting retreat of Segera, allowing you to indulge in massages and spa treatments, delicious romantic dinners and more.

BEST FOR: Pure privacy & natural immersion

Segera Birds Nest Kenya

Segera Birds Nest Kenya
An architectural masterpiece creating absolute intimacy in the heart of the Naikipia Plains.

Alfajiri Villas, Diani Beach

Just as the plains of Africa inspire romance and contemplation, so too do many of the world’s coastlines. Combining the two, Alfajiri Villas make it simply impossible to ignore the love in the air.

Set on the shores of Diani Beach, an hour to the south of Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, Alfajiri is the passion project of Italian Fabrizio Molinaro and his wife Marica. Winner of numerous luxury hotel awards, Alfajiri presents breathtaking vistas across a rugged, deserted coastline from an intimate collection of villas. 

Originally established as the Molinaro home, this privately-owned retreat expanded and was opened to guests. Marica’s impeccable taste in interior design is expertly inspired in equal parts by Italian and Greek coastal villas and traditional African culture. These Mediterranean and African flavors also combine on the menu, with Italian-inspired cuisine utilizing local ingredients and the fruits of the sea in glorious fusion.

There is a luxuriously rustic charm to Alfajiri, with no expense spared in the quality of your experience yet the sterility of a contemporary luxury hotel blissfully avoided in the more traditionally-crafted villas and their timber and linen furnishings.

Bathe in the solitude of the clifftop venue and the soft white sands of Diani Beach and unwind in a setting uniting decadence with a relaxing homely ease and comfort.

Shimba Hills National Reserve is under an hour inland, the large forest reserve providing wonderful game viewing including giraffe, waterbuck, leopard and the highest concentration of elephant in Kenya.

BEST FOR: A more sedate romantic rendezvous

Alfajiri Villas Kenya

Alfajiri Villas
The divine beachside setting of Alfajiri Villas on Kenya’s Mombasa coast.

BOTSWANA

Jao Camp, Okavango Delta

Few things could be more romantic than finding a luxurious retreat surrounded by the floodwaters of the Okavango Delta. Elevated above the delta, Jao Camp offers premium accommodation and remarkable game viewing. 

Comprising two exclusive villas and five spacious suites, there is an aspect of shared residence. However, each with its own plunge pool, lounge and dining area, ensuites and even outdoor showers, you will feel delightfully alone when retreating to your accommodation.

The Okavango is dynamic; it is life in full flood, even in the drier months and photographers and avid game seekers will revel in the sheer abundance of wildlife thriving in this semi-aquatic landscape.

Despite the exuberance of nature on offer, the Okavango possesses an exquisite and irreplicable tranquility that fills you at once with a sense of romance and wonder. Jao’s captivating design and unwavering luxury would be enough to induce romance in the coldest heart, but coupled with the majestic serenity of the Okavango Delta, Jao Camp is possibly one of the most romantic accommodations on the planet.

BEST FOR: Nature-loving lovebirds

Jao Camp Luxury Room 1 Scaled

ZAMBIA

Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi

Similar to Jao Camp, Sausage Tree Camp combines abundant wildlife, meandering waterways and luxury. What sets Sausage Tree Camp apart is its canvas architecture. The tented camps offer a suggestion of escapism and the sense of camping in the wild, but to imply that you will sleep in a tent is somewhat misleading. 

The canvas walls and roof of Sausage Tree Camp are where the connection to camping tents begins and ends – every other aspect of the camp is pure luxury.

While the central house can accommodate a group, each of the seven private luxury suites is completely independent, nestled upon the wooded banks of the Lower Zambezi River. Elephant wander casually past your balcony, hippo grunt and bellow in the calm riverway and bats fly overhead at dusk in search of their night-time dining.

Each wonderfully private suite is replete with all conveniences, a fully appointed bathroom, plunge pool and your very own muchinda, or butler, on hand at all times to provide you with all you could desire.

With the renowned yet sparsely attended Mana Pools National Park on the far bank, you will never be disappointed in the game viewing, but the true romantic attraction lies in simply indulging in the solitude of your very own private luxury tent, being waited on hand and foot and pampered in every conceivable way.

BEST FOR: Romance infused with excitement

Sausage Tree Room

Sausage Tree Camp Zambia

Zambezi Luxury Lodge Zambia
Like the Okavango, the Lower Zambezi’s waterways are wonderfully serene & tranquil. Photo: Sausage Tree Camp

SOUTH AFRICA 

La Residence, Cape Winelands

To some, romance resides not in solitude but in opulent extravagance and absolute indulgence.

La Residence is almost regal in its furnishings, velvet-padded gilt furniture set against lavish drapery in a collection of Louis XV-inspired unique double suites. Rooms gaze across the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vineyards towards the surrounding mountains of the Franschhoek Valley and the landscaped gardens unfurl from your front door.

Someone once said, if food be the music of love, eat on – or some such similar phrase – and indeed, if gastronomy is your flavor of romance, La Residence is a veritable feast.

Celebrated chef Lennard Marais has crafted a range of exquisite menus to indulge your taste buds, but the culinary experience reaches far beyond the table.

The venue’s kitchen garden provides the opening scene of an exclusive farm-to-table evening. Chef introduces the fresh ingredients to his guests before pulling, plucking and snipping them for a private four-course meal, including amuse bouche and petits fours. This being wine country, your sommelier will provide the ideal pairing for your choice of meal, much from the local region and surrounding vineyards.

If opulence and a consummate sense of luxury defines romance for you, La Residence, one of the most celebrated hotels of South Africa, will leave you nothing short of breathless.

BEST FOR: A love of regal indulgence 

La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa

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La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa
Opulence, elegance and boundless romance awaits at La Residence in South Africa’s spectacular Cape Winelands.

Romance means different things to different people and flows through the seasons of life. Taking the time to nourish our love is not only a divine and rarely indulged pleasure, it is also vital to the long-term health of our relationships.

Whether you have an upcoming anniversary, wish to plan for next Valentine’s Day or simply wish to spoil the one you love, these romantic retreats will captivate the heart and mind. 

Talk to your Travel Designer today about crafting a complete itinerary for romance and love.

Header image: Nay Palad Bird Nest