“Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…”
— Charles d’Orléans, Rondeau VI, lines 1–2
There is a legend that St Valentine wrote a letter to his beheader’s beautiful daughter. If you disregard that (together with all the other nonsense people insist on writing about Valentine’s day) the 15th Century rondeau above, by Charles Duke of Orléans, is the oldest surviving valentine. He wrote it from the Tower of London—a fact that America might find fitting considering it is our least favorite holiday according to surveys.
The trouble really started with Chaucer… and then Shakespeare and Hallmark ran with it. But Generation Z (people born after 1995) are changing our approach to the march of consumerism. Real-world issues, humour and celebrations of the heart are leading the way.
Whilst occasions like Valentine’s are becoming increasingly outmoded as the history behind it becomes increasingly clear, the need for taking a holiday together has never been more current.
What can be more romantic than spending time together? It is the ultimate compliment. There is no greater adventure than exploring new cultures and countries with someone you love… seeing everything through their eyes as well as your own. A privilege.
And something else about this that we rather like. No one has ever limited it to one calendar day. Nope. There is no need to curb your enthusiasm.
We certainly won’t be doing that any time soon.
Here is our pick for romantic destinations that you can enjoy whenever you fancy:
Never leave your pavilion. Unless you can be convinced to explore the medina or the Atlas Mountains…
Benguerra Island, Mozambique
Off the coast of Mozambique with an idyllic private beach on the Bazaruto Peninsula. Swimming is gentle, and the snorkelling is easy. Share the sea with pods of humpback dolphins, sea turtles, and dugongs (the endangered Indian version of a manatee).
Chinzombo Camp, Zambia
Wild luxury and award-winning design all on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River. The villas offer sweeping views of the river and abundant wildlife happily wanders in and out of camp.
Mukul, Emerald Coast of Nicaragua
A legendary Pacific retreat known for surfing, wellness retreats and yoga centres that is also an intimate getaway for travellers seeking thick jungles and epic stretches of white sands.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
From giant tortoises to island hopping and scuba diving one of the seven underwater wonders of the world.
Huahine, French Polynesia
The Garden Island has hidden temples concealed in forests of breadfruit trees and banana groves. The tiny town of Fare has Sunday morning markets and you must not forget to feed the sacred blue-eyed eels in Faie.
JW Marriot, Venice
A 15-minute ferry ride to Venice will deliver you to a private island with stunning views of Piazza San Marco.
Not a bad way to start a visit!
Kambaku River Sands, South Africa
In the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, part of the Kruger National Park, a stay at Kambaku may introduce you to the incredible White Lions and allow you to safari by open vehicle or on foot. This is Big Five country.
Londolozi, South Africa
Book a granite suite with wide doors and windows opening onto the Sand River. Private, heated pools mirror the riverbed floor. When you can make it out of your hut the incredible wildlife of the Kruger Park awaits.
Rovos Rail, Africa
Take the most luxurious train in the world and step back in time. Enjoy fine cuisine and incredible luxury in an atmosphere that is redolent with otherworldly romance.
Set your own pace with the help of a private valet. Every space at Tongabezi was built with romance in mind and the adventure activities of nearby Victoria Falls will find it difficult to pull you away from the mesmerizing bend of the Zambezi River.