Whether you’re looking to explore a new city together (ahem, Paris), scale mountains side-by-side, retreat to a secluded beach, or some combination of the three, these spots kind of do all the work. And while a honeymoon is a perfect excuse to check a far-flung destination off the bucket list, there are a bevy of romantic getaways stateside for more low-key affairs (or if you’ve burned up all those vacation days on the wedding itself). Needless to say, each of these spots are equally good options for re-igniting an old flame, or stoking one that’s been burning for many years.
Le Quartier FrançaisCorner of Berg & Wilhelmina Streets, Franschhoek, South Africa | +27.218.762.151
Surrounded by the hills and vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley, this little boutique hotel (there are only 21 rooms on the property) is just an hour from Cape Town, but it feels worlds away. While the quaint, comfortable suites by themselves justify a trip, this location is really all about the food. Their famous restaurant The Tasting Room has been re-imagined as La Petite Colombe, the second location of a La Colombe, a much-lauded local outfit that made a name for itself with the exquisite tasting menus that perfectly complement the the wine from this region. Note: They're currently closed for almost-finished renovations, and are now taking reservations for their re-opening.
Royal MansourRue Abou Abbas El Sebti, 40 000 Marrakech, Morocco | +212.529.808.080
This crown jewel of Moroccan hospitality is home to 53 separate riads, each with their own courtyard and fountain. Every room, spa, and common space is dripping in elegant Moroccan décor, including intricate tiles, colorful silks, and traditional chandeliers and lanterns. What’s more, the palace has more than 500 staff members, offering service that’s literally fit for royalty. The entire medina is a labyrinth of soothing water sounds (from the aforementioned fountains) and lovely scents that waft up from the well-tended garden, which spreads out over every inch of unclaimed space—it’s especially magical at night, when the winding paths are lit up with candles. When you’re not out exploring the city, book one of the couples’ treatments in the jaw-dropping spa.
North IslandVictoria, Mahé, Seychelles | +24.842.931.00
Part nature and wildlife conservatory, part exclusive resort, North Island is a tropical paradise the likes of which you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Taking up prime real-estate along the shores of the Indian Ocean, the 11 individual villas allow for unlimited access to the crystalline waters. An on-site dive school allows novices to hone their skills while experienced scuba divers explore the legendary coral reefs solo. On their way to or from the restaurant on the western side of the island, guests are encouraged to detour to the Seychelles Historical Museum or visit with the Island’s oldest inhabitants at the tortoise sanctuary.
Singita Lebombo LodgeKruger National Park | +27.21.683.3424
Everything about this safari camp is achingly chic (to the extent that it's Michael Kors' favorite vacation destination), from the leather and canvas washed interiors, to the long pool. Of course, that's kind of just a side note to the fact that it's in the middle of South Africa's Kreuger National Park, meaning that you get to take your laps in the morning to the sound of giraffes tussling nearby. There are also incredible views of the N'wanetsi river. While they allow kids over 10, keep in mind that a safari isn't for those who don't want to wake up early in the morning (or hate being confined to a car for most of the day). Rates include two game drives per day, walking safaris, and all meals and drinks (there's a great wine cellar).
AmanjenaRoute De Ouarzazate, Km 12, Palmeraie | +184.108.40.2069.000
Like every resort under the Aman umbrella, Amanjena is known for spectacular lodgings, service, gardens, and pavilions (that’s right, not rooms—pavilions, each with their own private courtyard). It’s a splurge, but worth the trip just to visit the lush grounds (where there are date palms and olive trees around every corner), maybe for dinner or for a tea in the late afternoon. The property itself is a little outside the center city, so it's a great home base if you're hoping to explore both the medina and the Atlas mountains—the concierge can arrange for guided hikes of Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, or for fresh mint tea with families in the nearby Berber villages. That said, with a gym, tennis courts, and a full-service hammam on-site, you may not want to leave the grounds at all.
BabylonstorenR45, Simondium | +27.021.863.3852
For the better part of a decade owners Koos Bekker and Karen Roos lovingly worked on restoring a 300-year-old farm at the base of the Simonsberg mountains into a wine destination in its own right. There are only thirteen rooms (formerly farm-workers’ cottages) and each one is whitewashed and pristine with an open floor plan and modern furnishings from the likes of Kartell and Bourellec Bros. For those in need of something more generously sized, whether it’s for themselves or for a couples getaway, the five-bedroom Owner’s House is pretty special, and features checkerboard floors in the bathrooms, a soaking tub, and the farm kitchen with its own wood-burning stove. On property, an eight-acre walled garden informs much of the menu at its restaurant, Babel, which churns out deliciously fresh meals. (In the summer months, it's yellow tomatoes, apricots, and gooseberries, while a winter menu may feature, say, a slow-cooked lamb leg in a red wine sauce.) For a bit of pampering, spa treatments can be had in the bamboo pavilion, which also includes a Hammam. Guests can participate in the harvest, pruning, and picking (they provide trowels and gloves), and they also offer wine tastings, though Babylonstoren is also within easy striking distance of South Africa's other celebrated vineyards. If you’re in need of an expert to help you plan a longer Africa trip, consider Deborah Calmeyer, a trip-planning ace at ROAR Africa, who can set you up at Babylonstoren and beyond.
Mahali Mzuri| +212.994.3070
Richard Branson's tent camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to only twelve rooms, so the entire experience is very private and intimate. The tents themselves are more architecturally ambitious than what you'll find elsewhere in the region, with curved roofs that swing out of the hillside and around each tent's private deck for maximum viewing of the grasslands. The main lodge, where meals are served, features a warm, open fireplace in the center and an infinity pool with the same sweeping views as those in the rooms. The main attraction, of course, is the wildlife, viewed from jeeps on twice-daily game drives led by local Maasai guides. Lions, wildebeest, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, gazelles, zebras, and buffalo are recurring characters, and skilled guides have also been known to scope out rarer finds, like elusive pangolins. Be sure to ask about night drives, when you'll be more likely to find nocturnal animals like aardvarks and honey badgers. This makes for a particularly great honeymoon after a summer wedding, as the peak season—when guests can get a glimpse of animals moving during the great annual migration—is from July-September.
L’Hôtel Marrakech41 Derb Sidi Lahcen ou Ali, Bab Doukkala | +212.5220.127.116.11
The first hotel from designer Jasper Conran (son of design luminary Sir Terence Conran, and maker of several famous Princess Diana suits), this 19th-century renovated riad is smack dab in the middle of the medina, just a few blocks from Jemaa el-Fnaa. Conran's design scheme is subtly 1930s, featuring whitewashed beds done in clean linens and draped with sheer curtains; meticulously selected antiques and artwork from Conran's own collection; and Moroccan flourishes like tall zouak ceilings, mosaic tiling, and locally made rugs. Despite its close proximity to the lively madness of central Marrakech, the entire operation here, from the five elegant suites to the serene rooftop terrace—which offers gorgeous view of the Atlas mountains—is pure serenity. The central courtyard features a small swimming pool (hard to come by in this part of town, even at luxury hotels) shaded by lush palms and citrus trees, and there's a private hammam with tadelakt walls done in a rich jade green. A simple but satisfying menu of old-school Moroccan dishes like tagines, grilled meats, and locally grown vegetables is served in a lovely little dining room that opens up onto the courtyard in the warmer months.
andBeyond Benguerra IslandBenguerra Island | +27.11.809.4300
The andBeyond outfitters have a slew of incredible properties in Africa (they'll typically book visitors to more than one destination in one visit), and while this quiet paradise off the coast of Mozambique makes a great beachy add-on to a safari trip, it's a more than worthy destination in its own right. For starters, there's the idyllic private beach location in the Bazaruto Peninsula, where the already-warm waters of the Indian Ocean are gentle, and swimming and snorkeling is comfortable and easy—those balmy temperatures also attract pods of humpback dolphins, sea turtles, and dugongs (the endangered Indian version of a manatee). It's easy to fill the days here lounging in the sun (especially since the West-facing beach means they have gorgeous sunsets), but there's plenty of high-touch staff on hand to organize excursions for sailing, deep sea fishing, and diving. That said, you'd be entirely justified in never leaving your individual cabana—each is decorated in blues and whites, with thatched wooden roofs, gauzy curtains hanging around the four-poster beds, and private open-air showers.
LondoloziSparta Farm, Sabi Sand Sildtuin, Mpumalanga | +27.137.355.653
Londolozi has several camps, all equally luxurious, but for honeymooners it's hard to beat their granite suites, which walk a thin line of luxury while maintaining the feeling that you’re out in nature. Outfitted with wide doors and windows that open to the Sand River, the stone huts (even the slanted roofs are made from granite slabs) feel like they’re part of the land, with private, heated pools that mirror the floor of the riverbed. Of course, the real draw here is the safari adventures in Kruger Park, and Londolozi’s guides have a great track record for finding some of the more difficult animals to see, along with plenty of lions, elephants, hippos, and more. As a bonus, Londolozi has a well-respected reputation for conservation and community support in the area.
andBeyond Matetsi River LodgeandBeyond Matetsi Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe, Zambia
Housed in a renovated lodge on a 123,500-acre reserve, you're in close reach of all of the activities that Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe have to offer. Made up of two camps, each nine rooms strong, the stone-and-thatch facades dot the riverfront and feature all the requisite safari creature comforts: a four-poster bed, indoor-outdoor shower, and a private plunge pool. The team can arrange everything from game drives (there are incredible elephant sightings), birdwatching, canoeing, and boat excursions. Photos: courtesy of andBeyond
Hotel Saxon36 Saxon Rd., Sandhurst | +27.11.292.6000
The grounds at the Saxon Hotel are so relaxing and private that Nelson Mandela retreated here to write his memoirs. Located on ten-plus acres, the approach here is zen- and detail-orientated—from the impeccable service to the neutral decor that mirrors the surrounding African landscape. If you're really looking to recharge, it's best to book one of the private villas–and book a sound therapy session at the spa. On the property, high tea–one of the Saxon's specialties–is served daily in one of the six impeccable gardens. And while the hotel's huge pool and rooftop terrace offer even more reasons to stay put, should you want to venture out, Sandton, a neighborhood known for its shopping, is an easy day trip.