Most Romantic Hotels in Africa
Burning sands, epic sunsets, majestic mountain slopes — there are a million ways to fall in love with Africa. Start with this list of romantic hotel destinations.
Where: Makgadikgadi Plains, Kalahari Desert
What's to Love: An over-the-top 1940s-style safari camp set in a palm grove. Explore archeological sites on quad bikes, then regroup at the lavish tea tent.
Good to Know: It's pricey. But the service details are incredibly special (i.e.: tours are led by a group of passionate academics, anthropologists, and bushmen).
Where: Okavango Delta
What's to Love: A true camp experience — al fresco showers, outdoor beds for afternoon naps, dining under the stars — upgraded with massages, plunge pools, and refreshing Stellenbosch between game drives.
Good to Know: It's best to visit in March or early spring for the best weather and Big Game sightings.
The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh
Where: Red Sea Coast
What's to Love: Spacious and secluded suites have private heated swimming pools, walled gardens, and 48 acres of white sand beach.
Good to Know: Do not miss scuba diving in the Gulf of Aqaba.
Where: Maasai Mara
What's to Love: The boutique tented camp overlooks the flowing Mara River (perfect for hippo watching). There's a wonderful spa and pool to refresh after game tracking. Hot water bottles are placed in your four-poster bed at night along with bedtime stories.
Good to Know: Book tent 14 or 15 for ultra luxury. Request Joseph as a guide (though all are amazing). Have a sun-downer on the escarpment where the movie Out of Africa was filmed. Get married amongst the Maasai. Plant a tree on the property and leave something behind to grow.
Where: Maasai Mara
What's to Love: It's exclusive and intimate. Take a scenic helicopter flight into the Maasai Mara at dawn from the hotel's private helipad.
Good to Know: After an exhilarating flight into the reserve, take the rare opportunity to float over the million-strong wildebeest and zebra migration in a hot air balloon, followed by breakfast in a remote part of the Maasai Mara.
What's to Love: Imagine the Chateau Marmont relocated to a small medieval Moroccan town with camels wandering the beach and sea spray sweetening the evening breeze.
Good to Know: The nearby dock is the essential destination for al fresco lunches.
What's to Love: A French-owned hotel with ocean views and balconies that back up to the city's ancient sea walls.
Good to Know: Cross your fingers for a power outage, because the fishing village is even lovelier by candlelight. For the breeziest breakfast, order from the roof terrace.
Where: Atlas Mountains, Morocco
What's to Love: 27 suites and nine luxurious Berber-style tents filled with Moroccan antiques in the mountains an hour outside Marrakech. This is Sir RIchard Branson's retreat, the one he discovered while ballooning in the area.
Good to Know: Try to tear yourself away from your room to explore the Atlas Mountains on one of their mules and to visit nearby village Asni for the weekly Saturday market.
What's to Love: A gorgeous 2009 renovation caters to your design fetish. You'll find Moorish and Deco glamour, lush gardens, a marble mosaic hammam, and gleaming Jaguars in the driveway.
Good to Know: The Baldaquin Suite is particularly stunning. Two of their four restaurants are led by Michelin-star chefs.
Read More on Fathom: A Berber Jewel Box, and I Have the Keys
Riad El Fenn
What's to Love: Vanessa Branson's (yes, one of those Bransons) charming contemporary boutique hotel has three courtyards, swimming pools, mint tea and cake every afternoon, and an excellent hammam near bustling Djemaa el-Fna square.
Good to Know: Riad Vanessa is the especially lovely and private suite to book. If you fall for the brightly striped Turkish cotton towels by the pool, you can pick some up at Atelier Moro (114 Place de Mouassine; +11-212-24-39-16-78), along with other non-touristy souvenirs.
What's to Love: Palatial villas, white sand beaches, crystal clear water, just-caught seafood. You are completely disconnected from the world in the best possible sense.
Good to Know: The diving — in some still uncharted reefs — is incredible.
Where: Kruger National Park
What's to Love: Amazing meals and walking safaris in the bush. Rooms with soaring ceilings, canopy beds, fireplaces, and cozy outdoor showers.
Good to Know: Traveling with another couple? Book The Royal suite for the private chef and massage therapist.
Where: Cape Town
What's to Love: A blissfully secluded guesthouse perched on a sea cliff. It is so private that staff departs every evening to leave you to your own devices. Take a dip in the heated saltwater pool or stargaze on a chaise with a digestif from the honesty bar.
Good to Know: Head down to the Camps Bay strip for beachfront breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For a breath of fresh air, stroll the nearby Table Mountain natural reserve.
Singita Lebombo Lodge
Where: Kruger National Park
What's to Love: Fifteen suites with private plunge pools, fireplaces, sweeping decks, and expansive views. Private tours, chefs, and butlers are at your service.
Good to Know: No children younger than ten are allowed.
Volcanoes Bwindi Safari Lodge
Where: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
What's to Love: Eight thatched-roof bandas with picture-perfect jungle views from broad verandas, and the chance to spend your morning flirting with mountain gorillas.
Good to Know: Bring a bathing suit for the lodge's private swimming hole. And hiking boots, long pants, rain gear, and gloves for the gorilla treks. Save the massage for after your hike with 500-pound apes amid the slopes' tangled vines.
Where: Just upriver from Victoria Falls
What's to Love: Five open-sided thatched cottages on a private island on the Zambezi River. Take an alfresco bubble bath in an antique claw-foot tub. Enjoy the flickering candle light of antique lanterns. Wake up to hippos bellowing in the water.
Good to Know: Request Trega, the best personal butler you'll ever know. You can combine a stay on this island with one on the sister property, a short boat ride away.
Read More on Fathom: Our very own Zambiana Jones takes the trip of a lifetime.
Luangwa Safari House
Where: South Luangwa
What's to Love: A super chic blend of creature comforts — Neil Rocher-designed architecture, designer furniture, a private chef — surrounded by vast savannah wilderness.
Good to Know: With some of the healthiest populations of elephants, giraffes, and hippos on the planet, South Luangwa is one of the wildest (and most remote) corners on earth. An excellent way to ease into a Zambian adventure.
The Bushcamp Company
Where: South Luangwa National Park
What's to Love: Six distinct bushcamps are set up in the remote south of the park, where wildlife experiences are out-of-this-world. The resort also supports two local schools and runs eco initiatives (tree-planting, solar cookers, honey production).
Good to Know: Go in November when resident elephant families near Mfuwe Lodge are on the search for succulent wild fruit. One particular wily old matriarch (named Wonky Tusk) takes the most direct route to the mango trees, which means walking through the reception lounge.
Mnemba Island Resort
Where: Mnemba Island, Indian Ocean
What's to Love: A private island resort with ten very stylish free-standing bandas, outdoor living rooms, fantastic food, and world-class snorkeling. You can be active or do nothing. How else to know how Robinson Crusoe would have felt as a Zanzibari sultan?
Good to Know: There are no real roads, phones, or TVs (though there is wifi). You will be barefoot all the time. You will hear doves along with rare (and tiny!) Suni antelope. Bring ear plugs if you are a light sleeper — those doves melodically coo all day and night.
What's your favorite hotel for romantic romps? Tell us on Facebook.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
The World's Most Romantic Hotels: The Best of the Best
Most Romantic Hotels in Asia
Most Romantic Hotels in Australia and the South Pacific
Most Romantic Hotels in Europe
Most Romantic Hotels in Latin America
Most Romantic Hotels in the United States and Caribbean
Contributors: Erinn Bucklan, Larry Burnett, Caryl Chinn, Ondine Cohane, Sonya De Castelbajac, Melanie Dunea, Erin Hartigan, Rachel Kahlon, Devorah Klein Lev-Tov, Kelley McMillan, James Sturz, Rima Suqi, James Truman, Jess Teutonico.
Photos, from top left: courtesy of Olarro; courtesy of La Mamounia; courtesy of Royal Malewane; courtesy of Luangwa Safari House.