14 epic romantic holidays for unromantic people
Do you fancy getting away with your significant other, but turn cold at the idea of violins and sonnets? In honour of Valentine’s Day, we’ve compiled 14 holiday ideas that will give you the quality time you need, all without a rose in sight.
1. For lovers craving one-on-one time, minus the mush
Head to: Satellite Island, TAS
Satellite Island, Tasmania: credit Satellite Island
You won’t find any other loved-up couples, let alone any other guests, on Satellite Island, a stone’s throw from Bruny Island. When you book a stay on this island, you book the whole island. Shack up in the main Summer House, the Boathouse on the jetty or, in the warmer months, in a cliff-top bell-tent. On request, the island’s innkeeper can go diving for seafood pulled straight from the ocean, including all the oysters you can muster (wink, wink).
2. For: those who put mates before dates
Head to: Mandala The Rocks Uluwatu, Bali
The delicious bar at Mandala The Rocks, Uluwatu, Bali: credit Mandala The Rocks
Who says you need a lover for Valentine’s Day? Round up your closest pals for an epic escape in Bali. Mandala rents out villas with rockstar appeal. At its Uluwatu outpost, Mandala The Rocks, you and 12 mates can head to the clifftop gym for sunrise yoga, spend sun-kissed days surfing with direct beach access from the villa and dance the night away with complimentary VIP access to Bali’s chicest bars and clubs.
3. For cooler-than-thou couples after a city break
Head to: Austin Motel, Texas, US
The colourful exterior (and epic signage) of Austin Motel, Texas: credit Austin Motel
Roadside motels don’t usually spell romance, unless it’s the pay-by-the-hour-kind. But uber-cool hotel group Bunkhouse is unpending that notion, one motor inn at a time. The 1930s Austin Motel sports a proudly tongue-in-cheek retro look, with rooms wrapped around a kidney-shaped pool, and is the perfect base to explore the vibrant South Congress hood in the hippest city in Texas (some say the States). Design lovers will get a giggle from the phallic-shaped neon sign and lavicious wallpaper.
4. For: adrenaline junkies that want to take things to the next level
Head to: Beyond the Edge, VIC
Look closely: spot daring campers hanging off the cliff in Victoria: credit Beyond the Edge
Double dare you to spend a night on the world’s highest cliff sleep. The Beyond the Edge experience will see the pair of you abseiling down a cliff to a portaledge for two, where you’ll spend the night dangling 300m high over Victoria’s Mount Buffalo gorge. No B&B can come close to the view over breakfast in this bed. If you are forever egging each other on to new levels of crazy, opt to abseil your way down to the valley floor the next morning.
5. For: a couple of book worms
Head to: Book and Bed Tokyo, Japan
Book and Bed Tokyo, Shinjuku: credit Book and Bed Tokyo
If your idea of romance is curling up in bed together with a good read, you’ll have everything you need at Tokyo’s Book and Bed hostel. The Shinjuku and Asakusa branches offer nooks for two hidden in the bookshelves. The digs are basic and the bathrooms shared, but that’s only more reason to spend long days exploring Tokyo before falling asleep in the company of your favourite characters beside your favourite person.
6. For: couples who’ve toyed with the idea of #vanlife
Head to: Pacific Overlander, Las Vegas or San Francisco, US
Camping with Pacific Overlander in California, credit Francis Faroli / Pacific Overlander
Romance isn’t all about exxy gifts, decadent dinners and lavish hotel suites. Sometimes, it’s about spending time with your loved one. And what better way to do so than a road trip? Operating out of Las Vegas and San Francisco, Pacific Overlander rents off-road vehicles with everything you need to rough it in comfort – including cooking gear, a mini fridge and roof-top tent with a comfy mattress. It’ll be just the two of you and the wide open road.
7. For: sociable surf couples
Head to: Surfers Lodge Peniche, Portugal
Chilling out at Surfers Lodge Peniche, Portugal: credit Surfers Lodge
Can’t drag yourself away from the waves long enough to schlep on fancy clothes for date night? At Surfers Lodge Peniche, you don’t have to. Chase the waves all the way to this beachfront property in Portugal, where surf lessons can be bundled into the price of your Beatles-themed suite, and days on land spent exploring the villages of Ferrel and Baleal with the hotel’s free bikes or skateboards before sunset drinks with your fellow surfers on the rooftop pool terrace.
8. For: wellness warriors on a health kick
Head to: Aro Hā, NZ
Spectacular views from the snug retreat of Aro Ha, New Zealand: credit Aro Ha
Not into chocolate and bubbles? Spend Valentine’s Day with your other half jumpstarting your health in the Southern Alps. On an expansive private property overlooking a deep, cool alpine lake, Aro Hā promises to cure what ails you from the inside, out with hikes, yoga, treatments and wholesome raw cooking with organic, site-grown produce. You’ll emerge with a better understanding of yourself and each other.
9. For: intrepid couples with a taste for the finer things
Head to: Sheldon Chalet, Alaska, US
Chillaxing outside with the Northern Lights, Sheldon Chalet, credit Chris Burkard / Sheldon Chalet Alaska
Just because you like the creature comforts, doesn’t mean you like to do things the easy way. Pioneering Alaskan family, the Sheldons, established one of the world’s most remote luxury chalets in the snowy reaches of Denali National Park, Sheldon Chalet. If the five-room hexagonal lodge gets too crowded and comfy for you, satisfy your more intrepid inclinations with a night in the off-grid Sheldon Mountain House. As rustic as the chalet is plush, this hut is reached with a hike up the glacier, but the reward is a private box for the theatre of the aurora borealis shimmering above North America’s higgest peak.
10. For: those who show their love with food
Head to: Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School
The gorgeous poolside at Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School: credit Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School
If you know the way to the heart is through the stomach, show you care with bottomless bowls of pasta and a good Nero d'Avola. At Anna Tasca’s Sicilian cooking school, multi-day workshops are the perfect for learning the language of love – food, of course. On a working vineyard, the villa wraps around a courtyard where you’ll share meals with your fellow guests after classes that have you on foraging excurions into the wild, visiting local cheesemakers or learning how to make tomato paste from scratch. You’ll be fat and happy, together.
11. For: those who cringe at the thought of a couples massage
Head to: Elsey National Park, NT
Elsey National Park Hot Springs, credit Tourism Northern Territory
If a couples’ day at the spa just isn’t for you, go off-grid in the Northern Territory to find the next best thing (or better, if you ask us). Mataranka Thermal Pools and Bitter Springs in Elsey National Park is an hours’ drive out of Katherine. The mission is rewarded with balmy pools hovering around 30° with vividly blue, clear waters fringed by greenery. Soak it up and spend the night under the stars at nearby campgrounds.
12. For: grown-up Potter-heads
Head to: The Wizard Chamber, London, UK
Harry Potter's own Hogwarts dorm room, Georgian House Hotel: credit Mariana Martim
‘Generation Potter’ is now firmly into their 20s and 30s, and well into the shacking up and settling down stage. If you have found yourself a fellow fan of the boy wizard, conjour up a stay at this quirky room in the lower level of the 19th-century Georgian House Hotel. Hidden behind a bookcase, the rooms provide an atmospheric facsimile of the Hogwarts dorm rooms, complete with four-poster beds and cauldrons. Top it off with a tour of Warner Bros. Studio and you’ll be firmly under London’s spell.
13. For: campers who don’t like to share their site
Head to: Rawnsley Park Station, SA
The spectacular landscape at Rawnsley Park, South Australia: credit Rawnsley Park
The heli-swag experience at Rawnsley Park Station starts with a private helicopter transfer over Wilpena Pound to your home for the night at the top of Chance range. Watch sunset over the Flinders Rangers, as the team set up your double swag. You’ll be left with a two-course dinner and breakfast to prepare over the camp fire. Until the helicopter comes to collect you the next day that epic vista is all yours.
14. For couples who care as much about their insta feeds as each other
Head to: The Surfjack, Hawaii, US
Funky interiors at The SurfJack hotel, credit The SurfJack
From the staff in Roberta Oaks-designed Aloha shirts to what might be the world’s most instagrammable pool, every element of The SurfJack seems calculated to fill your feed with envy-inducing snaps. The Waikiki hotel is as much as a scene as a place to rest your head, with beautiful people gathering around the pool for DJ sessions or at in-house venue Mahina & Sun’s, helmed by superstar local chef Ed Kenney. But it’s not all just good looks – Surfjack has locked down a reputation as one of Hawaii’s best boutique stays.
Words by Krysia Bonkowski and Constantina Demos; published Friday 31 January 2020