We’ve found the nooks for your nookie, the spaces for your romance to roam for Valentine’s Day and well beyond. Whether you think it’s just a hallmark holiday or not, here are Australia’s best romantic getaways, hotels, islands, spas and ideas to amaze your partner and yourself (in no particular order). PS you might want to book ahead! (By Steve Madgwick)
1. Spas were meant for 2
A spa for one is so lonely, so say a couple of Australia’s most exclusive boutique hotels at least. Melbourne’s The Lyall offers the saucy Time for Two package, which includes “Do-it-Yourself Rassoul” where you smother each other in invigorating Moroccan mud and then cleanse in a Swiss shower (total treatment time 4 hours). The Darling in Sydney takes it a step up further with its 240-minutes Date Night, which starts with a Savon Noir body exfoliation. At the end “you’re left to your own devices”. We should hope so.
2. The Melbourne splash-out
Book into your room at Crown Towers Melbourne and, if the mood takes you, ease into your love-extravaganza with one of the hotel spa’s early-morning Caviar Lift facials (90 minutes). Later, a short stroll along the Yarra brings you to the funky bars around Hoiser Lane – dip into Cumulus Inc or Cutler & Co. Next a spot of dinner at Mamasita (pre book) for some fresh and fast ‘street style’ Mexican. Back to Crown’s lounge for nightcap. Well, you know what to do next.
3. On-lake wilderness and water views
For couples who like to say “we’ve been there” way before anyone else, book the weekend at a zhushed art-deco former hydro station electric station on the cusp of one of Tasmania’s most eye-peeling World Heritage areas. Many of Pumphouse Point’s rooms sport floor to-ceiling water views so you can make the executive decision to stay in and stare or head out on a nature walk around Lake St Clair. Inevitably you’ll probably end up cosying up around the flickering fire and deep seats of the Pumphouse Lounge anyway.
4. Sail, walk, sigh
Walk through picturesque Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula and the Tasman Peninsula by day; sip local wines and enjoy fresh oysters by sunset, and then get some much-needed R & R to the gentle rock of your yacht (Lady Eugenie, a 23-metre (75-ft) luxury classic ketch) by night. The Tasmanian Walking Company’s unique Wineglass Bay Sail Walk tour offers all this and more. Heaven.
5. Retreat to the rainforest and/or the mountains
Flee your hectic city routine to a rarefied rainforest or a mystic mountain lodge – that’s an order. At 1130m above sea level Spicers Peak Lodge is an almost-alpine canoodlers’ (and gourmands’) paradise in Queensland’s Scenic Rim. Try the award-winning gourmet four-course shared lunch full of local goodies and then, much later, a signature spa experience perhaps. There’s a heli pad if a James Bond-style escape is needed. To be at two with nature, book one of three lodges (Balinese temple, rainforest yurt or Hobbit house) at Wollumbin Palms, amongst 80 acres of rainforest around Mt Warning in NSW’s Northern Rivers. Test the Pamper Massage for couples or the signature Bliss Out package after your gentle horse ride through the Numinbah Valley or your light paddle in your complimentary canoe for two. If you want to go all the way, so to speak, Wollumbin offers Elopement Packages.
6. The Sydney Harbour view trinity
Pre-dinner tipples at Shangri-La Sydney’s Blue Bar on 36 with its harbour-from-the-heavens view of sparkling Sydney. Book well ahead for dinner at Quay restaurant and then toil with your dessert choice – snow egg or the chocolate ethereal – as you catch yet another exquisite angle of the illuminated bridge and Opera House. Next a short, pleasant evening waterside stroll back to your City King Harbour room at the Park Hyatt, where you can take advantage of your round-the-clock butler service or try out the custom-made bed linen.
7. The all-in-one country drives
The delicious four-hour drive north east from Melbourne to Beechworth sets the scene nicely for your stay (and dinners) at Micheal Ryan’s awesome (and hatted) The Provenance. No matter if your true love is not a meat eater, try the degustation veggo menu. Historically gorgeous Beechworth is worth a lingering wander or retire immediately to one of The Provenance’s four sleek suites (preferably yours) and pop into the spa bath.
Other sparkling country gems:
The spa-related pamperings and hatted restaurants of Daylesford/Hepburn
The ‘other Byron’, Bellingen, is absolutely gorgeous (check out Cottonwood Cottage!)
The seductive cycle trails around Victoria’s café hub Bright; including a cycle-thru burrito shop and a long lunch degustation where you cycle between five wineries
The foodie goodness in picturesque country surrounds of amazing Mudgee
The backroads of the Blue Mountains through adorable apple country around Bilpin
8. Almost deserted luxury island
You don’t want an utterly deserted island – who’s going to serve you and your other champagne? Luckily Australia has plenty to choose from. For small-scale intimacy try a high-end option such as the bountiful and beautiful Bedarra Island (140km south of Cairns) where you’re unlikely to be bothered by other guests (only eight private villas and a maximum of 16 guests at any one time). There are 45 hectares of tropical rainforest to get lost in or indulge in a candlelit dinner for two on your own beach. Alternatively, pack a gourmet hamper and head off in a dinghy for a romantic soiree on one of the nearby deserted islands.
9. A vineyard, an ocean feast
Slow drive through the Adelaide Hills and stock up at your fave wines there or in McLaren Vale where you check into a cosy B&B (The Vintage or Amande to name just a couple). From there it’s a short drive south west to the coast town of Port Wilunga. Next maybe a drive along the beach at sunset (yes, you can drive along the beach) and then settle in for a seafood feast at the irrepressible and Santorini-esque Star of Greece.
Also: Try our tasty travels along the back roads of Margaret River
10. Lovers in the air
Nothing says “I love you” like seaplane, hot air balloon or helicopter. How about a heli-picnic; fly over the Coral Sea and land on a tiny island for a very private gourmet picnic (just the two of you). Gourmet lunch, snorkelling equipment, beach umbrella and, of course, cushions provided. Jonah’s on Sydney’s Whale Beach is famous for its fly-and-dine option but Sydney Seaplanes also offers packages to a number of other quality New South Wales’ coastal restaurants such as Bells at Killcare and Berowra Waters Inn. Prefer going where the wind takes you? Float over the verdant hills of the nation’s capital with Balloon Aloft in the early morning after a gourmet breakfast. A champagne celebration follows, naturally.