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These are the Best Spots in SA for a More Casual Valentine’s Day Evening

Whether you’re planning a Galentine’s Day evening or taking a lowkey approach to a romantic evening, these spots set the casual tone for Valentine’s Day

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By Kimberley Schoeman  | January 29, 2024 | Travel Leisure

Hidden away just off Cape Town’s Buitengracht Street, the popular Athletic Club and Social recently introduced La Trip. Designed by Master Interior Architecture & Decoration, this discreet, retro Italian space inspires nostalgic conversations while indulging in divine cocktails with a wistful twist and a dynamic interior. Works by artists like Galia Gluckman, beautiful wooden floors, vintage staircases and a bar with shell-shaped arches make for the perfect classy gathering spot. Swedish chef, Anne Broms makes magic with local ingredients here too, adding a Mediterranean flair to the food menu which mainly features small plates.

The retro ruby cocktail of Suntory Japanese whisky, plum, and spring cordial. Image: Supplied.

Boma on Bree

Cape Town wouldn’t be Cape Town without a bit of quirkiness. As a Monther City-based hospitality company, The Firm is known for conceptualising and developing quirky bars that bring people together in the inner-city neighbourhoods. Boma on Bree, which opened its doors on Bree Street, is no different.

Open spaces and the big blue skies of the Kalahari and the Karoo served as inspiration for this bar, inviting fireside storytelling, open-fire cuisine and chit-chats over cocktails. The dining room features natural wooden accents, as well as elements from the 1970s, making it an exciting and unique terminus for a late-night tipple.

Boma on Bree, Cape Town. Image: Supplied.

Upper Union

Playfully embracing Victorian design, the MORE Family Collection’s Upper Union Restaurant and Bar offers the perfect balance of historic style with contemporary finishes. The heritage building is based in the heart of the Kloof Street neighbourhood and the bar offers a host of cocktails conceptualised by the award-winning Just Short team, who happen to be the founders of the renowned Joburg-based Sin + Tax Bar. The drinks were developed in line with Chef Amori Burger’s incredible food offering and come with a strong focus on local, seasonal ingredients and flavours. Described as a space for the creative and curious, Upper Union’s focus on sophisticated dishes along with thoughtful cocktails are what adds to this new hotspot.

Upper Union in Cape Town. Image: Supplied.

The Queens

Located in a restored building along Dock Road, a secret door in the middle of an iStore leads the way to a mysterious whisky and cocktail bar called The Queens. Open only once a week, the experience is strictly by invitation only. Even after the refurbishments, the old hotel building which dates back to the 1800s still holds elements of a bygone era. Ultimately, the drinks on offer epitomise the nostalgia that comes with vintage ceiling beams (reportedly from old ships) and beautiful wooden floors. Run by bartender Matthew Cox, every week comes with a special drinks selection in alignment with the international cocktail calendar.

A mysterious whisky and cocktail bar called The Queens. Photography by Migal Vanas.

Nightcap

A guided maze through a Sea Point restaurant, down passages and across a parking lot will bring you to what could be an under-used, bouncer-protected storeroom. Here, a door hidden behind an industrial ice machine opens up to a world of moody, Great Gatsby-like glamour with retro lamps and crystal chandeliers. At Nightcap, house rules come first and then the menu. The drinks list includes a wide selection of options, all suited to the hidden location and exclusive clientele. With this speakeasy, it is very much about who you know and inviting similar- minded individuals who value the art of cocktail making and the enjoyment thereof.

Rockets Beach Club uMhlanga

Rockets Beach Club in Umhlanga. Image: Supplied.

Restaurateur and entrepreneur, Sean Barber expanded his empire beyond Gauteng’s borders with the launch of Rockets Beach Club in Umhlanga. Located along the breath-taking and luxurious coastline of the Indian Ocean, Rockets seamlessly merges the group's well-established urban essence with the coastal charm, joy, and freedom that define the beach scene. The space comes with a refreshing charisma, featuring a stunning rooftop bar overlooking sandy beaches and romantic KwaZulu-Natal sunsets.

Set against the golden sands of Umhlanga, guests can indulge in a menu featuring a tantalizing array of Mediterranean dishes, delectable tapas, and exquisite sushi. The enchanting venue also hosts a weekly line-up of both local and national DJs, ensuring that every visit promises an unforgettable beach club experience beyond compare.

Original words by Renate Engelbrecht.