The red mist of Valentine’s Day is descending; yes, love – and a veritable vortex of pheromones – is in the air. It’s time to get down on one knee and whip out that life-pledging bit of bling; but first you need a Jumbotron-free, ‘knock your socks – and other bits – off’ setting, where flash mobs fear to tread.
We’ve swiped Cupid’s quiver and taken aim at five of our most romantic hotels, where popping the question will be met with a resounding ‘yes’*.
*or an appreciative ‘no’ and a friendly handshake, at the very least.
1. The history (in the) buff proposal Continentale, Florence, Italy
Every ardour-inflaming angle of the hotel’s Penthouse Suite, set atop the 13th-century Consorti tower, is proposal ready: lovebirds can spy the Arno from the canopied bed, the Duomo from the bijou terrace and Palazzo Vecchio from the plunge-pool-size bath tub.
Seize the moment Ask hotel staff to set a seductive scene on your terrace (candles, champagne on ice and all the trimmings), assume the position, and let Florence do the rest.
Once you’ve popped Glide along the Arno on a barchetto (the Florentine version of a gondola) then toast your tryst with a martini in the hotel’s view-blessed terrace bar.
2. The fairytale proposal Keemala, Thailand
One-of-a-kind villas shaped like seed pods and bird’s nests, man-made waterfalls and a magical hinterland setting: Keemala offers a mystical Lord of the Rings-style stay, which needn’t involve role play, unless Gandalf gets you going – we’re not ones to judge.
Seize the moment Take the plunge on your terrace: the private infinity pool and open-air bath tub are shielded from fellow guests’ prying eyes, and both overlook superlative scenery.
Once you’ve popped Stargaze using your villa’s telescope, or book the resort’s goodie-packed proposal offer for a post-‘yes’ photo shoot, couples’ massage and gourmet picnic.
3. The really wild proposal Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
Supermarket roses = kind of sad. A bouquet of pink damask roses from the mountainside terraces of this jaw-dropping Omani stay = acceptable. Slick modernist suites, set 2,000 feet above sea level, are surrounded by dramatic desert vistas; and come spring, slopes are carpeted in candy-floss-hued flowers. It’s remote yet incomparably romantic.
Seize the moment Pick up a picnic, then hike to Wadi Ghul canyon, invoking an Indiana Jones-style swagger against the bad-ass backdrop will set your fiancé(e)-to-be’s pulse pumping faster than a spin on a quad bike.
Once you’ve popped Head to the spa for his-and-hers Balinese treatments: a sandalwood body scrub and rose-infused facial for madam, a volcanic-clay mask for sir.
4. The classic (but not cliché) proposal Saint James Paris, France
Hear us out: we know you can barely swing a baguette in Paris without whacking a gooey-eyed pre-groom square in the ring box, but Saint James hotel is a Narnia-esque escape from the ‘city of love’ clichés. Say oui to Bambi Sloan’s brilliantly bonkers decor, Michelin-star-sprinkled meals and inner-city seclusion in a handsome 19th-century mansion.
Seize the moment Proposing on, in and around the Eiffel Tower is as done as the ‘holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa’ pose. Engage your beloved under a hot-air-balloon in the grounds and score points for originality.
Once you’ve popped Clink flutes of Vilmart & Cie champagne (sommelier Micaël Morais’ favourite) in the library bar, then let chef Virginie Basselot surprise you with a mystery six-course tasting menu.
5. The foodie proposal Gidleigh Park, Devon, UK
Champagne-submerged rings will arouse little else than your amour’s gag reflex. If you insist on a ring garnish, plonk it on chef Michael Wignall’s delectable roe deer (for your dearest), sherry-doused rabbit loin (for your honey bunny), or trout rillette (because they’re a catch – ok, we’ll stop). Austen enthusiasts will detect a touch of the Darcys in the country-house setting, too.
Seize the moment Either mid tasting-menu (do it before dessert to maintain an element of surprise) or pick a peaceful spot in the grounds – come spring, vari-hued foxgloves burst forth.
Once you’ve popped Traverse Dartmoor’s windswept stretches on horseback. Or partake in the local tradition of ‘letterboxing’ – easy now – where ramblers track down the national park’s postboxes and leave little notes and mementos for the next person.
So, you put a ring on it, and now you can look forward to ‘Netflix and chill’ till death you do part; but, before then, why not start planning the honeymoon? And, mazel tov – we got you a blender.
Featured image is Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman