On The Road
The Best Places In The World To Propose
Six stunning spots to pop the question (and guarantee a “yes”)
View from the Deluxe Palace Garden room at the Aman Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of AMAN
In the first instance, you have to distract them sufficiently (“Hey, look! Over there! Is that my ex?”), in order to buy you the time to get into The Position – wobbling slightly, on bended knee, fumbling the ring in trembling hands – at the third-best table in a restaurant that came highly recommended by your best-paid friend. The sharp hush that falls over the premises as soon as you’re down there, as the rest of the diners tune in to the drama unfolding. Is that your knee giving out?
No wonder it fills you with horrors: this is no way to propose. Doing so publicly is mad, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it? Except – and not just because St Valentine is in season – there is something rather extraordinary about putting on a show, shooting a firework into the sky with “LOVE” on it. The thing is, to do it properly, you must really throw yourself into it, into the romance, the production, the extravagance of it all. The heart of the matter, though, is that it is all about location, location, location. So, choose your spot carefully. This is a fail-safe, international guide to popping the question.
01. FOR INCURABLE ROMANTICS
The canal in front of the Pulitzer Amsterdam. Photograph by Mr Sander Baks, courtesy of Pulitzer Amsterdam
Canalside at the Pulitzer, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam’s got a raffish charisma that sets it apart from the more clichéd Paris or Rome. Boathouses bobbing gently on the canals; the long, slender buildings with gently curving eaves; sunsets that dance off the water. Incidentally, sunset is the best time to propose outside the Pulitzer, a hotel positioned on a gilded stretch of the Prisengracht, about five minutes from the Anne Frank House, and 10 from the Royal Palace. Pure romance.
The Pulitzer, which was restored to great fanfare in 2016, comprises a warren of 225 guest rooms and suites, lounges, a restaurant and secret garden, unfurling across 25 buildings. Its aesthetic is a delightful collision of Old Masters and new lines, period features (exposed beams, wood panelling) and top-of-the-range fittings (LCD televisions and heated mirrors). The details are charming: Le Labo toiletries in the bathrooms and a bike-repair kit in every room. And after doing the deed, get yourself upgraded to a Collector’s Suite, one of the best suites in the house. You’ll fall head over heels, again.
What to pack
02. FOR THOSE WHO ARE EASILY EMBARRASSED
The Hollywood Suite living room at the The Lowell, New York. Photograph courtesy of The Lowell
Fireside at The Lowell, New York, US
New Yorkers are so disinterested that you could probably execute a flash-mob proposal in Times Square and only the tourists would notice. Nonetheless, if you’re the shy type, cloister yourself in a quiet room at The Lowell, the grande dame of the Upper East Side. Its rooms emanate the hushed luxury typical of Madison Avenue: king-sized beds with custom headboards and 300 thread count sheets, polished oak floors, Dean & DeLuca snacks in the kitchenette, and an inviting bottle of Ketel One on the sideboard for making like Mad Men. When the moment presents itself, install yourself in front of that crackling fireplace, curl up like cats and start planning the ceremony.
Afterwards, go for sidecars in the Club Room, although, truth be told, the Lowell’s rooms are worth spending most of your stay in. New York, and its flash mobs, will be there next time.
What to pack
03. FOR THE INTREPID
The Belmond Hiram Bingham train. Photograph by Mr Matt Hind, courtesy of Belmond
A journey on the Belmond Hiram Bingham, Peru
What’s that you say? A luxury train journey through the Andes? Four nights through Lima, Cusco, winding through the Sacred Valley, all the way to Machu Picchu (and back)? This sounds like a novel, or a dream you once had. In fact, it is Belmond’s quite epic journey through Peru’s highlands, in a train straight out of a Ms Agatha Christie mystery: rich wood-panelled parlours, plush leather chairs, and low, atmospheric lighting in the dining car.
Tear yourself from the seats and the rugged terrain long enough to whip out the ring, then get stuck into the dining cart, which besides a first-rate wine selection, also offers a taste of South America: pisco sours, salt-crusted trout and caviar. There’s red-blooded salsa in the bar until the small hours; spend sunset in the observation car, watching the stars twinkle.
What to pack
04. FOR PLUTOCRATIC PROPOSALS
View from Arva restaurant at the Aman Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of AMAN
The bar at the Aman, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is not short of things to gawk at – megalithic skyscrapers rocketing up into the clouds, Mount Fuji in view on a clear day, and the Aman is a jewel in its skyline. Situated at the top of Otemachi Tower, headquarters of the Mizuho Bank in moneyed Chiyoda, the hotel stretches over the top six floors of this 38-storey tower. It is just the perfect postmodern palace in which to elegantly pop the question.
There are numerous spots in which to do so. The views are, needless to say, spectacular – besides Fuji, you can see the Skytree and the Imperial Gardens. The restaurant is in possession of a superlative 1,200-bottle wine cellar (just saying). Or get giddy on the hotel’s sake before you get on bended knee in its sushi restaurant, Musashi.
The rooms deploy traditional outfitting to luxurious ends: washi paper doors that slide silently, and those deep, furo baths: what a setting. Or, the spa is (truly) extraordinary; its 33-metre pool has views across the city. If proposing in a spa sounds a bit much, everything about this place is larger than life, so get with the programme. When in Tokyo…
What to pack
05. FOR THE WILD AT HEART
The Kingston Treehouse at the Ivory Lodge, South Africa. Photograph courtesy of Ivory Lodge
A night in the Kingston Treehouse at the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, South Africa
The Kingston Treehouse presents a dilemma, namely: where to stare. Obviously, it should be into the eyes of your beloved – remember the task at hand! – but then again…
The Kingston Treehouse is unlike any you’ve known before: your wooden four-poster bed is positioned on a platform high in the sky, with just sophisticated tarpaulin between you and the elements (though the bathroom has floor-to-ceiling glass windows for propriety). This gives near 360-degree views of the Kruger National Park, home to the largest concentration of wild animal species in the southern hemisphere (leopards, zebras, giraffes – the lot), not to mention untamed wilderness, and the heavens’ near infinite starscape.
There’s no Wi-Fi in the treehouses, just radio connection, though the attentive staff will sort you out with a knockout picnic, including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot – perfect for toasting your union. Just don’t get too giddy and fall off the side of the platform.
What to pack
06. FOR THE PEACOCKS
The Manley ferry in Sydney harbour. Photograph courtesy of Harbour City Ferries
A ferry across Sydney Harbour, Australia
If you’re going to go public, you might as well do it in an environment in which you are guaranteed to be surrounded by people who will whoop and clap at the right moment. Take, for example, a ferry trundling through the expansive Sydney Harbour.
The vista is inimitable: a sun-soaked backdrop; waves rippling on cerulean sea; the sun bouncing off the Opera House. Whenever you cast your mind back to this perfect moment, you will be able to smell the salt on the breeze and remember how your eyes smarted in the glare. Plus, there’s free on-board Wi-Fi, so you can share your proposal picture on social media immediately.