Planning to pop the question on Valentine’s Day? Here are eight champagne-ready restaurants around the world that will take you from date night to wedding night.
Alla Wolf-Tasker witnesses a lot of unforgettable marriage proposals at the hotel and restaurant she founded, Lake House, in Daylesford, Victoria.
The most memorable? A groom-to-be who organised a rose petal-strewn path to a rowboat on the lake and dinner, during which a light aircraft flew over pulling a banner asking “will you marry me….?” with the bride’s name.
Wolf-Tasker laughs as she recalls the banner raised a lot of false hopes among women of the same name who also spotted it.
Like most restaurateurs, Wolf-Tasker and her team are used to responding to special proposal requests. They’ve organised string quartets, hidden rings in chocolate boxes and desserts and, sometimes, picked up the pieces when the answer is “no”. She advises proposers to let the restaurant know their plans for the best possible result.
After all, choose the right place to propose and you have somewhere to revisit for those milestone anniversaries. Here’s a list of romantic destinations restaurants for you and your Valentine to celebrate with food, wine and thou.
Il Flauto di Pan, Ravello, Italy
Perched high above the Amalfi coast, Ravello might just be the most romantic town in Italy. In warmer months, bridal parties crowd the square.
At the tip of the town, the beautiful Villa Cimbrone has one of Europe’s most famous gardens, its Infinity Terrace offering views that seem to go on, well, forever. Now a hotel, the villa also houses a gorgeous restaurant, Il Flauto di Pan, from which you can enjoy the sunset with a glass of blush-coloured prosecco as staff spoil you.
Because if anyone can make you feel like a million bucks, it’s an Italian waiter. They flatter, flirt and have a sense of fun, dress as sharp as a knife and care for you like a newborn.
Le Jules Verne, Paris, France
If it’s not enough to propose on one of the Eiffel Tower’s observation decks, book a table halfway up where one of France’s greatest chefs, Alain Ducasse, presides over a restaurant where Paris is glimpsed through the tower’s lacy steelwork.
Dine on lobster, caviar, and foie gras, sip champagne and watch glittering barges glide down the Seine far below.
Book early to get a window seat.
Bhairo, The Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
Built in 1746 to keep a prince’s pleasures private, this white marble palace covers an Island on Lake Pichola.
You arrive to a shower of rose petals, then make your way to the rooftop restaurant fanned by warm breezes as the lights come up on the lake shore.
This is one of the world’s most romantic locations. If you also want privacy, your proposal can be made at a private dinner on one of the hotel’s terraces, or afloat on the hotel’s pontoon or century-old private barge.
Mikla, Istanbul, Turkey
Exotic, beguiling Istanbul unfurls below high-rise Mikla, the city’s ancient monuments golden-lit.
Chef Mehmet Gurs brings modern technique to the ancient foods of Turkey, delivering fine-dining that regularly has this rated among the world’s best restaurants. Tables on the deck are especially appealing – request them when booking via email.
Bathers’ Pavilion, Mosman, NSW
A stroll on the sand, a swim in the sea, and breakfast in Balmoral Beach’s elegant 1929 bathing pavilion-turned restaurant and glam cafe makes a morning proposal worth considering, perhaps followed by a bellini.
The sparkling views across Middle Harbour, as the Manly ferry crosses back and forth, will tempt you to linger or return for lunch and dinner.
Lake House, Daylesford, Victoria
In 30-plus years, many guests have gone from date night to wedding night to anniversaries at this chic restaurant and boutique hotel on the shores of Lake Daylesford.
You can settle into the plump banquette for breakfast, lunch or dinner; take drinks on the terrace overlooking the lake, luxuriate at the spa and sleep over in the elegant hotel rooms.
Quadri, Venice, Italy
In a 1693 palazzo overlooking St Mark’s Square, Quadri has a timber-panelled dining room with window tables that are a favourite for popping the question over a glass of prosecco.
Chef Massimiliano (Max) Alajmo’s menu draws on the fruits of the Venetian lagoon – baby clams, tendrils of cuttlefish, burrata ravioli.
Westlight, Brooklyn, New York, US
Killer cocktails, smart service, terrific share-friendly food and a swoon-worthy skyline view of Manhattan make this bar/restaurant in the Williamsburg’s William Vale Hotel a destination for anyone who wants a bird’s-eye view of Manhattan, without needing wings.
Janne Apelgren is co-author of Around the World in 80 Dinners with Joanna Savill. It’s available now from mup.com.au and everywhere books are sold.