Even though the name The Big Smoke doesn’t conjure connotations of romance, the capital city is a place steeped in love stories. From royal weddings to Shakespeare and Keats, London is every bit the whimsical, wonderful place to plan weddings and proposals. From whispering sweet nothings in St Paul’s to wandering regal gardens, making great love declarations atop shimmering skyscrapers, helicopter rides and aquarium dives -here are the finest ways of getting down on one knee in the cool capital…
1. Planetarium, Royal Observer
Getting down on one knee beneath a glaze of stars is the ultimate way to propose. London’s night sky may not be luminous, but the Planetarium at the Royal Observer has just the ticket. Hopeless romantics can opt for the proposal package and book out the whole venue. An astronomer will start your VIP show before handing over to you. Shooting stars, the Milky Way or your favorite constellation – the universe is yours to command.
2. Atop the London Eye
Sometimes the old ones are the gold ones. Proposing atop the London Eye may not be a new idea, but the 360-degree views, the crack of champagne and the smoky sunset makes for an impeccable setting. Choose to ride the cupid capsule. You can book the whole capsule to yourself and a host will be on hand to snap photos and provide you with fizzy pink champagne and melt in the mouth truffles.
3. Above the Skyline
If the London Eye isn’t high enough to make a statement – then the sky doesn’t have to be your limit with High Flying Helicopter’s proposal experiences. Pop the big question as you zoom across The Shard, whir above Big Ben, and drift above Buckingham Palace. Proposing in a scenic helicopter flight is a gorgeously grand statement and imaginative to boot. Imagine, soaring over the skyline with a London proposal helicopter experience, watching the world beneath buzz as you turn to your partner and ask them to be yours forever. Experiences even include an exclusive spa suite to pamper your loved one or a VIP vineyard experience set amongst romantic and picturesque surroundings, where you can sit back and enjoy celebratory drinks.
4. St Paul’s Whispering Gallery
The iconic dome of St Paul’s brings a flourish of romance to the London skyline, yet its inside that the magic takes place. For 1400 years this cathedral has witnessed sweet nothings exchanged by lovers in the Whispering Gallery. The circular walkway sits 259 stairs high, and due to the acoustics if you whisper against one wall it can be heard over a hundred feet away. Make sure your beloved is standing in the right spot and in this palace of gilded gold and marble you can make a memorable proposal.
5. Queen Mary’s Rose Garden
Leave the dozen red roses at home and head for the fragrant delight of Queen Mary’s Rose Garden. In the sweet summer month of June, over 12000 roses burst into bloom – boasting magnificent shades of plump pink, velvet red and yellow against the green backdrop. The garden is dotted with ornate benches inviting lovers to take a seat…and a knee.
6. Serpentine Boating Lake
Hyde Park is the pride of London, and during spring blossom or on lingering summer afternoons it can be an incredibly romantic spot. Take one of the boats out onto Serpentine Lake; as you row across the still blue waters you can see local birds watching curiously from the waters edge as you take a deep breath and pop the question. The Serpentine is the oldest boating lake in the capital city, making it a dreamy spot for taking a leap into the future.
7. Wilton’s Music Hall
The Wilton’s Music Hall is one of the oldest surviving grand music halls in the world. Blurring the lines between ramshackle, rare and stunningly ornate, the old hall has quite a few tales to tell. From a Victorian sailors drinking haunt to a lively music hall and missionary mansion – the hall boasts plenty of original features in-tact. Sip a champagne at Charlies Bar – or go big by hiring out the auditorium with its swish red curtains, stripped back floors, and carved balconies. A setting doesn’t get as grand as this.
8. Hampstead Heath Pergola
Faded grandeur, wistful romance, and climbing vines – possibly the three most beloved descriptions in the English language. Hampstead Heath Pergola is one of London’s true hidden gems, designed by Lord Leverhulme back in 1904. Once upon a time the spot for lavish garden parties – the pergola was the piece de resistance of famed landscaper Thomas Mawson. Now, nature has crept in with its tangled vines and crumbling stone. Yet, the pergola remains utterly atmospheric in its moody beauty and a true fairytale spot for lifelong love declarations.
9. Waterloo Bridge
The Kinks shared their dreamy wonder with the world about Waterloo Bridge at sunset, and all these years later Londoners still agree, romance runs as thick as the Thames at this stunning little spot. On a clear evening, standing in the center of the bridge you can see the lights shimmering on the South Bank. You can see the famed landmarks piercing the horizon. And if the sky is right – a washed out backdrop of gold and pink. You may have to keep an eye on the weather to get this one right, but if the stars align it is the vision of romantic perfection.
10. Galvin at Windows Restaurant
Perched on the 28th floor with unrivalled views across the lovely Hyde Park – Galvin at Windows doesn’t fall short when it comes to a proposal worthy setting. Throw in a couple of Michelin stars, a haut French menu and plenty of sparkling glass and white linen and you couldn’t ask for more. Order the degustation menu for a Bollinger amuse buche, roasted loin of Balmoral venison, and tarragon and dill sorbet – all paired with exceptional sommelier wines. Not only is this fine dining, its fine living…
11. Gordons Wine Bar
The oldest wine bar in London invites lovers to sip and swirl in a cave. Quite the rare setting, and a remarkably romantic place to suggest upcoming nuptials. Having been established in 1870, the atmosphere and setting at Gordon’s Wine Bar been changed since; it is also said to have played host to writers and luminary figures of the past – Rudyard Kipling used to write here. The wine list is as decadent as you could expect – with stunning champagnes, royal reds, and whimsical whites from across the globe. you can pair with expertly selected cheeses and have an indulgent time before staggering down on one knee and slurring the question.
12. St Pancras Kissing Statue
There is something about train stations that bring about a beating heart, lovers leaving in floods of tears or lovers coming back with stars in their eyes and flowers in their hand. No where captures the imagination of romance like the kissing statue of St Pancras. Imagine requesting your fiancé to be to meet you there, turning around – gazing in their eyes and pulling a ring out of your pocket – this is the stuff movies are made of!
13. London Dinner Cruise
The Bateaux London River Cruise is one of the most romantic ways to spend a sleepy Sunday afternoon. Especially when you are waiting for a moment to pop the perfect question. Book an evening cruise, when the city is shaking off the day and turning on the lights for another spectacular night. Glide past the chimes of Big Ben, pass beneath the arched bridges of London’s backbone, and revel in the sound of the brass band playing on board as you sip your wine. The moment can be made extra special when you book the Platinum Package – a five course seasonally inspired menu, bottle of brut, and after dinner liquor ramps the romance up a notch.
14. Palm Court at the Ritz
Afternoon tea is a British institution and you can cut a generous slice of romance at the pretty Palm Court at the Ritz London. A lavish setting weaves together glittering chandeliers, plenty of greenery, white linen and gilded gold mirrors. Sip special teas from around the world, nibble on cucumber sandwiches just like the queen, and dollop thick Cornish cream onto a freshly baked scone. You may be too full at the end of the afternoon to propose but at least you entered the Palm Court with the best intentions.
15. St Dunstan in the East
A church bombed out in the blitz may not seem like the most romantic spot to ask for the hand of your beloved, but you must see it to believe it. St Dunstan in the East is a spectacular site. The ruins of the 12th century have been left to weather and crumble, but imaginatively planted flora brings a splash of color, fragrance, and secret garden vibes to the table. Climbing ivy captivates, silence permeates like the sugared roses, and you can bet on most days you have the whole spot to yourself.
16. Keats House
The godfather of love poetry – can you think of a place more romantic to declare your love than the home of Keats? In Hampstead, the charming white washed villa has been turned into a museum, but it’s still a lovely spot – with manicured green gardens, regency style rooms, and the very spot where Keats composed Ode to a Nightingale. Any literature lover would be smitten to accept a proposal in this spot, especially if preceded by a poem of ones own.
17. Aqua Shard
Make no mistake – The Shard has become an emblem of the capital city. A towering vision of sparkling glass on the London Skyline, take the elevator to the 31st floor and enter a stunning five-star space for dinner on top of the world. The Aqua Restaurant serves up contemporary British cuisine and boasts the very best views across London. With floor to ceiling windows you can’t help but gaze upon the golden lights igniting St Peters dome, the shimmering skyscrapers, and the historic splendor of Tower Bridge. Perhaps wait for desert and stash the ring among the cheese board, or at the bottom of the champagne glass.
18. Clos Maggiore
Hailed as the most romantic restaurant, not just in London but across the whole world, Clos Maggiore with its blossom strewn dining room, roaring fire, and fine French food truly captures the art of love. All twinkling lights, love, and greenery – its impossible not to swoon at the setting. Foie gras, crab starters, and iberico pork adorn the menu. Another bonus is the restaurant being so close to Theatreland, so those with grandiose plans can make a whole night geared around great expectations. Be sure to book early to bag a seat in the pretty room, otherwise you may find yourself on the periphery of heaven feeling rather forlorn.
19. J Sheekey Atlantic Bar
Surely if you had to dream up the ultimate proposal dinner it would include oysters and champagne? Good thing you found the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar then. Nestled in the heart of Theatreland, this wood paneled haunt boasts a marble bar, plenty of fizz, and the finest seafood selection this side of the Atlantic. The winter terrace is all crackling fires, blankets on chairs and flowers in bloom. As you slurp pearly oysters and get tipsy on champagne you couldn’t ask for a warmer more joyous spot to mark a special occasion.
20. The London Aquarium
One of the most unique proposal ideas can be found at the bottom of the deep blue at the London Aquarium. Those who don’t mind getting their hair wet can partake in the proposal package. Get help from expert divers to sink down into the aquarium, holding a sign with the big question etched upon it. As your partner wanders past the ocean display, they will see you – in full diving gear among the tropical fishes. Once dried off, you can celebrate with half a bottle of royal champagne to celebrate the salty moment.
21. Conservatory at Kew
The Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens looks like a scene straight out of Eden. The sunshine soaked glass house streams with natural light and brims with beautiful blooms. Sip a glass of champagne at the Cambridge Cottage before wandering around the dazzling Prince of Wales Conservatory where rare orchids spill their sweetness into the air and Chinese Water Dragons shimmer and shake in the breeze. You couldn’t ask for a more romantic spot to sink down lovingly on one knee.
22. Hampton Court Maze
Shake off those memories of Henry VII and his ill fortuned wives and lose yourself in the splendor of the Hampton Court Maze. Designed by William III in the 18th century, put your lover in a spin as they navigate the third of an acre puzzle carved from hornbeam and yew. It takes 20 minutes to hit the center after plenty of twists and turns. Enter separately and offer to race to the middle of the maze, be sure to get their first so when your sweetheart arrives you are already waiting with ring in hand.
23. Primrose Hill
Even the name Primrose Hill echoes with old world romance. This pretty park is said to boast one of the best views of the London skyline – particularly at dusk on a gentle day, when you can sit atop the hill overlooking Regents Park and witness the sky bloom from blue to gold. Pack a gourmet picnic basket full of treats, bring a bottle of wine and a warm jumper and sit out there all day until the moment of courage takes you.
24. The Sky Garden
If you want to propose surrounded by stunning flora but the London drizzle is dampening your spirits, we have the solution – The Sky Garden. The highest garden in Europe can be found at 20 Fenchurch Street, covering 3 floors at a dizzying height. The glass dome layout showcases the whole of London, and the space is covered in clean greens, fragrant flowers, and exotic charm. A proposal planner is on hand to help you plan an exquisite moment – whether you want candles and roses, the question spelled out in fairy lights, or the sweet serenade of a private band waiting to strike a chord.
25. Buckingham Palace
Regal love stories deserve a royal setting and where better in all the grace and glory of London than at the queen’s residence of Buckingham Palace. Take a stately tour of the sumptuous palace, from its lavish state rooms dressed in duck egg blue and gold to its historic throne room. The music room is also a sweetly romantic choice as it overlooks the gardens. Those who are wary of a whole guided tour watching the proposal performance could also seek out a private spot in the extensive gardens or outside the gilded gates.
26. Blakes Hotel
If you prefer the idea of proposing in your own boutique suite, then London’s very first boutique hotel may just set the perfect scene. Blakes Hotel captured the imagination of the small luxury scene back in 1978 and the rococo townhouse sets the standard for a blissful stay in the heart of Kensington. Expect art deco opulence, oriental paneling, and a hint of Marco Polo woven through the rooms. The Corfu Suite is by far the most romantic – a vision of gossamer, four poster beds, and mother of pearl.
27. Claridge’s Hotel
The home away from home for A list celebs, traveling statesmen and royalty – Claridge’s is the penultimate luxury experience in the whole of London. Standing like a golden beacon in the heart of Mayfair, you can expect exceptional white glove service, 1920’s art deco style, and afternoon teas that have set the bar. Marble bathrooms, freshly cut flowers, champagne and even a Burberry trench coat for use are all hallmarks of a fine stay. Those looking to make a splash can book the penthouse for skyline views.
28. The Globe
Romeo and Juliet is the worlds most famous love story, what better spot to make your grand proposal than outside the theater of the famed playwright – William Shakespeare. Literary lovers will swoon when their lover gets down on one knee to declare their love outside of The Globe. It may not have the famous balcony scene, but its quirky, unique and an idea soaked in symbolism.
29. Westminster Abbey
Standing proud for a thousand years, the place where royals come to marry and be coronated, and the everlasting home of England’s greatest poets and heroes – you don’t get a place more romantic than Westminster Abbey. Inside, the iconic building is a vision of soaring columns and cloisters, ornate and beautiful. Prisms of stained glass, effigies of gold, and centuries of history all add to the awe and splendor of the place. There is nowhere more spectacular to bend the knee than in this regal hall.
30. Windsor Castle
If you want to escape the bright lights of London for a more scenic countryside retreat, then Windsor Castle could be just the place to propose. From punting down the River Thames to admiring the thousand-year-old residence of the Royals, Windsor is quintessential England. Watch the changing of the guards, duck into the regal rooms and find a nook in this historic home to declare your royal love for the king or queen in your life.
31. Kyoto Gardens
Swap for the soaring skyscrapers for leafy trees in the serene Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park. Dahlias, Koi Carp swimming gracefully through the ponds, and strutting peacocks with their brightly adorned feathers make for a remarkable setting especially on warm spring days when the cherry blossom takes on a romantic rosy hue.
32. On a London Bus
The big red bus is as English as cream teas and cucumber sandwiches and makes for a quirky proposal idea. You may have seen the big red buses whizzing around London taking tourists on a sightseeing mission around Big Ben, the Palace and beyond. You can rent the whole bus out for yourselves, fill it with fake tourists, and have the tour guide make the tour all about your relationship as an extra surprise. You can even organize afternoon tea on the bus and crack the question before cracking the champagne.
33. Hogwarts Great Hall
If you have a Harry Potter fan in your life, then a Hogwarts proposal could be just the thing to cast the spell. An hour away by train (not the Hogwarts express sadly) will see you at the Harry Potter studio tour where you can wave wands, admire scenes straight from the films, and wander down Diagon Alley. Take your pick of moments to propose – either in the Great Hall, outside the puking pastilles statue, in the Gryffindor common room or outside the model of the castle.