Searching for the perfect backdrop to propose? For some, only a romantic getaway will do, though that can mean different things to different people. Celebrities tend to favour glamorous, far-flung settings to get engaged – but occasionally they like to swap the drama for something a little more cosy and familiar. Here, we count down eight of the most iconic destinations where celebrities have popped the question.

Footsteps in the desert sand heading towards the skyscrapers of the Dubai city skyline at dawn.
Jose Antonio Baston proposed to Eva Longoria after a camel ride in the desert around Dubai © aiqingwang / Getty Images

Eva Longoria and Jose Antonio Baston: Dubai

While Eva Longoria and her Jose Antonio Baston were attending the Dubai International Film Festival in 2015, they escaped the concrete jungle for a day with a desert safari.

After the couple enjoyed a camel ride, they settled in for a champagne picnic on outdoor couches strewn with rose petals. The businessman decided to take advantage of the romantic atmosphere and proposed to his girlfriend of two years with a sparkling ruby ring. The newly-engaged couple were only in the city for two days, staying at the beachfront Four Seasons resort, but they clearly made the most of it.

Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian are pictured smiling at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Serena Williams' now husband Alexis Ohanian proposed to her in Rome in 2015 © ODD ANDERSEN / Getty Images

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian: Rome

On the day of her first match in the Italian Open in 2015, Serena Williams was sitting down for breakfast in her hotel in Rome when Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian took a seat at the table next to her. His company wasn’t exactly welcome, and the tennis legend’s entourage tried to deter him by pretending to see a rat, but Ohanian was unfazed, and she eventually invited him to join their table.

Eighteen months later, he took her back to the same hotel in Italy, the Cavalieri, and proposed at the spot where they first met – with a little plastic rat on the table. The lavish hotel is perched on Monte Mario, the highest hill in Rome, and offers some of the best views of the city’s landmarks. Head here for panoramic vistas and proper old-school Italian glamour.

Kate Middleton and Prince William: Kenya

The now Duchess of Cambridge was unkindly dubbed 'Waity Katie' as she patiently held out for nearly 10 years for her prince to propose, but when he got around to it in 2010, he made sure it was worth the wait. He whisked Middleton away on a safari in Kenya, and is said to have proposed in a log cabin on the slopes of Mt Kenya.

The couple reportedly drove up from the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where Prince William spent his gap year before university. The two Rutundu cabins are rustic in style and very remote, to ensure no one would spoil the royals’ special moment. It’s an ideal hideaway for couples seeking peace and quiet, where guests can breakfast on the terrace, fish in the lake or take walks in the forest.

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez walk arm-in-arm between parked cars.
Alex Rodriguez got down on one knee in the Bahamas to propose to J-Lo © Jackson Lee / Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez: The Bahamas

Talk about a home-run: back in March, J-Lo and Alex Rodriguez headed to the Bahamas for a luxurious vacation, and while taking a walk on the beach, the former New York Yankees player got down on one knee in front of an idyllic Bahamian sunset. The couple reportedly stayed on Great Cauna Cay in the members-only Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, an A-lister favourite which includes a golf course, three restaurants, a spa and six miles of white-sand beach. 

A lone surfer walks towards the water on the beach at Hanalei Bay, Hawaii.
Sofia Vergara said yes to Joe Manganiello at Hawaii's Hanalei Bay © Glowing Earth Photography / 500px

Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello: Hawaii

Over Christmas in 2014, Joe Manganiello took Sophie Vergara, his girlfriend of two years, to Kauai in Hawaii for the holidays, and booked them into the exclusive St Regis Hotel, now the Princeville Resort.

He reportedly wanted the proposal to be totally private, so he asked Vergara to marry him in their ocean-view suite as the sun set on the glittering Hanalei Bay. To honour her Colombian heritage, the actor memorised a romantic speech in Spanish, including the line “eres mi todo” (you are my everything).

As well as a stunning setting overlooking the shoreline and tropical hills, the hotel boasts a spa, two golf courses, and warm island decor.

An aerial shot of a pristine beach with straw-coloured sand and aquamarine water on Ile du Nord (North Island), Seychelles.
Ciara took a gamble on a game of travel roulette and won a fiancé © Gallo Images / Getty Images

Ciara and Russell Wilson: Seychelles

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went all out with his proposal: he created a game of "travel roulette", giving Ciara 30 possible destinations around the world, and she ultimately landed on the Seychelles.

On the intimate North Island – a private island resort with five beaches and just 11 villas, where Kate Middleton and Prince William also spent their honeymoon – Wilson popped the question on the secluded Honeymoon Beach, where guests can enjoy private picnics, gaze at the stars or even watch a movie on a sail-screen strung up between two palm trees. 

John Stamos and Caitlin McHugh posing with Mickey Mouse in front of a backdrop of Disney logos.
John Stamos went all out on his Disney-themed proposal for Caitlin © Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

John Stamos and Caitlin McHugh: Disneyland

Actress and model Caitlin McHugh is a massive Disney fan, so John Stamos knew he had to whip up a fairy-tale–worthy proposal for her. He enlisted the help of Disney CEO Bob Iger to cut together a short film of the most romantic Disney and Pixar clips, ending with Sebastian from The Little Mermaid urging Stamos to “just ask the girl”.

The Full House star played it for her at the original Disneyland Park in California, where the two are frequent visitors, but this time they got to stick around after the park closed and run about in Disney onesies. 

Rio Ferdinand and Kate Wright: Abu Dhabi

On the last night of their family holiday in Abu Dhabi, the former footballer escorted his girlfriend, Kate Wright, to the helipad on the rooftop of the St Regis hotel, which has 360-degree views of the shimmering skyline.

With the city lights glistening around them, he got down on one knee as his three children looked on, later writing on Instagram: “She said yes. How these 3 kids kept it a secret I’ll never know.” Rio and Kate clearly know how to have a romantic getaway, even with the kids in tow.

Located in the heart of the Corniche, the St Regis is one of Abu Dhabi’s most opulent hotels, and its penthouse suite comes with its own private elevator, spa, gym, library and five-guest cinema. 

You might also like:

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The dos and don'ts of planning a destination wedding
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This article was first published November 2019 and updated February 2020

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