In advance of one of the busiest dining holidays of the year, a new survey by OpenTable, Inc., a leading provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, reveals that diners are planning to fill seats at romantic restaurant hot spots early this year.

Fifty-three percent of respondents say they plan to make reservations more than a week before this Valentine's Day. An infographic from OpenTable that showcases additional 2012 Valentine's Day trends may be viewed by clicking here.

"With this Valentine's Day falling on a Tuesday, we are going to see two spikes in restaurant reservations," says Caroline Potter, chief dining officer for OpenTable.

"About half of diners surveyed anticipate booking a romantic evening on Feb. 14, while another 26 percent are choosing to celebrate on Saturday night, Feb. 11. Regardless of which night diners plan to celebrate, Valentine's Day promises to be a bustling day for romantic hot spots."

The economy doesn't seem to be a factor as OpenTable diners are looking to enjoy an evening out, with 93 percent planning to match last year's tab or step up the spending, which is 3 percent more than spending plans in 2011. 

Additionally, 54 percent of OpenTable diners plan to spend $101 to $200, while 10 percent expect to shell out more than $200 on dining.

One city famous for its high rollers is preparing to up the ante this year with 20 percent of diners in Las Vegas planning to spend more than $200, a claim to spend they share only with the sandy, sunny city of Miami.

Not surprisingly, New York City dwellers follow closely behind as 19 percent also will be dropping the big bucks with their sweetheart.

The love-driven lavishness when dining, however, stops just short of gifts with 86 percent of respondents admitting that they do not exchange gifts at the table. In fact, 15 percent of OpenTable diners believe a gift exchange is much better suited for a private venue, finding swapping gifts in a restaurant to be inappropriate and bordering on obnoxious.

A few cupid-happy cities firmly stand by the age-old idiom that money can't buy love and they hope to scale down spending entirely this year. Seattle respondents lead the pack on shifting Valentine's Day spending down a notch with 16 percent of diners saying they will drop fewer dollars celebrating this year, with Atlanta (15 percent) and Los Angeles (10 percent) diners following this trend close behind.   

One item the OpenTable survey respondents couldn't quite agree on was what type of restaurant they find most romantic in dining with that special someone. While 35 percent of diners find it most amorous to stick to a traditional Italian cuisine for Valentine's Day, other diners seek a different type of taste for a romantic rendezvous:

  • 25 percent find French cuisine to be the most romantic
  • 11 percent find American cuisine to be the most romantic
  • 8 percent find fondue to be the most romantic
  • 7 percent find tapas to be the most romantic

Even if there is no special someone this year, OpenTable diners still are committed to dining out. Three out of four survey respondents said they have dined out with friends on Valentine's Day or if they have not yet, they certainly would.  

For diners still searching for the right restaurant, provides Diners' Choice Top Ten Most Romantic Restaurants lists for each metro region and access to specials and menu details for Feb. 14. For more information, please visit Diners can also find more tips and trends regarding Valentine's Day on OpenTable chief dining officer Caroline Potter's "Dining Check" blog at OpenTable:

Industry News, Marketing & Promotions