In anticipation of the new ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ blockbuster film launching on 2nd November we decided to put together a ‘wish list’ of the most iconic and luxury train journeys you can experience across the globe.
The Orient Express
Obviously we have to start with the world’s most famous train! Now called the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, this train is the most storied set of carriages in the world. The original and the best, it promises to take you not just across Europe, but to transport you back in time. With its polished wood, sumptuous upholstery and antique fixtures, the train epitomises the charm and elegance of the Golden Age of travel.
Escape into this world of timeless glamour and relax in carefully restored 1920s cabins, rich with craftsmanship. After a relaxed breakfast, your steward whisks away the beds to return the cabin to a sitting area. Plush sofas provide the perfect spot to watch the scenery unfold. At night, climb the upholstered ladder to your upper berth or cosy up under crisp sheets on the bottom bunk.
In March next year, three new luxurious Grand Suite cabins will be launching. Sip on free-flowing champagne as you relax in style. Spacious ensuites and impeccable cabin service complete the experience.
Eastern and Oriental Express
There’s always a thrill of expectation in the air at Bangkok’ s Hua Lamphong station as this grand 19-coach sleeping car express – all polished brass and green and cream paintwork – prepares to depart south through Malaysia to Singapore as it has done for the past two decades. Take your pith helmet and enjoy fantasies about old colonial peninsula days, while enjoying spacious and modern coaches, with full en suite facilities. We love the veranda of the carriage at the rear. Get yourself a Singapore Sling and enjoy the sensuous warmth of the oriental night.
The Golden Chariot
The Golden Chariot is a journey from Bangalore to Bangalore in a nice circle that takes you through three of India’s southern states. It’s a wonderful way to see a large proportion of India that many don’t visit due to challenging logistics. Highlights include the colours of the Chennai temples, the colour of the sky at dawn at India’s most southerly point, Kanyakumari and the colourful religions (over 7) that span the three states.
Being able to unpack just the once takes the stress out of travelling and to have all the usual creature comforts in such close proximity, even a gym is wonderful! The staff, who are extremely courteous, leave an itinerary for guests every evening to help you prepare for the adventure of the following day. But our travel expert found just travelling through each of the train stations to be the most interesting daily event.
The Rocky Mountaineer
A thrilling two-day journey by private train over four different routes through the Rockies, over the old Canadian Pacific line to Vancouver, which created the modern nation of Canada in 1885. Here are glacier-fed lakes, carpets of green forest, rushing rivers and an abundance of wildlife. Fans of old North American trains can book a “Gold Leaf” ticket to ride and dine in traditional-style Dome Cars. If you are lucky, the driver will slow down and stop when he spots some bears by the lineside.
Launched back in May, The Belmond Andean Explorer is the first luxury night train in South America.
The elegant carriages take guests through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world; offering vast, uninterrupted views of snow-capped mountains, enormous skies, majestic lakes and herds of alpacas, llamas and vicunas grazing on the altiplano. It passes through one of the world’s highest rail ways, connecting Cuzco and Arequipa and passing through Lake Titicaca in Puno. Sleeping up to 48 passengers, it has luxurious cabins, a dining car, observatory, bar and spa.
The Blue Train
Orient Express aside, here is the world’s best known luxury service, gliding opulently since 1923 between Pretoria and Cape Town on its 994-mile, 27-hour journey showing off South Africa’s stunning scenery. Being rocked to sleep in the style of kings and presidents the wood-panelled berths are serene indeed and fine wines and cigars are included in the price.
Palace on Wheels
Not the only luxury train in the subcontinent but for many the most famous, the Palace on Wheels is the most relaxing way to see the sights of Rajasthan while avoiding the heat and crowds of tourist India. The 14 carriages are modern with private showers and there is a nod to the past in that each has its own “khidmatagar” – or personal steward. The seven-night journey out of Delhi is possibly the nicest way of lapping up India’s top heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, without getting your sandals dusty.