Holidays don’t have to be all rush, inconvenience and missed connections; sometimes they can be weeks of decadent, slow-moving travel through magnificent vistas and barely touched landscapes. This is the world of luxury train travel, which offers everything from familiar routes such as the Orient Express to journeys through Siberia, India and South Africa. Here are our top five...
1. Orient Express
Nearly everyone dreams about a trip on the Orient Express, which is why this service has been treating passengers to old-world glamour for 127 years. The modern Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers a number of routes, the shortest being Venice to Rome for a quick Express taster. More leisurely trips include London to Venice with stops in Paris, Prague or Budapest, or all the way to Istanbul stopping at some of the most beautiful cities in Central and Eastern Europe. During your journey you’ll be offered accommodation in original 1920s splendour, with luxurious, black-tie dining in a choice of opulent restaurant cars.
2. Trans-Siberian Express
The Trans-Siberian Express is an epic journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, from the grand palaces of Moscow to the shore of the Sea of Japan. Luckily you can experience it in complete luxury, taking the Golden Eagle from Moscow all the way to Vladivostok and passing by the huge expanses of Lake Baikal, Novosibirsk the capital of Siberia and Ulaanbataar in Mongolia. You’ll travel through eight time zones in warm, well appointed cabins with a choice of three classes of accommodation: Heritage, Silver and Gold. The best cabins include en suite showers, under-floor heating and TV.
3. The Royal Scotsman
Unlike some of the more extensive train journeys, this trip through Scotland has a highly local flavour, with trips to private homes, castles and distilleries for some warm Hibernian hospitality. Run by the Orient Express, the cabins take cosiness to a new level with hotel-like facilities such as dressing tables, full-length wardrobes, private bathrooms with constant hot water, fresh white towels and cabin-service call button. The food is also very local, taking advantage of Scotland’s abundant seafood, game and beef.
4. The Palace on Wheels
This trip offers the comforts of a palace while touring the magnificent forts, royal buildings and parks of India. The journey starts in Delhi and takes in the Amber Fort in Jaipur, the magnificent sandstone architecture of Jaisalmer, the tigers of Ranthabore National Park, the floating island palace of Udaipur and finally the Taj Mahal. The train itself is decorated in typical sumptuous royal Indian style, with each ensuite cabin supplied with its own pantry, lounge and attendant.
5. The Blue Train
The Blue Train travels between Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa and rolls through the old diamond-rush mining town of Kimberley, the vineyards and mountains of the Great Karoo and finally Cape Town - regularly voted one of the most stunning cities in the world. But the true selling point of the beautiful Blue Train is its no-holds-barred luxury, with fully appointed bathrooms, in-cabin entertainment and trained butler.
This is a guest post written by Hannah Smith, a travel writer for thetrainline.com the UK’s leading independent retailer of cheap train tickets.
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