Just when you thought slow travel had been overtaken by the jet age, a series of luxurious trains is set to seduce slow travel lovers like never before. Here's our take on some of the world's most remarkable rail journeys with Belmond.
Belmond Andean Explorer
South America is presently one of the most sought after destinations by affluent travellers, and May’s launch of the continent’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, will make it even easier to explore the region’s stunning landscapes in style. Catering to just 68 guests in sumptuous en-suite cabins, the new train will travel along one of the highest rail routes on earth, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa on four one- and two-night journeys. Along the way travellers will take in breathtaking scenery amidst interiors by Inge Moore of The Gallery HBA that take their inspiration from Peru’s hand-woven textile culture, with touches of alpaca wool and Andean slate. After daily excursions to the Colca Canyon and Unesco-listed Arequipa, spoil your taste buds with seasonal menus created by the chefs at Belmond Hotel Monasterio, served in two elegant dining cars.
Belmond Grand Hibernian
The newly launched Belmond Grand Hibernian, the first luxury overnight train to grace Ireland’s rails in a generation, offers an indulgent way to explore the Emerald Isle. With a distinctly contemporary take on Dublin’s iconic Georgian architecture, the train’s 20 sumptuous cabins cater to just 40 guests; each boasts wardrobes, writing desks, private en-suites and picture windows through which train lovers can enjoy the ever changing vista. On two-, four- and six-night journeys – including the seven-day Grand Tour of Ireland – you’ll have a chance to delve into the true Ireland, from whiskey tastings at the James on distiller to learning the art of falconry at Ashford Castle. You’ll also eat well thanks to two elegant dining rooms that serve contemporary Irish cuisine, with ingredients sourced from local producers along the route.
The Royal Scotsman
The Royal Scotsman is as intimate a train journey as you can find, catering to just 36 lucky souls. Between daily excursions to castles, distilleries and hamlets, guests can view the passing lochs and towering peaks from the comfort of their private cabin or from the popular Edwardian observation car. Each night, gourmet meals are served in a candle-lit dining room, followed by whisky tastings and story-telling. Alternate formal nights are a chance to dress up and celebrate and with the train stabled at night, guests are guaranteed a good night’s rest. The train offers a range of itineraries to Scotland’s west, north and highlands, including a seven-night Grand Tour.
Eastern & Oriental Express
Asia’s most beautiful rail journey, the Eastern & Oriental Express runs between Singapore and Bangkok on two-night three-day itineraries that capture the history and beauty of destinations like Ipoh, Penang and Kanchanaburi. Between daily excursions to temples, historic railway stations, and WWII sites, guests can relax in the comfort of their beautifully-appointed colonial-esque en-suite cabins; soak in lush southeast Asian countryside from the open air Observation Car; or sing the night away in the lively bar car, home to a resident pianist and Asian inspired cocktails.
A modern incarnation of Europe’s Grand Dame on rails, Belmond’s Venice-Simplon Orient-Express continues the luxury train tradition to perfection, travelling on two-day one-night itineraries between Rome and Calais (with an extension to London on the British Pullman and seasonal routes all the way to Istanbul and Scandinavia). Made up of reconditioned carriages that once hosted the German surrender at the end of WWI and later the French surrender to the Nazis, today’s Venice Simplon Orient-Express boasts lavish Pullman-style cabins that feature large picture windows, and walnut paneling. After an intimate in-cabin Fortnum & Mason afternoon tea, and sumptuous fine dining in the restaurant car, return to a luxurious turndown service by your dedicated cabin steward that includes signature VSOE pajamas.
A Kiwi-born, Hong Kong based journalist, photographer and editor who specialises in travel, food and living. Nick has so far visited nearly 80 countries on 7 continents.