ABOARD THE WORLD'S GREATEST TRAIN JOURNEY
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says ‘the journey is the reward’ which is not always easy to appreciate in these poor speedy boarding, no frills airline days, but if you let the train take the strain you’ll rediscover the art of luxury travel
Synonymous with luxury rail travel is of course the Orient Express - the very name carries an aura of glamour and mystery. Van Helsing rode it to his battle with Dracula, James Bond romanced a beautiful Russian aboard it and Agatha Christie set one of the best-known murders in literary history aboard it.
Founded by Georges Nagelmackers in 1876, the original Orient Express was a byword for luxurious, romantic and mysterious long-distance international train travel qualities it still retains today. The service ran between Paris and Istanbul providing luxury sleeping and dining car services something unheard of at that time, soap was placed by the washbasins and exquisite wines and cuisine were available, it was these luxuries that attracted it as a favoured method of travel for kings, celebrities and criminals alike.
The onset of World War I in 1914 saw the Orient Express services temporarily suspended until the end of hostilities in 1918, when in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. With more twists and turns that an Agatha Christie novel, the Orient-Express service continued to run, but on the 12th December 2009, EuroNight train number 469 ‘Orient Express’ left Strasbourg for its final overnight run to Vienna, and on 13th December the celebrated name ‘Orient Express’ disappeared forever from the official European timetables after 126 years of service. But how can that be you wonder there is still an Orient Express train service? Well today the Orient Express is in fact the privately run ‘Venice Simplon Orient Express’ (VSOE), who also operate the equally luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express from Singapore to Bangkok, the Royal Scotsman cruise train and the PeruRail trains to Machu Picchu.
For a train steeped in history, classic routes on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express take in such fabled European cities as London, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Prague and Vienna roughly once a week between March & November, but it also runs occasional trips to Rome, Krakow, Budapest and even Istanbul (once a year, in August).
The classic journey from London to Venice ( or vice versa) takes 24 hours and costs around £1,920 per person based on two sharing a double cabin and includes all table d’hote meals one way. A classic one night journey from London to Venice, in a Grand Suite is priced at £5,500 per person.
The sleeping cars have 1 and 2 bedroom compartments that convert into a private sitting room for daytime use. The carriages are adorned with authentic period features like Lailique Crystals and Chinese art and there is also a bar, complete with a grand piano to add that touch of nostalgia
The Venice Simplon Orient Express is actually two trains, a historic chocolate-and-cream British Pullman train which departs from London to Folkestone and a Continental royal-blue train with brass insignia of classic 1920s sleeping cars, from Calais to Paris & Venice.Although it is a ‘resumption’ of the Orient Express more in spirit than in terms of historical accuracy (for example, there were no bar cars with pianos in the 1930s!), the VSOE has superbly-restored pre-war carriages, top-class food and service, and it has now become an institution in its own right epitomising the opulence and elegance of the Golden Age of travel.
’Trains are wonderful… to travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns… and rivers, in fact, to see life’ – Agatha Christie
2018 VENICE SIMPLON ORIENT EXPRESS SPECIAL OFFER
5 night / 6 day Venice Simplon Orient Express holiday includes First Class rail from London to Venice with an overnight stay with bed and breakfast in a deluxe lake view room at the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star superior) in Montreux and 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a twin/double room at the Hotel Ai Mori d’Oriente (4 star) in Venice and a journey on the legendary Venice Simplon Orient Express from Venice to London.
Costs from £2,650 per person based on 2 people travelling together.
2018: London to Venice. June 7,10,14,24,28. July, 5,8,12. August 9,13,16. September 13,16,20,23,30. October 4,7,14,18,21,28. November 1,8
2018: Venice to London. June 6,9,13,20,27. July 4,7,11. August 8,15. September 12,15,19,22. October 3,6,17,20,31. November 7
Article provided courtesy of Luxury Living Magazine of Clearvision Marketing