From Another Era: 10 Luxury Trains Around the World Slideshow
The Orient Express is the gold standard of five-star train travel. A white-glove service surrounds travelers on the classic, Art Deco Venice Simplon train, which works its way from London to Venice to Rome, Budapest, Paris, Prague, Dresden, Krakow, and back again. The retro appeal is in every detail from the small bedside lamps to the sterling silver tableware. Dine in one of three styled cars: the Côte D’Azur, Étoile du Nord, or L’Oriental on dishes like steamed salmon and spinach roulade, buttered baby vegetables, and cocoa wafers layered with custard, fruits, and spicy wine.
Among the most famous routes in history, the Trans-Siberian Express’ Silk Road journey (from Moscow to Beijing or vice versa) is still one of the most iconic and exotic train trips one can take. The tour crosses Kazakhstan’s Kara Kum desert, stops in Samarkand (founded in the 6th century BC), and passes the sand dunes of the Zunggar Basin in China, meaning the vista that surrounds you will be vast and overwhelming from start to finish. The dining car serves meals that enhance each region like borscht and omul (a local fish) and there’s always plenty of vodka on hand. Retreat to the bar car to hear live piano in the evenings.
If you’ve ever yearned to live inside a period film, South Africa’s Rovos Rail is for you. Edwardian-inspired décor and classic wood paneling throughout, the whole train makes you feel like you’re stuck in the 1920s. Find a seat on one of the Lounge Cars’ caramel leather sofas to enjoy a cup of tea, stop by the observation car to stare out at the lush vista of South Africa, and settle into the dining car (dressed up, of course) for a three-course dinner paired with South African wines.
Courtesy of Rovos Rail
Experience the grandeur of old world India by traveling like the Maharajas once did aboard the Royal Indian Rail Tours’ Royal Sojourn, from Delhi to Jaipur (pictured), onto Kota and Agra, and back to Delhi. At once a luxury and educational tour, travelers will toast with Champagne to the Taj Mahal and will dine together in Durbar Hall, which is where kings once held meetings. You’ll watch an elephant polo match (a favorite royal pastime) before choosing from a wide selection of Indian wines to pair with dinner.
Tartan abounds on the Orient Express’ Royal Scotsman, one of the world’s most luxurious trains. And the traditional Scottish charms don’t stop there, with the promise of a “local clansman” on board to tell tales of Scottish history after dinner and “a wee dram.” The gilded dining car and the gold and red tableware set the scene for a truly fine dining experience on board with seasonal, British fare on offer from pheasant to venison and from oysters to scallops. Dundee fruits and shortbreads are served for dessert. They encourage men to wear kilts (or tuxedos) to the formal dinners… When in Scotland!
For anyone who has already gone to the Galapagos with Alex Trebek, these Smithsonian train journeys seem like the most logical next step. Travelers can tour the Canadian West from Toronto to Vancouver (as well as the Silk Road or Canadian Rockies) with a Smithsonian-approved “study leader” in a train built for staring out and indulging within. The onboard meals are accompanied by an all-Canadian wine list, while the group also exits the train and dines in some of Canada’s most luxurious hotels and loved restaurants.
Boarding The Ghan for a three-day journey from the top to the bottom of Australia is a feast for the eyes. Starting in Adelaide and completing your journey in Darwin, The Ghan tour passes some of the landscape’s most beautiful scenes from the Flinders Ranges to the tropical horizon of Darwin. On board, travelers can have as luxurious or casual experience as they like with Queen Adelaide Restaurant serving multi-course dinners and sandwiches on offer in the Matilda Café.
While there is no enforced dress code on board, the sophistication and glamour of train travel is alive and well on the Danube Express. Whether you board the train for the four-day Polish Explorer journey or stick around for ten days and take the Bosphorus to the Baltic tour, the understated luxury of the fine dining restaurant car and the informal charm of the lounge car are consistent. Hungarian wines are served alongside herb-crusted pork medallions, crêpes with smoked trout, and venison ragout.
From Calgary and through the Rocky Mountains, the Royal Canadian Pacific railway offers a panoramic view of Canada’s rugged and lush countryside while providing travelers with unabashed luxury on board. Sleeping cars are accented with wood paneling and dark green, blue, and gold linens while the Craigellachie dining car resembles a brick-and-mortar fine dining establishment, serving multi-course meals paired with many Canadian wines.
Courtesy of Royal Canadian Pacific
A five-star hotel on wheels, South Africa’s Blue Train is synonymous with luxurious train travel. As you might expect, much of the train is coated in rich dark blue accents which, when combined with the light wood panels and subtle animal prints, gives an immediately sumptuous feel. Suites boast golden chaises that sit before wide windows offering an undistracted view of South Africa, while high tea or a pre-dinner aperitif can be found in the lounge. The dining car offers formal dining with multi-course dinners paired with South African wines.
Courtesy of The Blue Train