9 Gourmet Train Trips Slideshow
January 24, 2011
Canada: Canadian Pacific Railway
Named the tour of a lifetime by National Geographic in 2008, the seven-day, six-night, Royal Canadian Rockies Experience is a train trip like no other. Board the train in Calgary, where you will call the meticulously-restored vintage cars "home" for the next four days. You will be treated to gourmet meals, featuring dishes like roasted corn and wild rice cakes with smoked salmon and horseradish cream, or truffled duck ravioli. During the day, opportunities to explore Banff and Lake Louise, among other options, abound; or instead, you can curl up with a hot cappuccino and watch the train zip past snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes, and lush green fields.
Rates start at CA $8,200 (US $8,255) per person, and includes all meals and transportation.
California: Amtrak’s Coast Starlight
Popular with travelers looking to see the West Coast within a few days, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train runs from Seattle, Wash., through the Cascade Mountains and along the Pacific Coast, to Los Angeles, Calif. During the 35-hour trip, you can enjoy a selection of meals, created under the guidance of chefs like Michel Richard, each using fresh ingredients and served on real china and table linens. Children are able to run off and play in the special Arcade Room, while Mom and Dad can visit the Parlour Car for a daily wine and cheese tasting. After dinner, the whole family can relax with a drink from the coffee bar and catch the movie showing in the onboard theater.
Rates begin at US $204 for seat alone; $640 for a seat with a room.
United Kingdom: The Royal Scotsman
The Royal Scotsman's Grand Tour of Britain is the perfect combination of luxury travel and personalized guided experiences. During the day, you will disembark for activities like whisky tastings, fly-fishing, and visits to castles and estates. In the late afternoon, re-board the train to change into your finest for champagne and canapés, followed by multi-course dinner with wine pairings and live music. While some may enjoy a night cap at the bar, others will not be able to resist turning in to their own feather-topped bed in a marquetry-lined private cabin. Formal and informal attire required on alternating nights, so don’t forget to pack your tuxedo or kilt.
Rates begin at US $13,180 per person, and include all table d'hôte meals, all alcoholic and other beverages, all sightseeing excursions.
Western Europe: Venice-Simplon Orient Express
The Venice-Simplon Orient Express has been called "the train which all other luxury trains are measured" by Vanity Fair. Stepping onboard the train, you are immediate transported into a more elegant and romantic era. Surrounded by exquisitely restored vintage cabins, you are treated to multi-course meals that rival the best gastronomic experiences in cities around the globe, prepared by trained chefs onboard the train. While you can choose from a variety of routes that cross Europe, the Venice-London via Vienna route is one not to miss; within an hour of boarding the train, your personal steward will have helped you settle into your private cabin, and you will be dressed in your finest sipping an aperitif in the Bar Car and listening to live music on the baby grand piano.
Rates begin at US $3,580 per person, and include all table d'hôte meals and accommodation on board based on two people sharing.
Switzerland: Rhätische Bahn
Travel through snow-capped mountains, picturesque lakes, and deep river valleys, then stop for an appetizer, aboard Rhätische Bahn's Gourmet train. A fitting journey perfect for any connoisseur of fine food, you can choose from one of three routes through the Swiss canton of Graubünden. During each six-and a half hour escape, the train will stop in three different villages for one course of your three course meal at a local restaurant specializing in regional cuisine.
Rates begin at CHF $94 (US $99) per person.
South Africa: Blue Train
Follow in the steps of kings and queens aboard South Africa's Blue Train. Having been likened to a moving five-star hotels, the Blue Train is an experience like no other: while you travel through the magnificent South African countryside, you will be treated to gourmet meals, prepared fresh by onboard experienced chefs, and paired with exquisite South African wines. At night, retire to your private suite, where a bed dressed with fine linens and large soaking tubs await.
Rates begin at ZAR $10,930 (US $1,557) per person, all inclusive, for a one-way trip from Pretoria to Cape Town. Maximum of 2 people per suite.
China and Russia: Silk Road by Private Train
Follow along the old Silk Road, along the paths of travelers and traders who swapped precious furs and silks for crystal, spices, and metals, by MIR’s Silk Road by Private Train. The journey between Beijing and Moscow takes 21 days, with opportunities to disembark the train to explore sites such as Merv, a historic UNESCO site. Yet once aboard the luxurious trains, where meals featuring regional specialties are expertly prepared, and your own private butler sees that your bed is turned down nightly, each day will blur together, into one unforgettable experience.
Rates begin at US $14,395, per person, for a twin share.
Thailand: Eastern & Oriental Express
Explore the exotic landscapes of Thailand and Laos aboard Eastern & Oriental Express. Their four-day, three-night Tales of Laos journey begins in Bangkok, just in time for afternoon tea and a visit to the teakwood-covered open-air observation car, followed by a delicious four-course meal prepared by the onboard chef. Awake the next morning, with coffee and croissants delivered to your cabin, before venturing into Khao Yai for a vineyard tour and tasting.
Rates begin at US $3,900, per person. If booking in 2011, your fare also includes a complimentary one-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok at both the beginning and the end of the trip.
Machu Picchu: Hiram Bingham
For the most luxurious way to travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu, board the Hiram Bingham’s 1920’s Pullman-style “Palace on Wheels.” The train leaves at 9 a.m., just in time for a multi-course brunch during the 3½ hour ride. After spending the day touring Machu Picchu, and taking an afternoon tea, board the train again for the return trip back, where you can learn to make the traditional Pisco Sour with the onboard bartender, before sitting down to a four-course dinner, filled with local Andean flavors.
Rates begin at US $588, per person, round trip.