Travel is about the journey, not just the destination. These luxury trains evoke the nostalgic glamour of travelling by rail
The romance of train travel, with its liveried waiters, rolling landscapes and gently rocking, unhurried intimacy, still has no equal in the modern world. And with travellers yearning for the glory days of slow and mindful voyaging (and bearing an aversion to the close quarters of commercial air travel) luxury locomotives are again on the rise, with extravagant options to rent an entire cabin, or even your own train.
What about: Those who long for an aged dram or a round of golf can head to London Euston station, where nearly every evening the Caledonian Sleeper departs, winding its way north to Scotland. Once known as an elegantly shabby transport for grouse-hunting English gentry and their dogs, the train has been upgraded with new suites that can sleep two and come with an en-suite bathroom. The train also comes complete with a newly adjoined dining car that offers a menu of Scottish delicacies, from smoked salmon and Arran cheddar to haggis and black-pudding skirlie.
Robb tip: Step off at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel (it’s equipped with its own train station serviced by the locomotive) for a spot of falconry, a horseback ride into the gorse-flecked Highlands and a dram of the exceptionally rare Dalmore Constellation 1973.
What about: If India is on your bucket list, then the Maharajas’ Express is an excellent way to explore the country. Offering four different journeys across some of India’s most vibrant destinations, the Maharajas’ Express is designed to show you the best in culture, architecture and wildlife, and to provide you an experience that’s far beyond first class. Days can be spent at a game drive at the Ranthambore National Park, knocking back Champagne by the Taj Mahal, or simply chilling on board, be it in your Presidential Suite (US$26,070; S$35,537 per person) or at the train’s two bars.
Robb tip: The train comes equipped with butler service and a doctor, who will be there to assist you 24/7.
What about: Planet Rail’s epic Canada Coast to Coast Rail Adventure is a 21-day journey traversing the Great Lakes, prairie glaciers and cosmopolitan cities of the country’s vast expanse. Mixing nights in a private cabin with luxury hotel stays for about US$8,900 (S$12,000) per person, travellers will enjoy the majesty of Banff National Park, Athabasca Glacier and Niagara Falls, along with the sights and culture of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and more.
Robb tip: Your itinerary includes a visit to Niagara Falls, and this means hopping on board a cruise to the foot of the thundering falls.
What about: For a vintage Graham Greene vibe, head to Vietnam and prop yourself against the marble bar of The Vietage, Anantara’s new 12-seat carriage that connects the company’s resorts in Hoi An and Quy Nhơn. Glide through the palm-fringed countryside while enjoying craft beer and Wagyu beef during the six-hour journey; each one-way ticket costs US$185 (S$260) and it includes a three-course meal, free-flow drinks, bar snacks and 30-minute head-and-shoulder massage.
Robb tip: À la carte premium wines, Champagne, caviar and cheese are available for pre-order.
What about: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, where you’d be treated to stunning Old World decor, first-class cuisine and a glamorous bar car, is considered the most opulent train voyage in the world. But there’s more to come in 2021 with three new grand suites planned – Budapest, Prague and Vienna. Each comes furnished with a marble-panelled bathroom, double bed, living area and 24-hour steward, and a seven-night London-to-Vienna trip for instance, would set you back by about US$30,995 (S$42,000). This includes free-flow Champagne and four nights in five-star hotels.
Robb tip: Forget about smoking or wearing jeans when you’re on board. Yup, travelling on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express does come at a price.
This was first published on Robb Report US