A luxury rail journey is one of life’s unforgettable experiences, which everyone should have the pleasure of trying first-hand. Travelling through spectacular scenery in a luxuriously-furnished carriage, with copious amounts of leg room and panoramic windows from which to admire the amazing views, is the ultimate in travel indulgence – TravelManagers’ Nicole Edgar shares her five favourites.
1. North America: The Rocky Mountaineer
Probably the world’s most popular luxury rail journey, the ‘Rocky Mountaineer’ starts or finishes in Vancouver and transverses the Canadian Rocky Mountains to a choice of destinations – either Banff or Jasper – between May and October each year. The luxurious GoldLeaf carriages offer glass-domed seating areas upstairs from which to take advantage of the stunning views; downstairs there are open-air viewing platforms and a dining car in which you will be treated to fine-dining à la carte breakfasts and lunches, complete with white table linen and the finest crockery and cutlery.
2. Australia: The Ghan
This iconic rail journey between Adelaide and Darwin is a great way to experience Australia’s Red Centre and Outback. The three-day, two-night journey allows time to explore beyond the railway line in Marla, Alice Springs and Katherine, while onboard the train, the finer details of your spacious Platinum Class suite, such as Bollinger champagne and luxuriously-soft bed linen, will make you never want to travel another way again. When you do decide to venture beyond your cabin, you can head to the lavishly furnished Platinum Club carriage to mingle with your fellow passengers, enjoy the onboard entertainment and admire the views from the vast panoramic windows.
3. Africa: The Blue Train
It takes 27 hours to make the journey from Cape Town to Pretoria, but you may find yourself wishing for longer aboard this “Palace on Wheels”. The Blue Train has been making the 1,600-kilometre journey across the South African landscape since 1946, but you now have the option to extend your journey northwards to Kruger National Park, enjoying the gentlemen’s club atmosphere of the Club Car or the luxurious cocoon of the Lounge Car as you go. The train’s deluxe suites feature touches such as goose-down comforters, underfloor heating and opulent, gold- and marble-fitted bathrooms, or you can really spoil yourself with a Luxury Suite that comes complete with a personal butler, full-length bathtub and double bed.
4. Europe: Venice-Simplon-Orient Express
This private luxury train which runs between London and Venice has been operating since 1982, but you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into the 1920s, thanks to its sumptuous, art-deco styling. Throughout your two-day journey, you will experience impeccable service and sumptuous dining as some of the loveliest landscapes in Europe slip past your window. By day, your cabin offers a luxurious haven, and at night, your white-gloved steward will convert the cabin’s banquette seating into an inviting twin bunk setting. If you want to thoroughly spoil yourself, upgrade to a grand suite, which features a spacious marble ensuite, a separate lounge area and free-flowing champagne.
5. Asia: Eastern & Oriental Express
Taking a journey aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express, which travels between Singapore and Bangkok, is like stepping back to a time when rail travel was as much about the journey as the destination. The carriages have a distinctive, glossy coat of green and cream while the cabins are furnished with richly polished wood panelling and silks. Meals are served by at white linen-covered tables set with fine crystal and silverware and the food itself is a spectacular showcase of the freshest ingredients. Finish each evening in the jazz-club atmosphere of the Bar Car, where stewards serve the finest champagne and cocktails.