These Luxury Rain Journeys Are An Ode To The Art Of Slow Travel
From Europe and England to South America and Australia, train travel poses the ideal way to take the track less travelled.
There’s a certain allure to train travel—and we’re not talking about the morning commute. A celebration of the journey rather than the destination—and an invitation to take it slow in our fast-paced world—train travel is for those with the ultimate luxury: time. “To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers—in fact, to see life,” author Agatha Christie once enthused.
It’s a notion agreed upon by American travel writer Paul Theroux, who, in the 1970s, travelled from England to Asia entirely by rail. “If a train is large and comfortable you don’t even need a destination,” he wrote. “A corner seat is enough, and you can be one of those travellers who stay in motion, straddling the tracks, and never arrive or feel they ought to.”
Catering to the steadily increasing demand from affluent travellers who want to experience the old-world glamour and slow pace of rail travel, these luxury train journeys marry opulent aesthetics with peerless service—with unparalleled views to boot.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe
Operated by LVMH-owned luxury travel operator Belmond, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has been restored to its 1920s Art Deco grandeur. Each of the train’s six Grand Suites draw inspiration from some of Europe’s most glamorous cities—Paris, Venice, Istanbul, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest—with intricate marquetry and gilded details reigning supreme. Aboard, expect lavish meals made from seasonal produce served around the clock, while bartenders craft refined cocktails. Routes include one-night journeys from Paris to Vienna, Venice to Parris, and Amsterdam to Verona, as well as the four-night Paris to Istanbul journey immortalised Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
Rovos Rail, South Africa
Catering to both the slow travel and immersive tourism markets, Rovos Rail has been running for over three decades and represents South Africa’s premier luxury train travel offering. Journeys range from two to 14 nights with options to incorporate historical and safari excursions. The old-world experience is prioritised on board, with a strict ‘no cellphone’ rule enforced and several formal-attired dinners and soirees.
Royal Scotsman, Scotland
Epitomising the ‘journey, not the destination’ ethos, The Royal Scotsman departs from and arrives at Waverley Station, Edinburgh. Traversing the region’s numerous lochs, castles, and countryside, the Royal Scotsman is decorated in true Scottish style; replete with tartan details and mahogany fixtures. Journeys range from two to seven nights, with a dedicated spa carriage on board to enhance the relaxation experience.
Maharajas’ Express, India
One of the most famous luxury trains, the Maharajas’ Express is widely considered one of the best luxury train offerings. Ranging from three to six nights, journeys incorporate unique ways to experience India’s finest sights, like visiting tiger in Ranthambore National Park and a champagne breakfast on a private hillside overlooking the Taj Mahal.
British Pullman, England
A must-have experience for Wes Anderson fans, the British Pullman boasts meticulously restored carriages which boast the renowned director’s distinct eye for detail. Primarily offering day trips, experiences on the British Pullman include luncheons by award-winning guest chefs, historic tours, and even murder mystery events.
Orient Express La Dolce Vita, Italy
A tribute to the glamour and artistry of the 1960s, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita celebrates the art of freedom and pleasure. With carriages conceived by architecture and design studio Dimorestudio, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita points to the golden age of Italian design with cabins and suites taking on a warm, sophisticated tone replete with period-suitable details. Italian cuisine is serves in an eclectic dining carriage, with one- and two-night itinerates spanning northern and southern Italy.
Seven Stars In Kyushu
In a country known for its elite train travel, Seven Stars In Kyushu stands out from the rest. Placing exclusivity at the forefront, there’s room for just 20 passengers across ten suites. Painstaking attention to detail has been paid to the décor, with every facet of the train—from the beds and bathroom sinks to the porcelain dinner plates and carved woodwork—made by Japanese artisans. The three-night journeys combine the best of the island of Kyushu with the peerless luxury on-board, stopping at the region’s most notable shrines, onsens, and porcelain studios to provide an authentic experience of Japan. The Seven Stars In Kyushu is so popular that a lottery system is used to allot tickets.
Andean Explorer, South America
The region’s first luxury train, the Andean Explorer traverses the world’s highest rail network in Peru across one- and two-night journeys. A decidedly different way to experience the breathtaking landscapes of Peru, the journeys include trips to Lake Titicaca and the floating island of Uros while the gastronomic offerings on-board showcase a contemporary approach to Peruvian cuisine, using seasonal Andean ingredients.
The Ghan, Australia
Showcasing the lesser travelled regions of the country, The Ghan brings luxury train travel down under. Three- and four-day itinerates span Adelaide to Alice Springs and Darwin to Adelaide (and vice versa) with the option to add off-board experiences like helicopter tours and camel rides.
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