Travel by rail is one of the most leisurely ways to get from point to point but more than just a means of transport it can be a sophisticated and timeless way of experiencing a destination.
Especially when your accommodation is on board. Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has a portfolio of train journeys in its extensive repertoire including some of the world’s most iconic. Here are the stand outs:
Belmond Royal Scotsman
The sophisticated and elegant Belmond Royal Scotsman is a nostalgic reminder of the Edwardian age of romance traversing some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. Highlights include misty moors and glens, lochs and highland castles, whisky distilleries and country estates. The experience is available to no more than 36 guests with state cabins all boasting private facilities and steward service. Itineraries up to 7-nights are available with fully inclusive prices starting from £2,590 per person (based on 3-day Highland Journey). The train operates April to October.
This is Russia’s only fully en suite private train and it travels to some of the world’s most remote and fascinating regions including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia and China. Travelling through incredible landscapes, guests experience unique cultures and extraordinary attractions and all from the comfort of a luxury hotel on wheels. Journeys include the 13 day Trans-Mongolian Express from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, 22 days along the Silk Road and 16 days exploring countries on the Caspian Sea. Prices from US$16,995 per person (based on 15-day Moscow to Vladivostok).
The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is probably the most iconic rail journey of all. Best known for the London, Paris and Venice route, the train also visits Rome, Prague, Istanbul, Bucharest and even Krakow. Included in the experience is a personal steward, who attends to all guest needs. Accommodation is in private compartments gleaming with timber marquetry and polished brass with soft towels and crisp linen a highlight. Meals on board are unforgettable and only the finest French silverware and crystal makes each meal one to remember. Prices from £1,450 per person (based on 2-day Venice to Prague).
Belmond Grand Hibernian
An exceptional new rail experience is taking shape in Ireland. Launching in August 2016, Belmond Grand Hibernian will be the country’s first ever luxury touring train. The train carries a maximum of 40 guests in lavishly furnished, private en suite cabins to remote areas and exclusive attractions including ancient castles, famous whiskey distilleries and vibrant cities. Two, four and six-night journeys depart from Dublin and encompass both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Prices from £3,160 per person (based on 3-day Realm of Giants). Train operates April to October.
Eastern & Oriental Express
The Eastern & Oriental Express is a stylish way to see some of south-east Asia’s most spectacular scenery: dense rainforests and hillsides, golden temples, rubber plantations, rice paddies, remote towns and sleepy villages. Accommodation is in comfortable air-conditioned compartments each with ensuite bathroom and meals are a delightful fusion of East and West. Travel is between Singapore and Bangkok with one signature journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and Huay Yang. Prices from US$2,820 for Singapore to Bangkok.
The Indian Pacific
Named for the two oceans which the train travels between, the Indian Pacific charts an epic 4,000km transcontinental journey between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide in four days. Guests stay on board in Platinum Class cabins with off-train excursions each day visiting places like Broken Hill and the Barossa Valley with special experiences included like an outback dinner under the stars. The trip ends with a night in Perth and two nights in Margaret River with opportunities to visit the world class vineyards there.
Prices from $5,225 per person.
Redefining luxury train travel on the subcontinent, Maharaja’s Express is the latest and most luxurious train in India. Five fascinating journeys are available taking in some of the most vibrant destinations, important attractions and breathtaking landscapes as well as giving a firsthand experience of the country’s culture and heritage. The train has just 14 guest carriages for a total capacity of 88 guests with a stylish décor that takes its inspiration from royal carriages of a bygone era while offering every modern-day comfort. A&K’s 14-day ‘India by Rail’ journey includes 9 days on Maharajah’s Express with prices from $17,250 per person.
There are also rail journeys for safari goers in Africa. Rovos Rail offers two beautifully rebuilt trains, each carrying a maximum of 72 passengers. Suites on-board have traditional furnishings and period décor with meals highlighting fresh local produce, traditional methods and a selection of fine South African wines. Itineraries operate between Cape Town and Pretoria, Victoria Falls and Dar Es Salaam. Prices from $1,830 per person (based on Pretoria to Cape Town).
The Blue Train
Another iconic train operating in Africa is the Blue Train. This all-inclusive experience offers a combination of unsurpassed luxury travel, five star-accommodation, fine cuisine, personalised butler service and routes that offer breathtaking views of the South African countryside from the comfort of private suites or from any one of the train’s exquisite lounges. On board cuisine is of the highest quality prepared by top chefs and accompanied by some of the best wines South Africa has to offer. Cabins include on board entertainment and a driver’s eye view camera showing the countryside ahead. Prices from $1,650 per person (based on Pretoria to Cape Town).
In the Americas, Peru is home to two iconic rail journeys: the extraordinary all day trip from the shores of Lake Titicaca through the Andes to Cusco and the winding route from Cusco to Machu Picchu, lost city of the Incas. For a more indulgent option there’s the Hiram Bingham luxury service between Machu Picchu and Cusco with meals, refreshments and entertainment on-board and convenient travel times. A&K’s 9-day ‘Glimpse of Peru’ including the Hiram Bingham service is priced from $8,095 per person.