Belle Époque grandeur first built for the British royal family
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As its name suggests, the Al Andalus focuses on the south of Spain and Andalucia. Here, over its signature seven-day itinerary, it takes in the region’s highlights. There’s Seville’s castle-palace and the mosque-cathedrals of Granada and Córdoba to name but a few. It all evidences the region’s rich, Moorish past, with Islamic architectural wonders sitting alongside Renaissance flourishes. You’ll also stop off at some of the region’s off-the-beaten-track gems, including historic Ronda’s hilltop perch and Baeza’s dramatic Gothic cathedral. There’s also a six-day itinerary that instead turns north from Seville, calling at Roman ruins, national parks and historic wineries to arrive at the country’s capital and cultural epicentre, Madrid.
First built to host members of the British monarchy on their travels between Calais and the French Riviera, this is regal opulence at its finest. It’s all immaculately realised in Belle Époque fashion with polished wood panelling inlaid with gilded motifs and plush furnishings covered in intricate floral patterns. You’ll choose between a Deluxe Suite or Grand Class Room, with the comfortable sofas of each converting to a two-metre double bed or pair of twin singles respectively. That’s really where the differences end, with both featuring individual climate control, picture windows and en suite bathrooms, of which the Deluxe Suites come with a hydromassage shower and steam sauna.
The dining car is immaculately elegant, all brass detailing and royal-red furnishings. In turn, the train’s on-board kitchen showcases the finest gastronomy of your chosen route; expect jamón Ibérico, fresh olive oils and rich sherries in Andalucia, hearty cocido stews in Extremadura and roasts in Castile. Menus vary daily, combining traditional flavours with contemporary creativity. And, as they’re set in advance, be sure to get in contact in advance if you have any particular preferences or dietary requirements – the flexible kitchen will be happy to accommodate. Those staying in a Deluxe Suite will also have the option of taking two dinners or lunches in the privacy of their compartment. Breakfast are equally well thought out, with a personal table service paired with buffets of tortillas, pies, cheeses and cold meats.
While you’ll enjoy wines, soft drinks and coffee with your meals and Deluxe Suite passengers are accommodated with a non-alcoholic, complimentary mini-bar, you’ll also want to relax in the lounge and bar cars. Here, a superb array of entertainment is put on each night, ranging from piano recitals and live performances to dances, cocktail evenings and show cooking demonstration. And, given the length of the train, those looking to retire early will still be guaranteed an undisturbed night’s rest. Lastly, to match the flawless onboard service, you’ll also enjoy a full spread of excursions lead by local experts, each getting you right to the heart of your destination.
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This weeklong rail journey will see you travel in royal luxury through what was once the Roman Province of Lusitania which stretched from Western Spain and into Portugal south of the Douro River, returning each evening to the fine dining, piano lounge and opulent cabins of the Al Andalus train.
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