The iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has long been defined by luxury, opulence, and timeless elegance, remaining unchanged for decades. Rather than simply emulate times gone by, it truly transports guests into a world where they are constantly reminded of its rich heritage, from Art-Deco design to stylish furnishings and impeccable service.
The train's 1920s and 30s Art-Deco carriages have all been lovingly restored to their original glory, and each with a different décor, the origins of which are described in plaques throughout. And, it all still manages to feel exclusive and luxurious, from the elegant bar car to the classic suites, more of which later. With speed of the utmost importance in today’s day and age, both in travel and daily life, the Orient Express offers a wonderful antidote, where the journey really is as important as the destination. Tick off Europe’s most romantic and enchanting cities as the train sweeps through Europe's central Alps and past the armoured peaks of the Italian Dolomites en route to the canals of Venice or the architectural wonders of Budapest. There are also routes taking in the likes of Vienna, Lake Como and Verona, home to the world-famous opera, while once a year, guests have the chance to retrace the Orient Express' original 1883 journey on an annual nine-day jaunt to Istanbul.
Life on board
As guests step onboard, impeccable service from white-gloved stewards, dressed in those iconic blue hats, transports guests to a time more civilised and refined. And, they're just a press of a button away as you sit back and watch Europe's landscapes rush past. It's all enjoyed from the comforts of your in-cabin seating, which, as an exquisite dinner is served in the dining car, is discreetly transformed into upper and lower berths, made up in crisp damask sheets and with bathrobes and slippers provided. Dining, a formal affair as exquisite and refined as the service, is enjoyed in one of three restaurant cars, from the hand-carved designs of Etoile du Nord to the glass-panelled Lalique or black lacquer of L’Oriental. Wherever you dine, be sure to visit the bar car for a champagne cocktail before settling down to a meal that might include the likes of Mont St Michel saltmarsh lamb and fresh lobsters from Brittany coast.
Even more luxurious are the cabin suites, where two interconnecting cabins allow you to choose two lower berths for sleeping. Oak panelling, lacy doilies, washbasins and mosaic-tiled lavatories at the end of the carriage all add to part of the historic charm, but for the ultimate in luxury, Grand Suites offer en-suite bathrooms, a plush double bed and opulent design. It’s all Art-Deco patterns combined with visual cues taken from their namesake suite names, Istanbul, Venice and Paris. There’s embossed leather and exotic motifs in the Istanbul suite, glass ornaments in Venice, while Paris’ elegance is embodied in fanned lamps and chic furnishings. And it’s all enjoyed with in-suite private dining and free-flowing champagne.