5 June 2018 by Andy Austen
Don't know your twin cabins from your grand suites? Wexas product manager Andy Austen takes a closer look at the different cabin types on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to make sure you select the one that’s right for you.
When you consider that the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express we know today is made up of over 27 original Orient Express carriages, tracked down and restored in the 1980s, it’s worth understanding the differences between cabin types to make sure you select the one that’s right for you.
Every carriage has its own history from 3674 (the Bar Car today) to the sleeping carriages, some of which helped the King of Romania escape from capture as well as inspiring Agatha Christie to pen ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ in part from her own memories of travelling on the infamous train, but also about reading in the newspaper the tale of the train getting stuck in a snowdrift en-route to Istanbul for 10 days.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express's iconic bar car
Unless you are travelling in one of the three grand suites – Venice, Paris and Istanbul – with a particular suite reserved in your name at time of booking it’s not possible to reserve a cabin in a particular carriage at time of booking. Though we highly recommend a stroll up or down the train in between lunch and dinner to get a feel for the history of this famous train.
The four cabin types on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, are twin cabins, single cabins, cabin suites and grand suites. Here's the lowdown on each:
Most of the train is made up as twin cabins. On boarding the train your twin cabin is daytime seating area with a banquette seat running down one side of the cabin. Both travellers can watch the view meandering past the window as the train heads across many and varied European landscapes. A reasonable sized wash basin and mirror built into the carriage, complete with European plug and razor sockets. As well as a brass or chrome luggage rack and clothes hangers to store overnight luggage on and hang up black tie clothes for dinner, to hang out any ceases.
Daytime (left) and nighttime (right) layouts in a Twin Cabin
During dinner the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express stewards turn guests cabins into night-time mode, with the sofa banquette turning into a bottom bunk and the top bunk lowering from the wall, complete with wooden ladder between the two. Luxurious bedding and woollen monogrammed blankets will keep even the coldest traveller toasty warm while sleeping. Kimono style dressing gowns and slippers are provided for use while on the train and are handy for when the call of nature comes in the middle of the night.
Twin cabin - daytime setup (left) and nighttime setup (right)
Like a twin cabin but catering for a solo traveller. A daytime sitting area, with a velvet banquette greets the guest on arrival and like the twin cabins a vanity unit complete with sink, plug socket and razor points and all the amenities (kimono, slippers, amenity kit and bottled water. At night time single cabins convert into a single bed made up by your steward while you are enjoying dinner.
Those in the know often prefer booking a cabin suite (which is the main cabin type available on the Paris–Istanbul route). With two twin cabins connected via an interconnecting door, many guests choose to use one cabin for sleeping and one for using as a lounge area; the added space with the two open interconnecting cabins affords plenty of room for getting ready for your black-tie dinner. However, the popular choice for nighttime and sleeping is to ask your steward to convert both cabins into single berth beds, so both travel companions can enjoy a sound night's sleep in a lower berth. You can enjoy breakfast in your separate beds at leisure, or ask your steward to turn one half of the cabin suite back into a daytime sitting area while you freshen up in the other half.
The cabin suite layout
Introduced in March 2018, by taking one of the original carriages out-of-service and completely redesigning it for 21st century rail luxury, the three grand suites – Paris, Venice and Istanbul were created. Each grand suite offers a double queen-sized bed, separate sitting area including table, chairs and bar area and an en-suite shower room with hot and cold running shower, coloured glass sink and wooden seated toilet. The three grand suites share one private steward for the suites, compared to a one to twelve ratio in the other carriages. Private dining is available in-suite in the grand suites and the suites also boost an array of exclusive amenities from Guerlain bath products to exclusive complimentary white towelling dressing gowns which guests are presented as a souvenir memento on departure.
The Venice Grand Suite, complete with double bed and en-suite shower room
Each of the three grand suites takes its design notes from its name. In Istanbul Moorish wooden carvings and Turkish lamps will light your way to bed. While in Venice Italian marquetry adorn with flowers and etched mirrors reflect a romantic ambience and the Paris grand suite embraces the art-deco with newly designed fan inspired marquetry complimented by vintage Lalique bedside lamps.