19 October 2017 by Simon Langley
While the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has long been the poster child of luxury rail travel, its operators – industry darlings, Belmond – are set to bring the experience to new heights.
Coming March 2018, that famous blue-and-gold train will travel with brand-new Grand Suites. And, they certainly live up to their moniker, beautified by the likes of embossed leather, chic furnishings and hand-carved wooden panelling. The attention to detail goes right down to the pillows, embroidered in gold trimming.
There are three to choose from, each taking its design notes from its city namesake – famous stops and termini on the train’s routes. There are the exotic motifs of the Istanbul suite, the fanned glass lamps of the Paris option and the impossibly intricate marquetry of the Venetian offering. As with the rest of the train, it’s all wrapped up in Art-Deco elegance. But, guests in the new suites will also be treated to free-flowing champagne and private in-suite dining, channelling all the fineries of yesteryear.
In the words of Rachel Johnson, vice-president of the London firm put in charge of the overhaul: “It was extremely important when developing the design concept that we embraced the unique story and history of the brand. To capture the epitome of classic luxury travel that the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express exudes, we focused on moments within each city, inspiring visual cues and the overall Belmond guest experience. It was an exciting challenge to use this inspiration to recreate the essence of Art-Deco glamour in an elegant and timeless design.”
However, it’s not just the décor that impresses most. Indeed, the train’s current offerings are already redolent in mosaicked washbasins and glistening polished timber. Instead, it’s the space. As the current berths stay faithful to the original train’s setup with tiered beds, the new suites are unashamedly expansive. There’s a double bed, living room, writing desk and an en-suite shower – a particularly welcome addition on overnight journeys. Together, it firmly sites the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express alongside today’s leading trains, such as Spain’s Al Andalus and India’s Maharaja’s Express.
If you’d like to find out more, read our first-hand account of a journey aboard the Orient Express or take a look at our tailor-made itineraries below.