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Istanbul Grand Suite, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: A train like no other

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21 May 2018 by Kiera Greenwood

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express General Manager Pascal Deyrolle celebrates the epitome of luxury travel, giving us his top travel tips when it comes to riding the rails in style.

‘I have come full circle,’ says Pascal Deyrolle, who became General Manager of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in 2014. ‘I started as a cabin steward on board in 1992. As a steward I enjoyed talking to and looking after my guests. You have a list of tasks to do, it’s like running a mini hotel: you handle the luggage, the check-in and check-out, and the cleaning – but you run your own show.’

Within a year he was promoted to head of department, then in 1996 he left to study hospitality management in Paris before moving to Australia, where he worked on a luxury train for five years. ‘Then I travelled the world: America, Mexico, Peru, France. And now here I am back in Venice, from where I board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express once a month.’

Pascal recalls many favourite moments while travelling on the train. On the Paris to Istanbul journey passengers alight at passport control to cross the Bulgaria-Turkey border at Varna on the Black Sea. ‘It’s an exciting, social occasion – absolutely my favourite part of the trip,’ he says. Pascal describes the snow-covered Dolomites and Alps as ‘magical’, and also mentions the magnificent scenery of the Rhine gorge on the Paris to Berlin journey. Travelling close by the river’s edge, the train passes castles perching among vineyards on craggy cliffs, the mysterious Loreley rock where a temptress is said to have lured sailors to their deaths, and a 15th-century fortress shaped like a ship on an island in mid-stream.

Bar Car, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Bar Car, Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Pascal’s travel tips

The Venice to London journey is the most romantic way to come home

Saving the train until the end of your trip means you end your holiday on a high. On the Venice to London train, the French chefs serve the most fantastic lobster brunch. Paired with pink champagne, this completes my perfect morning.

You won’t miss a thing

We plan each journey so the train passes through the most beautiful scenery during the day, so you don’t need to worry about missing anything at night while you are asleep or enjoying a convivial tipple in the bar car. On the Venice to London journey, the scenery between Brennero and Innsbruck is particularly stunning.

Make the most of the bar car

Bar 3674 is the social hub of the train – don’t just save it for the evening, but come along for pre-lunch drinks where you’ll find head barman Ignazio creating signature cocktails whilst the pianist plays our baby grand. We’ve also introduced a champagne bar, serving a selection of chilled vintages.

You can never be overdressed

Whilst not mandatory, for me a tux is a must for gentlemen travelling with us. There are not so many occasions in life when you can really dress up to the nines, so take this opportunity to be your most glamorous and enjoy the elegant surroundings of the train.

Get to know your cabin steward

Our cabin stewards look after you from departure to arrival, from serving your breakfast in bed to turning your cabin into cosy bedroom whilst you dine. They come from all over the world and are a wonderful team of professionals eager to share their stories and your own.

Explore the train

Each carriage is unique, having operated on different routes across Europe during the golden age of train travel – you will find a plaque explaining their history at the end of each one. Car 3309, built in Belgium in 1926, was part of the rake that was stuck in a snowdrift for 10 days in western Turkey in 1929, inspiring Agatha Christie to write Murder on the Orient Express, and it has some beautiful vintage details and fabulous marquetry. Car 3544, one of two featuring the designs of René Prou, was stored in Limoges during World War II, where it was used as a brothel, while car 3452 was part of the train on which King Carol II of Romania escaped with his mistress Magda in 1940.

For a blow-out celebration…

Indulge in the opulence and romance of one of the new Grand Suite cabins – the Istanbul, Paris or Venice. Launched on this year’s service, each has a private bathroom and signature flourishes such including hand-carved timber, embossed leather, embroidered pillows and chic furnishings evoking the grand architecture of the capitals after which they are named.

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