This year Mrs RJR and I will be celebrating our 30th Wedding anniversary. Five years ago to mark our 25th we experienced The Orient Express. It really is a journey of a lifetime.
After travelling by standard train from Manchester to London our life of luxury began in earnest, with a night at The Clermont Victoria Hotel. It is a beautiful hotel, complete with a convenient exit onto Victoria stations concourse.
From this point there is no looking back and its shirt and tie not jeans and tee-shirts !
The British Pullman
Fully rested, the next morning we went to the Belmond Pullman reception within Victoria station and checked in our bags. The first leg of the journey was aboard the Belmond British Pullman from London to Folkstone to meet a road coach that would take us through the Channel Tunnel. On the station platform there was a strong feeling that this was a special day out. There was excitement in the voices of the passengers and everyone had dressed with a sense of occasion.
The British Pullman gives a taste of what is to be expected on the Orient Express. We had a private compartment within a corridor coach and the service was attentive to say the least. Brunch was wonderful!
The train pulled into Folkstone to the sound of a brass band playing on the platform, we alighted with our fellow travellers and boarded a fleet of matching luxury road coaches, that took us to the Channel tunnel where they drove onto the second train of the day. Once through, the coach journey in Calais was brief to the platform where the Orient Express was waiting.
The Orient Express
The orient express takes luxury travel to a whole new level. Each of the Pullman Coaches has its own steward who looks after the needs of the passengers in the several compartments.
By the time we boarded, the luggage that we had checked in at Victoria was already in the cabin waiting for us. Drinks and nibbles were laid out and the attention to detail was impeccable. We had been delayed boarding the Chanel Tunnel, so it wasn’t long before our steward knocked and invited us to prepare for dinner. This is significant as the Orient Express does have a dress code. Just imagine you are going to a formal meal with a head of state!!! Yes its a black tie event.
You can never be overdressed on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train! For dinner, we ask for formal evening attire and many guests like to don black tie and wear their most glamorous finery for the occasion. Smart daywear is appropriate during the day. At lunch, for example, a jacket/tie or equivalent is suitable. Jeans are not acceptable at any time.Venice Simplon-Orient Express
With several dinning cars and a highly trained chef / kitchen staff, the standard of food freshly prepared in a moving cramped kitchen, has to be tasted to be believed! We were seated at our own table and watched the world pass by as our meal was served.
By the time you return from your meal, the Steward has converted your cabin’s sofa into a pair of bunk beds for the night. Standard accommodation is a single cabin with sofa that converts. We were fortunate to have a pair of adjoining cabins, so one remained as a living room. I’m not going to lie, if there are two of you in one cabin, it would be very cosy.
To be honest we spent most of the night sat on the Sofa in the second cabin, watching the stars from the window. Some of the journey is through very open landscape with very little light pollution, so there were possibly more stars than we had ever seen before.
Along with slightly short beds, a couple of other things you should know before splashing out on a ticket. There is an immaculate toilet at the end of every sleeper car that is shared by the carriages occupants. There are no showers on a train! But there are clever little private washing facilities hidden in each cabin.
The Orient Express
Breakfast is generally continental, served in your cabin, or table service in one of the dinning cars. Like all food on the train the standard is excellent. Made even better by the views.
A little known fact is that the train is no longer pulled by a steam engine. The train is NOW pulled by electric locomotives, which are swapped at the crossing of each border. These stops give brief opportunities to stretch your legs and take pictures, either by – or with your steward…
Enjoy a brief video from the window on some of our journey…
Luxury food is a big memory you will make on this journey and it is never far from meal time. Lunch on day 2 was not as formal as the previous evening but just as fantastic.
All good things must come to an end and the Orient Express experience was no different. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten. The style, luxury, food and views are second to none. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express describe the experience as Timeless Elegance, it really is a trip back to the golden age of luxury rail travel.
Our journey slowed as the train crossed the Ponte della Libertà (Liberty Bridge) from the mainland into Venice, then stopped in the Venice rail Station.
It has been said we should find “Joy in the journey” – The Orient Express is a journey full of Joy! This was not the end of our anniversary vacation, perhaps a future post will share as we explored Venice for several days before flying home to sunny Manchester?