Name a more iconic train than the Orient Express. The train has long captured the imagination of glamorous travellers, and while the service ended in 2009, modern passengers can experience its opulence on Belmond’s reincarnation, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Combining old-world glamour with modern amenities, the train travels through Europe’s most magical cities, offering one to four-night journeys from London, Paris or Venice. The journey is a glittering affair of lavish meals, historical and lavish surroundings and stunning backdrops of Swiss mountain passes and sparkling lakes. Due to its cost, a trip on the VSOE is perfect for travellers with deep pockets, or those celebrating a life milestone.
Prices from; £2,573
Departing from: London, Paris, Venice, Verona, Berlin
Journey length: 1-4 nights
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express route
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express runs from March to November, offering routes from London or Paris to Venice. While these journeys are its most iconic, it also offers trips with stops in Verona, Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest, with journeys ranging from one night up to four.
A nod to the original Orient Express’ illustrious past, the VSOE annually runs a 10-night once-in-a-lifetime trip from Paris to Istanbul. Travelling to or from London, guests will actually experience two trains on the journey, a historic British Pullman train from London to Folkstone and then the classic 1920s sleeper train from Calais.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train
There are 18 carriages in total on board the VSOE, 12 sleeping cars, two former Ytb class sleepers for staff and storage and four public cars, made up of three restaurants and one bar car. All original 1920s carriages with their own unique history and look, Cote D’Azure, Etoile du Nord and L’Oriental host guests for meals, packed with original interiors.
The bar car, 3674, is decked out in sumptuous royal blue interior with gold finishes and oak panning, is the perfect place to mingle with other passengers over a cocktail or nightcap. Most carriages are from the late 20s and early 30s, with the expectation of the Ytbs from the late 40s.
Cabins on Venice-Simplon Orient-Express
Cabins on board the VSEO are a showcase of art-deco excellence, and guests can choose from an entry-level single or twin cabin, cabin suite or grand suite (where champagne flows freely). Its twin cabins are perfect for low-key couples of friends, while its suites offer double beds, private butlers, separate sitting areas and marble bathrooms.
All cabins come with washbasins, towels, bathrobes and slippers dual voltage plugs. Single, twin and cabin suites do not have individual WCS, and they are located at either end of the sleeping car.
Food and drink
As one would expect on one of the most luxurious transportation methods in the world, the train boasts three restaurant cars and a bar car, and all are beautifully restored 1920s carriages. Included in the ticket, guests can indulge on three-course brunches served with Bellinis, sumptuous four-course set dinners and three-course lunches of lobster and salt-marsh lamb.
A continental breakfast is served in the cabin, and on southbound journeys there’s even the opportunity to book a Celebration Breakfast of smoked salmon, truffle and caviar. Additional al la carte items and beverages are available at an extra cost. Dining on the VSOE is akin to that of a Michelin or five-star hotel restaurant, only on wheels.
A nod to the golden age of travel, travelling on the VSOE is a glamorous affair, and you can never be too overdressed. The day dress code is smart-casual, while dinner requires men to wear a suit and tie and women to wear smart attire. Many travellers opt for black die in the evenings.
Due to its price range, the VSOE attracts a crowd of wealthy, discerning travellers, and a handful of guests celebrating milestone events like honeymoons, anniversaries of big birthdays.
With tickets from £2,500 for a one-night journey, Belmond makes sure guests don’t have to reach for their wallet when journey on the VSOE. All sections of the journey, on the British Pullman, Eurostar and VSOE itself are included, and depending on journey direction delights like brunch or afternoon tea. Once on board, a glass of sparkling wine is served before guests embark on an eat-athon of multi-course lunches and dinners. A la carte items and alcoholic beverages such as champagne are at an additional cost, along with accommodation on land and transfers.
Pros and cons
Travelling on the VSOE is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, and everything is designed to blow you away. It’s about the journey, not the destination, and everything from interiors and furnishings to exteriors and food is superlative. The only con is the cost and the fact there are additional extras and most cabins come without an en-suite, but for those looking to blow their budget on an illustrious travel adventure, there’s nothing quite like it.