All you need to know about riding in style on a Northern Belle train

Vicky Mayer discovers all you need to know about riding in style on a Northern Belle train

Christmas comes early

It’s my first time on a Northern Belle train and along with my mum Ena, I am looking forward to a five-hour round-trip from Victoria travelling to Dover and back. We are on board to enjoy a pre Christmas luxury five-course lunch and our fellow guests are excited as we are.

What a crackin’ start

As we peer through the window to our seats in the Duart carriage, we can see our table set up with white table cloths, champagne flutes and crackers. We can’t wait to get on board.

We’re slightly early but it’s no problem as the friendly staff let us get on board and get ourselves settled in. Our table is beautifully laid up and boasts a big wide window to look out of.

Having just got on board, I’m more interested in the splendid décor in our carriage. The seats are extra comfy and I particularly like the stencilled ceilings and walls.

In fact all the carriages on the train are beautifully decorated. I half expect Agatha Christie to join in the fun.

First class fare

As the Northern Belle train glides out of Victoria Station effortlessly, we’re treated to a welcome glass of ice-cold Lauren-Perrier NV Cuvee. It is poured with panache by the cheery on-board staff who are there to make our journey as comfortable as possible. Served with prawn cocktail and chicken liver parfait canapes, it’s a great way to start our journey.

Like Northern Belle’s other popular dining journeys including Sunday lunch and afternoon tea, this special Christmas lunch is designed to be a leisurely affair. And though Kent is swathed in a winter mist, on board our carriage is cosy and it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

As Christmas is the order of the day, the rest of the menu is suitably seasonal. And canapes aside, this is a generous five-course meal. So if you’re planning to travel on a Northern Belle train, make sure you wear something comfy.

I particularly liked the starter of the trio of St James Scottish Salmon followed by a lightly spiced parsnip soup.

The onboard selection of wines is great too and you can order it by the glass or bottle. And judging by the lively chatter on the train, the guests on board were enjoying a few pre Christmas tipples.

The main course of turkey & Gressingham Duck Roulade with mashed potatoes, red cabbage, carrots and creamed cabbage was the only course I didn’t particularly like. But I think that’s because it was a bit too rich for me.

Of course this left me space to dive into the great British cheese board which was delicious. And the show-stopping dessert of Chocolate & Dark Cherry Roulade with vanilla cream and kirsch cherries was served with aplomb.

Five hours sounds like a long time on board but the courses are properly spaced out. This gives you time to watch the world go by as you enjoy all the comfort of this luxurious train.

Fun for All

One of the things we loved the most was the duo who serenaded us with great songs from the 40s and 50s. They really made the journey go with a swing. What a hoot!

Kent – Northern Belle style

The journey on our Christmas lunch trip was a round-trip from Victoria Station to Dover and back. The train took us out of the London suburbs before heading through Rochester, Faversham and Canterbury on its way to Dover.

Because you can’t get off and no one can get on, it makes it a very special journey. And there’s plenty to see on the way. I particularly liked the journey back from Folkestone West to West Malling and Shoreham.

My verdict

This was my first time on a Northern Belle train and I loved every minute of it. The staff were super friendly and the food was plentiful and well-cooked.

And if you’re a fan of stylish British décor, you’ll love these trains. If you’re looking for a very special British day trip, you should book a journey on a Northern Belle train as soon as you can.

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