Traveling by train is a delightful and leisurely way to see the world. Passing through mountains and meadows, quaint villages and valleys, trains evoke a sense of romance and nostalgia unlike any other mode of transport. Comfortable, often cheap and more environmentally-friendly, trains across the globe are the preferred means of transit for the masses. However, in its more affluent avatar, train travel isn't without its fair share of indulgences. Some of the most exclusive trains offer guests an opportunity to have an elegant time as they pass through the natural environment creating an unforgettable experience.
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8 Luxury Train Journeys Around the World
Photo by Simon Pielow/Flickr
Considering India’s royal past, it’s no surprise that the Maharajas’ Express manages to encapsulate the grandeur and style of the bygone area perfectly. The train travels from Mumbai to Delhi over seven days, with shorter trips also available that cover Agra and Jaipur. En-route, guests get an insight into the culture of India through folk dance performances, excursions to heritage sites, and meetups with local artisans.
On board the train, the rooms resemble the very best in luxury living. Each compartment has cupboards, space for luggage, temperature control, warm bedding, and free WiFi. Amenities available for all guests include two dining cars serving delicious local and international cuisines. Residents can also utilize the large lounge car, ideal for mingling with co-passengers over board games, books and drinks, at any time of the day.
Covering the 2979 km distance between Adelaide and Darwin, The Ghan is the epitome of subtle grace that promises hours upon hours of panoramic views as it cuts through the rugged beauty of Australia's outback. The trip on the 30 plus carriage train takes three days and two nights, with riders having the option to travel in different classes. The en-suite cabins in the platinum class include twin seats, which convert into beds at night. The bathroom comes with toiletries and a little shower area. Travelers in the platinum and gold class have access to a separate lounge car with sofas and a bar.
The trip includes all meals served in the beautifully maintained Queen Adelaide dining car, where guests can savor dishes made from the freshest of ingredients. The train stops at a couple of places along the way, Alice Springs being one of the main stations. A variety of excursions are available here, included in the holiday package. This iconic train ride is an excellent occasion to explore the ancient history of Australia, whether it's through learning about aboriginal rituals and customs or passing over the oldest river in the world, the Finke River.
The Rocky Mountaineer
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The Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian luxury automotive that chugs along three different routes, starting from Vancouver and heading towards Jasper or Banff. Travelers taking the voyage can choose between short, and circle journeys or can even combine their train ride with a cruise. Inside the train, besides immaculate service, attention is given to creating a space that provides uninterrupted verdant panoramas of the diverse Canadian landscapes. Both the Silver and Gold Leaf class have reclining seats, full glass windows, glass dome coaches, an outdoor viewing platform, and exclusive food and drink choices.
What makes The Rocky Mountaineer a novel adventure is the merging of a train ride with the classic hotel experience. Passengers enjoy the splendor of the region during the day, whereas nights are spent in the comfort of hotel beds at each stop. Adding excitement to the trip are in-house storytellers who liven up the time on board with a plethora of tales about the history, culture, and wildlife of the territory.
Celebrating thirty years of existence, Ravos Rail is a passion project that started from an idea of a personal holiday train and developed into one of the world's most striking luxury trains. At the heart of this magnificent train journey, that passes through the dynamic landscapes of South Africa, is warmth and comfort where every guest is treated as a family member. The train takes several routes, all starting from Pretoria, and covers destinations such as Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Walvis Bay in Namibia, all the way to Dar es Salam on a memorable 15-day holiday.
The cabins are beautifully furnished in a homely manner, keeping in mind all modern conveniences. The train has observation cars with large windows and 'open-air balconies' as well as the most phenomenal Edwardian dining car. Adding to the temperament of the journey is the absence of internet and TV anywhere on the train. However, with so much to do, passengers hardly ever miss these so-called modern essentials.
Eastern and Oriental Express
Photo by Simon Pielow/Flickr
An ideal way to relish the magic of South East Asia, the Eastern and Oriental Express, is your ticket to the marvels of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The three-day trip starts in Singapore and passes through Kuala Lampur, finally ending in Bangkok. The interiors of the train honor Asian excellence with its cherrywood paneling, Malaysian embroidery, and windows that give passengers a no-holds-barred view of the exotic surroundings.
The compartments shadow the sophisticated lavishness of the train, overflowing with exquisite furnishings and amenities like air conditioning, toiletries, and an en-suite shower and toilet. One of the topmost highlights of the Eastern and Oriental Express is the multi-cuisine food served in the dining cars that further accentuates the beauty of traveling through some of the world’s most culturally vibrant countries.
Getting a seat on this legendary Japanese luxury train is no easy feat. Since the demand to experience this once-in-a-lifetime journey is so high, the government takes out a lottery each year from which the lucky 48 passengers are chosen for each trip. Seven Stars offers two itineraries around the island of Kyushu. The 4-day option includes traveling through 5 of Kyushu's prefectures with stops to appreciate the hot springs and take a ferry cruise. The 2-day trip, in comparison, passes through 4 prefectures, stopping in the cities of Oita, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka.
While on the train, guests get to savor Japanese cuisine prepared by leading chefs in the Jupiter Dining Car. Whereas, in the Blue Moon Car, they can relax with an after-hour drink and musical entertainment. Each of the cabins in Seven Stars is notably refined; however, the train’s 'piece de resistance' is the Deluxe Suite A, which comes with a sizable rear-view window for an unmatched glimpse of the passing scenery.
Photo by Nelso Silva/Flickr
A luxury train that's been in existence since 1890, the Presidential is a one-of-a-kind encounter that guarantees a memorable culinary adventure. Meandering through Portugal’s wine region, Douro Valley, the Presidential starts from Porto and operates for only 25 days during the year.
Through each trip of the train, a different chef is responsible for creating delectable plates of food that highlight ingredients from the local environment, paired with the best wines from across the globe. Passengers have the option to take a one-day journey that lasts nine hours or opt for a two or three-day package. Overnight stays on the longer trips are at pre-determined hotels. A must for every gourmand, the Presidential is your luxury train-ticket to food nirvana.
The Golden Eagle
For the true train enthusiasts, a voyage of the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express is an incredible escapade. This 15-day journey, starting in Moscow and ending in Vladivostok, is a momentous event that offers the pinnacle of luxury, plentiful comforts, spectacular sights, and mouth-watering gastronomic offerings. The train’s iconic blue color makes it stand out amongst the rugged topography of the region, whereas inside, its opulence shines high and bright.
The well-appointed compartments of the train feature double beds, en-suite bathrooms with underfloor heating, a complimentary minibar, bathrobes, toiletries, and the possibility for in-cabin dining. Every guest of the Golden Eagle is treated like royalty, and each request handled with the uttermost of care. The dining and lounge cars add to the train’s individual personality, inviting guests to participate in various activities such as language classes, musical performances, and lectures on Russian culture. The Golden Eagle is a classic luxury train journey that guarantees nothing short of a dream vacation.
For a traveler to appreciate the magic of train journeys, they must be able recognize the allure of slow travel. Seeing the world via a luxury train is a costly yet immersive affair, one of life's precious joys that, in the end, only a few lucky souls ever get to experience. For those lucky enough to, it's an unforgettable journey.