Spotlight and first hand experience of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the romantic iconic train made famous by Agatha Christie’s novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Those who have read the book or watched one of the movies will have memories of this beautiful train winding its way through the snow-covered Alps from Paris to Istanbul.
The Belmond company synonymous with luxury, who have a portfolio of iconic and unique hotels around the world, have recreated the experience using carriages from the original company CIWL’s trains. They curate beautiful itineraries whilst ensuring that every detail is taken care of including their exceptional staff to offer a journey that allows you to step back in time and feel the romance of travelling by train in the early 1900’s.
I recently had the opportunity to travel on the overnight journey from Venice to London. Like most, it’s been a journey I dreamed I would do one day. It truly is a wonderfully unique experience.
Our journey started when we were met in the foyer of the Bauer Hotel and were quickly whisked off on a speed boat transfer to Venice San Marco Railway station. We were then escorted to the train and shown to our cabins. Our luggage was delivered later. The best option is to pack a small bag for what you need for the train and allow your larger luggage to be sent straight to London. The cabins are not large, so you don’t want to fill it with a big suitcase. You receive beautiful amenities in your cabin with a wash basin and towels. To keep the journey authentic there are no showers, and the bathrooms are shared.
Once settled into your cabin, your butler welcomes and orientates you to the facilities of the cabin and then takes your order for breakfast which is served in the cabin. You are then invited to the bar area or onto the dining room depending on your set time. They have three restaurants, they serve the same menu of the day in each. They differ mainly by décor. It is such an authentic experience, the décor, cutlery, napery, china and glassware are all vintage and so is some of the wine. It is remarkable to see the quality of food prepared in such a limited kitchen facility.
After lunch I returned to my cabin to enjoy the beautiful scenery and imagined what life would have been like. I was extremely fortunate as my cabin was the cabin that Agatha Christie was in when she wrote her famous novel. The cabins are quaint and as Belmond has built the train from carriages of many luxury vintage trains each cabin can be different. They have 3 grand suites that are always booked out, these have a double bed and a bathroom and dining table. I believe most guests don’t leave their suite for the duration.
In the afternoon, Noah, the butler arrived with afternoon tea. A plate of tiny petit fois and tea. I will say, do not expect to lose weight, there is so much lovely food that you cannot say no. A little more relaxing taking it all in and then time to freshen up for a drink in the piano bar and dinner. You do dress up for dinner. Most in black tie or suits and women in cocktail or after 5. You don’t get many excuses these days to really dress up so it’s fun and ties in with the character of the train.
The bar was lively, filled with chatter and the music of the resident pianist. The bar staff kept up with the constant request for the old-fashioned cocktails whilst guests mingled with each other. It’s a lovely atmosphere. I thought that it would feel a bit stuffy, but the reality is that people from all walks of life and with different motives are onboard the train – a little like the book. Everyone got along (perhaps not like the book!)
Find more inspiring train journeys HERE