For decades, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has been synonymous with everything that is sophisticated and glamorous in the world of luxury train travel. The name echoes like a spell. Since its maiden journey from Paris to Istanbul in 1883 the Orient Express has been intrinsically linked with luxury travel. Now operated by the connoisseurs at Belmond, the train has been restored, refurbished and returned to its Art Deco-influenced origins. Today the enchantment and romance are as strong as ever and, in an age that prioritises speed and efficiency when it comes to conveying you to your end destination, the experience of travelling slowly and being on a (luxury) journey is even more alluring.
Indeed, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express doesn't simply stand on a par with the world's other great rail journeys, it stands above them – not least because of its fascinating history and enduringly elegant design. The rolling stock is distinctive down to the smallest detail. Made up of original 1920s and 30s European carriages, painstakingly and lovingly restored to their original elegance and splendour. Look out for marquetry panels and designs by artists of the Art Deco movement, including Rene Lalique. The overall result is a beguiling evocation of the golden age of travel. Yet the experience of being onboard transcends its historical origins and feels utterly contemporary and fresh. Luxury at this level is timeless.
The train now visits a number of Europe’s most enchanting cities. Alongside the traditional, classic journey from London to Venice via Paris (or vice versa), you can now take in everywhere from historic Budapest to luxurious Lake Como. There's also a collection of new routes for 2021, taking in the likes of Geneva, Brussels, Florence, Rome and Amsterdam. Or, for the ultimate luxury rail journey, we suggest that the most discerning traveller should secure a berth on the very special, once-a-year departure from London to Istanbul, a nine-day journey that recreates the original 1883 route. The sheer romance of this experience is unmatchable.
There is no more memorable an experience than seeing the train for the first time. Arrive early at the station to get caught up in the giddy excitement reverberating through the air. It could be at London’s Victoria station, where you board the umber and cream carriages of Belmond’s British Pullman or at Calais or Venice, where you’ll get your first glimpse of the blue and gold carriages of the Continental Wagons-Lit. The thrill is palpable and these are memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Climb aboard and step back in time to a more refined, congenial and elegant era. Walk through all the carriages to understand that you’re travelling on a page of history, taking the time to read the plaques identifying each carriage and observing the different décor of each one.
Head to your compartment and settle in, meeting the cabin steward who will anticipate and attend your every need. Unpack your tuxedo and ball gown; you can never be overdressed aboard the elegant carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. When dressed to the nines, hang out in Bar 3674, the social hub of the train and mingle with other passengers. Listen to a pianist play period pieces as you sip pre-dinner signature cocktails expertly prepared by the head barman. Alternatively toast your good taste with a vintage champagne from the train’s extensive selection.
Then, settle yourself into one of the three beautifully restored restaurant cars, taking note of the fine linen, French silverware and heavy crystal that hint at the extravagance ahead. Perhaps you’ll try lobsters from Brittany or salt marsh lamb from Mont St Michel.
After a four-course culinary adventure, retire to your cabin, which will have been discretely converted into a sleeping compartment. Spoil yourself with a night cap then climb the upholstered ladder to your upper berth or snuggle down under luxury linens on the bottom bunk to be lulled by the movement of the train as it travels across Europe, perhaps having taken steps to arrange a celebration breakfast in the morning so that you can start the next day with another magical memory.
There are 88 double cabins (upper and lower berth) and 11 single cabins modelled on the 1920s originals. Each private compartment is attended by a cabin steward throughout the journey, which means that you are assured of attentive yet discreet service. Want to idle your way across Europe in your pyjamas, plush bathrobes or indeed anything else, mesmerised by the scenery flashing by from the privacy of your bed or sofa? The staff are impeccably trained.
During the day, your cabin acts as a comfortable lounge with a large banquette sofa, footstool and small fold out table. There is a washbasin stylishly hidden away in its own cabinet. While, you enjoy a sumptuous dinner in one of the dining cars and drink cocktails in the bar car, your cabin steward will convert your compartment into a cosy sleeping space with upper and lower berths, complete with crisp white linen. Bathrobes, slippers and luxury amenities by Temple Spa are provided.
For a shot of additional luxury take a Suite, new for 2023. Featuring an en-suite bathroom – all decadent marble and Venetian glass – they bridge the gap perfectly between the Historic Cabins and the ultra-luxury Grand Suites, detailed below. Of course, you can expect all the usual touches, from art-deco flourishes to polished wood and exquisite marquetry. Suites come with a choice of double or twin beds, which convert into a lounge for daytime relaxation.
These incredibly spacious suites bring a new level of luxury to the already opulent train. And, in a welcome departure from the faithful reproduction elsewhere, each Grand Suite includes a private en suite bathroom with showers, sinks and toilet, as well as a double bedroom and a sizeable living area. Named after the cities most associated with the train, these suites are designed in keeping with the general Art Deco motif but draw on their namesake’s associations; chic haute couture flourishes, renaissance design, Venetian-style glass lamps, grand Baroque touches and opulent embroidered pillows and rugs that echo the Grand Bazaar can all be seen. There are also more choices of where and when to dine, including private dining in your own suite, complimentary caviar on arrival and free-flowing champagne in your suite at all times. Perfection!.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Venice to London
4 days from £4,645 pp incl. flightsJun / Jul / Aug / Nov 2024 departure savings
A counterpoint to the classic London to Venice route, this journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express starts in Italy's floating city before crossing the Alps in style en route to Paris, then via Eurostar to London.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Florence to London
4 days from £4,980 pp incl. flights
Journey aboard the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, starting amid the exquisite architecture of Florence before crossing the Alps in style en route to London.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Verona to London
4 days from £4,550 pp incl. flightsJun / Jul / Aug / Nov 2024 departure savings
Beginning with a luxury city stay and included walking tour in Verona, you'll board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for an unforgettable journey across Europe, steeped in the elegant traditions of 1920s rail travel.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Paris & Venice
5 days from £4,860 pp incl. flights
With Eurostar included, this is the iconic southbound journey from Paris to Venice aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, paired with stays in two luxury hotels.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Paris & Portofino
5 days from £8,960 pp incl. flights
Experience one of the world's most revered trains at its opulent best as you travel aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to charming Portofino, in the Italian Riviera, including stays in some of Europe's finest hotels.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: A taste of luxury
3 days from £4,870 pp incl. flights
Enjoyed across three unforgettable days, this itinerary is perfect for those looking to experience the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express but are short on time
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Bologna, Food and Ferraris
6 days from £6,150 pp incl. flights
Journey aboard the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, starting amid the gastronomic centre of Bologna before crossing the Alps in style en route to London.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Venice & Brussels to London
6 days from £5,440 pp incl. flights
This journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express starts among the exquisite architecture of Italy's floating city before crossing the Alps in style en route to the gastronomy, architecture and cafe culture of Brussels.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Venice & Amsterdam to London
6 days from £5,505 pp incl. flightsJuly departure savings
This journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express starts among the exquisite architecture of Italy's floating city before crossing the Alps in style en route to the canals and museums of Amsterdam.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Vienna to London
4 days from £4,805 pp incl. flights
Board the world’s most elegant train for a luxury journey to remember as you're transported not just from Vienna to London but all the way back to the glamour of the Roaring Twenties.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Budapest to London
5 days from £5,380 pp incl. flights
From the Ottoman treasures of Budapest to the 1920s fineries of the world's most elegant train, this is luxury rail travel at its finest.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express & Venice’s Islands
4 days from £4,370 pp incl. flights
Before travelling on the world’s exclusive train, hop between Venice’s archipelago, centring on a luxury stay on your very own private island.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Grand Suite Experience
5 days from £12,280 pp incl. flights
From free-flowing champagne to complimentary caviar, experience the ultimate in luxury rail travel with the butler-served indulgences of the new Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Grand Suites.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express & Verona Opera
5 days from £6,470 pp incl. flights
This spectacular short break combines a journey on the world’s most elegant train with a stay in a converted palace and of opera at the iconic Arena di Verona.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Istanbul
10 days from £18,120 pp incl. flightsIstanbul departure special savings
Experience the glamour and style of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express as it returns to its original route, sweeping across Europe through France, Hungary and Romania to the gateway between east and west – Istanbul.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: London to Cannes
5 days from £5,270 pp incl. flights
Enjoy a slice of the high life as you pair the world's most iconic train with the glamour of the French Riviera – a summer journey not to be missed.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express & Lake Como
7 days from £6,890 pp incl. flights
Travel from London to Verona onboard the world’s most famous train, finishing off with a truly opulent stay on the shores of Italian lake country.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express & Northern Italy River Cruise
12 days from £8,705 pp incl. flightsEarly booking offer
Discover Venice and its surrounds in unmatched style as you pair the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express with a five-star cruise.
Northern Italy Cruise & Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
11 days from £7,875 pp incl. flightsEarly booking offer for selected dates
Experience one of travel's great pairings as you combine a cruise among the treasures of Northern Italy with the luxurious delights of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Veuve Clicquot Journey
4 days from £7,945 pp incl. flights
Combine the golden era of luxury rail travel with a celebration like no other – with Veuve Clicquot champagne.