Train travel is trending again

The fashion for long-distance travel on night trains is back. Not only is it one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation, the five-star palace trains offer fine dining restaurants and luxury bedroom suites that rival the best hotel rooms.

Royal Scotsman | Scotland

The wagons of this palace on wheels are sheathed in mahogany, the decor of the interiors is sustained in the Edwardian style. Routes lasting from two to seven nights run through the most picturesque places of the Scottish Highlands with its lakes and valleys, past historical castles and natural monuments. Most trips also include day trips to major attractions such as the old Strathisla distillery or Rotimercius estate. The owners of The Royal Scotsman are very proud of the spa with a full range of pleasures and treatments on organic Bamford cosmetics.

Rovos Rail | South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania

Trains have been running on the African continent since 1989. Made up of restored wood-paneled vintage carriages with luxurious Edwardian furnishings, they are designed to recreate the romantic spirit of rail travel. Here is a whole catalog of travel itineraries from two to 15 days, including in various combinations Angola, Congo, Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and, of course, South Africa. You can drive from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean or take an epic journey from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (5800 km). In addition to stops in cities and nature reserves, there is an opportunity to observe wildlife from an open balcony right on the way. The trains have 36 deluxe rooms, the most luxurious of which, the royal ones, take up half a car and include a living room, a bathroom with a Victorian-style bathtub and a separate shower.

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express | Russia, Mongolia

The longest trip in the world from Moscow to Vladivostok and back lasts 15 days. This is more than 9 thousand km and eight time zones of the territory of Russia and Mongolia. Part of the trip, the wagons are towed by Soviet-era steam locomotives. Guests can choose Silver, Gold or Imperial Suite, high-end rooms have underfloor heating. The restaurant’s menu includes freshly smoked omul, black sturgeon and, of course, caviar.

Eastern and Oriental Express | Thailand, Singapore

Launched in 1993, the train was inspired by the 1932 melodrama Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich and transports guests to the golden era of railroad adventure. Passing through Southeast Asia, these green and gold carriages take passengers on a two- or three-day journey between Bangkok and Singapore, stopping in Kuala Lumpur, with sightseeing tours and a cruise on the River Kwai.

Seven Stars in Kyushi | Japan

“Seven Stars” runs on the territory of the island of Kyushu. His popular three-day package includes five of the scenic island’s seven prefectures, with its hot springs, Ushinohama coast, and Aso volcano. The first and last cars, especially for contemplation of the beauties of nature, have huge panoramic windows. The interior is designed in the style of an expensive hotel with wooden furniture and Japanese decor, including intricate wood paneling known as kumiko.

Blue Train | South Africa

The Blue Train offers its passengers a two-day journey from Cape Town to Pretoria, which was very popular with dignitaries of the South African colonial government in the 1920s. Other options include visiting the Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park with a safari tour.

Maharaja’s Express | India

Here everything resembles the interiors of the palaces of Indian maharajas. The five-star train runs between two metropolitan areas – Mumbai and Delhi. Duration of trips – from three to six nights. The most popular six-day India Heritage tour passes the most interesting cities including Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur and Agra. A champagne breakfast is scheduled near the Taj Mahal. It consists of 14 cars for 88 travelers with the names of different precious stones: pearls, diamond, blue sapphire, turquoise, coral and others. The 42 sq. m has a living room with two bedrooms and bathrooms.

Andean Explorer | Peru

The first luxury night train in South America. It was launched in 2017. The trip is for one or two nights. Starts in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco and ends in Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The road along the Altiplano plateau at times rises to a height of 4800 m. On the way – stops in the Colca Canyon with its famous condors and Lake Titicaca and the canyon. On the lake they show floating reed islands where the Uru Indians live. Interestingly, until 2003, the train ran in Australia (!) under the name of the Great Southern Pacific Express.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express | UK, Italy

All the train cars are a true story: they belonged to the legendary Orient Express and were all produced in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1980s, they were restored, filled with attributes of royal luxury. Michelin-starred dishes (including Brittany lobster and Mont Saint-Michel salt marsh lamb) are prepared in three dining cars. The train has six grand suites, each decorated according to its name: Vienna, Prague, Paris, Istanbul, Venice and Budapest. Geometric details, exquisite lamps, polished cherrywood marquetry and marble bathrooms await. Some routes traditionally include London, Paris, Verona, stops in Rome and Florence. Others cover Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands with the option to add hotel stays.

Photo: David Noton/Belmond, Martin Scott Powell/Belmond, Matt Hind/Belmond, YUJI HORI/Courtesy of Kyushu Railway Company, Richard James Taylor/Belmond,, Courtesy of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, Helen Cathcart/Belmond, Courtesy of The Blue Train,