There was a time, in our not so distant past, when soft plumes of white smoke dotted landscapes across the world when the rhythmic sounds of rail undercarriages would drift travelers gently off to sleep, when the railroad was synonymous with luxury, opulence and only the finest foods and wines. Porters would load and unload ornately decorated luggage collections at busy rail stations, silver service was the standard in many restaurant cars, and sleeper cabins were like compact hotel rooms of the finest caliber—fit for royalty and luminaries of the era.
Of course, since those heady days of steam-powered splendor, the world has seen the
introduction of the automobile and then, later, air travel; both of which have helped to derail the
romanticism of the humble train. However, thanks to the resurgence in the slow travel concept and a new interest in seeing the world at a snails-pace, luxury rail journeys are once again in demand. Having recently covered the runaway success of the Train Suite Shiki-Shima in Japan, an ultra-luxurious train that continues to sell-out well in advance, we look at five other luxury sleeper journeys that will let you see the world at a more relaxed pace.</p>
The Maharajas’ Express – India
Among India’s most celebrated luxury trains, The Maharajas’ Express is the recipient of five consecutive “World’s Leading Luxury Train” awards between 2012 and 2016. With routes that take in destinations such as Goa, Jaipur, Delhi, and Mumbai these opulent carriages make for true luxury travel in a typically colonial Indian style.
From the Taj Mahal to the River Ganges, you’ll be treated to divine restaurant cars, bars, and
lounges, ensuring that The Maharajas’ Express represents decadence at its very best.</p>
The Presidential Train – Portugal
Originally designed and built for King Dom Luis I in 1890, the Presidential Train has recently been rebuilt and renovated to cater to modern luxury markets. Over the course of two years, €1 million was invested to bring the aging train up to scratch, and now the Presidential Train runs the length of the Douro Valley serving the very best Portuguese food and wine. Ideal for oenophiles, the only stop on the journey is at one of the valley’s most famous vineyards, where tasting sessions give travelers the opportunity to sample some truly special vintages.
The Blue Train – South Africa
With more than 70 years of continuous operation between Pretoria and Cape Town, South
Africa’s Blue Train is a longstanding favorite of luxury travelers. Expect impeccable service and fine-dining at its very best as you journey almost 1000 miles through the plains of safari country. The award-winning wine list is just one of the many special features of the Blue Train, while the spacious cabins with 24-hour butler service should be up to muster too. Additionally, dedicated “rail safari” packages can be booked, combining the best of luxury train travel with stays in lodges of the Greater Kruger and Sabi Sands area.
Trans-Siberian Railway – Russia
Another longstanding and almost legendary favorite of luxury travelers, the Trans-Siberian Railway holds an iconic and special place in many people’s hearts. Among the longest and most luxurious routes on our list, the Golden Eagle train that travels from Russia through Mongolia to Vladivostok is particularly special. With luxurious restaurants and lounges, 24-hour service attendants and porterage services to load your luggage, the Golden Eagle recalls the golden age of rail travel – just ensure your cases are worthy of such a historical journey by browsing these vintage-style luggage bags by Bric’s (here the Firenze collection).
Belmond Andean Explorer – Peru
<p>One of the highest rail lines in the world, the Belmond Andean Explorer lets you travel through the clouds, linking Sumbay Caves, Cusco, Arequipa, Peruvian Altiplano and Lake Titicaca. The first luxury sleeper train in South America, the Belmond Andean Explorer offers spacious, modern cabins generously fitted out with alpaca wool fabrics. Add to this luxurious dining cars and bars, alongside cozy alpaca lined lounges, and the Andean Express will appeal to many types of luxury traveler. With only 1 or 2-night options available on this train, it is among the shortest journeys on our list, however, the breathtaking vistas of the Andes are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.