Trains are often slow, crowded and dirty – so how come some people insist that these old beasts can be a luxury way to travel?The glory days of the Orient Express may seem long gone, but in fact it and other long-distance trains are more popular than ever. A growing number of retirees, adventure seekers and wealthy individuals enjoy cruising along on the rails in the lap of luxury.If your experience of trains has mostly been on a crowded, dirty, hot commuter service, you may be curious to understand the appeal of luxury train tours.Having taken a few myself, here I share some of the things which make a luxury train tour special.
Fine Dining on Board
The focal point of a luxury train tour tends to be its dining car – and so the food and drink needs to be up to snuff.As you would expect for a first class travel experience of any sort, skilled chefs using the finest ingredients pay a lot of attention to preparing food. Trains, however, have a huge advantage over aeroplanes in this regard. Space is less limited, open flames can sometimes be used, and fresh produce can be loaded during the journey. Moreover, whereas at altitude the human ability to detect taste and flavour is substantially diminished, being on a train, passengers can enjoy every last flavour just as the chef intended. It’s not just about the food, either. Fine wines are carried onboard in spacious cellar spaces and often sold at much less than the mark up you would find in an equivalently high end restaurant.
You can Visit Places Others Cannot
Any train tour can offer a way to see the otherwise unseeable – but this is especially true when you are fortunate enough to be on a luxury train tour.By the nature of their routes, trains are often able to cut across landscapes which are not open to motor vehicles or any other forms of transport. That means that any train tour can be an excellent way to have an insight into the landscape, lives and culture of a place which you would not otherwise be able to have.Luxury train tours add something special on top of this, however, as their larger budgets and interests mean that their organisers can get access to places which are not normally open. For example, if you want to travel from Turkmenistan to Iran, the best option is on rail tracks – but the line is usually only open for freight services. However, occasional luxury train tour charters also open this up to passengers.In other cases, such as charter services using the Trans-Siberian line, luxury train tours stop in areas which are not normally visited by other trains as there are no station stops there.
There are Regular Excursions
Unlike some forms of transport, it is easy for a train to stop when there is something of interest nearby.That is why luxury train tours often design their itineraries to include stops of a few hours with guided tours to local points of interest. The Eastern and Oriental Express, for example, allows passengers to tour the site of the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai. Golden Eagle private trains stop on the Trans-Siberian route with excursions to historical sites.
Five Star Service on Wheels
The service on a luxury train tour is a bit like staying in a five star hotel which moves you from location to location.That is not a coincidence. In fact, many of the leading luxury train tours are operated by groups who run luxury hotels. The Orient Express, for example, draws from the expertise and knowledge of a team who have honed their craft providing some of the world’s most legendary hotel service. That is why the service feels so special on a luxury train tour.
You Meet Interesting People
Not everyone wants to go on a luxury train tour – and that forms part of their attraction.Luxury train tours require passengers to have money, time and also the curiosity to want to go. That means that you will often find yourself on such a tour in the company of a diverse and surprisingly interesting range of people. Unlike some sections of the cruise industry, there has not been a downward shift in the profile of luxury train tour passengers.A train tour takes time and has designated social areas such as the dining car, bar car and sometimes observation deck. That means that you will have the opportunity to mingle with your fellow passengers and appreciate their company in a way which would be impossible on a plane or in a small group tour. Better still, the group will be large enough, that if one or two of them don’t appeal to you that much, you don’t need to get stuck with them for the whole journey!You may have known train tours can be comfortable, but you may still be surprised to learn just how special luxury train tours can be. They offer amenities, experiences and the service which you would expect from top hotels, but in a unique and changing series of landscapes. Whether or not you plan on taking one soon why not have a look now to see what luxury train tours visit a place on your travel list?