It’s late at night, and as the carriage suddenly lurches, your cocktail – the aptly named ‘Choo Choo Train Martini’ – might have spilt over the coupe glass. There’s a tinkling of laughter all round, as you clutch the side of the bar, to regain your balance. As the train proceeds smoothly again, the pianist at the Baby Grand picks up the rhythm of ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and there’s a distinct feeling of euphoria in the air.
There’s something inherently romantic – and joyous – about an epic train journey, and there’s nothing more iconic than a voyage aboard Belmond’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. This is not a journey which takes you simply from A to B, but, rather, it is one that carries you cinematically through beautiful landscapes, the windows giving way to ever-changing scenes of corn fields, medieval villages and snow-capped mountains. Harking back to the golden days of travel, a ticket for this most famous train harnesses a feeling that a world of infinite possibilities could lie ahead.
While the VSOE has one foot in the past (and that, of course, is its charm), owner Belmond also has its eye on the future. The luxury brand has launched new routes across Europe aboard the legendary train thus ticking the box for travellers who are in search of slow, meaningful travel experiences following a year of travel hiatus. Named the Grand Tour, the routes criss-cross through Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and The Netherlands and call at the finest cities along the way.
Capturing the sun-baked vistas of Italy is the Florence to Paris route, for which you can also opt to stay overnight at Villa San Michele, A Belmond Hotel, Florence, to kickstart your trip in style.