Sometimes, it is the journey that’s more exciting than the destination. That rings truer when you ride a luxury train. If a train is large and comfy, you don’t even need a destination to go to. Going to places on a plane or on a boat can give you amazing blue sights to see, but when you go in an on-the-ground transport, you’d see much more interesting things on the ground near you. It’s a refreshing take to take it slow on some glamorous train rides through some of the world’s most glam destinations. Here are some of them:
1. Seven Stars, Japan
Named by CNN as the world’s most luxurious train, the Seven Stars cruise train in Japan will bring you a deluxe travel experience. Japan is known for their speedy bullet trains, but this luxury sleeper train has an exclusive reputation. It brings an old-school glam to a technologically advanced railway. Seven Stars represents the seven most important aspects of visiting Kyushu, Japan: nature, hot springs, history and culture, power spots, food, friendliness of people, and its train system.
Seven Stars comes with seven coaches – five sleeping cars, a dining car and a lounge car. It offers tours around the island of Kyushu, which gives you amazing views of both the mountains and the seaside. Stepping inside the train is like entering another world. The train has a warm wooden interior with classic design elements inspired by both Eastern and Western influences. You will admire the handmade porcelain sinks, framed miniature paintings, traditional Japanese woodwork, shoji paper screens, walnut floors, rosewood and maple walls and sliding glass doors.
Riding on this train is a very exclusive opportunity. It can only carry up to 28 passengers at a time, and the demand is so high that a prospective rider must enter a lottery for tickets.
2. Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe
If you can afford, get aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to experience a world of timeless glamour. It offers the most romantic and luxurious way to travel to the glamorous European cities from London to Paris to Milan to Venice and return. During certain times of the year, the train also visits Istanbul, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Zurich, Innsbruck and Verona. But besides the destinations, it also promises to take you back in time during the golden age of train travel.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express contains 18 carriages, consisting of 12 sleeping cars, three dining cars, a bar car and two former sleepers which now provide accommodation for staff and storage rooms. With polished wood, antique fixtures and sumptuous upholstery, you can sit back and rekindle the romance of the rails. This train is known as an icon of 1920s art deco design and style. Three new Grand Suites can take you to a whole new level of opulence, complete with extravagant hotel amenities.
The food aboard is freshly sourced and caught along the road, which means you can have dinner with fresh lobsters from Brittany or crisp tomatoes from Provence.
3. Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, Russia
Travel Russia in style with Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, named as the world’s greatest railway journey. Hardcore travelers say you haven’t really experienced real train travel until you’ve hopped aboard the Golden Eagle, as it spans a whopping eight time zones just by travelling the mysterious subcontinent of Russia.
The Golden Eagle is a glamorous version of the Trans-Siberian Express, and it’s already more than a hundred years old. And you don’t get to last as long as a century without offering impressive service. This train comes with en-suite bathrooms, laundry services, TVs, full heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. You can also enjoy fine dining, get a personal cabin attendant, spend time at the bar, dance to a resident pianist, and use the services of an English-speaking doctor.
It offers a two-week package that feels more like a cruise than a train ride, as it comes with daily excursions along the way. This train brings passengers from Moscow over the Urals, then across the endless Russian steppes and along the shore of Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
4. Rovos Rail, Southern and Eastern Africa
Rovos Rail takes it passengers to Africa’s spectacular scenery, as it takes on the journey at an extended network of far-flung destinations in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Namibia. Its most popular offered route is the trip between Cape Town and Pretoria.
But besides the sensational sights, the Rovos Rail is a safari train that can offer you luxury and lavishness you’ll surely enjoy. This train has coaches with two lounges, two restaurant cars and private sleeping compartments. Aboard it, you can admire the lavish Edwardian furnishings and interior décor. It offers three types of accommodation on board, the largest being the Royal Suite, which occupies half a train car and comes with a Victorian-style bathtub. All types of cabins have en-suite shower, toilet and sink.
As you pass by wide-range tour of the African environment, from the grasslands, to the desserts – all filled with wildlife – you can take it all in in the balconies in the observation car. There are even goggles provided so your eyes won’t hurt from the dust. Don’t worry, the train doesn’t go more than 37 mph, so you can take clear photos of the views as you go.
5. Blue Train, South Africa
The luxurious adventure on the Blue Train is a delightful adventure that will take you to the ever-changing vistas of the countryside of South Africa. You can ride on a 31-hour route from Pretoria to Cape Town through some of the most diverse and spectacular sceneries of Africa, or from Pretoria to Kruger National Park, one of the world’s finest game parks.
Inside the Blue Train, you can enjoy the ever-changing vistas as you relax in your De Luxe suite, which transforms from a swanky lounge in the day to a cozy bedroom at night. It comes with opulent features like marble and gold-fitted bathroom, under-floor heating, AC system and a goose-down bedding. Some of the luxury suites even have full-size bath tubs.
What you’d love about the Blue Train is their friendly and helpful staff. A lot of the butlers have worked on the train for years and are on call 24/7 if you want a snack, a drink or even iron your clothes.
6. The Ghan, Australia
Known as Australia’s greatest rail journey, the Ghan offers a memorable tour from Darwin to Adelaide, allowing passengers to travel across Australia while peering to the endless uniformity of the antipodean bush. The trip comes with a comprehensive itinerary, from observing the life at a cattle station to experiencing the real Australian Outback, to going the tunnels and caves of an underground town.
If you want to go big at The Ghan, get Platinum service, which offers more cabin and en-suite space, access to exclusive dining carriage, chauffeured transfers, five-course meals and breakfast in bed. Onboard meals include exotic Australian fare, like grilled kangaroo fillet and saltwater barramundi fish.
7. The Maharajas’ Express, India
Also known as “the Orient Express of the Orient,” The Maharajas’ Express is a relatively new luxury train that’s on the list of the most glamorous vacations on the rails. The interior décor of the Maharajas emulate the golden days of Raj, when people travel in style and glamour in their ostentatious carriages.
Each of the 14 guest carriages on the train – which can accommodate 88 guests all in all – are named after the legendary jewels of the Maharajas. All cabins and suites feature large, panoramic views, while the Presidential Suite spans an entire carriage. It also offers seven journeys throughout India to choose from. The 8-day “Heritage of India” tour is among the most popular offering, which will feel like a dream designed in a classic Indian style.
Inside the train, you can enjoy amenities like TV, Wi-Fi, attached bathroom, pneumatic suspension, bar, dining cars, lounge and souvenir shops. The larger cabins have spacious sitting rooms and roll-top baths.
8. Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, Spain
The Transcantabrico Gran Lujo feels like a five-star hotel on wheels than a train experience. It celebrates the best of Spanish culture, history, landscape and gastronomy. It stops for day excursions, so you’d likely spend the same time on the bus travelling the cities as on the train.Stops include the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the prehistoric cave of Altamira, the Guggenheim museum, the lakes and Sanctuary of Covadonga, and the Picos de Europa National Park,
Aboard the train, you can enjoy extensive sightseeing of the best vistas in Spain from the viewing car. You can also indulge in haute cuisines, select wines and excursion meals in top-notch restaurants. There are also on-board entertainment such as live music performances, dancing, party in the pub car, cooking demonstrations and more.
As for the service, you also won’t be disappointed. There are butlers who will gladly unpack and repack your suitcase for you.
9. Belmond Royal Scotsman, Scotland
Riding the Belmond Royal Scotsman is like embarking on a grand highland fling – exploring Scotland’s castles, lochs and countryside on a slow-moving train. Travelers can see the magnificent Scottish countryside on a Downtown Abbey atmosphere. You can choose from several round trips from Edinburgh lasting between two to seven days, or the classic voyage to the Scottish highlands.
Belmond Royal Scotsman ranks among the most luxurious trains in the world. Its mahogany-clad cars come with elegant Edwardian interior, with comforts of a country house. It offers ten intricately designed cars. Inside this luxurious train, you can be cozy underneath the tartan wool blankets, or drink scotch. It has a bar that’s stocked with more than 50 kinds of whisky.
What makes this train unique is that it includes a spa where you can book a facial, massage or manicure with a side of picturesque scenery.
10. The Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
The Rocky Mountaineer is the only luxurious way to travel by rail through the Canadian Rockies and across Western Canada. It travels in either direction to Vancouver from Lake Louise, Banff or Jasper.
As a luxury train, it has impressive things to brag about. It offers breathtaking, panoramic views from your seat, thanks to its glass-dome, bi-level coach that brings the outside in. Most tourists prefer the summer season, but September to October is possibly the most romantic time to travel, when leaves turn to a mix of yellows, oranges and fresh snow that accumulates in the mountaintops.
Seats can also be rotated to face each other during the journey to ramp up the romance.