There’s something so romantic about a grand train journey. It harks back to a bygone era before the fast pace of modern life took hold and when travel was just as much about the ‘getting there’ as the destination. But this golden age of gentlemanly luxury is alive and well within the Belmond collection. In fact, Belmond has almost become a byword for luxurious train travel. So, with the launch of the first Belmond train in Ireland this Summer, we thought we’d pick out our favourite English, Scottish and Irish trips.
Belmond British Pullman, Cornwall Weekend featuring Padstow
The quintessential British experience. Here you can sit in your vintage carriage, lovingly restored to its art deco glory, and sip Champagne from crystal glasses while smartly-dressed stewards answer to your beck and call. You’re spoilt for choice in destinations too—the British Pullman carries its guests everywhere from top racing events to splendid cities like Bath, Cambridge and Canterbury, gliding through some of the country’s most beguiling landscapes on the way. But our favourite has to be the Cornwall Weekends that pit-stop at Rick Stein’s renowned The Seafood Restaurant. An excellent epicurean pilgrimage for any gastronome and you’ll have the pretty quayside to walk off your gourmet indulgences after.
Belmond Royal Scotsman, The Highland Journey
Some have described the Royal Scotsman as a “five-star Scottish country house on wheels”, and it’s easy to see where they’re coming from. Cabins clad head-to-toe in rich wood panelling and an Observations Car kitted out with inviting sofas in heritage tartan and tweed give the whole train a more homely feel. Just 36 passengers have the pleasure of enjoying the ride which curves you through the heart of Scotland’s wild highlands cruising past striking castles, iconic lochs and quaint villages and glens. Our pick is the 2-night Highland Journey which includes a sojourn at the Strathisla Distillery, home to one of Scotland’s most famous whiskies. And not to worry if you’re a light sleeper—the train considerately stops in a siding at night to make sure to get your forty winks.
Belmond Grand Hibernian, Legends and Loughs
Dramatic coastlines, brooding countryside and historic cities have made Ireland top of many bucket lists for 2016 and this August a new Belmond train will mean that you can explore the Emerald Isle’s best bits in superbly opulent style. The first luxury train service in Ireland, there’s just six months left until the Belmond Grand Hibernian train leaves the platform at Dublin and its first passengers are no doubt looking forward to the Legends and Loughs route where lunch is paired with Guinness and oysters and there’s a drop-off at Ashford Castle for a spot of clay pigeon shooting, falconry and archery. Live music nights in the saloon-style Observation Car usually provide the evening entertainment until you choose to retire in the new stylish en-suite cabins.
Nicole Harley is Editor at The Epicurean.