Train Travel: The World's Most Luxurious Rail Carriages

Inside the venice simplon orient express

2.69min read

Published 12 December 2013


Rail enthusiasts can relive the golden age of rail by signing up for an expedition on one of the world's most luxurious rail carriages. These trips allow guests to both admire the mesmerising scenery and revel in the rail experience - it's all about the journey. Consider hopping on board the famed Orient Express in Europe and Asia, exploring the luxury rail options in India or savouring the innovative comforts on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer. This is luxury train travel at its finest.

Maharajas Express, India

Inside the Presidential Suite
The Presidential Suite. Image courtesy of Royal Indian Trains.

Channel the legacy of the Raj by taking the Maharajas Express - an opportunity that redefines the art of elegant train travel in India. There are several awe-inspiring journeys on offer such as the 7-night Heritage of India Tour that includes the Ajanta Caves, an exhibition elephant polo match in Jaipur and a jungle safari in the Ranthambhore. Alternatively take the 8-day Indian Splendour from Delhi through Rajasthan to Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur before arriving in Mumbai.

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

 GoldLeaf service on the train
GoldLeaf Service. Image courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

The GoldLeaf service on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer features a custom-designed, glass-domed coach that allows guests to admire every panoramic vista of the magnificent Rocky Mountains. The service has several packages to choose from including the First Passage to the West that travels from Vancouver to Calgary, Lake Louise or Banff and the Journey through the Clouds that departs from Vancouver and arrives in Jasper the following day. Alternatively take the train from Vancouver to Whistler.

Eastern and Oriental Express, South-east Asia

 A bedroom on the Orient Express
Presidential Cabin. Image courtesy of Orient Express. Photographer Mark Hind.

The Eastern and Oriental Express offers a wonderful way to experience the sights and sounds of South-east Asia. There are several routes on offer including an overland adventure from Singapore through Malaysia to Bangkok and various expeditions around Thailand and into Laos. Located at the rear of the train is a colonial-style, teak observation car that's perfect for sight-seeing and evening cocktails. All cabins boast impressive wood panelling and are decorated with marquetry. During the day, the Presidential Cabin is a plush lounge that's easily converted into a bedroom for a comfortable nights rest.

Palace on Wheels, India

 Inside the luxury cabin
A heritage Deluxe Cabin. Image courtesy of Royal Indian Trains.

With lavish interior designs, it's easy to see why the Palace on Wheels is rated as one of the world's top ten luxury train journeys. The 7-night tour departs from the nation's capital and embarks on a princely exploration of Rajasthan before returning to Delhi. Travellers have the opportunity of admiring the forts and palaces connected to former Raj dynasties in such majestic cities as Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur.

Bernina Express, Switzerland

 View of the observation car with a scenic background
Open-Top Observation Car, Montellobello Curve. Image courtesy of Rhaetische Bahn. Photographer Andrea Badrutt.

The Bernina Express gives enthusiasts breathtaking views of the incredible Swiss scenery as it climbs up to 2253-metres on the Bernina Pass. The journey begins in Chur and along the way passes over viaducts, switch-back tunnels, glaciers and an alpine garden before arriving in Tirano in Italy. The vistas are best appreciated from the open-top observation car where all you need to do is sit back and appreciate the uninterrupted view of the countryside.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Europe

 Inside the venice simplon orient express
The Piano Bar on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Image courtesy of Orient Express. Photographer Matt Hind.

Rail enthusiasts can channel the golden age of travel - the 1920s and 1930s - by reserving a cabin on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Today these historic carriages have been lovingly restored to offer a luxury rail experience. Interestingly the Bar Car was constructed in 1931 in France and today features an exquisite art nouveau style. There are several routes to select; a popular trip departs from Venice and travels north through the beautiful Austrian scenery before crossing into Switzerland and heading through France to Paris.

Vistadome, Peru

Patrons admiring the view from the Peru Rail
Vistadome Train. Image courtesy of Orient Express.

Peru Rail's mesmerising Vistadome train lets you admire the incredible Peruvian landscape courtesy of the carriages that are surrounded entirely by glass windows. This is a spectacular way to travel to the famed Inca site of Machu Picchu and departs from Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Urubamba. On the return journey, local dancers keep guests entertained with their display of Andean culture.

British Pullman, Britain

Train staff greeting patrons on the Pullman Orient Express
Gwen, British Pullman. Image courtesy of Orient Express. Photographer Matt Hind.

The British Pullman honours the father of luxury train travel, George Mortimer Pullman. Many of the carriages date to the 1920s; the oldest is Ibis which was constructed in 1925 and was used on the Cunard boat train service between Victoria and Southampton between 1952 and 1968. All the cars have now been restored and offer a spectacular way to explore England. There are various dedicated packages including Historic Canterbury, the Golden Age of Travel by Steam and the Murder Mystery Lunch.


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