At home in high-class express
Traveling via train is certainly convenient as it helps you dodge being stuck in traffic. For the daily commuter, however, regular train rides, especially during rush hour in the metro, can be a nerve-wracking ordeal, too.
A totally different experience, however, awaits during long-distance train travel. It may be an Old World form of traveling, and it may take you longer to get to your destination. But it will also allow you to delight in views not often enjoyed, and luxuriate in some free time. The thrill is in the journey, more than the final stop.
Some sleeper trains give a whole new meaning to “slow traveling” though with swanky details to posh amenities we can only dream of. Here are some of the fanciest and grandest trains around the world.
Belmond Royal Scotsman
Traveling around the Scottish Highlands is the Belmond Royal Scotsman, considered among the world’s most luxurious trains. Passengers are given the royal treatment—from being presented champagne as welcome drinks while seated on plush lounge chairs to enjoying world-class cuisine come dinner, and a bar that offers some 30 types of whiskey.
What sets the Belmond Royal Scotsman apart, however, is that it has its own spa carriage. It has two treatment rooms, each featuring sustainable local wood. The first of its kind in the UK, the Bamford Haybarn Spa car provides guests with ultimate relaxation as they travel through the scenic Scottish countryside. One can choose from de-stress and deep tissue massages, rejuvenating facials and even get a mani-pedi.
Seven Stars in Kyushu
Conde Nast Traveler ranks the Seven Stars in Kyushu as the most spacious and comfortable among cruise trains. Japan’s first luxury sleeper train comprises seven elegantly designed carriages featuring the traditional craftsmanship of Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island.
Two cars serve as the lounge and dining area. “Blue Moon,” the lounge car, turns into a bar at night where passengers are treated to a live piano performance while enjoying the glittering night sky through the carriage’s panoramic windows. “Jupiter,” the dining car, offers an unforgettable dining experience thanks to Kyushu’s master chefs.Four carriages are outfitted with three cabin suites each while the last features two deluxe suites. Each room has its own shower and toilet. The room at the train’s rear boasts of a wall-to-wall observation window.
Traversing South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, the Pride of Africa by Rovos Rail has carriages for accommodations, dining, lounge, a small gift shop, smoking lounge and observation car with open-air balcony. Three types of suites are available for passengers: the Royal (16 sqm), Deluxe (10 sqm) and Pullman (7 sqm). All have an en suite shower and toilet, tea facilities, storage for clothes and other belongings. The Royal suites even have their own private lounge area and come with a full-sized Victorian bath that features a free-standing clawfoot bathtub.
Stepping into the Eastern and Oriental Express is like riding a time machine into the 1920s—or at least that’s what we imagine. The “E&O” takes its guests through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok surrounded with ritzy yet classical furnishings and ornate marquetry.
From the polished and rich-looking cherrywood to the opulent Thai silks, passengers are made to travel in style aboard the E&O. There’s an open Observation Car at the back of the train which feels like a colonial home’s veranda. Its most charming and unique feature is the Bar Car which easily reminds one of a “Roaring 20s” jazz club.
North American luxury train company Rocky Mountaineer sees to it that no view is left unappreciated as it weaves through Vancouver, British Columbia, and Banff or Jasper, Alberta. Aside from large picture windows, its coaches also feature glass-dome ceilings and an outdoor viewing area and platform.
Passengers can choose between Silver Leaf, a custom-designed single-level coach with oversized glass-dome windows, and Gold Leaf, a bi-level car with full glass-dome windows with seating on the second level and a dining room below.
Sources:Conde Nast Traveler, Cntraveler.com; Belmond.com; Cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp; Rovos.com; Luxurytraintickets.com; Rockymountaineer.com
The business headlines in under one minute
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.