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What it’s prefer to ride the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


I’m standing in one in all the “most costly hotel rooms” on the planet.

Per square meter, that’s.

That is in accordance with Matthieu Ollier, manager of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, who said the train’s Grand Suites cost 24,000 euros ($25,850) for a one-night trip from Venice to London.

That is $2,000 per meter — in the event you can secure a spot. Bookings within the Grand Suites often start a yr upfront.

Because of a last-minute cancellation, I won the freelance journalist’s equivalent of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket — a call from Belmond, the luxurious company that owns the train.

A train steward on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Source: Chris Dwyer

Could I join? Unsurprisingly, I squeezed it into my schedule.

But at a time when the 31-hour trip for a pair costs greater than low-wage employees in the US make in a yr, could the one night experience possibly be price it?

The train

Ollier explained that by traveling in one in all the Grand Suites, I used to be joining an elite group of former passengers, including John Travolta (who has traveled “again and again”), Angelina Jolie (“Just her and her daughter, no assistants”), Kate Winslet, the Beckhams and, perhaps most fittingly, Wes Anderson.

Train manager Matthieu Ollier on an original folding seat called a strapontin.

Source: Chris Dwyer

Each carriage has a story. I’m in 3309, the train’s oldest sleeper automobile. Inbuilt 1926, it operated along various Orient Express train routes within the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties, including routes connecting Paris to Bucharest and Munich to Istanbul.

Indeed, in February 1929 the carriage was marooned in a snow drift outside of Istanbul for five days, an incident that inspired Agatha Christie’s famous novel “Murder on the Orient Express.”

It has three suites, one in all which Christie herself stayed in — now called the Budapest Suite.

The Budapest Suite

This suite is a murals on wheels, a mobile celebration of Art Deco luxury and craftsmanship. Embroidered silks sit alongside beautiful Lalique glass and Baccarat crystal. The mirrors alone cost 27,000 euros each, a train worker told me.  

The ensuite bathroom within the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ Budapest Suite.

Surprisingly, most guests on the train have a washbasin of their cabins but must share a rest room — albeit an impeccably kept one — however the Budapest Suite has an ensuite bathroom featuring onyx, marble and Murano glass.

Space on the train is at a premium, even within the Budapest Suite, so guests are advised to pack a small bag. Closet room can also be limited, but there’s enough room for a steward to hold the tuxedos and dresses that guests bring on board for dinner.

Grand Suite guests are welcomed with a calming bottle of Veuve Clicquot Saint Petersbourg Champagne — served as and while you like for the whole journey — together with a tin of Steluga Tsar Imperial caviar to spoon over blinis.

Champagne and caviar greet guests staying within the train’s Grand Suites.

Source: Chris Dwyer

The a part of the suite which quickly becomes my favorite is arguably its most modest — the sofa. From it, I enjoyed Europe’s beauty on cinematic display through the massive windows of the carriage — from the snowy Italian Alps and the chalets of Austria’s Brenner Pass to the green pastures of Switzerland and the vineyards of France.

Cocktails and cuisine

One iron-clad guarantee on board the train: You won’t ever go hungry.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ partnership with Chef Jean Imbert from the one-Michelin-starred Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée in Paris has ensured that the cuisine is genuinely stellar, at every service.

From the Champagne breakfast — served in-suite — to the afternoon teas and four-course dinner, it is a journey to ignore calories.

Breakfast within the Budapest Suite.

Source: Chris Dwyer

It’s puzzling how plates of such artistry and finesse are produced in such a tiny kitchen. A fast look shows it’s six meters long and one meter wide — with five chefs inside.

Guests don tuxedos and glamorous evening dresses for dinner, which starts with cocktails within the Bar Automotive. Aa a pianist serenaded us, the sensation was one in all being transported back in time.

Bumps within the road

If you’ve the means, it is a very special strategy to travel.

But there have been a number of bumps within the road. For starters, getting online wasn’t easy. The on-board Wi-Fi service never worked for me, but I used to be able to hook up with other networks at various points along the way in which.

The kitchen on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Source: Chris Dwyer

The Budapest Suite’s bed is big, comfortable and splendid, but obviously train travel involves a variety of movement — and a good little bit of noise. Ear plugs are provided, and you will need them to get a full night of sweet dreams.

The ensuite bathroom is described as “spacious,” but that is a generous definition. But when moaning in regards to the size of a marble bathroom on board an almost century-old train carriage is not the definition of first world problems, I do not know what’s.

Is it price it?

Paying nearly $28,000 for a one-night train trip from Venice to London is nearly beyond belief. You possibly can hire a personal jet for less.

Nevertheless it’s the historic nature of the journey that makes the experience unique. In a fast-paced, always-on world, there’s something to be said for slow, elegant travel.

The bar automobile on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Source: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

It is also price remembering that train travel is more sustainable than most modes of transport, especially private aviation. 

Data shows many travelers aren’t cutting back on travel, despite the worldwide cost-of-living crisis, but this trip is out of reach for just about anyone bar the 0.1%.

In the event you’re lucky enough to have pockets this deep, there are few travel experiences to match it.

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