Golden Eagle

Europe
Luxury

No question about it: there is no better way to see Siberia. The Golden Eagle was launched in 2007 to much fanfare in Moscow. The UK operators of this train have made a huge push to up the ante with the Imperial Suite, as well as Gold and Silver Class accommodations, all with en-suite bathroom. The train also has two dining cars and a lounge car. It plies the famous Trans-Siberian route between Moscow and Vladivostok, as well as special tours of the Silk Road, Russia’s Arctic, Iran and the Caspian region.

Two Imperial Suites are available on all Golden Eagle departures. This type of compartment, the most spacious at 120 square feet, has been a huge success for luxury travelers. It offers a fixed king-sized bed, a dedicated dressing table, and lounge area. All passengers will enjoy the upgraded service, presence of a quality control manager and improved food and beverage service throughout the Golden Eagle.

Latest News: Click here for owner Owen Hardy’s blog on improvements in 2012 on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.

 

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE)

Europe
Luxury

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE), with its restored, 1920s vintage cars, is the world’s most authentic luxury train. Made famous in the Agatha Christie story, the train still runs on the legendary route between Paris and Istanbul. Many other itineraries are also available, featuring European gems such as Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Paris.

NEW for 2018: For the first time ever, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is adding fully en-suite cabins. Three Grand Suites will be available on every departure, beginning in March 2018. These will include a private bathroom with shower, washbasin, and toilet, living area with space for private dining, and a sofa which can be converted into an additional small bed. Additional amenities include preferential seating and guaranteed dining time for meals, caviar upon arrival, free-flowing champagne, private transfers to/from train stations, and complimentary designer art deco bathrobes. A complimentary alternative “a la carte” menu will also be available during lunch or dinner for Grand Suite guests.

Rovos Rail Pride of Africa

Africa
Luxury

Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa offers an old-world elegance and luxury to a degree that was never equaled in the 1920s. Many seasoned IRT Society travelers consider it their favorite rail experience. Celebrated not only for its fabulous equipment, the train is rightfully proud of its stellar dining and on-board service. In short, the entire experience is an exciting luxury rail adventure.

Golden Eagle Danube Express

Europe
Luxury

The newly dubbed Golden Eagle Danube Express has a capacity of 56 passengers and comprises five sleeping cars, a lounge car and two dining cars.  Four of the sleeping cars contain Deluxe cabins; one car carries Heritage class cabins. Deluxe cabins are spacious and offer some of the best sleeping accommodations in mainland Europe.

Well-planned itineraries on the Golden Eagle Danube Express take in highlights of Eastern and Western Europe, such as Budapest, Prague and Sarajevo.  The train also ventures to Turkey and Iran on the fasicnating Jewels of Persia Heart of Persia tours.

Tours on the Golden Eagle Danube Express are fully inclusive (food, drinks, gratuties, touring, transfers), making it a truly worry-free adventure.

Belmond Royal Scotsman

Europe
Luxury

The Royal Scotsman is a standout train and one of our favorites in the world.

A small venue—just 40 passengers—it’s great for those who wish for a more intimate, luxury setting with gourmet, five-star dining, wine-pairing and superior service.

All the train’s cars, save the 1928-era diner, are of 1960s vintage equipment, but they have been recast into an Edwardian confection of varnished woods, polished brass and fine fabrics.

Simply put, it is one of our favorite hotel trains.

Latest News: Click here to see our video of Society President Eleanor Hardy’s May, 2012 trip on the Royal Scotsman.

El Transcantábrico

Europe
Luxury

The 52-passenger Clásico El Transcantábrico train, which traverses Northern Spain, started in 1983.  Its launching was one of the first stories in The International Railway Traveler, founded the same year. The train set has six sleepers, each with four double compartments with ensuite facilities.

In May, 2011, a new luxury service, called Gran Lujo, was inaugurated. It features all Preferente Suites, which are each half a train car. These cabins are about 129 square feet. This will make a huge difference to some travelers who require more space and private lounge area.

The Preferente Suites have a double bed, long sofa, flat-screen DVD, computer for your private use (wifi when in stations) and lots of storage in closets, under the bed, and under the sofa. The Gran Lujo train will only take 28 passengers, and thereby be able to offer a much more intimate travel experience for discriminating travelers. However, these cabins can also accommodate three persons.

Belmond Grand Hibernian

Europe
Luxury

The company that brings you the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and the Royal Scotsman has built another of its “Grand Hotels’ on wheels: the Belmond Grand Hibernian.

Debuting August 2016, the Belmond Grand Hibernian will be the first luxury overnight rail experience of its kind in Ireland.

The train “will tour the magnificent open countryside, dramatic coastal scenery and fascinating cities of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland,” Belmond says.

Eastern & Oriental Express

Asia
Luxury

In 1991, the Orient-Express company acquired New Zealand’s famed Silver Star, transported it to Southeast Asia and, following refurbishment, re-christened it the Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O). The train runs 1,262 miles between Singapore, Malaysia and Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Al-Andalus

Europe
Luxury

Southern Spain’s opulent, broad-gauge Al-Andalus returned to the rails May, 2012, with its 1920s-era cars newly renovated. The Al-Andalus includes bar, lounge and two dining cars, as well as all-en suite cabins. The train combines stellar service, exquisite Art Deco styling and excellent cuisine for a unique tour of Andalusia.  Maximum occupancy is 64 passengers. Please see IRT’s review of Al-Andalus in our Track 25 blog from spring, 2012.

Belmond Andean Explorer: Luxury Sleeper Train

South America
Luxury

South America’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, is scheduled to launch May, 2017.

Running along one of the world’s highest rail routes, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa, the new luxury train will explore natural wonders and ancient kingdoms on one- and two-night journeys.

Guests will have the opportunity to explore the vast Colca Canyon, then continue towards the city center of Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The reverse itinerary, from Arequipa to Cusco, also will be possible, Belmond says.

Travelers should be aware that journey involves high altitudes. Bottled oxygen will be available if needed.

Deccan Odyssey

Asia
Luxury

The Deccan Odyssey is one of the subcontinent’s most luxurious trains; its cars, built in 2003, have been upgraded with new carpet and bedspreads recently, according to our ground suppliers. These improvements, which we recommended last year, bring this train up to “luxury” status, because its staff, service, amenities and food were already superb.

Kyushu Seven Stars

Asia
Luxury

Since its inception in 2013, the Kyushu Seven Stars, Japan’s very first luxury train, has been selling space based on a lottery system to account for the overwhelming demand for this exclusive and utterly unique rail travel experience.

This “Cruise Train” is a beautifully designed fusion of Japanese and Western elements, painstakingly thought-out with an eye to detail. Intricate woodwork and sumptuous textiles abound in the lounge and dining cars as well as in the fourteen all en-suite cabins.

On the Seven Stars, passengers can enjoy the beautiful Kyushu scenery as it flows by their windows. The courses on the Seven Stars are highlights of the best that Kyushu has to offer. The train does not just push through the journey. At certain points passengers will alight from the train to participate in excursions, making this train a new kind of travel experience.

Latest News: Click here for owner Owen Hardy’s blog about his Japanese adventure on the Kyushu Seven Stars. Spoiler alert: He loved it!

Maharajas’ Express

Asia
Luxury

The Maharajas’ Express was custom-built to be the most luxurious train in India––and perhaps the world––offering state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. All cabins have large windows, LCD televisions, wi-fi access, individual temperature controls and full en-suite bathrooms. There is one Presidential Suite which comprises a full train car—the largest suite available on any train in the world. The two elegantly decorated dining cars serve a choice of multi-course Indian and continental cuisine. Two lounge cars provide cool drinks and comfortable seating. The train is 22 cars long, taking a maximum of 84 passengers.

Bernina Express

Europe
Luxury

The spectacular Bernina line was completed in 1910 and is run by Rhaetian Railways. Beginning in Chur, St. Moritz or Davos, it passes the glaciers of Piz Bernina, making this the highest railway crossing in all of the Alps. It travels over 38 miles, climbing grades of up to 7%––without rack and pinion––to more than 7,391 feet at the Bernina Pass summit, and drops down to just 1,408 feet at Tirano, Italy.

Belmond Hiram Bingham

South America
Luxury

The gleaming blue-and-gold cars of the Hiram Bingham makes the 3.5-hour trip between Cusco and Machu Picchu every day but Sunday. The train has two 42-seat dining cars serving excellent Peruvian specialties for brunch on the journey to Machu Picchu, and for dinner on the evening return to Cusco. The train also has a gorgeous bar/observation car.

The Blue Train

Africa
Luxury

The Blue Train is one of the world’s great luxury trains, and runs eight times a month between Pretoria and Cape Town. The current schedule is southbound on Mondays and the northbound on Wednesdays. The route is a 27-hour journey of 994 miles and includes a sightseeing stop in each direction. The Blue Train is operated by the state-run Spoornet.

Belmond British Pullman

Europe
Luxury

The British Pullman is a luxury, vintage day train that completes the British leg of Orient-Express journeys between Paris and London. Passengers from the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express debark in Calais, France, and board a special bus for the short “piggyback” train ride through the Eurotunnel to Folkestone. There, they board the British Pullman for the ride to London’s Victoria station. What’s not to love about this experience? Fabulous food, lovely scenery and riding on such a gorgeous and historic train.

 

The Sweet Train

Asia
Luxury

Japan’s diminutive Sweet Train — it comprises just 2 cars — proves that good things come in small packages.

Conceived by the fertile minds of railway company JR Kyushu, the Sweet Train is aptly named: it’s a four-course feast on wheels. Any trip to Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, should definitely include it.

The two-hour trip gives ample time for diners to enjoy an exquisite light lunch, followed by four “sweets” courses.

A dedicated, smiling staff fusses over passengers, who enjoy Kyushu’s natural beauty and the train’s gorgeous, naturalistic interior.

And while you’re traveling, be sure to ask about the Sweet Train’s “American Connection.”

(Can’t wait? Read about it here.)

Royal Canadian Pacific

North America
Luxury

The most luxurious train in North America is now offered exclusively as a whole-train charter. Up to 30 persons can pretend to be royalty and come aboard to sample this train’s five-star dining, open-platform observation areas, several small salons, and large compartments with private, ensuite shower, toilet and sink. The train and its superb staff combine outstanding scenery, exclusive visits and elegant musical events with the top-notch service and cuisine. It all results in one word: “Wow!” The total RCP package is matched by just a few trains in the world.  It’s tops in the Western Hemisphere.

Many of the cars for the Royal Canadian Pacific (RCP) train were built between 1917 and 1931 and were used as business cars for the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR).