We’re all In the rush to slow down, right? Travelers who want to unplug and unwind on their next vacation might consider taking a break from the jet age and hop aboard a luxury rail line. These journeys in elegant train suites are guaranteed to make you thrill to the tracks — and take you places you’ve never seen.
Europe and Asia
Kings, spies and crooks rode Europe’s 19th century train made famous in Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” Today’s Venice Simplon-Orient Express conjures the lavish vibe of the original and still travels the storied Paris to Istanbul route once a year, with stops in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
For ultra luxury on the 11-day journey, book one of the train’s new Grand Suites, such as the Istanbul, which features carved wooden motifs and a plush living room decorated in orange and yellow tones. (Book early; the 2019 journey is already sold out.) More popular are overnight trips, say from London to the Italian cities of Venice or Verona. The destination really doesn’t matter; this time travel is all about indulging in the impeccably restored rail cars as you roll into European cities. Grand Suite prices on the Paris-Istanbul route start at $48,641 per person.
South Africa’s luxury rail tours are all about the country’s contrasting landscape. An almost 1,000-mile journey from Pretoria chugs past velds on its way to towering Table Mountain and the coast at Cape Town. The three-day journey stops in the diamond-mining town of Kimberley and expansive “karoos,” or semi-desert plains.
Onboard, you’ll be served breakfast, lunch, tea and formal dinner in Victorian-style dining cars. (Dress code is smart casual by day, formal by night.) Book one of the Royal Suites, which take up half a rail car, and enjoy a spacious private lounge and 24/7 room service.
Prices start at $2,900 per person.
Info: Rovos Rail
Travel the historic route that links Canada from East to West on a classy and comfy ride aboard the Rocky Mountaineer paired with nightly stays in top hotels. The journey to the Canadian Rockies travels between coastal Vancouver to Kamloops then on to Lake Louise, past Craigellachie, where the last spike of Canada’s transcontinental was driven, and the rail route’s famed Spiral Tunnels.
Passengers who choose GoldLeaf class get a front-row look at the scenery in a glass dome coach, along with gourmet meals and drinks. It’s a most civilized ride into the wilderness, which you can book for four or more nights. GoldLeaf prices start at $2,359 per person.
Info: Rocky Mountaineer, First Passage to the West, GoldLeaf
No journey comes close to the more than 6,000 miles covered in a Trans-Siberian Express ride from Vladivostok to Moscow on the Golden Eagle’s 15-day tour. Sleep in a luxurious Imperial Suite and then explore places such as Mongolia’s Ulaanbaatar, Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, and Irkutsk, Russia, before arriving in the Russian capital.
The suite, which features royal blue furnishings and wood interiors, comes with in-room dining and private sightseeing trips with a car and driver. Best to travel between May and September, unless you really love the harsh winter. Prices for the suite start at $33,995 per person.