We travelled from Venezia to Prague on this iconic, opulent king of trains. The ambiance was... read more
We travelled from Venezia to Prague on this iconic, opulent king of trains. The ambiance was... read more
Did this journey recently (30/9/18) to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary & my retirement from... read more
We have just returned from the trip and can’t say enough - opulent, atmospheric and a gastronomical treat. Our carriage was attended by Lino and he was so friendly and attentive. Indeed, we found all of the staff so professional!
The bar was a wonderful way to start the evening for our late (9.30) sitting and with the pianist playing Scott Joplin classics, the mood was certainly Art Deco!
We would love to do it again - expensive, but you only live once!
Dear David M.,
Thank-you for your review and your praise about Lino which I will share with him, as I know he will be very pleased. Like any member of the team, Lino is an extremely talented gentleman, who prides himself on his standard of service and always goes the extra mile for the care of his guests. We are all very proud to have created such fond memories during your journey and we look forward to welcoming you back soon.
We travelled from London to Venice last week and it was absolutely fabulous from start to finish. We started the day with Bellinis and brunch. This consisted of pastries, muffins and blueberry granola followed by smoked salmon,crumpet ,scrambled eggs and caviar. Delicious.
We arrived in Folkstone all too soon and were greeted by a band before boarding a luxury bus to go through the channel tunnel. We were served more sparkling wine for the short trip and when we arrived in Calais, the Venice Simplon Orient Express was waiting for us. What a joy to behold ! All the staff were waiting to greet us and our steward, Giorgio, brought us to our compartment, where our luggage was already waiting for us. Giorgio was wonderful and attended to all our needs.
We chose the early sitting for dinner, 6.45 , so dressed up in all our finery. As they say, you cannot overdress on the VSOE ! Dinner was superb, and we had champagne with it. Afterwards we retired to the piano bar for more cocktails and to soak up the ambiance of this very special train.
When it was time for bed, we found our compartment transformed into two bunk beds for sleeping with kimonos and chocolate on the bed. We had no trouble sleeping, despite the rocking motion of the train.
Breakfast the next day was taken looking out the window at Switzerland. As you travel along , you can appreciate the change in scenery, from France to Switzerland to Italy. It was lovely to see snow in Switzerland and then sunshine in Italy.
I don't know how we managed but we ate lunch and had afternoon tea before we arrived in Venice. It was all top class and I must compliment the chef on the Mojito Cheesecake, It was to die for.
We arrived in Venice at about 7pm in the evening and as part of the service were taken by private water taxi to our hotel.
This was an unforgettable experience ! If you have something special to celebrate , do it on the VSOE . You will not regret it. The only downside is how to save up the money to do it again ! I won't say adieu, however, but au revoir !
Thank-you for celebrating on board the VSOE. All the team and myself are very proud to read your very kind words, we are so pleased you had such a fabulous experience. As your perfectly described, the VSOE is a time warp taking you back to the Golden era of Train Travel and we are all looking forward to welcoming you back on another journey…
Absolutely a must! Service perfect, food stunning, ambiance and history awesome. A tad expensive on drinks be aware.
So pleased to read that you had such a great journey! Thank-you again for traveling with us.
We traveled from Venice to Prague and again from Prague to Paris on this magnificent train.. The food and service was first class, and the attention to detail wonderful.A highlight is drinks in the bar.,. If you ever wanted to escape into another era of class, manners and elegance look no further..Its worth every cent and is truly one of the great travel experiences in the world.
Thank-you for traveling to Prague & Paris with the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The team and I are very pleased to read that you had such a great time on-board. Indeed 3674, our bar car is the hub of the train, where our resident pianist and the baby grand piano are waiting for your fellow travellers…
Thank-you again for posting a review and we look forward to welcoming you back on another Belmond Train adventure.
I'd wanted to do this since forever, who hasn't? So this year was the year.
Check in at Victoria in London, very smooth. Hand over suitcase, overnight bag and frock in carrier. Staff all very kind and smiley. You get a note on your travel journal of which carriage on the Pullman you have (I get Celestine) which coach for Le Shuttle and which carriage on the OE proper. I'm travelling on my own and a bit apprehensive in case I have to share a table with someone else, but that doesn't happen throughout the whole trip. So, we all get on and the adrenaline rush . . . nothing is ever going to equal that feeling, for me. Shown to table in the carriage, it's like an Edwardian gentlemen's club. Would I like a Bellini? Of course. Then breakfast fruit with yogurt, followed by smoked salmon, caviare and scrambled egg. Coffee. Another Bellini. Before you realise it you're in Folkestone. We are decanted into coaches (you're given a coach number) to get on Le Shuttle. Glass of fizzy wine and some crisps. Now, I have to say, this bit is not much fun. The coaches are comfortable but not particularly roomy and Le Shuttle is basically a huge car transporter. There was a lot of hanging around waiting to get on too. A separate waiting area with a touch more luxury would be nice. Anyway, off Le Shuttle and before you know it, we're there! The Orient Express is in front of us, all the staff out front to meet us. We get on (very steep old fashioned continental train steps) and are waved into your cabin. And wow. Just WOW. Like another world (at least to me, I am Not Posh) 1920s decor and a whole case full of free toiletries and free stationery and a guide to the OE. Fringed lampshade and marquetry . . . I'm feeling wistful about it all just writing this. Overnight bag is waiting for me. Lovely scented soap (which I took home with me and still have, 2.5 months later) and free facecloths by the sink. (People who fuss about no shower or bath, the sink is large and spacious and there is copious hot water. You strip wash. Millions of people still manage like this every day. It is not a hardship.)
So, train sets off (about 4pm by now) visit from steward to introduce himself, visit from restaurant car chappy giving you a booking card with your car on and the time. I'm on the second sitting, which suits me fine. Time to get into the long frock (I've never had one of these before), put it on, put makeup on, put all my jewellery on (I never travel with jewellery but needs must for something like this) make my way down to the dining car.
I swear, it's like another world. Sit down. Wine list, choose a wine. Menu, lobster to start, then beef fillet. Everything's delicious, table to myself, wave at a couple of people I chatted to on the coach. Then the cheese waiter comes round with a tray of cheese for you to pick from. Oh, my. Pudding is a poached pear with a chocolate filo pastry. Coffee. By this time (and the half bottle of wine has helped) I'm ready for the bar. Not as crowded as I'd expected. Sit down and order a Margarita. Perfect Margarita. Canelés with it. Pianist tinkling away. I make my way back to my cabin feeling definitely woozy.
Sunday morning, bit of a wait for breakfast (my steward was lovely but I never saw him looking other than harassed, I think some of my fellow travellers were probably a bit more demanding than me) but it was worth waiting for: pastries, bread, jam, fruit, lovely coffee. I'm feeling a bit fragile this morning, hardly surprising given the amount I ate and drank yesterday. Watching Switzerland go by. Dining room manager comes by and I ask to go in Cote d'Azur so that I can admire the Lalique glass. This is granted. Walk down there for the second sitting. Scallops, then chicken with girolles, followed by the most wonderful orange cheesecake. I decline wine (on the wagon today and I bet I'm not the only one) and have fizzy water (which is free) instead.
By the time afternoon tea arrives, I cannot eat the cakes with it, but the tea is very very welcome indeed. I would suggest sandwiches rather than cakes to be honest, I'd had enough of sweet things (did I mention the whole bar of Michel Cluizel chocolate on the pillow the night before?). We pass through Verona, an hour to go. Then we're crossing the lagoon. Arrive in Venice and the stewards detrain our luggage, we are given a boat number for our water taxis, and we walk down the platform to collect our cases.
It was fab. I could pick holes, but really, it was fab. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I came into money.
Thank-you for traveling on-board the VSOE and for posting a very detailed description of your journey. The team and I are all very proud to read that you experienced so many special memories with us on-board. As you pointed out, traveling on-board the VSOE is going back in time and experiencing the golden era of luxury train traveling.
I have noted your suggestions regarding the channel crossing experience and the afternoon tea alternatives. We hope to welcome you back on-board one of the Belmond Train journeys and wish you a very Happy Holiday Season.
Travelled from London Victoria on the British Pullman and then transferred in Calais to the Orient Express to Venice
The British Pullman was luxurious , the brunch was excellent ,the service fantastic and the ambience was wonderful .
On arrival on a coach to the station in Calais the first disappointment . The station (!) was in a wild siding with weeds everywhere and barren wasteland . The windows on the train were dirty . The cabin was smelly and tiny ( expected ) .
There was 17 carriages on this train . There was 3 or 4 dining carriages I think and one bar carriage with a piano in .
The food was mediocre which is understandable with the chefs having tiny kitchens . The train was pulled by Diesel engines and very unstable on the tracks especially during the night and noisy . There are no showers obviously due to space being limited and you are provided with a scrunched up old cotton robe to go to the toilet at the end of each carriage which was very stained and obviously old .It was almost impossible after dinner to sit in the bar car as there was all the second sitting guests in there already . The main bugbear on this train is the price of the drinks . Half a bottle of very average cheap red wine is 35 dollars and champagne was 175 dollars a bottle . The afternoon tea was just tea or coffee and a sickly cake . For a price per head of £2200 would expect the drinks to be included at least . How some of the older guests managed to climb into the top bunk amazes me although I appreciate they would have known this before booking . The staff are excellent and very helpful . If a luxury train trip is something you have on a like to do list I suggest you take the British Pullman day trip to Kent as this was by far the most enjoyable part of the trip.
The scenery through Switzerland was wonderful , Italy just lots of railway stations and sidings . Passengers were unable to get off and wander understandably when the engine was being changed in the different countries and after 7 hours on the second day couldn’t wait to get off .
I understand that some people will say it is an old train refurbished to high standards but in my opinion it’s still a rip off .There is very little to do apart from wait to be called for meals in the cabin with the door open or wander down the carriages .
Dear Anne S,
Thank-you for traveling with us. I am very pIeased to read that you enjoyed the Belmond British Pullman part of the journey but disappointed to read your comments regarding the continental train.
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is composed of original carriages dating back to 1926 & 1929. All the details on-board have been meticulously restored to preserve that 1920's ambiance and what was the essence of luxury train traveling at the time, making each carriage unique.
As you rightly pointed out, the VSOE must change engine at each border point for national engine of the country being crossed, however I would like to mention that the haulage of the entire journey is nearly exclusively with electric engines (diesel are very rare these days). I apologized if you felt that the direct access from the coach to the platform in Calais was not what you expected. It is the main platform of Calais Train station, access was granted to our guests so they do not need to use the long staircase from the other entry and can disembark the coaches straight in front of the train, as it was when they got off the ferry at the turn of the century. The municipality looks after this access and makes a point of having flowers and trees to enhance the arrival of our guests.
Regarding the wine & champagne price list, our price range start at 35 euros for 1/2 a bottle of wine and 115 euros for a full bottle of champagne. We benchmark every year our price list with other 5* properties, however I can appreciate that the currency exchange vs. the euro may have an impact for some of our guests.
I am truly sorry that you did not enjoy the experience on the continental train.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.