Something about the romance of a sleeper train has always sparked the imagination. From opulent chandelier carriages, champagne in the restaurant car and cosy private compartments, the idea of a luxurious train can hold more appeal than the destination itself, especially if the journey offers stunning views of scenic countryside. Though Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express may characterise a style of travel long gone, some train-lines are engineering their own brand of new luxury trains: combining classic elegance with state-of-the-art technology.
The Royal Scotsman
This regal sleeper train houses just 35 passengers, taking lucky visitors all over Scotland and parts of the UK. With its mahogany-clad cars and country-house style furnishings, visitors get a taste of classic Britain, whilst chugging through rugged Highlands. Complete with dining car, viewing cabin, bar and even onboard spa, it’s safe to say this journey really is like staying in a palace on wheels! However, with three night stays starting at £5,500 per passenger, it doesn’t come cheap.
Seven Stars Kyushu
For the ultimate adventure in Kyushu, Japan, the Seven Stars sleeper train take passengers all over the island. Softly furnished in traditional Japanese style, everything down to the wash basins is bespoke and beautiful, the train being a monument to Japanese culture in itself. Food is brought onto the train by different chefs each day and each compartment has its own large bathroom. Visitors also spend one night in a local ryokan, allowing passengers the opportunity to discover a traditional Japanese guesthouse experience. A 2-day itinerary aboard the Seven Stars starts at around $2,500.
This beautiful train in India offers tailor made journeys for its passengers, taking in the hugely varied geography of this vast nation. Snaking through opulent palaces and bright cities, as well the open brush (with the possibility to glimpse tigers and lions!) as well as the tranquil Keralan backwaters and sunny beaches, the possibilities are endless in India. Each day, passengers can get out, stretch their legs and soak up some history. A seven-night journey (all inclusive) will set you back £6365 for a single cabin, or £4564 pp for a twin.
Rovos Rail Pride of Africa
Offering journeys that extend between 48 and 15 days, Rovos’s trains are undoubtably the most luxurious way to see Africa. With its dark wood-panelled coaches, top cuisine, South African wine and spacious compartments, guests can enjoy every comfort whilst gazing out at waterfalls, deserts, wild animals and staggering mountain ranges. Prices for a 10 night journey start at £4,925 per person.
Venice Simplon Orient Express
An icon of art deco design, this train aims to rekindle the romance of rail travel between Europe’s most captivating cities. Transporting you back in time, the train epitomises Golden Age glamour. The train's classic journey is overnight from Venice to London, passing beautiful scenery whilst you socialise with other passengers in the Champagne Bar. Four course dinner, three course lunch, afternoon tea and a continental breakfast are all included. As one of the most luxurious trains of this list, it is no surprise that this journey costs a staggering £4,000 a night per person.
Royal Canadian Pacific
Explore the Canadian rocky mountain scenery from the comfort of this five-star luxury train, enjoying all-inclusive comfort. With its various excursions, this train journey combines relaxing sight-seeing with active activities: from golf to fly fishing. As ever, the journey offers exceptional cuisine and open bar service. For a six-day, five-night trip, costs start at around $8,000 per person.
Golden Eagle Danube Express
Taking a journey across the Balkans, passengers aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express can explore some of Europe’s most off-the-beaten-track destinations at a leisurely pace. Taking in cities like Lajosmizse, Kecskemet, Brasov, Belgrade and Sarajevo, passengers eventually disembark in Venice, after an incredible 10-day journey. The tour includes daily breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a personal tailored itinerary. Prices for this 10-day journey start at €13,395 for a twin room, per person.
Another Indian train, this royal luxury train contains four cabins: the deluxe Cabin, Presidential Suite, Suite and Junior Suite. It also has a Lounge Bar and Restaurant, all elegantly designed with dark red furnishings and wooden walls. The restaurants offer traditional Mewar Cuisine, using fresh ingredients and served in clay pots. Word is, the Presidential Suite even comes with its own bathtub! For a seven-day tour in a Deluxe Cabin, prices start at around $6,340 per person.
Eastern and Oriental Express
Our final train is by no means least. Marketed as a ‘fabled journey through the exotic East’ this train combines classic glamour with ancient wonders and cosmopolitan cities. Green and gold carriages marry with cherrywood panelling, laced with Thai silks and Malaysian embroidery. Taking a voyage through Southeast Asia, expect beautiful views of palaces, temples and terraced rice paddies. A four-night journey starts at $7,500 per passenger.