For many travelling on the Venice Simplon Orient Express is on their bucket list and is a “Once in a Lifetime Special Experience”. For me I thought it would be an outstanding way to travel between two fabulous cities, but I did not expect the journey to be as unusual and as special as it was. I had not prepared myself to “step into another world”, and to enjoy the 24 hours as much as I did.
Your Steward will escort you to your cabin and whilst you settle into your home for the next 24 hours ease yourself into the mood with a glass of Prosecco.
It is a very different atmosphere from the busy, often manic, lives that many of us live. On the Venice Simplon Orient Express you will be forced to unwind and as a result have the time to enjoy beautiful craftsmanship, indulgent service and unexpected companionship.
Many people leave their cabin doors open during the journey in the daytime. Partly it is so as to not miss the scenery on the other side, but it is also a different way of “living”. There is a real companionship on the train and you will see people leaning in to have a chat as they pass by. It would feel positively rude to close your cabin door for the first couple of hours.
The food is quite exceptional. Right from the delicate afternoon tea that is served in your cabin by your Steward, to the exquisite dinners that are freshly prepared and served from the tiny kitchens, to the scrumptious croissants that you can eat whilst still in bed in the morning.
There is a wonderful amiable atmosphere in the 3674 bar carriage. This is where you are encouraged to dress up and you will see the range of 20’s flapper dresses with feather boas, black tie, Scottish Trewsers and sparkly full length dresses as well as the more usual suits and cocktail dresses. The pianist plays all the great classic hits such as “New York New York” on his baby grand piano and occasionally someone will burst into song to accompany. It almost has a jazz club feel.
This carriage is popular pre and post dinner and as people walk down with the train gently rocking you will find yourself “handed along” so that you don’t stumble. The carriage is lined with sofas and padded stools either side and you will quickly find people making space for you and yourself engaged in conversations with them.
Travelling on the Venice Simplon Orient Express does feel like “going back in time” – not only in style of the carriages but in how people act. The atmosphere facilitates connection and conversation. The fact that telephones are frowned upon in the restaurant and bar carriages means people instead engage with each other. I wasn’t able to make the WiFi work in my cabin, and for me this was a joy as it meant I could truly relax into the rhythm of the train.
There is a very special atmosphere that is hard to explain , but it felt very “in the moment” and your focus was totally on what was happening on the train, and what you could see through the window. Past and future issues were parked as you focused on your train community.
The recent “Murder on the Orient Express” movie did not fully show the glory and beauty of the Venice Simplon Orient Express train with it’s inlaid marquetry and Lalique glass, but it did showcase how the train “becomes a world and community” in its own right. In this day and age anything that can trigger that openness and willingness to engage and connect with strangers is to be treasured.
There are many different journeys that can be undertaken on the Venice Simplon Orient Express. I would personally recommend the Venice to Prague, Venice to Budapest or Venice to Vienna route as you have longer on the Orient Express train as the full journey is on the Orient Express train, rather than connecting with British trains (as the train is not allowed to run through the EuroTunnel), and you have 2 wonderful cities to visit and explore either side of the journey.