Have you ever heard that in travel it is the JOURNEY, not the destination. Join me on a train journey like no other starting in Venice and ending in London.
Venice never ceases to surprise and delight! As long as you don’t hit it in the height of tourist season, the city is simply stunning to take in! My past five visits to Venice have been in the Spring or the Winter, she just feels more authentic an un-hurried at that time!
This visit I journey with Belmond and start at the famed and chic Cipriani located on Giudeca Island, a five minute launch from St. Marks’ Square. At this Venentian Classic guests enjoy extensive grounds, a lake-sized pool, and fantastic and discreet service all with in a stones throw of the buzzing Grand Canal.
A classic Venetian Welcome with a house-made Bellini to start my stay –
A magnificent first dinner at ORO, at the Cipriani –
A beautiful day visiting Murano for glass blowing and for lace-making – centuries-old trades that have been passed down from generation to generation in the same families.
Of course with a stop for a sea-food lunch…
…and a visit to the only winery in Venice, Orto vineyards –
Stunning and pain-staking lace-making is done at the gorgeous shop of Martina Vidal – shop for table linen, Baptismal dresses or beautiful nightgowns here!
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for, All aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train from Venice to London!
Un bon voyage, indeed!
Our stewards were quick to store our larger luggage and bring our overnight bags to our cabins. They are happy to pour a glass of champagne, serve tea and even breakfast in your cabin. They also handle turn down service and tidying of your cabin throughout the journey. Your steward is your best friend for the next 24 hours!
There are three absolutely magnificent Grand Suites on the VSOE, and if you are willing to do a big splurge for this once-in-a-lifetime journey, this is absolutely the way to go.
I am not sure how I got so lucky but I will share that in addition to having a sumptuous suite, large bed, sofa and dining table, there was ample storage for our overnight garments, and most importantly a lovely bathroom with toilet, sink and even a shower! (hold on tight as the train powers through the countryside, with unexpected stops and turns!)
A welcome fit for a queen, I guess we better have a party…
Tom and Jonas will see to that… Our hosts with the most!
Each train car has its own story, history and beautiful ornate touches.
The standard cabins are tiny but quite comfortable. Guests enjoy of course picturesque views as they lounge on their couch during the day and are served high tea in their cabin. While at dinner, the stewards pull down the beds and transform the compartment into a wonderful sleeping area with fresh linens and turn down amenities. Each cabin has its own sink for freshening up and guests use the well-kept toilets located at the ends of each car. It is a bit of a roving house party as you might encounter other guests sleepily walking the corridors in their beautiful kimono robes.
For couples or travel companions who might enjoy a bit more space and are willing to spend a bit more, I highly suggest booking what is called a “suite” which is essentially two interconnecting cabins. The doors are kept open so that you each have your own couch and can conference and connect across the open door. The benefit also is that you then have more than ample space for changing into your dinner finery, your own vanity, and both guests will be able to enjoy lower berths for sleeping rather than pulling down an upper bunk. This is also an ideal configuration for families traveling with “well-behaved” children.
The chefs are hard at work throughout the journey, with each of the three dining cars having their own tiny but quite capable kitchen and team.
Cheers!! Here’s to the VSOE, what a special experience!
A delicious lunch!
Enjoy your afternoon taking in the stunning views of the Alps, reading a good book, enjoying high tea in your cabin, or taking a cat nap before dinner. Views while riding the train –
Now it’s time to dress to the nines and prepare for a lovely evening ahead! While black tie is optional, suits and long dresses are expected.
Guests gather literally shoulder-to-shoulder in the bar car, exchanging stories and sharing drinks. It is an eclectic crowd and everyone is excited to share this journey like no other.
It is time to head to one of the two dinner seatings – guests can request the early or later seatings for both lunch and dinner and the train tries to insure you enjoy a different dining car for each meal.
The train is still heated by its original boilers –
Early breakfast is served in your cabin…
But, if you continue on after the stop in Paris or if you board in Paris, your next meal is brunch which starts with eggs and salmon and ends with a gorgeous lobster tail!
For those journeying onward to London, there are many moving parts, literally!
On arrival to Calais you board a luxury coach which (after clearing immigration) boards the Eurostar through the Chunnel.
On the other side of the channel tunnel in Folkstone, you await at the train station – with the band playing – for the arrival of the British Pullman.
This lovely and historic train does day trips from London and aboard we enjoyed a lovely high tea and yes, more champagne!
This trip was perfectly planned for us to continue living the Belmond Experience in London at the newly opened, super posh Chelsea neighborhood charmer – The Belmond Cadogan Hotel. I was taken back immediately with the incredible uniforms and warm welcome provided by the team – absolutely brilliant look and warmth to compliment it!
The rooms are very spacious, exceptionally comfortable with all of the modern amenities and technology a new luxury hotel warrants.
Park views –
The atmosphere throughout is warm and inviting, and more of a chic boutique home than a hotel.
The restaurant and bar scene at the hotel is hopping under the care of Chef Adam Handling and the Sloane Street crowd is a good mix of locals and guests. These guests enjoy a table in the kitchen…
London is my happy place! Farewell for now! Can’t wait for my clients to experience the new Belmond Cadogan Place!
Belmond, a journey like no other!