The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express returned in June 2021, but for New Zealand travellers looking ahead to the potential of quarantine free travel to the UK and Europe in 2022, incorporating this bucket-list experience will still require planning ahead with departures in June and July 2022 already sold out.
From overnight journeys to the longer Istanbul itineraries there is a scope to include this exceptional rail journey. Inspired by the Roaring Twenties, these luxurious rail journeys will transport you to a different era – think art deco decor, white-gloved waiters, sparkling champagne flutes, and breathtaking jazz melodies. Here are 10 things to know about the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
1. One of the most famous European rail journeys
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is said to have transported some of history’s most notable characters in its heyday, including Leo Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Boarding the train is like stepping back in time. It’s a must-do for any history enthusiast. Book lovers will also appreciate the experience, as the train inspired the setting for several famous novels, including Dracula, and of course, Murder on the Orient Express.
2. A unique way to explore Europe
The most common route for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is between London and Venice (from London you start your itinerary onboard another luxury Belmond train). However, you can also travel to other cities, including Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Budapest, and Istanbul (depending on the time of year). It’s an authentic way to travel, explore different cities, meet local people and share their local experiences and stories.
At Fine Travel our clients incorporated this train journey into a comprehensive European itineraries. Flying to London, joining the Venice Simplon Orient Express to Venice and then perhaps boarding a cruise or tour and taking advantage of open jaw airfares.
3. Unique and comfortable accommodation
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has a range of comfortable accommodation options.
Single cabins are ideal for solo travellers, while double/twin cabins are a great choice for couples.
If you’d like a little extra space, a cabin suite could be a good option. Cabin suites consist of two interconnecting double cabins, with the option of converting the second cabin into a lounge.
Alternatively, travel in ultimate luxury in one of the grand suites, featuring a private bathroom (with shower), a double bed, and a living area.
4. Vintage train with modern amenities
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express may be vintage in look and feel, but it’s been updated to include modern amenities such as radiators, power outlets, and showers (showers are in suites only). You’re also welcome to use your mobile devices in your cabin and suite, although not in public (to protect the authenticity of the onboard experience for other travellers).
5. Fantastic food, wine, and entertainment
Passengers rave about the dining experience onboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Expect delicious 3- and 4-course meals served by attentive white-gloved waiters in a sophisticated dining carriage. For breakfast, you can choose between continental or cooked (cooked incurs an extra fee).
Entertainment is also fabulous. Spend your evenings in the champagne bar or the piano bar and lounge, and don’t forget to stop by the boutique store during the day.
6. A formal-yet-fun dress code
In the spirit of onboard ambience, a dress code is enforced. Pack your best clothes and leave your jeans and trainers at home. By day, the dress code is smart casual. By night, men usually wear black tie and ladies wear cocktail or evening dresses. Dressing up adds to the fun of the entire experience, so it’s well worth making an effort.
7. A wonderful opportunity to socialise
Train travel is a rather intimate mode of transport, but that makes for a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow guests who share similar interests, passions and experiences. In the Covid-19 environment, where social distancing has become an ingrained part of our social expectations, the health and safety protocols of the Orient Express become important. We look forward to sharing this detail as the Orient Express returns, but we expect it to be in line with the health and safety protocols of luxury small ship operators like Ponant.
8. Luggage restrictions and guidelines
Due to the intimate nature of travelling by train, it’s best to pack light. Most of the rooms are rather small, so onboard luggage is restricted to one carry-on size suitcase and one garment bag per passenger. You can also check-in one larger piece of luggage to pick up at the other end of the journey.
9. A note on mobility
Being a vintage train, unfortunately, the carriages cannot accommodate wheelchairs. If you have limited mobility, it’s recommended to book a grand suite as these have more space. Your Fine Travel Consultant can help you find the best suite for your needs.
10. Don’t forget your passport and visas
You will still need your passport and relevant visas when travelling on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. You will also need to comply with relevant customs, health and vaccination policies for all the countries you travel through. Not sure about your eligibility? Your Fine Travel Consultant can help determine exactly what you need.
If you are thinking ahead to the UK and Europe in 2022, contact us for details on the available itineraries, pricing and the latest health and safety protocols.