For decades the name Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has been the very epitome of all that is luxurious and sophisticated and glamorous in the world of luxury train travel. And yet there has always been one little niggle – the absence of en-suite facilities.
Not for much longer.
Belmond, the company that operates the train, today announced the introduction, from March 2018, of three super spacious Grand Suites, which will include private bathrooms with showers, as well as double beds and a sizeable living area.
The new suites – named Paris, Venice and Istanbul, after the three cities most associated with the train – will be in keeping with the general Art Deco motif of the original Orient Express and will include flourishes such as hand-carved timer, embossed leather, embroided pillows, Venetian-style glass lamps, and chic furnishings redolent of the grand architecture of the French capital.
They will afford passengers more room in which to relax; more choices about where and when to dine; free-flowing champagne at all times and – oh joy of joys – the option to freshen up properly in a bathroom of your own.
"Finally!" said Simon Pielow of the Luxury Train Club, which offers top-end train journeys all over the world. "This is a very welcome development."
The introduction of suites with bathrooms and living rooms will place the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express on a par with most of the trains at the very top of the market worldwise, such as the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian service, the newly-launched Train Suite Shiki-Shima in Japan, and the Al Andalus in Spain.
But what will set it apart will be a design completely in keeping with the 1920s Art Deco principles of the original train.
"There may be some trains, particularly in Japan, that offer more space or something more cutting edge, but I am sure these new suites on the Venice Simplon will be the best in the world. Nothing else offers that kind of refinement and cultural richness – and of course it will be much more practicable for Europeans," said Pielow.
The three new suites will feature on all the train's key routes, including London to Venice and the annual Paris to Istanbul run, and will complement the existing 88 double cabins (upper and lower births) and 11 single cabins modelled in the 1920s originals which only allowed space for a modest washbasin (sometimes itself conducive to intimacy).
The new suites will of course come at a price – $9,295 per person for the one-night London-Venice run as opposed to $3,598 per person in a double cabin.
"Personally I think it will be very good value," said Pielow. "I am really looking forward to it."
The Telegraph, London
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