BusinessWeek did a great review on the Most Luxurious Trains in the World: Luxury Rides the Rails
Whether you’re looking for Old World European splendor, exotic Asian landscapes, or breathtaking views of the Rockies, the Andes, or Australia’s Outback, you can get there in style aboard a luxury train. On board you’ll find elegant furnishings, fine dining, and attentive staff—at sumptuous prices.
Palace on Wheels offers a weeklong tour of the mystical Rajasthan province in northwestern India. Departing Delhi in the evening, the train travels to the pink city of Jaipur, crosses the Thar desert, and stops at several lakes and wildlife sanctuaries before reaching the Taj Mahal in Agra and then returning to Delhi. Music and dance performances are offered onboard, and there are two restaurants serving both Indian and Continental cuisine. Costs range from $4,255 per person in low season, to as much as $12,670 in high season.
Fancy a glass of sherry in a club car with a library and a big-screen TV, or a soak in a tub in a marble-and-gold bathroom? All that, and more, awaits passengers aboard this storied South African train on its 27-hour, nearly 1,000-mile journey between Cape Town and Pretoria. The trip includes stops at the diamond-mining town of Kimberley and the preserved colonial outpost of Matjiesfontein. Rates range from $1,202 a person for a shared luxury suite in low season, to $2,420 for a private deluxe suite in high season, from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15.
A gourmet’s delight, this train makes a leisurely eight-day journey along Spain’s picturesque northern coast—with much of the trip devoted to dining. Passengers eat at carefully selected restaurants along the way, sampling regional specialties paired with local wines. After dinner, an onboard bar provides live entertainment until the wee hours, in a typically festive Spanish atmosphere. Prices start at $3,546 per person.
The grande dam of luxury trains, relaunched in 1982 after shutting down in the 1970s, offers service from London and Paris to Italy, and onward through Eastern Europe to Istanbul. Passengers stay in richly furnished compartments with 24-hour steward service and can choose from three restaurant cars. Don’t forget to have drinks in the bar car, which has a baby grand piano. Fares for an overnight London-to-Venice trip, including meals, start at $2,350 per person; Paris to Istanbul is $6,930.
This private train, made up of refurbished cars once used by Hungarian government dignitaries, stops for sightseeing in such capitals as Budapest, Prague, and Vienna, as well as spa towns and Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. Service was suspended this year because of the economic crisis, but 2010 bookings will open soon. Fares, including meals, start at about $1,518 per person for a three-day trip and can reach nearly $13,000 for 11 days, including return airfare to the city of departure.
Operated by the same group that runs the Orient Express, the Pullman and its sister Northern Belle offer day and weekend trips around England and Scotland. The Pullman’s restored Art Deco cars feature crystal chandeliers, mosaic tiles, and walnut paneling. The dining car offers gourmet lunches and dinners, as well as traditional afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream. Day trips cost as little as $270 per person, while a special package trip from Birmingham or Manchester to the Wimbledon tennis tournament runs $1,272—center-court seats included.
Launched in April, this overnight train between Moscow and St. Petersburg includes modern conveniences, such as satellite TV and wireless Internet in each compartment, as well as furnishings that recall the opulence of czarist Russia. The train departs each city on alternating days at 11:30 p.m., arriving at 7:00 the next morning. The fare for a VIP-class compartment, sleeping two, is around $600. Slippers, robe, and breakfast are included.
Founded in 1989, Rovos Rail offers a variety of itineraries around South Africa and neighboring countries, aboard two restored classic trains. A two-day trip between Pretoria and the port city of Durban, starting at $1,311 per person, includes visits to wildlife reserves. Longer journeys include a seven-day trip from Pretoria through the Kalahari Desert to Namibia, starting at $3,090 per person. There’s even a trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, though cancellation insurance is “strongly advised” because of turmoil in that country.
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