This journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient Express brings from from the architectural fineries of Budapest all the way to London, enjoying white-gloved service, Michelin-standard dining and sweeping alpine views along the way. Beginning in the Hungarian capital, you'll admire the city’s glorious setting astride the Danube river and discover the distinct identities of it two sides – Buda and Pest – uncovering the royal palaces, Ottoman-era spas and wooded hills of one and the museums, Art Nouveau buildings and Jewish quarter of the other. However, this luxury city stay is just the prelude to the main event, as you board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for one of the world's great journeys by train. And, as you’re transported across the Alps, you'll recall travel's golden age with bar-car cocktails and the Art Deco glamour of your private, butler-served cabin.
Having flown to Budapest, you'll begin your cultural odyssey at your luxury hotel, where fine-dining restaurants and an excellent spa are the perfect introduction to the city's bath-house indulgences and famed gastronomy. Spend the next day immersed in Budapest’s Baroque, neo-classical and Art Nouveau architecture as a top guide takes you on a walk through the city. Take in the 19th-century opulence of the Vajdahunyad Castle, discover the city’s hot-spring baths and explore the smart squares surrounded by townhouses. Then, slip into one of the city’s thriving cafés, born from bohemian roots, to tuck into coffee and strudel.
Restored, you'll cross the Danube on the famed Chain Bridge to contrast Pest’s sights with the citadels, cobblestone streets and royal palaces of Buda. At the end of the day, the hotel bar is prefect for a post-prandial drop of something while we suggest you take a table at the Bock Bistro to sample Hungarian ‘tapas’ and dip into the superb wine list. There’s music and cabaret in the next door Orfeum Club, which evokes the glamour and excitement of the famous orfeums of the 19th century when acrobats, singers, dancers and poets performed to a tightly-packed audience.
Stay: Prestige Hotel Budapest
Wake to a leisurely breakfast at the hotel then spend the morning allowing the anticipation to build as the departure time for your great rail journey on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express gets closer. Eventually, when the thrill is almost palpable, we’ll whisk you to the station where you’ll get your first glimpse of the classic blue and gold carriages. Then, ensconced in your private cabin, you'll unpack your tuxedo or evening gown, order some champagne from your carriage's steward and relax as the spectacular landscapes of central Europe race past.
Later, dressed for dinner, you'll have the chance to mingle with other guests while sipping cocktails to a soundtrack of period pieces performed on a baby grand piano. When the time arrives, settle into your seat in one of the atmospheric dining cars and let waiters with impeccable service lead you through a sumptuous four-course dinner. After eating you may want to linger longer in the bar with a brandy. Finally, satiated, return to your cabin, which has artfully been converted into a cosy sleeping compartment and retire for the night.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
A gentle knock on the door by your personal cabin steward signals the arrival of your continental breakfast, served in the privacy of your cabin. Keep an eye out of the window as you travel towards Paris and admire the iconic sights of the French capital. There’s just time to take brunch before you arrive at the coast of northern France.
Disembark from your Art Deco bubble to board the Eurostar and cross under the Channel to England. Here, you will be escorted to the beautifully restored Belmond British Pullman for the last leg of the journey to London. As you cross the pretty Kent countryside in period style and unrestrained luxury, take traditional English afternoon tea, accompanied by a glass of English sparkling wine, before pulling into journeys end at London Victoria.
Breakfast & Lunch included
"Unconventionally, the journey home is the highlight of this trip. Begin by experiencing the opulence of Hungary’s capital, a city split in two by its famous chain bridge. I’ve allocated 2 days for this part of the journey so that you get time to see both ‘buda’ and ‘pest’ in their individual glory. Then, journey back to London aboard the VSOE where luxury is intrinsically tied to the train’s heritage – and don’t forget that you’ll need your best dress for this one!"
Year Round from: £3,330 pp
Valid for travel: The Venice Simplon-Orient Express departs from Budapest on on 09 May / 03 Oct / 31 Oct 2020