The world’s most iconic rail journey from London to Venice is just as spectacular in reverse, pairing the Art Deco elegance of its restored 1920s carriages with views out to some of Europe’s most breathtaking scenery. You’ll start among the fresco-lined buildings of historic Venice, with included priority entry to Doge’s Palace and a stay in a palatial hotel whose gilded furnishings play host to an exquisite restaurant headed up by a Michelin-starred chef. Then, after stepping onboard the esteemed blue-and-gold carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, you'll traverse Austria’s alpine meadows and snow-capped mountain ranges, enjoying multi-course gourmet dining and the very best in discreet white-gloved service as you head, via Paris, to London.
You’ll start your holiday in relaxing fashion with a chauffeur-driven transfer to the airport before boarding the short flight to Venice and transferring to your hotel for the next two nights, the spectacular canal-side Baglioni Hotel Luna. The likes of St Mark’s Basin, San Girogio island and Venice’s canals are perfectly taken in with private terraces, and you’re moments away from the heritage beauty of St. Mark’s Square and the Bellini cocktails of Harry’s Bar. If you can tear yourself away from the frescoes, chandeliers, baroque murals, gold furnishings and marble bathrooms of your palatial room, perhaps make the most of the award-winning Canova Restaurant, headed up by Michelin-starred Executive chef, Alberto Rossetti. The octopus salad and calamari with green tomato sauce are particularly notable, as is the extensive wine list.
This morning, take the time to relax and enjoy an indulgent breakfast and Italian coffee at the charming canal-side Caffè Baglioni. Then it's time to explore dazzling Venice – we’ve included a private walking tour today with an expert guide who’ll show you the city’s treasures as well as some its unexplored gems. You'll finish with queue-jump entry to the Gothic delights of the Doge’s Palace, where theatrical sculptures and marble décor give way to gold-encrusted frescoes. Then, you've got a free afternoon to discover the rest of the city's offerings, perhaps enjoying a casual lunch in one of the many waterside trattorias before taking a gondola ride among the winding waterways, learning about Murano’s glass-blowing heritage, or simply enjoying a glass of fine Italian wine in a piazza-side cafe.
Today sees you leave the splendours of Venice behind as you embark on an included water taxi transfer to the Venezia Santa Lucia Station where you'll step aboard the iconic blue-and-gold of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. You’ll begin the journey in style as you’re welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine and an exquisite three-course lunch in the restaurant car. It’s outside that truly stuns, however, as you pass through the rural fields of Northern Italy en route to Austria and the spectacular Brenner Pass. You'll then trace the snow-capped peaks and mountain meadows of central Europe's Alpine ranges, crossing the Arlberg Pass en route to Switzerland. As the drama outside unfolds, you'll tuck into a sumptuous selection of pastries served in your oak-panelled cabin, or, the fineries of the train's new Grand Suites, which come complete with double bed and en-suite bathroom. In the evening, freshen up for a four-course dinner in the elegant dining car, where your waiter will serve the likes of Brittany lobster and saltmarsh lamb, all paired with a selection of the world’s finest wines.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
Begin your last day on board with breakfast in your cabin, stopping briefly at Paris’ Gare du Nord before tucking into a delicious brunch as you speed towards Calais and your channel crossing. Finally, in Folkestone, step aboard the restored carriages of the Belmond British Pullman for a delicious afternoon tea and glass of English sparkling wine as you head through the Kent countryside to London’s Victoria Station and your included chauffeur transfer home.
Breakfast & Lunch included
"While the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express's classic southbound route takes you right across the Swiss Alps, the return journey is just as spectacular. You'll begin with a five-star stay in Italy's floating city – expert guide and priority Doge's Palace entry included – before boarding those famous blue-and-gold carriages – for me a real trip highlight. It's then that this journey really comes into its own as you head north towards Austria and the high mountain passes of Brenner and Arlberg, before dropping down through Switzerland and Paris en route to London."
Low Season Twin Cabin from: £2,845 pp
High Season Twin Cabin from: £2,865 pp
Low Season Cabin Suite from: £4,205 pp
High Season Cabin Suite from: £4,390 pp
Departures: The Venice-Simplon-Orient Express departs between 16 Mar and 07 Nov 2019