Lunch on the Orient Express

Have you ever wondered what it is like on the Orient Express? Why people make a fuss about it? or have you considered booking but wanted to know a bit more detail before committing? I tried looking for detailed information before I booked for a lunch experience, and couldn't find what I needed. Hopefully if you are in the same position this might be of use to you (niche market I know, but someone has to put it out there!)
This is definitely one that should be added to the bucket list..........

The Venice Simplon Orient Express is the iconic long distance passenger train service that transported people across the European and Asian continents before air travel was as popular as it is now. It's a name synonymous with luxury and art deco styling....and my favourite fictional detective Hercule Poirot Nowadays it falls within the umbrella of the Belmond collection of trains and hotels; you can still travel on the Venice line on the train that bears the namesake. Other journeys have their own carriages; the British Pullman is the one that I have travelled on for lunch and whose journeys are based around London. It is also the first leg of the Orient Express journeys towards Europe, as travellers make their way to the British Channel.

The Golden Age of Travel is the name of the journey departing from London Victoria, travelling through the Kent countryside and where you enjoy:
  • a welcome glass of champagne
  • a delicious 5 course lunch
  • half a bottle of wine per person
  • coffee, tea and petit fours
  • (and on the journeys we have travelled, an oyster and champagne stop in Whitstable too)
Prices vary depending on departure date, but you can expect something in the region of £300 per person.

How to book

You need to prebook tickets (details here), and in due course you will receive these in the form of a booklet in the post. On your travel day you will depart from London Victoria, heading to the furthest platform, which has its own Belmond departure lounge. Here you check in and enjoy one of the teas or coffees provided before it is time to board.

What to wear

Although there isn't a strict dress code per se, it is meant to be a luxurious affair and people embrace the opportunity to dress in their finery. Trainers are not really the done thing. You will see plenty of men in suits and women in dresses (and even fascinators). Not everybody is dressed for the races but it is certainly more formal than smart-casual.

What to expect

Not your ordinary train ride! This journey takes about 5 hours. At the end of it everyone I know who has travelled feels exceptionally well fed, and possibly slightly merry. There is a refined atmosphere in the carriages, and the staff are incredibly friendly. The whole point is to give you an unforgettable experience.I personally love the soft glow from the table lamps and small touches that come throughout the day.

The glasses and tableware of beautiful in their own right...before the food comes down! You sit in comfortable armchairs, usually in pairs either side of the aisle, with generous spacing in between so you can enjoy private conversations...but also have a chat with those near you as you revel in the experience. There are a few three and four person berths available, but these would really need to booked well in advance because they are rarer.

The food

On arrival, there are amuse bouches along with your welcome champagne. Each of the following five courses is generous in quantity and of the highest quality. Menus are seasonal and change frequently. On our Autumn journey we started with a smoked haddock fishcake, followed by slow roasted ox cheeks in a delicious jus, and the most incredible salted caramel pave. 

When it comes to the cheese board, you have a large selection to choose from for your plate, and they are always generous with their portions (as with everything to be honest).

I would definitely recommend this as something to try at least once. There are a variety of journey and dining options that you can book. So far I have only tried the lunch option, but would go again in a heartbeat if I was invited. It is a more expensive option, but being a one of a kind experience, kind of makes it worth it. You would be hard pushed not to have a wonderful time.


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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