In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to think that every journey has to be about getting from A to B as quickly as possible. But there is another way – a glorious, glamorous, stress-free way. Travel on board one of the growing number of luxury long-distance trains and you get to sit back in style, savour the journey and actually see so much more of the world. All aboard!

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The route: London to Venice (or Verona)

When you board the world-renowned Venice Simplon-Orient-Express you enter a gorgeous Art Deco world of burnished wood panelling and curvy Lalique lamps, monogrammed robes and white damask sheets. For all its undisputed glamour, though, the train has always lacked one thing that 21st-century travellers generally consider a basic rather than a luxury: en-suite bathrooms. Not that it’s a problem for most passengers – they’re too happy being on the world’s most famous train to care. But for those who want to do the journey in truly extravagant style, there are now three beautiful Grand Suites, with their own private bathrooms, plush lounge areas and free-flowing champagne.

Belmond Andean Explorer

South Americas first luxury sleeper train Belmond Andean Explorer
Matt Crossick

The route: Cusco to Puno to Arequipa

Peru’s first luxury sleeper train takes passengers on a memorable journey between Arequipa and ancient Incan capital, Cusco, taking in Lake Titicaca along the way. As befits one of the newer additions to the luxury train world, the interiors are contemporary in style, with neutral colours and natural finishes (linen-covered walls, soft Alpaca wools and warm leathers), and the on-board pamper factor is high. In the restaurant, the menus come courtesy of star Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz, while in the spa carriage, Picaflor (meaning hummingbird), coca leaves, chocolate, pearls and gold are among the ingredients you’ll find in the lavish facials and other treatments.

Train Suite Shiki-Shima

Train Suite Shiki-Shima

The route: Multiple from Ueno station, Tokyo

With just 17 suites, Shiki-Shima is about as exclusive as luxury trains come. Indeed, you don’t just buy a ticket for one of its one, two or three-night journeys from Tokyo – you apply for one a year in advance and keep fingers crossed you’ll be in luck. If you are, you’ll discover it’s a little different to the luxury train norm: instead of vintage carriages it has a futuristic, champagne-coloured exterior while inside it’s a showcase for Japanese design and craftsmanship, with fine food and wine and stylishly minimal decor. Not too minimal, mind – the two top suites both come with a deep, cypress-wood bathtub to relax in.

The Blue Train

The Blue Train

The route: Pretoria to Cape Town

Hearing that your train journey will take longer than expected would normally elicit weary groans – but when we’re talking one of the world’s luxury trains, it’s cause for celebration. In 2019 South Africa’s famous Blue Train will take things more slowly as it winds its way between Cape Town and Pretoria, so passengers now get to spend two nights on board rather than just one. That means extra time to enjoy your swish wood-panelled compartment, with its marble bathroom, underfloor heating and TV; more chances to sample the fine food and wine in the dining car; and less of a rush on the off-train excursion to the diamond mine of Kimberley.

The Canadian

The Canadian

Route: Toronto to Vancouver

Canada’s most famous train is probably the Rocky Mountaineer but it has one major flaw for most fans of epic rail rides: no sleeping compartments. That’s where The Canadian, flagship train of VIA Rail Canada, has the edge. Not only does it cover far more ground than its compatriot, running almost the entire width of the country on its 2,775-mile, four-night journey between Toronto and Vancouver – it also has sleeper cars. Most luxurious of the options is Prestige Class, where the compartments come with minibars, en-suite shower rooms and modular leather couches that transform at night into double beds topped with snow-white linens.

The Ghan

The Ghan

Route: Darwin to Adelaide (via Katherine and Alice Springs)

It’s 90 years now since the Ghan first steamed out of Adelaide, carrying livestock and supplies to Alice Springs. These days the line runs all the way to Darwin, with stop-offs en route for assorted outback adventures. Naturally, conditions on board are altogether more luxurious than they were back then, particularly if you opt for Platinum Service, with its extra-large compartments, picture windows framing the views on both sides of the train, and admission to the on-board Platinum Club. If a trip on the Ghan whets your appetite for more, there’s good news: Australia’s just about to get another luxury rail ride, The Great Southern, which runs between Adelaide and Brisbane and launches in December 2019.

The Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle

Route: Moscow to Vladivostock

When it comes to long-distance train trips, the Trans-Siberian route is an undisputed classic. This eye-opening introduction to the sheer vastness of Russia crosses multiple time zones in its epic, hypnotic, 5,752-mile journey between Moscow and Vladivostock. The normal sleeper trains aren’t hugely luxurious, even in first class, but happily there is an upscale alternative for those who want to enjoy the experience in style: the Golden Eagle. This private train is more of a luxury hotel on wheels and its top-of-the-range Imperial Suites are particularly plush, with en-suite bathrooms, lounge areas, and a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon to kick off your journey in style.

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