Above: The British Pullman traversing the Surrey Hills in southeast England - COURTESY OF BELMOND

England by Luxury Train

The <i>British Pullman</i> traversing the Surrey Hills in southeast England

In addition to its extensive hotel portfolio, Belmond operates six luxury trains. The first of these was the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, which began service in May 1982. The original company, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., was renamed Belmond in 2014, but its trains have remained an integral part of the brand. The Orient-Express carriages were acquired from the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits and have always been based on the European mainland. Passengers beginning their journey in London were (and are) taken to the port of Folkestone aboard the British Pullman train. There, they are transported to France via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

British Pullman train in London - Helen Cathcart
Phoenix carriage, British Pullman - Helen Cathcart

As well as continuing to perform this role, the British Pullman also operates regular day and weekend trips around southern England. The train comprises 11 carriages, which were built from the 1920s to the 1950s. (The oldest, Ibis, dates to 1925.) During their refurbishment, brass luggage racks were reinstalled, as were art deco-style table lamps and armchairs, while the wooden marquetry panels were restored by a surviving family firm that had manufactured some of the originals. The train can now accommodate up to 226 passengers.

Journeys begin in a Belmond lounge at Victoria Station in central London. Destinations include cities such as Bath and Oxford and country houses like Blenheim Palace and Longleat. Lavish meals are served en route (frequently prepared by a guest celebrity chef). Most trips in the fall of 2022 are already sold out, but there is plenty of availability next spring. For example, on May 17, the train will head north to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the home of the Duke of Devonshire, where passengers will be able to admire the collection of old master paintings and landscaped grounds designed by Capability Brown. And on June 28, the Pullman’s Historic Bath journey will take travelers to the lovely city in southwest England, where they will visit Bath Abbey, the Roman baths and the Jane Austen Centre.

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Above: The British Pullman traversing the Surrey Hills in southeast England - COURTESY OF BELMOND

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