As we write this, Belmond — the company that brings you the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, the Belmond Royal Scotsman and many other of the World’s Top 25 Trains® — recently completed its latest creation: the Belmond Grand Hibernian, Ireland’s first luxury train.
Belmond acquired 10 cars from Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail), which it is transforming into a luxury sleeper train with accommodations for up to 40 guests traveling in 20 elegant, en-suite cabins.
The Irish train’s design references Dublin’s classic Georgian architecture and elements of Ireland’s ancient folklore and traditions, evoking the country’s celebrated cultural heritage with a contemporary twist.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian features four interconnecting suites to accommodate families, two restaurant cars and an observation bar car.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian will journey throughout the island offering two-, four- and six-night rail experiences that visit the major destinations of the north and south, including the train’s Dublin base, Belfast and Cork.
The train’s name is derived from Hibernia, the classical Latin name for the island of Ireland.
Click here to read IRT Owner & CEO Owen Hardy’s blog review of the Belmond Grand Hibernian after taking the Grand Tour with an IRT group charter.
Read about the Belmond Grand Hibernian’s triumphal welcome at New York’s Grand Central Terminal by clicking here.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian’s five sleeping cars, rich with an authentic Irish atmosphere, are a mix of modern luxury and traditional design to sumptuous effect.
16 twin and four double cabins accommodate a maximum of 40 guests. All cabins are en-suite and include a wardrobe, writing desk and chair, and large windows that allow you to admire the verdant landscape as it unfolds. Cabins are approximately 85 square feet.
The cars are named after Irish counties and are decorated to match their county’s traditional tartan: “Down” features vibrant splashes of orange, “Waterford” is designed with cool blues, “Leitrim” has bold reds, and “Kerry” boasts sophisticated shades of purple.
Four of these have three twin cabins and 1 double-bedded cabin. At the end of each car, one double bed cabin interconnects with a twin bed cabin to form a suite, a layout ideal for families.
One car has 3 twin compartments, plus an additional twin cabin with wheelchair access for guests with limited mobility. The corridor from this cabin through to the restaurant and bar is designed with disability access in mind; corridors are sufficiently wide (700m) to allow for the wheelchair to move freely.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian (like its ‘cousin,’ the Royal Scotsman) stops for the night at quiet sidings to ensure restful sleep.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian’s two air-conditioned dining cars, named for Irish counties, serve cuisine rivaling the best restaurants in Dublin. From wonderful artisan cheeses and superb smoked fish to the freshest seasonal vegetables, the on-board menus feature the finest ingredients from the regions through which the train travels.
“Sligo” seats 20 guests. It is an elegant car arranged in tables of four, with sleek silver accents and chrome finishes. It is softened by Waterford crystal vases, relaxed greys and warm woods to give a contemporary Georgian feel. It can also can accommodate a monitor for presentations.
“Wexford” accommodates 24 guests and has a more communal feel. It is a light-filled space, enhanced with Irish tweeds and celtic motifs. Seating guests at tables of six, it’s the perfect place to trade stories with your fellow travelers while savoring your meal. The additional four seats allow space for lecturers and tour escorts.
As one would expect, the observation car “Kildare” occupies the all-important rear position of the train. Its comfortable bar, plus the train’s all-inclusive nature, helps create a country house-party atmosphere. Nightly entertainment with local musicians and storytellers embracing the spirit of Ireland adds to the jovial spirit.
“Kildare” has large panoramic windows (similar to South Africa’s Blue Train). Flooring throughout the train is constructed of a beautiful wood grain.
There is Wi-Fi now available in the observation car, but not in the individual cabins. Note that this Wi-Fi connection is best suited for email and messages versus more intensive tasks.