Introduction/History:

The Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) is the world’s most authentic luxury train.  Its 1920s-vintage Art Deco cars, sparkling in their navy and gold livery and snowy white roof, take your breath away.  The annual journeys between Paris and Istanbul are legendary — and perfect for special occasion celebrations.

The train’s mystique is such that its image is constantly in demand to portray elegance, beauty, sophistication and romance. Click here to see its stylized image, as seen through the eyes of French perfume and beauty product icon Chanel.

The VSOE can accommodate up to 190 passengers, but on special journeys the train’s capacity is reduced to roughly 100 guests.

NEW for 2018: For the first time ever, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is adding fully en-suite cabins. Three Grand Suites will be available on every departure, beginning in March 2018. See below for full description.

Special Report: Click here for travel notes by Society owners Owen & Eleanor Hardy, who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on the Orient-Express Venice-Paris-London.

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Accommodations

A/C Added for 2017: All cabins now have discreet individually-controlled A/C units. Air conditioning has also been added in the public cars. This is a huge improvement for those traveling in the hotter months of July & August!

Double (also called Twin) Cabins have Pullman-style beds (one up, one down) that fold into a comfortable sofa during the day. A sink in a lovely, closing vanity is fitted into the corner. All amenities are supplied, and then some.

A Cabin Suite is two adjoining Double Cabins connected by an interior, private door. Booking a Cabin Suite allows each person to have a lower bed, his/her own vanity as well as a window of one’s own.

Grand Suites will be added to the train consist in 2018.  Three Grand Suites will have a double bed (can also be made into two twins), living area with table, chair and sofa, and an en-suite bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. The Grand Suites will be named “Paris”, “Venice”, and “Istanbul”.  Each will have a unique decor, to emphasize the distinctive aspects of each destination.

Additional Grand Suite amenities include preferential seating and guaranteed dining time for meals, caviar upon arrival, free-flowing champagne, private transfers to/from train stations, and complimentary designer art deco bathrobes. A complimentary alternative “a la carte” menu will also be available during lunch or dinner for Grand Suite guests.

Single Travelers: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express has 14 single cabins, whose cars are located at the end of the train. In most cases, no single supplement is payable for these cabins. However, we advise single travelers with mobility issues to book sole occupancy of a Double Cabin, which gives you a better chance of being closer to the dining and lounge cars. Note: Istanbul tours do not carry single cabins; thus, a single supplement applies on these journeys.

Important: Orient-Express cabins have one major benefit not often mentioned: the windows can be opened, providing fresh air and unobstructed views. Plus, one can literally smell the countryside – a significant advantage over hermetically sealed vehicles.

There are no showers in the cabins, with the exception of the Grand Suites. Longer itineraries are designed to dodge this reality — train overnights are interspersed with stays at fabulous hotels — just like Agatha Christie used to do.

Dining

There are three gorgeous dining cars: one, “Étoile du Nord,” mainly with marquetry; another, “L’Oriental,” with Chinese lacquered walls with bright animals; and a third, “Côte d’Azur,” with Lalique crystal insets.

The management of the dining cars is superb. For starters, a maitre d’ visits you during the day before meals to reserve your table. He rotates travelers among the three diners; you can request dining for two or four at your preferred seating time.

The dining experience is five-star both in food quality/variety and service. One of the reasons is that people are not all seated at the exact same time. Instead, seatings are staggered. This allows the staff to properly welcome and serve each diner.

Lounge Cars

The lounge car is decorated in the Art Nouveau style. Fresh flowers adorn the tables, and a pianist entertains in the evening. It’s a perfect place to read Le Monde by day, enjoy cocktails before dinner and a nightcap after dinner; perhaps you’ll decide, like one traveler did on our trip to Istanbul, to dance the Charleston in her period dress. The lounge car can get very crowded, too, but the staggered dining helps with this issue.

Other

For discriminating travelers, we recommend booking either the Grand Suite or the Cabin Suite. This gives travelers much more room for spreading out. Dressing up is part of this experience, and tuxedos (at the least, dark suits and ties) and cocktail dresses are the norm for dinner.

There’s something about traveling on such historic cars. One of our favorites: Sleeping Car 3309 was part of the 1929 service which was stuck in a snow drift 60 miles outside Istanbul for 10 days. Passengers and staff survived only with the assistance of nearby Turkish villagers.

Booking at the last minute? Ask us about special offers on selected dates.

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Grand Suite of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, coming in 2018.
Grand Suite of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, coming in 2018.
Double cabin layout.
Double cabin layout.