Even among our “World’s Top 25 Trains,” Belmond Royal Scotsman always has been a standout.
With the addition of the Bamford Haybarn spa car in 2017, it stands out even more.
A small venue—a maximum of just 40 passengers—Belmond Royal Scotsman is great for those who wish for a more intimate, luxury setting with gourmet, five-star dining, wine-pairing and superior service.
Most of the train’s cars are 1960s vintage equipment. They have been recast into an Edwardian confection of varnished woods, polished brass and fine fabrics. Especially fun is the open-air observation platform.
Simply put, Belmond Royal Scotsman is one of the world’s finest — and one of our favorite — luxury trains.
IRT Exclusive: See our video of IRT President Eleanor Hardy’s trip on the Belmond Royal Scotsman.
IRT Insights: Read about IRT’s most recent experience aboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman.
The five sleeping carriages provide 15 twin-bedded, 3 double-bedded and 4 single cabins, beautifully designed with rich inlaid wood. The new spa car has two additional cabins: one with two twin beds* and one with a double bed. These cabins can interconnect.
All cabins have en-suite bathroom with shower, sink and toilet — as well as a dressing table, full-length wardrobe, individually controlled heating, ceiling fan, opening windows and a cabin service call button. Most people sleep like kittens on this train, because it stops at quiet sidings at night.
The 15 twin compartments are 85 square feet with two lower twin beds positioned in an “L” shape. The three double compartments are the same size, but instead of twin beds feature a double bed.
Four compartments are for single travelers so there is no single supplement––a rarity on luxury trains. These are 65 square feet and contain one twin bed.
*Note the twin-bedded cabin in the spa car can accommodate passengers with decreased mobility. In this cabin, one of the twin beds folds away to allow more space in the cabin during the day; the bathroom is a wet room and the corridor is wider to accommodate a wheelchair. However, guests in wheelchairs are advised to consider that, while the cabin is accessible the rest of the train does not have disabled facilities. In addition, the motorcoach used for off-train excursions has steps and no ramp; some venues visited may not be handicap accessible. Please contact us for more information about accessibility.
Dining is an elegant production. Meals are multi-course affairs, made with the freshest, finest local produce, seafoods and meats. They’re served either in the newly restored “Swift” dining car or in the second dining car, “Raven.” Seating is open, with tables for four, six and eight.
Carefully crafted by Glasgow native Mark Tamburrini, the train’s head chef since 2010, on-board meals feature local Scottish ingredients, and the presentation is gorgeous. Service is friendly and professional, with fine wines included. Dining is truly a highlight of any journey on the Belmond Royal Scotsman.
Dinners are formal on alternate nights. Ladies wear cocktail attire; men wear dark suit and tie, tuxedo or formal kilt. Kilts can be rented in Edinburgh (ask us for details).
Lounge & Spa
At the end of the train is perhaps the most distinctive carriage, the observation car.
Originally built in 1960 by the Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company, the observation car entered service in 1961 as a first-class kitchen car.
In 1989, the car was bought from its private owner, Michael Bailiss, and converted it to its current luxury configuration, with comfy armchairs and loveseats — and of course, a bar. The train proudly serves over 60 types of whisky.
At the back is a favorite spot: the open-air observation platform, for wind-in-the-face viewing of the lovely Scottish scenery.
The observation car is also the location of after-dinner entertainment, featuring talented local musicians and storytellers.
In 2017, the Bamford Haybarn Spa Car was added to the consist. There are two serene treatment rooms, offering massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Appointments can be made on board (at additional cost). The therapist impressively maneuvers the moving train while providing treatments — a unique experience highly recommended by IRT.
Our favorite on-board memory? Enjoying a lovely violinist in the observation car after dinner on the last night, then hopping on to the platform to learn a few reels and jigs with fellow guests.
Plainly said: A few nights just is not enough on this grand train. If time and budget allow, combine two of the itineraries for an eight-day journey. And treat yourself to a unique spa treatment!
Tips for booking: If you are tall, please request a very long bed. There are two (twin-bedded) compartments which have beds measuring seven feet long. This is unusually large for a train. If you prefer a double-bedded cabin, please request this upon booking. Note they are placed at the far end of the train, farthest from the public areas, perhaps perfect for honeymooners but not for those with mobility issues.