Rail travel has been a huge trend this year, with many seeing it as a green alternative to flying, according to reports. However, the popularity of train holidays is predicted to soar even higher by 2024, as more travellers look for sustainable ways to explore the world, reports reveal.
Meanwhile, the trend of “train bragging” has emerged, according to Pinterest Trends. The term refers to how people are turning to trains as their primary mode of transport in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint – and then bragging about it.
The platform has seen a huge increase in people looking for rail-related inspiration, with searches for ‘train travel aesthetics’ up 205% and ‘train quotes travel’ up 285%.
Jan Luescher, Chief Executive Officer of ASMALLWORLD, the luxury travel-focused social network, says: “While luxury travellers continue to enjoy the freedoms they have regained post-pandemic, there has also been a shift in attitude. Many are taking a closer look at the environmental impact of their travel and are actively seeking green alternatives to traditional travel options.
“The obvious answer is extravagant rail holidays. This type of travel promises all the luxuries associated with first class air travel, such as excellent food, service and amenities, while taking in some of the world’s most scenic and under-explored regions in a way that is more environmentally friendly.”
With the growing number of luxury travellers turning to rail travel in 2023 and 2024, ASMALLWORLD has rounded up the most exclusive and coveted train journeys around the world – including one with a two-year waiting list.
The world’s most exclusive train journeys, according to a luxury travel expert
1.South Africa’s Blue Train
With a waiting list of two years, South Africa’s Blue Train has taken the top spot as the most coveted rail journey in the world. The journey takes passengers through the breathtaking scenery of South Africa in a plush ‘hotel-on-wheels’ that has been enjoyed by many kings and presidents over the years.
The two-night itinerary covers 1600 kilometres and includes some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery that the African sub-continent has to offer. Guests are invited to take part in unique excursions along the way, including an off-train visit to Kimberley to see the Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum.
Those on board are treated to personal and attentive service, with a dedicated butler, lavish accommodation, excellent fine dining, wines and cigars.
2.Twilight Express Mizukaze
The Twilight Mizukaze, also known as the Twilight Express, offers a lavish journey around western Japan. With just 34 lucky passengers, it is easily one of the most exclusive trains in the world.
In fact, the waiting list is often more than half a year long. Those privileged enough to secure a seat on board are treated to a sumptuous 5-star experience, with haute cuisine prepared using ingredients found along the route and perfectly timed to match the scenery.
There are three routes to choose from on this chic train, taking in everything from the coastline of the Seto Inland Sea to the bright lights of Kyoto. The most luxurious accommodation on the Twilight Express is called The Suite. It takes up an entire carriage and bathroom and even has its own private bath.
3.Venice Simplon-Orient Express: Paris to Istanbul
Renowned for offering some of the world’s most authentic luxury train experiences, the Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) was made famous by Agatha Christie’s legendary novels.
The VSOE’s Paris to Istanbul journey takes place just once a year and transports its lucky passengers from Paris to Istanbul along the original route of the Orient Express. Travellers spend five nights in the lap of luxury in the train’s glamorous 1920s Art Deco carriages.
These are instantly recognisable with their sleek navy and gold livery and pristine white roof. Travelling across continents, travellers will have the opportunity to explore a range of cities including Paris, Budapest, Bucharest and Istanbul.
4.Seven Stars Kyushu
The world’s only seven-star train, the Seven Stars in Kyushu takes travellers on a 3-night and 1-night tour of Kyushu, one of Japan’s most stunning islands. If you want a seat on this popular train, you need to book months in advance.
Along the way you can visit relaxing onsens, also known as active hot springs, as well as dramatic volcanoes and a glorious coastline. The train itself boasts a plush interior with classic decor combined with chic, contemporary touches.
5.Singapore to Bangkok – Eastern and Oriental Express
Launched by the same operators as the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, this coveted route is rumoured to be even more luxurious. The luxury train takes passengers from Singapore to Thailand, serving exquisite four-course meals and afternoon tea along the way.