Skip to content

From 24-hour Champagne service to spa cars, these are the world’s most luxurious train rides

Oct. 01, 2022
10 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It's hard to imagine something more glamorous than a luxury train ride. Picture it: You're sipping a glass of Dom Pérignon, sitting on a tufted velvet couch and gazing out the window as the train slowly but surely inches past snow-capped mountains, castles and turquoise lakes.

Or, at least that's how I'd like to imagine it.

While plenty of us have had to endure less-than-romantic train rides on Amtrak or budget-friendly rail lines, others know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention luxury trains — the ones featuring crystal chandeliers, butler service and some of the most scenic views in the world. Oh, and did I mention Champagne? Lots and lots of Champagne.

From Paris to Prague, across the Japanese island of Kyushu and up into the Andes, here are some of the most luxurious train rides in the world.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The Grand Suite aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. BELMOND

One of the most glamorous trains in the world, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express might also be the most famous. When you think about the golden age of train travel, this experience is that image the mind conjures up. But just because we're living in the jet age doesn't mean you can't experience that old-school luxury train glamour, as this train offers trips all across Europe.

With a schedule rotating throughout the year, would-be train travelers with deep pockets can sleep in historic, restored cabins from the 1920s that come outfitted with a single bed or bunk beds; art deco-inspired suites featuring private en suite bathrooms; or Grand Suites that draw inspiration from different European cities and offer 24-hour butler service and free-flowing Champagne.

Outside the cabins, there are stunning dining cars to take your meals in (or you can have breakfast in bed), bespoke cocktails served at Bar Car '3674' and even a "midnight brunch" that offers the chance to wash down lobster rolls with a Negroni while listening to a pianist play the night away.

Just know that a trip on a train as glam as the VSOE comes with an equally opulent price tag. Single-night journeys in one of the entry-level cabins start at more than $3,100 a person, while suites are closer to $6,000 per person. Longer trips — like the once-a-year, five-night journey from Paris to Istanbul — come in at more than $18,000 per person.

Seven Stars Kyushu

KYUSHU RAILWAY COMPANY

We all know that trains in Japan are better than those available in most places — but usually, we're talking about the Shinkansen (bullet train). On Kyushu, Japan's third-largest island, the Seven Stars train moves at a much more leisurely pace and is designed to show off the beauty of the island (spread across seven prefectures) in an ultra-luxurious environment (spread across seven train cars).

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Available for one- or three-night experiences, Seven Stars offers guests opportunities to see historical towns surrounded by gorgeous scenery, plus the option to spend one night off the train in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) during the longer experiences. The train has observatory-style windows that make it easier to see the world go by, as well as beautiful wooden interiors, a moody lounge car called Blue Moon and a restaurant car, Juniper, where fresh, seasonal Japanese food is served throughout the day.

But even though Japan is finally opening back up to tourists, don't think you can just go online and book a ticket for this train — it's way more complicated than that. With only 14 suites that each accommodate two guests, space is limited. To get a reservation, you'll need to apply online. If there are too many applications — which there usually are — potential guests are entered into a lottery for the chance to book a journey. A one-night trip starts around $4,500 per person based on double occupancy, while the three-night experience will set you back $8,600 per person.

Andean Explorer

RICHARD JAMES TAYLOR/BELMOND

Another luxe train from Belmond, the Andean Explorer, is a stunning 16-car train that operates on the world's highest rail route in Peru. With a mix of modern and bright design alongside Peruvian touches like throw pillows with bright tassels, the train itself feels fresh, fun and accommodating.

Featuring 35 cabins, the train offers plenty of room to spread out. To keep guests safe and comfortable throughout the high-altitude journey, each cabin has special oxygen systems.

For food, guests can enjoy meals in two dining cars, fittingly called Llama and Muña, that feel more like the dining room of a New York City townhome than a train. After meals, enjoy live music from a grand piano in the lounge car while sipping on Peru's classic cocktail, the Pisco sour. There's even a covered outdoor area at the back of the train to get some fresh mountain air on the way.

Available itineraries include two-night journeys from Cusco to Arequipa through Puno and a one-night adventure from Puno to Arequipa, among other stunning options. Rates vary depending on itineraries but start around $2,400 for double occupancy on a one-night journey in a bunk bed cabin.

Related: 7 best ways to get to Peru on points and miles

The Vietage

THE VIETAGE

While most luxury train journeys are more about the experience on the train than the stops you make along the way, The Vietage in Vietnam is slightly different.

Created as a luxurious way for guests to travel between the Anantara Hoi An Resort and the Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, The Vietage is a private, reservation-only carriage on a train that makes daily return trips between Da Nang and Quy Nohn. But don't think it's exclusive to guests of those resorts. Anybody can ride Vietnam's most luxe train experience.

With space for just 12 guests across six booths, The Vietage gives guests ample opportunities to indulge in three-course meals featuring Vietnamese and French flavors, have a bespoke cocktail from the carriage's mixologist, enjoy a shoulder massage or simply sit back in the comfortable chairs and watch the scenery of Vietnam zip by. On the evening return journey, sleeper booths are available for advance booking.

To book a one-way journey on this high-end train, expect to pay $350 per person.

Eastern & Oriental Express

MATT HIND/BELMOND

In Southeast Asia, there's no train experience grander than Belmond's Eastern & Oriental Express, which travels between major cities like Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With a rich interior full of wood-paneled walls, silk furniture and subtle nods to Asian design, the train itself is immaculate.

There's a plush dining car with white-linen covered tables where guests can enjoy dishes like Nyonya curry and pan-fried scallops. In the bar car, sip on signature cocktails in over-the-top golden pineapple cups while a pianist floods the space with music. Or, for a quieter experience, head to the observation car in the back of the train to get outside for a breath of fresh air.

Accommodations range from bunk bed cabins to the Presidential Cabin, all with en suite bathrooms and windows. Right now, the Eastern & Oriental Express is out of service but will return with new itineraries for 2023 in the near future.

Related: Malaysia: Southeast Asia's hidden gem

The Great Southern

ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

While Australia's Journey Beyond rail company offers a handful of train experiences that criss-cross the country, TPG's own Eric Rosen experienced The Great Southern journey himself. Traveling on the three-night itinerary from Brisbane to Adelaide, Rosen opted for the Platinum elevated service class, which included a room with an en suite bathroom. It was comfortable, though he found the shower on the small side.

For Rosen, "the train felt like a destination in and of itself." That makes sense considering it has various lounge and restaurant cars where meals and cocktails are served to guests as Australia passes by outside the windows. (Just remember, access to these cars is dependent on what service level you book.)

Additionally, guests have plenty of opportunities to get off the train to enjoy activities like wine-tasting tours at vineyards and even dolphin-spotting excursions.

Fares for 2023 trips on The Great Southern start at $2,345 per person for a Gold Twin cabin, though we'd recommend booking the Platinum category, at $4,495 per person.

Royal Scotsman

BELMOND

Train travel hits different in Scotland, evoking images of picture-perfect bridges like the Glenfinnan Viaduct made famous by its appearance in the "Harry Potter" film series. Though the train to Hogwarts is fictional (or so us muggles are told), the Royal Scotsman from Belmond is just as magical. With itineraries ranging from tours of Scotland's scenic wonders to multiday Scotch malt whisky experiences, this train is the way to see — and be seen — in Scotland.

It may not be a castle itself, but consider this train a castle on wheels that'll take you to a few along the way. With wood-paneled rooms ranging from singles to doubles, plus drawing tables, writing tables and en suite bathrooms, this train is made for comfort.

As for experiences on the train, they're nothing short of incredible, too. Guests can enjoy traditional Scottish foods and whisky in the dining cars while sitting in plush seats alongside tables set with tablecloths and fine china. Even more magical is the spa car, which features a signature ritual involving a Swedish back and leg massage, an abdominal massage and a facial for about $145.

Fares for the Royal Scotsman start around $4,300 per person and sell out fast.

Related: 6 castles in the UK you can book for your next royal vacation

British Pullman

BELMOND

Afternoon tea is quintessentially British — but imagine enjoying it on a glamorous train restored from its 1920s prime. And don't fret if traditional tea isn't your thing. You can skip it and instead have a glass — OK, several glasses — of Champagne surrounded by tile mosaics as the British countryside rolls by. Both experiences are available on the British Pullman, a train fit for royalty.

This train, which the late Queen Elizabeth II rode herself, specializes in one-off events where guests board for a meal, party or special occasion. In fact, Agatha Christie fans may find the train's regularly scheduled murder mystery lunches a dream come true. Or, for folks interested in Britain's iconic castles and palaces, there are frequent day trips from London to get out and experience those locations in style.

These various journeys on the British Pullman sell out quickly, so be sure to plan your trip well in advance. Anticipate paying around $425 per person.

Featured image by KYUSHU TOURISM ORGANIZATION
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more