“Train travel has significance far beyond its practical purpose. It is a means of transportation that provides passengers with a greater appreciation for the journey itself…” The initial two sentences of this striking tome immediately answers one of the first questions that come to mind when train travel is mentioned – in the modern day, why trains?
Of course, that question is answered differently around the world, but it is clear that present train travel is often much more concerned with speed and convenience than it is with comfort and luxury.
Luxury Trains seeks to remind us of the luxurious history of train travel. Once the premiere means of transportation for the titled and rich, luxury trains are approaching their 150thbirthday. Splendidly documented over 220 pages, the book explores the historical luxury train lines that are still operating, modern trains such as the TGV, service onboard, and some of the world’s most magnificent train stations. Weighing in at 5 pounds, and measuring 13” x 11”, you certainly will not find yourself reading this book like a novel. But fear not: page space is mostly dedicated to photographs revealing the spectacular train routes, the train cars and amenities, and the enthusiastic service offerings.
If anything, this book could use a few more pictures! Most of the historical trains are like moving pieces of art, replete with exotic wood paneling, plush fabrics, detailed wood marquetry, and etched glass. Two of the most striking trains, in my opinion, are the Venice Simplon Orient Express (a name we’ve all heard) and the Rovos Rail Pride of Africa. The Orient Express has some of the most luxuriously appointed cars of it’s era – Lalique glass designed especially for the train is located throughout. The Pride of Africa chapter thrills from the start, revealing the upcoming introduction of cross-continental Cape Town to Cairo service! The interior also draws out the senses from the marvelously wood-buttressed dining car to the en suite claw foot tubs. Each train section is rounded out with a short overview of the train’s key characteristics, such as the itineraries offered and the amenities available to passengers. Take note that if the amenities do not list such features as an en suite bathroom, they probably aren’t available. The Orient Express may be your dream train trip, but the historical novelty might wear off a little when you need to share a bathroom with the neighbors.
Written in 5 languages: English, German, French, Spanish and Italian, this book will make a striking addition to your coffee table. The cover alone is worth the purchase – the strikingly blue-hued interior of the Swedish Royal Train is enough to send the classical style enthusiast into raptures. When you hear the phrase, “things just aren’t made like they used to be,” this book is the first place to turn for respite from the world of plastic. Though the final sections cover mostly modern amenities of streamlined technologically advanced trains, as well as some modern station architecture, the historical perspective still remains the best part of the book. It’s clear that the photos are not all recent, but overall, the effect is not diminished. It’s certainly a great conversation starter when among friends! If you’ve never considered luxury rail travel, this is the book that has the potential to change your mind entirely!
Pack your tuxedo, and hold on to your top hat – this charming book is available at Amazon for less than $19. Enjoy, and let us know what you think…