London to Venice on board the iconic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and a Grand Tour of Italy by First Class rail
Prices from $5,049 per person
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Take a journey on the fabulous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express on the classic route between London and Venice, and be transported back in time to a bygone age of luxury rail travel. Sit back and enjoy the diverse scenery of mainland Europe as you experience the incredible gourmet meals, whilst your personal steward is on hand to attend to your every comfort.
You then arrive in magnificent Venice, a truly unique and wonderful city. From here you can re-live the classic Grand Tours of Europe as you capture the very essence of Italy – from the romanticism of Venice to the ancient city of Rome and the glorious architecture of Renaissance Florence – travelling by First Class rail
This 11 night / 12 day holiday includes one night on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and 3 nights each in Venice, Rome and Florence, before returning to London via an overnight stay in Montreux for from $5,049 per person (based on two people travelling together in March 2018; and from $5,349 per person in high season – July 2018)
Day 1 – London to Switzerland aboard the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express
Your holiday truly begins as you board the immaculate restored vintage carriages of the British Pullman train at London Victoria station. Here your steward will show you to your reserved seat. Then sit back and enjoy Brunch with Bellini as you travel through the Kentish countryside. On arrival in Folkestone you are escorted by uniformed staff via coach to Cheriton to board the Eurotunnel train for the journey under the Channel. After emerging in France, board the distinctive blue and gold carriages of the Continental Wagons-Lits. Throughout your journey you will be attended by your own personal Steward. After you have settled into your comfortable private compartment it will soon be time to dress for dinner. Why not sip a pre-dinner cocktail before making your way to one of the magnificent restaurant cars. Here you will be served a delicious four-course dinner, prepared by skilled French chefs. After dinner you may want to linger in the bar car, listening to the sound of the baby grand piano. When you are ready, retire to your compartment, which has now been transformed into a cosy bedroom.
Day 2 – Through the Swiss Alps to Venice
This morning you awake to the magnificent scenery of the Swiss Alps, and breakfast is served in your compartment at a time to suit you. Choose to spend the morning in the Bar Car chatting to fellow guests over coffee or relax and gaze out at the fabulous views from the comfort of your seat. Enjoy a leisurely three-course lunch served in another of the beautiful restaurant cars. This afternoon you may choose to visit the on board Boutique to purchase souvenirs, while away the hours in conversation or take it easy in your compartment and admire passing scenery as the train travels through the Italian Dolomites. Later, afternoon tea is served in your compartment as you travel through the Brenner Pass. All too soon it is time to prepare to disembark as the train crosses the Venetian Lagoon and pulls into Venice Santa Lucia station where a private water taxi transfers you in style to your hotel for the next three nights, the highly-rated Hotel Ai Mori d’Oriente (4 star), an attractive, stylish hotel known for its attentive staff and friendly service.
Days 3 and 4 – Venice
You have two full days to step out in Venice and allow this unique and captivating city to carry where it will. Enjoy Venice at dusk and after dark when the day-trippers have gone home and the local Venetians take to the streets. From St. Mark’s Square to the Rialto Bridge, a gondola ride on the Grand Canal to a visit inside the stunning
Doges Palace, feel yourself unwind as you wander amid the myriad of canals along blissfully traffic-free alleyways and campi (squares). You have plenty of time to discover the city’s luminous quality which emanates from the colours of its painted palazzo, ornate stone bridges and Byzantine basilicas all reflected against the tapestry of canals and lagoons. A short boat ride will lead you to pretty islands on the lagoon, including Murano, home of glass-blowing and colourful Burano, where lace and linen abound.
Day 5 – Venice to Rome
Today your private water taxi transfer re-unites you with the rest of the world as you leave Venice behind and board the Eurostar Italia service for the First Class journey to the eternal city of Rome. Relax in your comfortable seat as the landscape of central Italy unfurls before you. On arrival at Rome Termini station, you are within easy reach of your hotel for the next four nights, the elegant and comfortable Hotel Diocleziano (4 star).
Days 6 and 7 – Rome
There is something to tantalise all tastes seemingly round every corner of this most magical of cities. Whilst in Rome choose among the stunning array of sights from the Vatican City to the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum to the Spanish Steps. Relax with a ‘gelato’ on Piazza Navona or while away the hours shopping on Via del Corso. Make sure you take the time to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel. The view from the top of St. Peter’s Cathedral over the seven hills of Rome will provide abiding memories of this wonderful city.
Day 8 – Rome to Florence
After a relaxed start to the morning, you leave the eternal city as you return to the station for the journey north to Florence. Sit back and watch the world go by or simply revel in the romanticism of rail travel across Europe. On arrival at Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station, make your own way to the welcoming Glance Hotel (4 star) for a three-night stay.
Days 9 and 10 – Florence
Make the most of two whole days during which to immerse yourself in the culture of Italy’s renaissance capital with visits to the wonderful Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio or the celebrated Duomo. Enjoy the culinary delights of the city or venture further afield to explore the beauty of Tuscany in Siena with its lovely shell-shaped Piazza del Campo and UNESCO world heritage medieval centre. Perhaps journey westwards to Pisa to marvel at the world-famous leaning tower or stunning Lucca, its medieval heart is an ideal size for discovery on foot. Whether you prefer the more rural appeal of the Chianti district it is good to know that all these attractive options are easily accessible by train.
Day 11 – Florence through the Alps to Lake Geneva
As you board your First Class carriage on the Eurostar Italia service for Milan it is time to bid farewell to Florence and Tuscany. You travel north through the Apennines, changing trains in Milan, to join the comfortable Euro City service as you head in to the Alps for the spectacular journey up the Rhône Valley and through the Simplon Pass. From here you continue to the pretty lakeside town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva for your overnight stay at the belle époque Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star) located right next to the station. Take a stroll alongside Lake Geneva and visit this elegant lakeside town, home to the famous jazz festival.
Day 12 – Free time in Montreux – Montreux to London – Homeward bound
After breakfast you have time for further exploration of the attractive town of Montreux. You might like to stroll alongside stunning Lake Geneva, visit the 13th century Château de Chillon or shop for some souvenirs of your trip. Then make your way back to Montreux station. From here you join the Inter Regio train to Lausanne, where you change trains and board the TGV to whisk you back to Paris. Watch the rolling hills flash past or reminisce on the wonders of the past few days. Your taxi transfer takes you to the Gare du Nord and the last leg of your journey. Here you join the Eurostar and let the train take the strain as you stretch out and savour the light meal and drinks included in your Standard Premier service. At 186mph the landscape is a blur at times, though memories abide as you return to London St. Pancras International.
Please note it is also possible to follow this itinerary in reverse – travelling out to Italy by First Class rail, and returning from Venice to London on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Please contact us for more details.