Luxury travel

When it comes to luxury travel, it doesn’t necessarily mean a 5-star hotel and a white sandy beach. And spending eleven hours on a plane for only six days of relaxation is  ecological insanity. What if we opted for something more inspirational  and less polluting?

 Spending a fortune to go on a cruise on a boat more crowded than Casablanca during rush hour? Meh. Enduring a 6-hour time difference and eleven hours of flight for just a few days under some palm trees? No thanks. This is especially true when we know that the hottest day of the year 2023 happened to coincide with the day when the record for the number of airplanes flying in the sky was broken. Yes, our luxury travels have a direct impact on climate change. Yet there is a way to experience an adventure that is both exotic and romantic, without sacrificing comfort: take the train! Between the legendary Orient Express, the chic Transcantábrico Clásico, the mysterious West Highland Line, the futuristic Shikishima, or the scenic (and affordable) Bernina Express, our hearts are torn!

The legendary: the Orient Express

Established  in 1883, the first luxury travel train served European capitals, connecting Paris to Venice via Vienna. It wasn’t until 1920 that its route was extended to Constantinople, becoming the absolute fantasy of a wealthy society desiring adventures in the Orient. Made famous by Agatha Christie and her novel “Murder on the Orient Express,” decorated (among other things) by the French glassmaker and jewelry creator René Lalique, this train remains the most luxurious in the world to this day, despite many of the trinkets that adorned it disappearing  during the two world wars. The Orient Express had been forgotten with the advent of car and plane travel, but the SNCF, which bought 7 carriages in 2011, has revived it in all its splendor and mystery.

Price: starting from 49,000 dirhams per person departing from Paris to Istanbul. 
Reservation here.


 Small and Cute: the Bernina Express

The Bernina Express, a Swiss train that runs from Saint-Moritz to Tirano, near Milan, covers a short distance. But this luxury travel is still worth it: the Bernina travels through magnificent mountain landscapes (the highest station is at 2300 meters above sea level). With dizzying heights, 180-degree turns, slopes of up to 8%, and a 680-kilometer tunnel, the Bernina Express is a bit like the ancestor of a roller coaster! Then the train passes through the Italian valleys, starting with the Brusio viaduct, which opens the way to the idyllic Tuscany before arriving in Lombardy. The only downside: as the journey lasts only one day, there are no sleeping bunks.

Price: Starting from 1500 DH per person departing from Saint-Moritz. 
Reservation here.

 The Pilgrim: El Transcantábrico Clásico

Dating back to the early 1980s, this train aims to be a small Orient Express with a Spanish twist. In El Transcántabrico Clásico, passengers travel in a 5-star hotel style with classic chic decor, gourmet meals served at the table, a reading lounge, and a British-style bar. It crosses northern Spain (the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia), connecting Leon to Santiago de Compostela, which has long been the delight of pilgrims who, once their walk is completed, could indulge in tourism. The journey lasts from 4 to 8 days, depending on the desired route. As a bonus, several options are available, allowing passengers to stop and visit certain destinations before continuing the journey.

Price: starting from 97,000 DH per person.
Reservation here.

 Highlander: the West Highland Line

 Scotland, with its magical landscapes shrouded in mist and its famous Scotch distilleries: ingredients for a unique journey. The West Highland Line connects the port of Mallaig in the northwest of the country to Glasgow in 4 days, with multiple stops, including at Nevis Range (with its cable car offering stunning views of the city), Fort William and its lake nestled at the foot of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Great Britain), Tobermory, and Oban. It is an excellent – if not the best – way to discover Scotland and its Highlands. But let us remind you that excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to health (yes, believe it or not , there is a link).

Price: starting from 1500 DH per person from Mallaig. 
Reservation here.

The Most Futuristic: the Shikishima

Futuristic Japanese trains, like the Shinkansen connecting Tokyo to Kyoto, are well-known. But have you heard of the Shikishima? Ultra-refined, this train, which debuted on May 1, 2017, offers unique services in the world for a true luxury journey: 34 rooms, a two-story suite with an onsen bath (a traditional Japanese wooden bath) and a kotatsu (the underside of this traditional wooden table is heated), two gourmet restaurants (Michelin-starred chefs take turns in the kitchen), a library, and a bar. The journey lasts 3 days and 4 nights departing from Tokyo and stops at Hokkaido, Aomori, Higashi before reaching the northern part of the country.

Price: starting from 97,000 dirhams per person (departing from Tokyo).
Reservation here.

Picture (c) : Vogue

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