Join us on one of the world’s most iconic and romantic journeys—the Orient-Express from London to Venice. On this great train journey from the Golden Age of travel we shall enjoy two days on board the Orient-Express as it travels through the Alps on the Gotthard route to Venice, and three nights living as a Venetian noble in a 15th-century private palazzo on the banks of the Grand Canal. The dates are September 27 to October 1, 2020, and we have advantageous rates for this most sought-after route of the Orient-Express in high season. It will be an unmissable event. The snag is, we have places for only 12 guests.
Spies used the Orient-Express as a secret weapon. A French President tumbled from it. Hitler wanted it destroyed. The real-life, and fictional dramas of the Orient-Express will transport you back in time. Tolstoy and Trotsky, Marlene Dietrich, Lawrence of Arabia and the spy Mata Hari were all passengers. Ferdinand of Bulgaria, scared of assassins, was observed locking himself in the bathroom. Belgium’s King Leopold II rode the train to Istanbul after making elaborate arrangements to infiltrate a Turkish harem. The King of Bulgaria, an amateur engineer, insisted that he be allowed to drive the train through his country, which he did at perilous speeds. Czar Nicholas II demanded that special cars be built for his visit to France, and some decades later the French President Paul Deschanel tumbled from one of these cars in the dead of night, an event that prompted such ridicule that eventually he resigned. Hitler tried, and failed, to have the Orient-Express destroyed.
The truths of the Orient-Express are stranger even than the fiction: but Hercule Poirot solved his most famous case on it, Alfred Hitchcock’s lady vanished from it and James Bond’s Sean Connery rode it for The Spy Who Loved Me, followed by Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp and Judi Dench for the latest film update of Murder on the Orient Express—not forgetting its role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But there has never, despite the novels, the films and the intrigue, been a murder on the Orient-Express.
The first Orient-Express pulled out of Paris for Istanbul in 1883 for the 1,700-mile trip across Europe and thus began a lifelong love affair which we can still experience. We shall step inside those legendary original rail cars with their inlaid marquetry, polished brass, sumptuous upholstery and antique fixtures, to make our way across Europe in a frisson of excitement—everybody stops to look as the Orient-Express pulls into a station, or steams under a bridge or past a railway crossing. It is simply the most famous train in the world.
The mystique and glamour of Agatha Christie linger throughout, from the genuine carriages to the crisp linen, the French silverware and heavy crystal glassware, the personal stewards and the white-gloved service, as faultless as one would expect of this grand hotel on wheels. Carriages are meticulously maintained to ensure an authentic experience, from the original sleeping cars of the 1920s and ’30s, the three dining cars and elegant bar car with its baby grand piano. Each carriage has a history—if only it could tell! Such as carriage 3309, which became stuck in a snowdrift outside Istanbul and gave rise to the scene in the famous film.
The classic 32-hour London to Venice trip is still the most romantic of all. This is the route which gives you the finest scenery by day—the return Venice to London trip is less costly, but you pass the best views at night! From London to Venice the scenery along the way is breathtaking. As we glide through lush, rolling countryside, beneath majestic, snow-capped mountains and alongside deep blue lakes, we shall savour every moment.
We begin our journey at London Victoria Station, arriving at the Orient-Express lounge to check-in our luggage all the way to Venice. Our first train will be another vintage experience—the historic, beautifully restored 1920s British Pullman will set the scene for our ride out of London, with stunning views over the Thames and on through the Kentish countryside.
On board this dedicated train will be our first Venetian cocktail of the trip—a Bellini, naturally—and our first taste of the style—crisp linen, bone china, large menus, comfortable seats and top-class service. A leisurely three-course brunch will be served—perhaps including such delights as smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and caviar among the choice of dishes—and we shall arrive at Folkestone to the welcome of a brass band, to board our coaches for the 30-minute express ride through the Channel tunnel. Awaiting us at Calais, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express—and the real journey begins.
As the Orient-Express pulls away from Calais en route to Venice we shall have time in which to relax and let the atmosphere of the train sink in. There’s much to marvel at, even in the cabins’ ingenious design. A washbasin is concealed in a handsome wood cabinet. A plush daytime sofa is transformed into cosy upper and lower berth beds with crisp damask sheets by our cabin steward while we dine in the evening. The beds are then whisked away again after breakfast. This magically discreet service is all part of the experience, as is dressing for dinner—black tie is not compulsory, but oh how it adds to the romance!
And then there’s the famous Orient-Express Bar Car 3674 with its baby grand, which is truly the place to be for the de rigueur pre-dinner drink—perhaps a bottle of the Orient-Express Champagne—and to revel in the ambience of the train as it rolls through the countryside towards Venice—first to Paris, then over the Gotthard Pass and on to Verona and, eventually, Venice. As the sun dips and the vintage lights begin to glow against the polished wood and brass, the pianist begins to play airs from that older era, all create the mood of romance, mystery and delight. Through northern France, the train crosses some of the most fought-over country in Europe, though it looks smiling enough in the gathering dusk. And besides feasting our eyes on this magical scene, we’ll feast on the Orient-Express cuisine in the elegant 1920s Restaurant Cars, L’Orientale, Côte d’Azur, Etoile du Nord.
A delicious four-course dinner is already being prepared by a batterie of chefs under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Christian Bodiguel, a culinary master who has honed his arts on the train over three decades. He takes his inspiration from what is seasonal and local—but to the Chef of the Orient-Express ‘local’ extends to choice ingredients from across the train’s far-flung destinations. There may be lobster with truffles, fillet of sole with caviar, venison with cranberries, salt marsh lamb and ginger, fine cheeses, and scrumptious creations such as coffee bavaroise, Amaretto sorbet, or fantasies of chocolate and fruits. Whatever is on the menu we know it will be superb, and beautifully served by the skilled stewards. Service on this train is unmatched—and dinner is a leisured, glamorous delight. It will be followed, at the time of our choosing, by a nightcap or two, before retiring to our cabins—or a suite, if you wish—to be rocked to sleep by the train.
We awake to views of the Alps in all their glory. It’s a magical awakening, and from here on the beauty and fascination of the scenery is unparalleled pleasure. We shall travel through the astonishing Gotthard Pass between Basel and Airolo, a masterpiece of railway engineering and breathtaking sights. The route offers stunning visions of the mountains as well as picturesque towns on both sides of the Italian border. We’ll pass the three-castled town of Bellinzona, Lake Luzern and Lake Como, and picturesque towns of Lugano and Chiasso before the mountain landscape gives way to vineyards en route to Verona. As these visions soar around us there will be, first, Continental breakfast, and later, a gourmet three-course lunch, followed, later still, by fresh pastries as we travel through the Dolomites. Was it not Robert Louis Stevenson who held that to travel was more important than to arrive? All who have imagination will take the greatest pleasure in this iconic train journey.
Eventually—too soon for some!—we shall arrive. Venice lies before us as we cross the Venice Lagoon and roll in to Santa Lucia station. Here we leave the train, continuing the pleasure by water taxi—or gondola if you prefer—to historic Ca’ Sagredo, where we shall live in historic, palatial luxury for three nights. It will give us plenty of time in which to explore this stunningly beautiful city—and September is a perfect time of year to be here, away from high summer yet still warm and with long nights to soak up the magic of the city, starting with the picture-perfect pink palazzo which is Ca’ Sagredo itself.
The only hotel in Italy to be designated a National Monument, this glorious and historic palace offers us the Venice of nobles, artists and doges. It was the home of the noble Morosini family, and later the Sagredo, one of Venetian aristocracy’s most influential families. Now, behind the romantic pink façade lie sumptuous rooms and suites, immersed in their own historic Venetian past. Ca’ Sagredo is home to important works of art—paintings by eminent painters of the 18th and 19th centuries, Sebastiano Ricci, Giambattista Tiepolo, Niccoò Bambini and Pietro Longhi. The frescoed ballroom alone is a national treasure.
Ca’ Sagredo is indeed what its owners name ‘A Private Palazzo, a Noble Residence, a Museum, a Luxury Hotel and much more … ’ It has won a place in the 500 Best Hotels in the World by Travel+Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List, and can truly claim status as one of the world’s great hotels. Together, the Orient-Express and Ca’ Sagredo are an unmissable combination. They offer an experience that promises to take us, not just across Europe but to another world entirely, and we are delighted to have succeeded in securing 12 places at exclusive Members’ rates, on this, the London to Venice journey. The date is September 27, 2020, travelling out on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, staying for three nights at Ca’ Sagredo, and returning on the short flight from Venice to London.
This promises to be a scintillating, unforgettable journey, a blissful, five-day holiday in the lovely month of September—all at exceptional CountryClubuk rates. It will make a special, never-to-be-forgotten anniversary or birthday celebration, or one of those iconic trips to experience in every lifetime! This is an exclusive CountryClubuk arrangement with Belmond, owners of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and the London to Venice run in this, high season, is the most coveted of the Orient-Express routes—so we urge you to book immediately, as we have only six cabins on the great train and they will soon sell out.
BOOK NOW TO JOIN THIS UNMISSABLE EVENT
Tickets for the full four-night, five-day Orient-Express event (starting Sunday, September 27, 2020) including your journey from London to Venice and full board on the train, three nights at the historic five-star Ca’ Sagredo Hotel including Continental breakfast, transfers by water taxi from the Santa Lucia railway station in Venice to your hotel, and hotel to airport, with economy flight to London, will be just £2,997 per person for two sharing a twin Orient-Express cabin and three nights in a Sagredo Venetian Double at Ca’ Sagredo. Others will be paying upwards of £2,573 to £3,920 per person for the cabin on the Orient-Express alone!
You can if you wish upgrade your cabin on the Orient-Express and your room at Ca’ Sagredo. Here are options, all for the full five-day, four-night event including all of the above:
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin for two sharing, with a Sagredo Venetian Double at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £2,997 per person (two sharing), saving over £1,110pp. Click to book
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin for two sharing, with Grand Canal Double at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £3,319 per person (two sharing), saving over £1,220pp. Click to book
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin for two sharing, with Grand Canal Junior Suite at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £3,719 per person (two sharing), saving over £1,300pp. Click to book
You can also upgrade your cabin on the Orient-Express to a Cabin Suite, as below:
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin Suite for two sharing, with Grand Canal Double at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £4,587pp (two sharing), saving over £1,300pp. Click to book
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin Suite for two sharing, with Grand Canal Junior Suite at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £4,979pp (two sharing), saving over £1,450pp. Click to book
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in a Cabin Suite for two sharing, with Grand Canal Suite at Ca’ Sagredo, all for £5,579pp (two sharing), saving over £3,050pp. Click to book
This will be extremely popular, and we do not want you to miss out, so please book now by clicking your choice of the options above—or call Member Services now on 020 7399 2960!
You are also welcome to extend the pleasure further by adding extra nights in Venice—or in London, perhaps enjoying a five-star night at The Ritz or The Goring at exclusive advantageous Club rates, to begin the journey in suitably fine style. If you wish to take the Orient-Express back to London, please let us know!