The luxuriously appointed carriages of the Orient Express once trundled across Europe and western Asia, connecting continental capitals with style and grace. Onboard, passengers were treated to a refined rail travel experience, with sumptuous cabins, decadent dining and the kind of service you’d expect from a luxury hotel, as they made the three-day journey from Paris to Constantinople.
After laying low for the last few years, Orient Express is making a long-awaited comeback with the launch of La Dolce Vita, a collection of six luxury trains, each comprised of 11 meticulously restored 1970s First Class carriages. Departing from Rome, the trains will visit iconic destinations across 14 regions including the Amalfi Coast, the vineyards of Tuscany and the volcanic landscapes of Naples and Sicily, when the first train launches in 2023, with immersive guest experiences celebrating la dolce vita at each stop along the way.
Designed by Milan-based Dimorestudio to recapture the Art Deco spirit of Italy’s golden age in the 1960s and 1970s, the trains will each be home to 12 deluxe cabins, 18 suites and one flagship Honour Suite, as well as a restaurant car where international chefs and sommeliers will celebrate Italian ingredients and wines.
Three international itineraries will take passengers from the Italian capital to Paris, Istanbul and Split, recreating the journeys of old, following an overnight stay in Orient-Express Hotel, Minerva, the first of many Orient Express-branded luxury hotels. Situated adjacent to the Trevi Fountain in a 17th-century palazzo, the 92-room hotel will be home to a Guerlain spa and hammam, a rooftop lounge and 34 suites when it opens in 2024.
“The original train route was innovative in the way it paradoxically brought cultures together – the Occident with the Orient, history with modernity,” says Stephen Alden, CEO Raffles and Orient Express, Accor. “As artisans of travel, we wish to revive this old-world, awe-inspiring ‘journey to elsewhere’ and reconcile certain paradoxes: a journey and a destination, astonishment and inspiration, movement and contemplation.”
In September, Orient Express launched Steam Dream, a collection of vintage travel objects created in partnership with 18 luxury houses and designers. From leather goods and luggage to glassware and bedding, the collection was launched via a pop-up event at the recently reopened La Samaritaine department store in Paris; a sign of the company’s intention to embrace the art of luxury living through culture and retail, as well as trains and hotels, according to Guillaume de Saint Jager, vice president of Orient Express.