A glamorous reboot of the Orient Express is hitting the rails in 2024, and the first look inside its carriages is breathtaking. By Stefanie Waldek
Operated by the Orient Express brand, part of the Accor hospitality group, this new edition of the legendary luxury train has a tie-in to the past: it comprises 17 carriages from the original Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, which were discovered in Poland in 2015.
The iconic train line has a complex history; the first Orient Express route was inaugurated in 1883, connecting Paris and Istanbul (then Constantinople) via trains and ferries. From that point forward, a number of operators have used the Orient Express name, travelling on a variety of routes that crisscross Europe. That included the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, which operated throughout most of the 1980s and included a long-haul trip from Paris to Tokyo.
Here’s how the Orient Express looks like after the remodel
Now the Orient Express brand is reviving the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, tapping French designer Maxime d’Angeac to expertly refurbish and update the original 17 cars.
“By slipping into the shoes of its creators, from René Prou to Suzanne Lalique, I tried to reinterpret the history of this legendary train, not only with nostalgia, but with a desire to extend its history, to transport us to another place. As if it was all a dream,” d’Angeac said in a statement released to Travel + Leisure.
That dreamlike quality explains why there’s a blend of asynchronous design styles. In the Bar Car, four columns with bronze capitals support Second Empire–style glass domes, beneath which are a bevvy of scalloped banquets. Then in the Dining Car, guests experience a classic art deco look inspired by trains themselves, with mirrored ceilings, marquetry panels, and decor motifs nodding to 20th-century illustrator Suzanne Lalique’s tapestries.
The suites are a touch more contemporary — though they still have a vintage brown-and-jewel-tone colour palette, they play with quirky geometry, from the square panels and circular perspective-shifting mirrors adorning the walls to the abstract comet pattern on the carpet.
“Some guests will think that [the train] has been built in the 1930s. Others will see that it’s a modern interpretation, but we like to play with the notion of time and to really blur the line between past and future,” Guillaume de Saint Lager, vice president of Orient Express, previously told Travel + Leisure.
The reimagined Orient Express will be making two preview stops in the form of immersive exhibitions, this week in Paris, from October 17–21, and then in Miami Beach at Design Miami, from November 30 to December 4. And the train itself is scheduled to depart in early 2024.
While you’re waiting for that big debut, keep an eye on the Orient Express brand’s other upcoming projects: hotels in Rome, Venice, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which will create an entire world of Orient Express–linked travel opportunities.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
Main and Feature Image Credit: Maxime d’Angeac/Courtesy of Orient Express, Accor