I love European train travel and look for opportunities to indulge this passion whenever the opportunity arises. Whether aboard a slow local train or a high-speed version that whisks me from one large city to another, riding the rails is my favorite means of transport. Combine that with historic luxury, and I am in travel heaven.

A train ride worth the splurge

I first experienced the historic Belmond British Pullman train when my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We travelled aboard Belmond’s Venice-Simplon Orient Express on two segments from Venice to London. On that trip, the Venice to Paris leg was on the iconic blue and gold restored carriages of the Orient Express. But, once we crossed the Chunnel, our journey to London continued aboard the equally historic Belmond British Pullman.

The multi-day Orient Express trip was indeed a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for many, the price is out of reach. In contrast, a day trip on the British Pullman puts a somewhat more manageable dent into one’s wallet. Although still pricey, it’s worth the splurge for a special occasion.

A choice of Belmond British Pullman itineraries

Our intimate and elegant table for two on the British Pullman (credit: Rose Palmer)

Our intimate and elegant table for two on the British Pullman (credit: Rose Palmer)

The British Pullman runs year-round and offers a variety of itineraries each month leaving from London (usually Victoria Station). Some of the itineraries are all about enjoying the vintage luxury train setting:  Options include fine dining lunch journeys, exquisitely British afternoon teas, and murder mystery tours that challenge you to find out if it was the butler with the candle stick in the library who did it.

One of three brunch courses on the Belmond British Pullman

One of three brunch courses on the Belmond British Pullman

If you desire more than a train ride to nowhere, the British Pullman also offers excursions to popular locations such as Bath, Blenheim Palace or Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey) just to name a few. These all-day trips include private tours at the destination, along with the sumptuous dining experience that is the British Pullman hallmark.

I also experienced the British Pullman on a special journey to the Winchester Christmas Market. The cars were festively decorated for the holidays, and sitting in one made me feel like I was in the middle of a Dickens story (even without the snow).

The holiday dinner setting included traditional English crackers (credit: Rose Palmer)

The holiday dinner setting included traditional English crackers (credit: Rose Palmer)

Our day started with a delicious brunch and Bellini as the train travelled south. Once we reached Winchester, guides took us through the town to the cathedral, where we had informative small group tours about the long history of this famous church. That was followed by ample free time during the afternoon to explore the many stalls of the Christmas Market, one of the largest in the UK. As the sun set, we boarded the train again and for the next three hours, savored champagne and a decadent four-course dinner complete with authentic popping English Christmas crackers.

A visit to the Winchester Cathedral and its annual Christmas Market (credit: Rose Palmer)

A visit to the Winchester Cathedral and its annual Christmas Market (credit: Rose Palmer)

My British Pullman train trip was indeed a special event, and it was all that much more magical during the festive holiday season. 


What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?

  • A British Pullman train trip is a unique historical experience that provides a glimpse into the luxurious golden age of train travel.
  • It is an easy excursion with most trips leaving from Victoria Station in central London.

Take note

  • Cost per ticket varies from about £250 to £700 depending on the type of journey.
  • Journeys are available for booking up to a year in advance, and popular ones like Highclere Castle sell out quickly.

Read the full story of Rose Palmer’s Belmond British Pullman Day trip to the Winchester Christmas Market on Quiltripping.

My Merry Christmas Train Trip

Photo credits: All photos by Rose Palmer


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