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VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT-EXPRESS: A BELMON TRAIN FROM PARIS TO PORTOFINO

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Published by Sugar & Cream, Monday 29 January 2024

Text and images courtesy of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Launching next June, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, Europe will travel to the Ligurian coast for the very first time in its four-decade history, connecting the two iconic destinations of Paris and Portofino. This new, annual overnight journey will see the train winding through the French countryside and along the coastline of the Mediterranean Riviera, concluding at Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino, where guests will reside for two nights. Steeped in history and glamour, Splendido offers a cinematic escape perched in the hills overlooking Portofino. Here, Jean Imbert, the legendary train’s renowned Michelin-starred chef, will host a special culinary evening with a bespoke tasting menu – a gastronomic ode to this new voyage.

A COASTAL TRAIN RIDE CONNECTING TWO CULTURAL LEGENDS
As the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express departs Paris on Thursday 20 June, guests are invited to step aboard and soak up the Art Deco ambiance of their accommodation of choice. With the recent addition of eight new Suites, the train now offers a trio of cabin categories to suit every traveller: the Historic Cabins where a daytime lounge magically transforms into cosy upper and lower berth beds; lavish new Suites offering twin or double beds with marble ensuite bathrooms; and Grand Suites — six vast private suites that nod back to golden age of travel in true 1920s grandeur, each taking inspiration from Europe’s most alluring cities: Paris, Venice, Istanbul, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.


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After settling in and enjoying a French goûter in their cabins, guests will gather in Bar Car ‘3674’ for handcrafted cocktails and live music by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ resident pianist. As the train winds past the cities of Dijon, Lyon and Avignon, a new summer menu by Michelin-starred chef Jean Imbert will be served in restaurant cars Côte d’Azur, L’Oriental, and Étoile du Nord. Accompanying each course are handpicked wines from the train’s extensive collection, an homage to Europe’s finest appellations. After dinner, it’s back to the iconic livery of Bar Car ‘3674’, where drinks will flow and The Uppertones – an energetic three-man-band of trombone, vocals, piano, and drums playing Swing, Boogie and Calypso tunes, will play long into the night.

The next morning, an indulgent continental breakfast will be served in the privacy of the cabins, to the backdrop of spectacular coastal views as the railway connects France with Italy, moving past the famous towns of Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. As the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express gracefully crosses the Italian border, guests can admire the vibrant cities of Ventimiglia, Savona, and Genoa — the former capital of one of the world’s most powerful maritime republics. In this final leg of the journey, a delicious brunch will be served before arriving in Santa Margherita Ligure where the train experience ends, but the Italian sojourn continues at Splendido.

HOLLYWOOD SPIRIT MEETS ITALIAN GLAMOUR
A former 16th century Benedictine monastery perched in the lush Ligurian hills, Splendido offers the perfect continuation of this summer sojourn. From Friday 21 to Sunday 23, guests will indulge in the ultimate Villeggiatura — soaking up the sun at the hotel’s recently redesigned salt-water swimming pool, with unrivalled views of the Gulf of Portofino. These vistas can also be admired from the glamorous rooms and suites inspired by the noble Palazzos of the region; the terraced gardens surrounding the hotel; as well as the two resident restaurants – the newly launched Splendido Grill and the renowned open-air, La Terrazza.

On Friday 21 June, guests will be treated to a five-course tasting menu by Chef Jean Imbert at La Terrazza, specially curated in celebration of new journey, ahead of after-dinner drinks in the cocktail bar, inviting guests to step into the footsteps of legends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart and Liza Minelli.

For the grand finale of this three-night experience, guests are invited to experience the cinematic soul of Portofino with a private film screening under the stars on the iconic “Piazzetta” — the very heart of the port town, surrounded by the vibrant tapestry of colourful fishermen houses, and where Splendido’s sister hotel – Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino, resides.

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