A billow of steam, red-liveried porters heaving luggage trunks, a kiss blown from a gloved hand… The very mention of luxury sleepers evokes images from Golden Age movies. But with Belmond’s new midnight-blue Grand Hibernian, passengers can sample some of the old world splendour of a classic railway journey — if they’re not too distracted by the sweeping landscapes.
The Belmond Grand Hibernian, which makes its inaugural journey from Dublin on 9 August, will be Ireland’s first luxury sleeper train, with two-, four- and six-night itineraries taking in the scenic and cultural treasures of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Accommodating just 40 passengers in 10 carriages, highlights of its first journey include the Lakes of Killarney and the breathtaking ‘bens’ (mountains) of the Connemara National Park, the castles of Ashford and Blarney, and traditional music and crafts in Galway.
Inside, carriages have been modelled to reflect Dublin’s Georgian architecture and each carriage has accented colours taken from the tartan of the Irish counties after which they’ve been named. The two wood-panelled dining cars serve gourmet Irish fare, including regional cheeses, just-caught seafood and plenty of premium whiskies.
Prices start from €3,160 (£2,500) per person for a two-night journey, fully inclusive.
Published in the Jul/Aug 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)