The Blue Train

The Blue Train is amongst the most popular train journeys to take in the world and should be up for real consideration if visiting South Africa.  Many flights from the UK to Cape Town do have a stop in Johannesburg on route and so rather than getting the connecting flight on to Cape Town, why not consider getting the Blue Train there instead?

This 5* ‘hotel on wheels’ oozes luxury and is the perfect introduction to this country which is gloriously rich in nature, culture and charm.  Taking you on a journey through deserts and grasslands, this 27 hour train ride is by no means brief but it is exceptionally comfortable.  The train is home to up to 80 guests each trip and offers a choice of deluxe or luxury suites which look more like plush hotel rooms than suites on a train.  Luxury suites offer complimentary butler service, all have showers and baths and there is the option to have a double bed or twin configurations.  The deluxe suites are just a little smaller with most having showers but a few do have ¾ size baths so you can soak up the experience whilst racing across the countryside.  The deluxe cabins do have a limited number of double beds.

double cabin

Deluxe Suite. Photo by Simon Pielow.

Guests all receive brunch, high tea, dinner and breakfast and also have the opportunity to stop off on route at the end of day one to explore the Open Mine Museum at Kimberley.

The trains depart from Pretoria (just over half an hour north of Johannesburg Airport) at 08:30 every day and arrive into Cape Town at midday the following day.  They run on selected Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and so ensure your trip times in if you don’t want to miss it.

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Holidays in Transit

How do you travel to your holiday destination?  Car, boat, bus, train, plane…..?  Well how about you choose one of those methods of transport as your accommodation too!  We have picked some interesting places for you to stay on your travels:

For plane enthusiasts there could be no better option than Airplane Suites in Amsterdam.  A well travelled 1960s plane has been converted into a hotel suite strictly for 2 people.  It has a double bedroom, bathroom (with a Jacuzzi and an infrared sauna!), kitchen, living space, free Wi-Fi and air conditioning and prices start from just £125 per night.

Airplane Suites

Off to Paris on the Eurostar and love trains?  Spend the night before at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London.  This elegant 5* hotel was restored in time for its grand reopening in 2011 and hosts The Chambers Suites, a luxury collection of suites with some dazzling touches.  We particularly like the junior suites which have views onto the platform although if you would like luxury on a budget, you can choose to stay in a King/Queen room from just £189 per night (including a Friday in August!).

St Pancras Renaissance

You may be more at home on the water and if you’re a fan of the Beatles or you just like something a little different, the Yellow Submarine in Liverpool may be for you.  Décor from around the world comes together to create this unique floating hotel which even has a bedroom based on the suite at the 7* Burj Al Arab in Dubai.  The Yellow Submarine would suit 5-6 people and start from around £175 per night.

Yellow Submarine

Alternatively, if you would like a positive sinking feeling, try an actual submarine.  From £87,500 per person per night (not a mistake!), Lovers Deep departs from a Caribbean Island of your choice and offers a Butler service, an aphrodisiac tasting menu and even optional rose petals and a Barry White soundtrack for those of you who can’t get enough.

Lovers Deep

And one for the future, Japan’s Cruise train, the JR East, is set to start running in Spring 2017.  Looking at the plans and photo mock up, you could be fooled into thinking this is a plush hotel and not a carriage on rails which will be moving at speed.

 Dining car