Travel review: The Golden Age of Travel on the British Pullman

One of the five courses on the British Pullman train.

One of the five courses on the British Pullman train. - Credit: Archant

When you climb aboard the British Pullman train as it rests by the platform in London Victoria, you take a step back into time to the era of steam engines, comfort and elegance.

The British Pullman train.

The British Pullman train. - Credit: Archant

The train is the sister to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express - the mere mention of the name conjures up images of the 1930s, resounding film music and Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot.

Everything about the train is what you would expect: superb accommodation, and space to sit and enjoy one of the best rail journeys you can enjoy in Britain.

The “Golden Age of Travel” is a circular rail trip through Kent beginning and ending at Victoria. The journey gives you time to relax and enjoy the delicious five-course meal served at your table by the same smart stewards who greeted you on ther platform and showed you to your soft and well-upholstered armchair seat at linen-clothed tables softly lit by silk lamps.

But the banter by the stewards shows that you are travelling in 2013 and not 1930.


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One of the stewards was helping two diners choose the wine they wanted to accompany lunch.

He referred to the two house wines.

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He said: “The Chianti is like the Sopranos: rough around the edges but full of body.

“The Merlot is more like a French romance, quickly over but with a delightful lingering memory…”

Not the kind of descriptions you get from your normal wine waiter.

We opted for the Sopranos: I always liked the show and the wine was full-bodied.

And the food was delicious. It was well-prepared, beautifully served and difficult to believe that the chefs had managed to be so successful in the compartment kitchens you can check as you are encouraged to walk through the train and enjoy the full Pullman experience.

As the train slowed to a halt for a leg-stretch in Whitstable a jazz band played on the platform and passengers were invited to taste the town’s famous oysters and wash them down with chilled but sparkling champagne.

In these days of austerity it is fantastic to lose yourself in a day of indulgence for a train journey that is all too soon over but like the Merlot is a delightful lingering memory.

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