For many, pivoting to travelling by train is increasingly seen as a smarter choice and one that is set to continue to rise in popularity in 2023; easier than buses, more relaxing than driving, and more sustainable than flying. In many destinations, riding the rails is also an unbridled joy — a chance to explore like locals or simply sit back and admire breath taking scenery.
Marriott Bonvoy has hand selected five epic train routes in Europe and Africa to add to your travel bucket list for 2023.
EGYPT: CAIRO TO ASWAN
Tracing the route of the river Nile, the train line between Cairo and Aswan isn’t just the easiest way to travel between the two cities, it’s utterly spectacular, too. From your seat you will spy riverside farms, ramshackle villages and lush fruit orchards and enjoy a captivating window into local life. The journey lasts around 13 hours, with VIP Express trains offering the fastest and most polished service. Skip the overnight sleeper train and enjoy the daytime panoramas instead — though if you must snooze, book the cabin’s top bunk for a smoother night’s sleep.
Where to Stay?
Cairo: The St. Regis Cairo
Set off from Cairo in style, rising tall on the banks of the River Nile, The St. Regis Cairo is located at the North end of the Corniche, in the heart of Egypt’s bustling metropolis providing easy access to the magnificent monuments of a city steeped in history. The epitome of modern Egyptian glamour, the hotel affords exquisite design and boasts 286 lavishly appointed guestrooms and suites, and 80 luxurious apartments. The St. Regis Cairo stands as a pivotal landmark with its 36 stories, gracefully designed by the renowned architect Michael Graves. The property comes complete with seven thoughtfully crafted restaurants and bars including La Zisa, overlooking the bright views of the Nile.
WESTERN EUROPE: LONDON TO PARIS, BRUSSELS ANDAMSTERDAM
Eurostar trains connect St. Pancras Station — in the U.K.’s capital — with Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Lille, speeding beneath the English Channel, a whopping 246 feet below sea level, in just 20 minutes. With no weight limit for luggage or airport transfers, explorers can disembark in city centres in just a few hours, ready for their next adventure. Whether it’s a sunset cruise on Paris’ River Seine, devouring a chocolate tour of Brussels or discovering art masterpieces at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the decision is yours and Marriott Bonvoy offers the perfect place for guests to stay and recharge along the way.
Where to Stay?
London: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
Experience the iconic St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. Originally opened in 1873, the historic 245-guestroom hotel welcomes visitors to the heart of King’s Cross, with direct access to the station and Eurostar, plus Camden Town, Regent’s Canal, and the buzzing Granary Square all within walking distance. For a truly unique dining experience, guests can tantalise their taste buds at the Booking Office 1869 which is housed in St. Pancras Station’s original ticket hall, serving the finest of British cuisine. Every pet-friendly guestroom and suite combines a sense of elegant history with modern comfort and includes plush bedding, flat-screen TVs and inviting décor. Guests can also enjoy expanded living rooms and take advantage of the property’s gym, and spa.
Paris: Hotel De Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris
Situated in the fashionable 8th arrondissement in the heart of the city, Hotel de Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris features 40 individually-designed guestrooms and 35 spacious suites. Located just steps away from Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris Triangle d’Or, Champs-Elysée, Avenue George V and Avenue Montaigne, the hotel is surrounded by stylish boutiques, art galleries and Parisian nightlife. Celebrating the 20th Century’s greatest names in decorative arts, the hotel combines the cache of an esteemed private art collection with Parisian elegance to create an authentic and homely atmosphere. Hotel de Berri is just a 20-minute drive from the Eurostar, so it’s the perfect stop on your travels for taking in the sights.
Amsterdam: W Amsterdam
Split across two unique buildings – a former telephone exchange and a bank – W Amsterdam is an intriguing mix of heritage and contemporary style featuring 238 stylish guestrooms, including 23 suites with two lavish Extreme WOW Suites. Combining historical Dutch architectural elements with cutting-edge design right next to Dam Square, and within walking distance to Amsterdam Central station, the hotel is located at the epicentre of this energetic and forward-thinking city. Indulge in one of the property’s restaurants, Michelin-starred The Duchess, or Mr Porter, taste signature sips at W Lounge, or take a dip at WET Deck – the
SCOTLAND: THE WEST HIGHLAND LINE
Herculean peaks, emerald valleys and a constellation of glittering lochs: The West Highland Line weaves through some of Scotland’s most glorious scenery and crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct — the 21-arch railway bridge that starred in four Harry Potter movies. Board the train in Glasgow, and marvel as the city’s urban sprawl yields to pure mountainous splendour. The train is catnip for hikers, cyclists, foodies, and thrill-seekers who hop off at remote villages such as Ardlui and Tyndrum in search of Highland adventures — but the view from the window is just as exhilarating. At Fort William, the track heads westward to Mallaig, where ferries depart for the wild Isle of Skye. Multiple trains run along this route, including the charming Jacobite steam locomotive, which chugs between Fort William and Mallaig during summer.
Where to Stay?
Glasgow: Moxy Glasgow Merchant City
Start your adventure at Moxy Glasgow Merchant City, where the thrills are at your fingertips. Play is serious business here, guests can leave their comfy modern room and hit the streets to check out the street art, visit the Gallery of Modern Art or go to George Square to watch some busking. After an exhilarating day of exploring the city, guests can put their feet up and enjoy the signature Moxy no. 5 Cocktail. The Glasgow Moxy Hotel has all the must-see places within walking distance and the train station is only 10-minute walk away. If you happen to fall in love with Scotland, why not pop Edinburgh on your bucket list as the new W Edinburgh will be opening later this year.
SWITZERLAND AND ITALY: BERNINA EXPRESS
The beauty of the Bernina Express changes dramatically with the seasons as it tours along its four-hour journey between Chur (Switzerland) and Tirano (northern Italy). In the summer, the train weaves through wildflower meadows and forest-filled valleys with sun-kissed views of quaint mountain villages; but in the winter, that same Alpine landscape is painted pristine white — a vision of snow-capped peaks and ancient glaciers. However, the route’s human-made wonders steal the show: the immense Landwasser Viaduct, a six-arched bridge that spans towering mountainsides, and the looping Brusio Spiral Viaduct, a feat of engineering that’s more than 100 years old. Don’t be fooled by the “Express” name: This graceful train seems to savour every twist and turn of its surroundings, and in its panoramic carriages with extra-large windows, you’ll certainly do the same.
Where to Stay?
Geneva: Geneva Marriott Hotel
Why not start your journey in Geneva; the ideal base for travellers, Geneva Marriott Hotel is located between majestic mountains and Lake Geneva. Close to the train station, it is well connected to the city centre. Reflecting the region’s entrepreneurial mindset and passion for innovation, it trailblazes a new direction for hospitality. Inspired by the industrial heritage of the destination, interiors celebrate advances in the motor and aeronautic industries first explored by Swiss entrepreneurs. Designed to satisfy the modern traveller’s every need, the hotel has 263 guestrooms and suites. Focused on reducing environmental impact, Geneva Marriott is dedicated to a ‘think global, act local’ approach. From the building’s state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems to tasty cuisine and cocktails, crafted from regionally sourced produce, each aspect of the guest journey is ethically significant.
Zurich: Zurich Marriott Hotel
An ideal pitstop along your way and just an hours train journey from Chur with stunning lake views, brilliant decor and exceptional service, Zurich Marriott Hotel invites you to experience Switzerland in style. Nestled downtown along the banks of the Limmat River, the hotel conveniently offers access to iconic attractions. Guests can stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old Town and admire medieval architecture on their way to upscale shopping at Bahnhofstrasse, or swimming at Lake Zurich. After a day of sightseeing, unwind at the hotels New York-inspired bar featuring rare whiskies, before retiring to one of the 266 guestrooms with contemporary decor, and TVs.
EASTERN EUROPE: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY, TO SPLIT CROATIA
Depending on what time you catch the Adria InterCity train from Budapest to Split, you might just pass Hungary’s Lake Balaton in time for sunset. With its bobbing yachts and tranquil waters, this vast waterway is a picturesque backdrop for the train’s journey from Hungary to Croatia’s coast, along with mountain views and sunflower-filled fields. The entire route takes 14 hours in total, in state-of-the-art carriages offering various berth styles and classes — but if time is on your side, consider taking the indirect local trains via Zagreb, Croatia. With its twin-spired cathedral, buzzing cafés and vibrant museums (including the infamous Museum of Broken Relationships), this is a stop-off you won’t want to miss.
Where to Stay?
Budapest: W Budapest
Start your journey off in style with W Hotels brand entry into Hungary in 2023 with the opening of W Budapest, slated to open this summer. Located on Andrassy Avenue (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), directly across from the State Opera House on the city’s most luxurious shopping street, this historic palace will re-open its doors bringing local storytelling to life through the brand’s bold interpretation of luxury. Housed in the impressive Drechsler Palace, previously home to the Institute of Ballet, the new hotel will offer visionary design, eclectic gastronomy and a socially driven spirit drawn from the cosmopolitan capital. W Budapest will feature 151 chic guestrooms and suites, including one Extreme WOW (Presidential) Suite. The hotel restaurant, destination bar and W Lounge will be embraced by locals and travellers alike as a place to mix and mingle. A destination for events of all sizes, W Budapest offers three meeting and event spaces, including a Great Room for larger celebrations. The new opening will also offer an Away® Spa,
Split: Le Meridien Lav, Split
End your adventure with stunning sea views at Le Méridien Lav, Split, providing guests with a different perspective on the destination – a new way of seeing Dalmatia along this exciting coastline. Each of the 378 guestrooms and suites offer floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to large balconies, a 50″ smart TV and separate sofa seating. Situated 8km south of Split in Podstrana on the Dalmatian Coast, Le Méridien Lav, Split enjoys a beautiful setting boasting an 800-metre stretch of beach, a world-class spa, as well as numerous restaurants and bars.