Tourism. The third generation of the legendary Orient-Express is unveiled

The legendary Orient-Express train should be back in service! The Accor hotel group has revealed a series of images of the train it plans to put back on track in 2025. A bar with spectacular green benches under glass domes, a living room that transforms into a comfortable bedroom…

The first images of the train evoke a cocoon on rails in which a maximum of 64 wealthy people can travel. Marble, rosewood, mother-of-pearl and bronze beads, deep armchairs, an impressive witch’s mirror above a bed worthy of an African luxury lodge, pillows that we guess are soft and a car very art deco restaurant.

Accor will “reinvent the myth”

Orient Express, the subsidiary responsible for promoting the legacy of the famous train that inspired Agatha Christie, wants to “be one with the myth”, explains its vice-president Guillaume de Saint Lager. And “reinvent the myth” with a luxury hotel that moves from one capital to another.

The new train will of course take over the historic route of the Orient Express, which connected Paris to Constantinople (now Istanbul) from 1883 to 1977 (with interruptions during the two world wars). But not only. “We’re going for a walk,” says the young manager somewhat mysteriously. “We never talk about price,” he says. It will probably be necessary to have several tens of thousands of euros in front of you, given the prices of luxury trains.

Everything in its time. The marketing plan, perfectly oiled, provides for successive “revelations”. The pictures of the presidential suite – promised with a bathtub – will be revealed in December in Miami and the pictures of the “winter garden” next year. “This car is extraordinary, it is the most anticipated,” laughs Mr. de Saint Lager. More specifically, the first three converted cars, including the bar and restaurant, will be exhibited in Paris during the 2024 Olympic Games.

The team apparently has a lot of money at its disposal to rebuild 17 vintage cars of the “real” Orient-Express from the 1920s, 13 of which were found, abandoned, on the Belarusian border. They were in good enough condition to excite railway archeology enthusiasts, but “unable to withstand the slightest technical control”, notes Maxime d’Angeac, the architect responsible for transforming them.

Restoration and development of the train entrusted to the French

While their bodies undergo a makeover, he’s finalizing the design with his nose in the original plans of the venerable International Sleeping Car Company. “This is the third version of the Orient-Express, after the first generation – fin de siècle – from 1880 and the second – art deco – from 1920”, he explains. With a decor that pays homage to its elders while being “extremely modern” and all modern conveniences.

“We have recovered everything, crumb by crumb”, from the Art Deco elements of the transformed cars, assures Mr. d’Angeac: “The Lalique flowers (lampshades, ed. note), the Lalique glass plates, marquetry … Everything , what we were able to keep, we recycled! Almost everything will be transformed: “Ten cabins with toilets at the end of the corridor, it was strictly impossible to recycle”, notes the architect. Orient Express is now talking about suites: There will only be 32 on the train.The small private dining car lounge is original.

All work on the restoration and development of the train must be left to luxury houses and French craftsmen, assures Guillaume de Saint Lager. Accor, the sixth largest hotel group in the world, is now solely responsible for Orient Express since SNCF sold its shares to it in the spring.

The subsidiary is to launch the “Orient Express La Dolce Vita”, another luxury train that will run in Italy from 2024. This will use Trenitalia cars from the 1970s, which of course have been converted into luxury hotels. Two very beautiful hotels are also set to reopen under the Orient Express brand, in Rome and Venice, before establishing themselves in the Ryad. Well before then, the new design of the Orient-Express will be presented, confronted with archival documents, in an exhibition from October 17 to 21 at the Domus Maubourg in Paris.

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