All aboard! My dream journey on Eire’s solely luxurious sleeper practice

A long time of film magic are testomony to the locomotive’s energy to evoke journey, intrigue, romance, and nostalgia for an Agatha Christie period of pink gin and mysterious moustachioed males.

The choo-choo can be, after all, a way of getting from A to B, and recently I had the singular pleasure of travelling within the grandest of favor aboard the Belmond Grand Hibernian, Eire’s longest practice, and its solely luxurious sleeper.

My opulent Style of Eire odyssey, which might see me traverse the east coast’s size, started in Dublin’s five-star Westbury Resort, the place, within the deco-style Sidecar Bar, croissants and low accompany the check-in. A pristine white field contained my ticket, too-lovely-to-use baggage tags, and a journey journal brimful of details about the loco and my impending two-day jaunt.

Gemma at the Belmond Grand Hibernian’s on-board bar with Dona

Gemma on the Belmond Grand Hibernian’s on-board bar with Dona


One of many cabins on board. Photograph: Tony Gavin

With the exceedingly nice formalities full, my journey companions and I are whisked, by luxurious coach, by way of Viking Dublin, as our host, Vincent Butler, as erudite a person as you’d meet, offers us a potted historical past of the realm, mentioning the divisive Wooden Quay website as we move – the place, certainly, he labored as an archaeologist within the 1980s.

Our occasion disembarks at Heuston Station to be greeted by a lone bagpiper, and, feeling like bone-fide celebs, we observe the drone of rousing insurgent songs by way of the constructing named for Sean Heuston, an executed chief of the Rising. Commuters whisper and level as our crocodile approaches Platform 2, the place the purple carpet is laid out to welcome us aboard the gleaming midnight-blue locomotive that awaits.

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Members of workers with the Belmond Grand Hibernian, pictured after it arrived into Heuston Station for its Irish launch in 2016. File Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Eire.

Michael McCarthy, the practice supervisor, ushers me left, into Kildare, the Commentary Automobile, a symphony of heat wooden, Irish tweed and panoramic home windows, the place I am provided a calming glass (the primary of many) of Laurent-Perrier. My every day rail commute, I needn’t let you know, was seeming decidedly shabby compared.

Belmond’s luxe loco includes 10 carriages, all of that are named for an Irish county. On making my solution to my en suite cabin, in Fermanagh State Automobile, I uncover a soothing oasis of taupe tones: twin beds, wearing Egyptian cotton, topped with baby-soft McNutt tartan throws; a desk, a wardrobe, a toilet and bathe with fancy Bamford toiletries – but it surely’s the little touches that make this ergonomically excellent house so particular: a cut-glass vase of wildflowers; framed prints of Inis Mor’s Serpent’s Lair; a ebook of Wilde witticisms and one other of Vincent’s beautiful snaps (in assist of Simon), and, not least, a hand-written welcome word.

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The lounge on board the Belmond Grand Hibernian. File Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Eire.

Subsequent: lunch. Served by the peerless workers within the Wexford automotive, at immaculate tables set with silver, crystal and splendid china, it is a fine-dining delight. All meals have veggie choices, and the manager chef, Mark Bodie, ex the Dylan Resort and L’Ecrivain, expertly adjusts the faultless fare to particular dietary necessities.

Out the window, emerald fields of cud-chewing Friesians whisk by, the luxurious panorama with out on a par with the luxe loveliness inside. The top-to-end placement of the tables fosters conviviality between visitors, and loquacious Invoice from Virginia retains our desk of hacks entertained on subjects as numerous as boondoggling (work disguised as enjoyable, he explains) and the definitive Dublin pub.

As we chat, Vincent alerts us that we’re traversing the Boyne, a mere three miles from the well-known battle.

All too quickly, we trundle into Belfast’s Central Station, from the place a bus ferries us to sleepy Hillsborough – as soon as residence to 35,000 linen producers – for an after-hours tour of its fortress, one among Her Majesty’s many residences, and host to the negotiations that led to the historic Good Friday Settlement. A golden pineapple atop a plinth speaks of an prosperous previous: the backyard partitions held sufficient warmth to nurture the unique fruit at a time when a single specimen price £5k.


Gemma on the Belmond Grand Hibernian’s on-board bar with Dona

Right here, we’re handled extra like royalty than celebs as, tour over, we mingle within the homely drawing room quaffing pink Champagne, and admiring Prince Charles’s watercolour of the Mountains of Mourne (he is good) as a harpist plucks a lilting Carrickfergus. The life, I let you know.

Again at base, a nap is adopted by dinner – assume Dexter beef, quail eggs, black truffle tortellini – and normal bonhomie on the tables (bolstered, sure, by the nice wines) after which we restore to the Commentary Automobile for an interlude from Gerry O’Connor and son Feilimi, who enchant the captive viewers with their musicianship.

We steady in Dundalk for the night time, and I am past wanting to snuggle into the crisp sheets of my lush lodgings, as I do know, come early morning, we’ll be off once more and the Belmond will rock me like a lover into the Lord’s Day.

Dawn’s leisurely tootle down the east coast – punctuated by pastries, after which brunch avec Bellinis – terminates at Eire’s oldest metropolis, Waterford, based by the Vikings in 914. We’re off, bussing it to the Marble Metropolis, residence of the Butlers, as soon as homeowners of two counties of Eire’s 32. Vincent, offering the commentary, reminds us that Kilkenny, a Norman stronghold, is famously the place the invaders grew to become ‘extra Irish than the Irish themselves’, forcing the English to enact the Statutes of Kilkenny.


Waiter Mark O’Doherty serves a passenger within the lounge. Photograph: Tony Gavin

It is my hometown, and because the group go touring the luxurious fortress and medieval streets, the all-female band of journos want solely to be pointed within the route of the town’s greatest boutiques. A number of purchases and Irish coffees later (courtesy of the quirky 16th Century Gap within the Wall hostelry, a must-visit) we regroup in Butler Home, Kilkenny Fort’s dower home, for a powerful afternoon tea – and with the elements sourced inside 60km of the property, a low-carbon footprint one at that.

I am getting fairly used to savouring how the opposite half dwell, so it is no shock (OK, it’s!) when, again at Waterford Station, we’re greeted on the platform by Michael, Donal, Lola, Slaven, et al, who proffer nips of cinnamon-infused Jameson in crystal shot glasses. It is bottoms up, and again to my cabin, Fermanagh, to spruce up for Champers and canapes within the Commentary Automobile.

My cabin’s bathe is much better than my at-home dribbler, whereas such is the magnifying mirror’s efficacy, that its model is famous for googling and buy. It’s, certainly, the little issues that increase the bar.

Nightfall is falling as we chug into Bagenalstown for stabling, the solar’s final golden rays illuminating the silver desk settings as we sit to feast on Annagassan lobster, beef Wellington, ending with a melting chocolate sphere that reveals a centre of raspberry sorbet and silky caramel. The on-board consuming alternatives are legion, however the excellent parts make it eminently attainable to take pleasure in all the things with out feeling overfull.

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The tea rooms on board the Belmond Grand Hibernian.Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Eire.

Our closing night time is enhanced by the riotous triumvirate of bodhrán, fiddle and guitar that’s Tri le Cheile, who’ve us all singing alongside to all the things from Molly Malone to Raglan Street. It is a whole blast, and tiddly from Champagne and chansons, I collapse, blissful out, into my high-thread-count haven for a closing time.

Monday morning sees us all linger lengthy over breakfast aboard the midnight-blue magnificence because it returns to Heuston, and, sadly, the dream journey’s finish. Like I mentioned, trains are thrilling. However the Belmond Grand Hibernian is sure for glory.

do it

Costs for a two-night ‘Style of Eire’ journey on board the Belmond Grand Hibernian begin from €three,100pp, primarily based on two individuals sharing a double or twin cabin, and together with all desk d’hote meals, drinks and excursions. To ebook, or for extra info, go to or name + 44 845 077-2222.

For bookings for the two-night or four-night journeys in July, August and September 2019, a complementary night time at The Westbury Resort in Dublin shall be provided to visitors the night time earlier than the practice journey begins.

NB: This function initially appeared in The Sunday Unbiased.

Sunday Unbiased

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