Train travel evokes a unique sense of romance and adventure, which is why we shot our new limited-edition Deluxe Amethyst suitcase on board the glamorous Belmond British Pullman. To celebrate the launch, we explore the world’s most architecturally spectacular train stations
St Pancras International, London, UK
This sweeping Grade-I listed station is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture, designed by the great George Gilbert Scott. Today, it’s one of London’s most picturesque public buildings, but things could have turned out very differently in the 1960s when the station had to be saved from demolition. Spearheading the public outcry was poet Sir John Betjeman – now immortalised in a bronze sculpture in the station’s upper level. Another notable artwork is Tracey Emin’s neon piece, which reads ‘I want my time with you’ and stretches 20m under the famous St Pancras clock.
Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA
Grand in name, grand in nature, New York City’s magnificent Beaux Arts-style station is visited by around 750,000 tourists and commuters every day. Dating back to 1871, the original building was demolished when steam locomotive trains became obsolete, and Grand Central as it’s known and loved today – with its 75ft windows, huge marble staircase and celestial-themed ceiling – opened in 1913. The station is the largest in the world by platforms (44 in total) and has been a backdrop in many famous films, including North by Northwest, Superman: The Movie and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, India
Speaking of famous movies, you may recognise Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station as the setting of the high-octane Bollywood dance sequence at the end of Slumdog Millionaire. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, the station was originally built in 1888 and named the Victoria Terminus after the former British monarch. It was designed by British architect Frederick William Stevens in a Victorian Gothic Revival style –with elements of Mughal-inspired architecture. The station is flanked by statues of a lion and a tiger to further commemorate the merging of Eastern and Western cultures.
Liège-Guillemins station, Liège, Belgium
A building needn’t be historic to be considered beautiful. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava (the man behind Valencia’s City of Arts & Sciences complex) created a contemporary masterpiece with the steel and concrete Liège-Guillemins station. This starkly modern construction was built in 2009 to accommodate Belgium’s growing high-speed rail network, and the futuristic vaulted glass and steel canopy floods the space with natural light.
Tokyo Station, Tokyo, Japan
For sheer scale alone, Tokyo’s main railway station is a true marvel. More akin to a city than a transport hub, the prominent red-brick building, dating back to 1914, is home to a plethora of shops, restaurants, its own gallery and even a hotel. With half a million people passing through every day, it is the country’s busiest station and covers 182,000 square meters. A rabbit warren-like underground passageway connects the station to commercial buildings, shopping centres, the Central Post Office and six other train stations.
All aboard! Facts about The Belmond British Pullman
- The Belmond British Pullman is the sister train to the famous Venice-Simplon Orient-Express and made its maiden voyage in 1982.
- Each carriage is unique and has its own story, having been salvaged from historic train services such as the Brighton Belle and the Queen of Scots. These original Pullman carriages date back to between 1920 and 1950 and have been painstakingly restored to their former glory, inspired by the glamour of the Roaring Twenties.
- The Art Deco-inspired interiors are also an ode to Great British craftsmanship. Key features include exquisite marquetry restored by the original family business, antique furniture, polished brass, mosaics, bevelled glass and mahogany fittings.
- The name ‘Pullman’ comes from the American industrialist George Mortimer Pullman, who designed luxurious sleeper train cars in the 1860s – sometimes referred to as palaces on wheels.
- Day trips and overnight short breaks take place in and around Britain, visiting landmarks such as Leeds Castle in Kent, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, historic Bath and the beautiful Cornish coast.
- A trip to Highclere Castle in Hampshire – AKA the real-life Downton Abbey – is the newest journey and is scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2020.
- The Belmond British Pullman also makes excursions to sporting events such as Glorious Goodwood and the Grand National and even hosts special events including Murder Mystery lunches and Celebrity Chef excursions.