“Meet me at platform 9 3/4”, is what you could think first, when you see the photos of our latest trip by train. Even though it looks like the Hogwarts Express, this is not a Harry Potter movie – this is real. Driving with the famous Royal Scotsman through the Highlands of Scotland has made me an absolut train lover. The whole trip felt like traveling back in time to the late 19th century.
Where did it all begin?
We started in Edinburgh, where a group of more or less 25 people met. Waiting at the train station to get on the train, a Scottish pipe player arrived and walked us to the stunning Royal Scotsman, playing beautiful Scottish music and creating the perfect atmosphere to get into the right mind set. Entering the train, the super nice and polite staff already awaited us with a smile and delicious cocktails. So let’s start our trip!
The train is so cozy you’ll immediatley feel at home. It reminds me of something I’ve only seen in movies like the Orient Express before. Every detail in the The Royal Scotsman was perfectly designed. The rooms were quite small but extremely comfortable. You have to imagine that the width of the train is the same as any other train, so of course they had to adjust the rooms to the width regular cabins on regular trains. So they were rather long in shape than wide. However, you find absolutely magnificent interior, super comfortable beds and beautiful small bathrooms inside the Royal Scotsman.
There are two differently designed dining rooms with long tables. The philosophy here is that people should interact and get to know each other during the trip, so you actually can’t reserve a table. Which was great! Every day we met new people and I could sit anywhere I wanted to also have different views out of the train. And the food was outstanding! I have never had such a good service and amazing food. Every dish was made with so much love for the detail and with outstanding taste. I think I gained a view kilos because I could’t and wouldn’t stop eating.
However my favorite room on the whole train was the observation car. It was like a long living room at the end of the train with an outside platform to enjoy the landscape of Scotland. There you could relax read a book and let the Scottish nature pass by you. Also pre dinner cocktails were served there and almost every evening we had entertainment like singers and storytellers joining us on the train for a view hours.
Last but not least, one needs to relax on such an amazing trip. Luckily, you can also find two beautiful massage and spa rooms on the train, too. So while driving through the most stunning nature, two professional masseuses helped you to relax even more.
So you’re probably wondering what we did the whole day on a train like the Royal Scotsman? Many people have asked me this question. A trip normally takes five days, which sounds a lot. But trust me, I could have stayed much longer on the train. Every day had a timetable, which was represented in the hallway of the train so that all guests knew the exact times and destinations of daily trips planned.
Breakfast was normally served between 8.30 am and 9.30 am in the beautiful dining rooms. After breakfast the train stoped at a train station. From there the morning activity began. A bus would wait for us at the station to bring us to the given activity like visiting Rothiemurchus Estate, where you could do super cool activities like clay shooting, visiting the highland cows or Ranger Led Activities.
Another excursion was to the famous Glen Ord Distillery for some whisky tasting. Lunch was always served back at the train. During lunch the train would continue to drive through the beautiful landscape of the highlands to a new destination. From there another bus would wait for us to drive us for example to one of my favorite stops: Plockton. From here we took a boat and looked at the seals and afterwards had a pint in a local pub. Another stop I enjoyed a lot was a visit to Glamis Castle, which has been visited and lived in by many members of the Scottish and British Royal families. Absolutely stunning! There we also enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea with freshly baked scones.
Each dinner had a theme of black tie or casual chic, which made the dinners always very elegant and special. Everyone would meet up in the observation car for cocktails and socializing. After a delightful dinner, we enjoyed an after dinner entertainment like some life music or some Scottish storyteller who told impressive stories about the history of Scotland, in the observation car. Every day was absolutely perfectly organized from activities, meals and entertainment.
During the night the train stoped so that you have a resting night without the train noises. I could have driven all night since I really enjoy the movement and the noises of the train but of course it made it more comfortable not to move at night especially because you would miss the beautiful landscape! All the additional transportation was organized by the Royal Scotsman. You had to do absolutely nothing. Just stick to the daily schedule and be on time and ready. Of course if you didn’t want to join the daily excursions you could stay in the train and relax or enjoy a wonderful massage or beauty treatment.
If you ever decide to do a train ride like this, which I highly recommend in case you didn’t get it the chance by now, bring warm (!) jackets. There is a lot of wind in Scotland and it can get quite cold. But overall, don’t pack too many clothes due to limited space in the rooms because anyways, you won’t need too many outfits. And even though you have internet, I recommend you disconnect for some days. Do not plan to have long Skype sessions, like I tried to have with my husband in Argentina, since you are driving through the Highlands, wi-fi can sometimes cut off. Rather bring a good book and just enjoy the ride!
More information about The Royal Scotsman: belmond.com/