Feel-good daycation that will take you back in time

Ben Douglas



dmg media (UK)



SO MONEY’S tight, you don’t want to go away too far or for too long, but you yearn for a little luxury. Now’s the time to think daycation – and a trip back in time on a lavish train. For the ultimate feel-good trip, the Belmond British Pullman – sister train to the Venice Simplon Orient Express – is just the ticket. Dripping in luxury and glamour, it harks back to the heyday of rail power, and there are various festive itineraries that will take you through glorious swathes of the countryside. High on the list of favourites – and selling out fast – are day trips to the Christmas market in Oxford and to see a performance by the Canterbury Singers in a candlelit crypt at the city’s famous cathedral. We booked a 3½-hour round trip with afternoon tea. At Victoria Station we are greeted by liveried stewards and invited for drinks in the Belmond lounge, where harmony singing trio The Spitfire Sisters set the mood. It’s a glamorous start, before we board carriages that date from the 1920s and wouldn’t look out of place on an Agatha Christie film set. The whistle blows at 12.30pm and the Belmond begins to snake its way out of London and through Kent, via Redhill, Edenbridge and Ashford. There’s a happy atmosphere on board – birthdays being celebrated range from a 21st to a 101st – as we tuck into sandwiches, delicious savouries and little cakes and scones, all washed down with champagne. Before we arrive back in Victoria, two guests confided: ‘It’s worth every penny to feel so special just for a few hours.’ M The Luminary Afternoon Tea journey, £340pp (belmond.com).