Staff Review

Venice, Florence & The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


19 Apr 2017

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

When I found out that I would have the opportunity to travel on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and then get the chance to stay at both the Cipriani and Villa San Michele I was understandably very excited and had very high expectations. I can now unquestionably say that I was not disappointed!

The journey started on the charming British Pullman with its characterful carriages where a leisurely three course lunch is served. You feel really special as you glide across the Kent countryside whilst locals stop and wave, taking photos of this unusual sight.

After a swift trip on the Eurotunnel we arrived in Calais to board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express itself. What a sight - gleaming carriages, pristinely dressed staff, ornate marquetry, priceless Art Deco restaurant cars and so much more. I was shown to my cabin where I was presented with a glass of champagne and left to settle in. The cabins are compact but beautifully formed with everything you would expect of 1920s luxury. It was an absolute pleasure to sit back and soak up the atmosphere.

Everyone always says how wonderful the food on board is and, after seeing the small galley kitchen, I was utterly overwhelmed by the quality and variety of food which was produced. And of course the vast quantity of it: on the journey you enjoy a total of five spectacular meals!

I spent most of my journey taking photographs, mingling with other guests and getting lost in a bygone era! I was pleasantly surprised at how unpretentious the whole experience is and the variety of people on board. The staff are professional, attentive and love their jobs – Walter, the bar manager who had only had 3 hours sleep the night before as he was entertaining his guests, was particularly sprightly and relished the opportunity to regale us with the story of how he created the signature ‘Agatha Christie’ cocktail!

Disembarking in Venice I was full of enthusiasm for the rest of the trip, but more than a little sad to be leaving such a wonderful experience behind. However, I will never tire of meandering through the alluring back streets of Venice and after our brief tour of the city I had a night at the famous Hotel Cipriani to look forward to! We were whisked across the lagoon in the hotel’s private speed boat and spent the most wonderful evening in the fine dining restaurant watching the sun set over the lagoon. I only wish there was time for a dip in the immense swimming pool. Maybe next time...!

Our last stop was Florence and we spent a full day covering the main sights, including a trip to the Uffizi Gallery with timed entrance tickets booked by the Kirker Concierge – I felt rather smug bypassing the hordes of tourists at the entrance! The Villa San Michele is the perfect retreat from the bustling city and the views afforded from the hotel over Florence are enchanting. With the buzz of the city only a short drive away this hotel really does offer the best of both worlds.

This was such a memorable trip and I’m not sure that you can ever put in to words the feeling that is inspired by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. I really think it should be at the top of everyone’s wish list and as the saying goes – why put off until tomorrow what you could do today?

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