About the Northern Belle
The Northern Belle is a seven-car luxury dining train that offers day and weekend trips throughout Britain. Despite only coming into service in 2000, it looks every bit as historic as its sister trains the British Pullman and the Venice Simplon Orient Express thanks to a painstaking re-design that replicates the original 1930s Belle trains.
Each car is named after a British castle or stately home – Alnwick, Belvoir, Chatsworth, Duart, Glamis, Harlech and Warwick – and is lavishly decorated with themed mosaics, textiles and marquetry.
Where and when does the Northern Belle go?
Whether you want to visit a historic city or stately home, go to a sporting event, celebrate a special occasion such as Mother’s Day or simply enjoy the pleasure of dining aboard a luxury train, the Northern Belle has a trip for you. It runs all year round apart from a few days over Christmas and New Year – you can even celebrate New Year’s Eve on board – and departs from over 60 stations throughout Britain.
We took a round trip on the Northern Belle from Edinburgh to York in June 2012, which included a reasonably good guided tour and entrance to York Minster, plus a few other key tourist sites. You get several hours to explore, which is about right for a historic city of this size.
Its ‘Signature Journey’ is The Spirit of Travel, a round-trip fine-dining experience complete with champagne, strolling musicians and table magicians.
Unlike the Venice Simplon Orient Express, there are no sleeping cars on the Northern Belle but it does offer overnight and weekend trips, which incorporate one or two nights in a hotel. For a full schedule of these and other trips, go to http://www.orient-express.com
How much does a trip on the Northern Belle cost?
Prices vary enormously, starting at £235 per person for a Sunday lunch and peaking at £830 pp for a weekend break. However, there are usually special offers on the website, ranging from money-off codes to free hotel stays and free travel for children 16 or under.
What’s the food, drink and service on board the Northern Belle like?
In a word, impeccable. The tables are beautifully laid with fine linen and silver, and hardly ever empty – on most day trips you’ll receive brunch and dinner, along with champagne and wine. As soon as you’re seated you’ll be plied with Bellinis, an indulgent introduction to a three-course brunch. Dinner is a five-course culinary masterpiece, with each dish as delicious as the last, and so wonderfully presented you’ll be loath to dig in. As a final flourish, you’ll be presented with a chocolate truffle in its own commemorative box.
The service is just as faultless without being fussy. The stewards and train manager are relaxed, polite, courteous and friendly, and anticipate your every need before you even ask. Perfect.
What’s special about the Northern Belle?
The Northern Belle is the epitome of special – it’s like stepping back in time to the Golden Age of Train Travel. The food is exquisite, the service is exceptional and the train itself is a stunning work of art. And there’s something so wonderful about enjoying all this luxury while the beautiful British countryside glides by outside your window.
Is the Northern Belle worth it and what type of traveller would enjoy it?
It may not be cheap, but we think it’s worth every penny, Everything about the journey, from the moment you board to the moment you alight, is an Experience with a capital E, and should give you memories to last a lifetime. You don’t have to be hoity-toity to enjoy it but you do have to be prepared to make an effort with dress and be on your best behaviour. 😉
The majority of journeys aren’t suitable for those under 16, but they do have a couple geared towards families with children, including the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Know before you go
The dress code on the Northern Belle isn’t quite as strict as it is on the Venice Simplon Orient Express. Smart day wear is recommended – jeans, t-shirts and trainers are not allowed. This roughly translates as casual/dressy dresses for women, and smart trousers and jackets for the men.
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This luxury train journey was approved by Railway Stays.
Looking for an equally luxurious train station hotel? Check out our selection of those, both modern and historic.