Luxury Train Tour Showcases the Royal Comforts of Home

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- Most people probably would not compare a train journey to a stay in a country estate, that is unless the train is the Royal Scotsman.

Sally Kalmbach, a travel consultant for Abercrombie & Kent, who plans all of the company's itineraries to the U.K., said that, indeed, the best way to describe a journey aboard the Royal Scotsman is that it is similar to spending a week with friends in a country home.

Although the train has the capacity for only 32 people, "you really get to develop friendships with many of the other passengers," she said.

Kalmbach, who has traveled on the Royal Scotsman's Scotland and London to Edinburgh tours, said the train draws people from all over the world.

She added that during her trips, the majority of the passengers were American, Australian and British.

The staff creates a relaxing and magical atmosphere throughout the voyage, she said, and even the tiniest details are not overlooked.

The minute passengers arrive at the station, they are welcomed with champagne and the sound of bagpipes, and "immediately get caught up in the enthusiasm," she said.

The festivities continue with a black-tie welcome dinner on the first evening.

On the four-night Scotland voyage, priced at $3,950 per person, the train departs from Edinburgh and travels north-east to Dundee, where passengers visit Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth and the ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.

Other stops on the tour include Ballindalloch Castle, home of the Macpherson Grants since 1546; a traditional Highland distillery at Cragganmore on the banks of the River Spey; the Isle of Skye, where the Cuillin Hills tower 3,000 feet over the island; the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park, and Inverawe Smokehouse, where visitors will see how fish and meat are cured and smoked.

There is something for everyone -- history, beautiful scenery, elegant parties, Kalmbach said.

"The topper is the wonderful meals and wines," she added.

Not only can guests leave the "driving" to the crew, but the train travels through areas unaccessible by car.

When is the best time to go?

According to Kalmbach, any time is a good time. "In the spring everything is being reborn, in the summer the days are longer and in the fall many gardens are still in bloom and the foliage is beautiful."

Scotland itineraries run from April through October.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI