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Belmond’s Royal Scotsman
Photograph: Belmond

Drink your way through the Scottish Highlands on a luxury whisky train

Hop aboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman for a five-star hotel experience on wheels – featuring spa treatments, whisky tastings and more

By
Arusa Qureshi
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After a year of having no major plans, many of us are eager to look ahead and book that post-lockdown trip we’ve been eyeing up for far too long. And boy, do we all deserve a treat. If you’re looking for something super-special combining luxury, adventure and incredible fine-dining, the Belmond Royal Scotsman may be what you’re after.

Launched in 1985, the Royal Scotsman ‘cruise train’ has gradually been upgraded over the years to include everything from en-suite cabins to the Bamford Haybarn Spa – the UK’s first spa located in an IRL train carriage. For the past year or so, services were curtailed due to the pandemic. But as of April, the train has restarted various key routes, with a series of tantalising tours aboard the train now running through to October.

Belmond’s Royal Scotsman
Photograph: Belmond

You could, for example, spend two nights on the ‘Grand Taste of the Highlands’ excursion, which will allow passengers to soak up all the beauty and grandeur of the Scottish landscape. The train departs from Edinburgh Waverley and includes a coach trip to Rothiemurchus Estate in the Cairngorms, with activities like clay-pigeon shooting and fishing on offer, as well as a private tour of Culloden Battlefield and a trip to the Strathisla Distillery.

But if you really want to go in for the drams, you’ll be pleased to know that the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has partnered with Belmond to host the ‘Scotch Malt Whisky Trail Tour’. This four-night trip will start at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, where a specialist ‘whisky ambassador’ will meet you ahead of departure for a drink. Having boarded the train, you’ll take private tours of the Tomatin, Macallan and Tullibardine distilleries, plus take part in various whisky tastings with your ambassador. And you’ll even leave with a year’s membership to the society.

Belmond’s Royal Scotsman
Photograph: Belmond


Other itineraries feature trips to Loch Lomond, the Isle of Bute, Glamis Castle and Mount Stuart, with prices including all meals (prepared by head chef Mark Tamburrini), alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and onboard entertainment. Since the Royal Scotsman sprung back to life in April, only 40 passengers have been allowed on each trip to guarantee enough space for social distancing.

Prices start at around £4,000 per passenger – so this might well be the most lavish train journey you ever take. But if you’re wanting something totally grand, luxurious and all-inclusive, we say go for it. Just imagine that first drop of the stuff.

Did you see that you can also travel through Mexico on an all-you-can-drink tequila train?

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