Elaine and Kirsty took the trip of a lifetime on the Orient Express Royal Scotsman, courtesy of APEX hotels. Find out all the details of what this magical trip involved…

If you managed to read our latest newsletter you’ll know that Kirsty and I were lucky enough to win a great competition with APEX hotels for an extraordinary opportunity to take a trip through the Scottish Highlands on the Orient Express Royal Scotsman.

In the newsletter we promised a blog about the trip. It’s a bit later than promised, but nevertheless, here’s our Royal Scotsman Story…

Day 1

Arriving at Waverley Station our bags were whisked away and we were ushered to the First Class lounge where Michael and Carla from APEX met us for drinks, nibbles and photos, then introduced us to Sandra, our lovely guide for the trip.

After introductions and photos, Kirsty and I where piped along the red carpet to board the train. Our jackets were taken and we entered the Observation Carriage for a glass of Laurent Pierre champagne and introductions to the other passengers, who included groups from Melbourne and New York.

(There's some more photos of our departure at APEX Hotel's Photos)

Then the train set off! We waved goodbye to those on the platform in Edinburgh and headed out of the city, north towards the Highlands. Two by two we were shown our cabins, where our luggage was waiting for us.

It was a pleasant surprise to be introduced to any staff we met on the way – including the chef who was finishing off the most amazing scones - giving you a real feel that you’re a welcome guest on the train.

After the excitement of finding and exploring our cosy cabin, we wondered back to the Observation Carriage for afternoon tea and to enjoy some of the Fife / Perthshire scenery as it zipped past the window.

Afternoon tea was a feast of dainty sandwiches including succulent beef and horseradish, smoked salmon, soft brie and pastrami, followed by the fresh scones we’d seen being prepared earlier in the morning, light & fluffy Victoria sponge, fruit loaf and delicious strawberries and cream!

One of the lovely gestures that you receive on the Royal Scotsman is that every lunchtime they provide you with the menu for that evening’s dinner, to ensure you’re happy with the choice and to check special requirement and cooking preferences.

Each person’s individual’s preferences were then remembered by the staff that evening, without question or any mistakes! Perfect!

After viewing the dinner menu and relaxing some more, we arrived at Dalwhinnie Station where we were met by the Royal Scotsman bus and transported to the Dalwhinnie Distillery for a whisky tour.

Both Kirsty and I have been on many, many whisky tours over the last few years, so in all honestly we weren’t expecting to be surprised by the tour, yet the way they did it give us a fresh interest in the whole whisky distilling process!

There were lots of props and items to touch and feel which really brought the whole process to life for us and for the entire group.

We were then treated to a tasting session, with malteser chocolates and a selection of great cheese. Everyone was delighted to be presented with a bottle of Dalwhinnie Whisky as we departed the distillery – putting everyone in good spirits as we went back to coach to travel to the beautiful wilderness at Boat of Garten, where the Royal Scotsman was waiting for us.

It was a dark and drizzly evening as we pulled into the station to meet the train, so it’s warm glowing lights and the staff lined up to greet us with a whisky cocktail was a welcome sight!

Tonight was an informal dining night so after a quick freshen up, Kirsty and I settled down with the other guests - many of whom were celebrating special birthdays or occasions - for our first dinner on the train.

It was a delicious meal that included divine foie gras, perfectly cooked halibut and fresh berries followed by a magnificent cheese platter. Contently full and with a fresh gin and tonic at hand, we moved to the observation carriage where the evening entertainment was in full swing.

Colin and Ian – the two musicians – entertained us with their lilty melodies before we had an early night so we’d be ready for the following day…and because we were excited about sleeping in our cabin!!

Phew, I could chat about our trip all day, but I’ll fill you in on Monday about what happened on day 2, plus tell you how this is perfect for the right corporate incentive group!

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Thanks for reading!

Elaine

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