Think you know the Orient Express? 5 ways to live one of history’s most famous routes right now

Dame Agatha Christie’s classic whodunnit “Murder On the Orient Express” put this legendary locomotive’s route on the map, but how well do you really know what made it chug? Now’s your moment to uncover the mystery and intrigue that made its stops so magical then and makes them totally un-missable now!

1. Istanbul not Constantinople

The name of the city changed, and it lost its position as the last stop on the Orient Express in 1977, but the air is still thick with history and mystery around Turkey’s thriving metropolis.

Istanbul past

This restored 19th century Ottoman gem in the city’s oldest neighborhood blends bygone accents like original wood ceilings and staircases with a playful color palette and modern must-haves like a fully equipped kitchen. Fun fact: it’s also the backdrop for a Turkish soap opera.

Istanbul present

Step inside The Blue Pearl and take advantage of this well-located apartment’s crisp white aesthetic and comfortably sleek modern interior … then step outside on the balcony for one of it’s biggest draws: breathtaking views of the former Constantinople.

2. Aaah … Venice

Can you hear the sighs echoing through time and space? Periodically deemed “the most beautiful city in the world,” it’s clear to all who float in and around this idiosyncratic Italian beauty that its vaulted place in history is well-deserved.

Venice past

Seeking a gasp-inducing Venetian escape? Try a glorious restored 5-bedroom palazzo on the Grand Canal that manages to be both opulent and refined at the same time. Save your sighs for the grand formal drawing room, the grand suite, the grand state-of-the-art kitchen, and the grand balcony.

Venice present

A stay as hip as the Brooklynites who rebuilt it, Il Buco della Suora seems like an art project disguised as a living space. Its structure is deliberately bare, communal, and respectful of the past, but its cutting-edge extras include under-floor radiant heat, a commercial range, and a turntable complete with a curated record collection. (Naturally.)

3. Budapest, Pearl of the Danube

Still the “Heart of Europe” after all these years, Hungary’s capital city pulsates with all the trappings of the European greats: dynamic cultural activities and institutions, a river running beautifully through it, and even geothermal hot springs.

Budapest past

The dramatically decorated Erzsebet Royal Suite may transport you back to the late 19th century’s German Art Nouveau era. (Unless the Philipe Starck-designed bathrooms neutralize any notions of a time before 1980.) It’s more likely you’ll appreciate this stay’s historic aspirations while taking advantage of its slicker features.

Budapest present

Picture yourself gazing out across a starry Hungarian night from your own “tower room” or at least the balcony of your own super-sleek penthouse. Ultra-modern flourishes coexist with Art Nouveau-period design elements throughout this comfortably stylish, and very high-end, city perch.

4. Vienna still waits for you

Beethoven and Freud knew Austria’s capital was where it’s at it. A stroll past the city’s iconic imperial palaces, coffee houses, opera houses, museums, and beautiful Baroque buildings should easily convince the uninitiated that these two guys were on to something.

Vienna past

This restored Neo Renaissance palais dates back to the 1850s and is conveniently situated in the city’s Embassy District. Well-appointed and beautifully outfitted in true Viennese style, the palace’s “apartment” boasts all the luxury amenities necessary for a lovely waltz into the past.

Vienna present

The intersection of old luxury and new luxury. That’s where you’ll find Kartzplatz’ stunning palais complete with bedroom fireplaces, an enormous state-of-the-art kitchen, Miele appliances, and Netflix. Gorgeous subtle color schemes, handsome art and furniture, fine handmade linens, and countless high-design details lend this super-fine stay its deluxe appeal.

5. A big slice of Alsace in Strasbourg

The Orient Express’ final service rolled out of Strasbourg in 2009, but this distinctive Franco-German outpost still maintains its status as a crucial European cultural, political, and transportation hub. Its location in the infinitely charming region of Alsace doesn’t hurt.

Strasbourg past

Craving a rural respite in a fully updated, ecologically sound, and painstakingly restored Alsatian farmhouse dating back to 1607? La Ferme de Marie is 30 minutes, and another world away, from Strasbourg’s city limits. Just ask the resident rabbits, ducks, and geese.

Strasbourg present

Smackdab in the center of Strasbourg’s trendy Krutenau neighborhood, this slightly funky contemporary space makes excellent use of its 7 rooms. Sophisticated artistic finishes applied cleverly throughout, along with a refreshingly spare design approach, give this in-town haven its dynamic appeal.


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