- 1 Ride aboard The Eastern & Oriental Express
- 2 Set sail aboard the Queen Mary 2
- 3 See Lake Como's sights from a sea plane
- 4 Take a joy ride in a Rolls-Royce in Hong Kong
- 5 Overnight at the Paris Ritz
- 6 Drive a vintage Mercedes-Benz along the French Riviera
- 7 Turn back time on a Pan Am plane
- 8 Bed down at The Beverly Hills Hotel
- 9 See India on the Maharajas Express
- 10 Want more?
The World’s Coolest Throwback Travel Experiences
Travel has never been faster or more accessible. But more glamorous? Hell, no. Those days are long gone friends. So for all you nostalgics out there (us included), we've rounded up 9 modern-day travel experiences that harken back to a bygone era. #tbt.
Photo by Mike Kelley
Ride aboard The Eastern & Oriental Express
In its heyday, the Orient Express was more glamorous than Europe’s finest hotel, with A-list passengers like Tolstoy, Trotsky and Lawrence of Arabia. And while modern-day imitations abound, only a few trains today successfully evoke the timeless glamour of the original. The Eastern & Oriental Express, a luxury ride that runs across Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, is one. Go for the classic route, a 1,200-mile journey from Singapore to Bangkok that takes you past tea plantations, silk farms and rice paddies, while kicking back in plush cabin interiors: elm burr paneling, decorative marquetry and rich fabrics. By night, slip into your formal wear and tuck into dishes like pan-fried sea scallops and Nyonya curry at one of three glamorous restaurant cars. Then, for some after-dinning relaxation, sip cocktails and listen to show tunes at The Piano Bar, or curl up with a great read in the library, which holds an impressive 100 volumes.
Set sail aboard the Queen Mary 2
Want to relive the Golden Age of ocean travel? Set sail aboard the Queen Mary 2—the flagship of the Cunard Line and the world's largest and most expensive ocean liner ever built. Its seven-day transatlantic service between New York and Southampton, UK offers activities most aptly described as "British-centric": waltz lessons, afternoon tea, knitting instruction and Shakespeare plays performed by members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Guests are assigned to one of four dining rooms depending on their cabin grade, but each one has the kind of food and white-gloved service that'd you find from a 5-star restaurant. Our favorites are the Todd English eatery and the The Commodore Club, which overlooks the bow of the ship and has panoramic views of the horizon. For a true touch of luxury, splurge on a room with a terrace, where you can live out your Kate Winslet/Leo fantasies.
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See Lake Como's sights from a sea plane
The history of water flying on Lake Como dates back to 1913, when the northern Italian lake hosted the Grand Pemio de Laghi seaplane competition. Fast forward to 2016, and area is still considered Europe’s premier sea plane destination, in large part thanks to the Aero Club Como flying school that operates out of the lake's southwest tip. Seaplane tours cost a pretty penny, with a 30-minute flight from €140, but few experiences can rival the feeling of soaring high above Lake Como's mountains, postcard-perfect villages and celebrity-owned villas. Speaking of celebs, you'll get a bird's-eye view of the houses of everyone from George Clooney to the Saudi royal family.
Take a joy ride in a Rolls-Royce in Hong Kong
Just about anyone can walk into an Enterprise and rent a Ferrari (well, not anyone). But a $500,000 Brewster Green Rolls-Royce Phantom? To give this set of wheels a spin, you’ll need to be a guest of The Peninsula Hong Kong—a fact immortalized in the 1974 James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun when Bond girl Maud Adams claimed, "Everyone knows all the green Rolls Royce's belong to the Peninsula". Outfitted with handcrafted walnut wood, shag-pile carpeting and buttery tan leather seats, the vehicle is the definition of riding in style. Pull up in front of Hong Kong institutions like the Dragon-I nightclub or the Krug Room, and you'll have reached the heights of high rollerdom.
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Overnight at the Paris Ritz
Coco Chanel lived there for 34 years. Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were regulars at its saloon. And Sophia Lauren once described it as “the most romantic hotel in the world.” We’re talking about the Paris Ritz, of course—the mythic, five-star hotel that closed its gilded doors after a 114-year run for renovations in 2012. Four years and $200 million later, and the grand dame is set to reopen this June, with new features like a large garden designed like a private park and a tunnel built to help the rich and famous come and go unnoticed. Philippe Starck has also given the hotel's restaurants and bars a small facelift, retouching the frescoes at Bar 228, redesigning Le Dali's draped ceiling and opening the ceiling at Vendôme Bar. And if that didn't sell you on a stay at this landmark gem, the hotel's new spa (the first Chanel spa in the world) will.
Drive a vintage Mercedes-Benz along the French Riviera
We don’t know about you, but when we think of a road trip through the French Riviera, we instantly think of Grace Kelly and Carey Grand in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Cruising in a metallic vintage convertible, the duo put the region on the map, with a romantic cruise past sandy beaches, Arcadian villages and spectacular vineyards. For an itinerary straight from the page’s of the film’s script, opt for the Mercedes-Benz south of France experience—a four-day road trip in a vintage Mercedes-Benz SL, with stays at the Grand Hotel Carlton and the Moulin de Vernegues. You'll coast along the palm-lined Croisette Promenade in Cannes, the lavender fields of Grasse, the medieval monasteries in Luberon and the shimmering lakes of the Camargue.
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Turn back time on a Pan Am plane
Long before the days of cramped seats, slovenly attire and crappy in-flight food, airplane travel was, well, glamorous. Travelers wore pillbox hats and heels, in-flight food was restaurant-grade and there was no such thing as too much champagne. But don’t take it from us. Experience it for yourself at Air Hollywood’s Pan Am Experience in Los Angeles. Offering monthly dinner parties aboard a replica Pan Am Jumbo Jet from the 1970s, the restaurant serves dinner and cocktails by flight attendants decked out in original 1970s Pan Am uniforms. There's also an after-dinner movie and the chance to view huge collection of airline memorabilia. A note on your threads: "Guests are expected to dress the part, and dress nicely, just like passengers did in the 1970s," Rob Shalhoub of Air Hollywood told TravelSkills back in 2014.
Bed down at The Beverly Hills Hotel
On LA’s famed Sunset Boulevard, the ritzy Beverly Hills Hotel—or "Pink Palace," as it is more commonly known—has been the unofficial playground for Tinseltown's starlets and deal-makers since opening its doors in 1912. Marlene Dietrich was a longtime resident; Marilyn Monroe famously lived in the Bungalow No.7; and the notoriously reclusive Howard Hughes rented nine bungalows at a time to keep nosy neighbors at bay. These days, the hotel still recalls the Hollywood of yesteryear, thanks to Art Deco interiors with plush velvet and silk accents, Venetian glass chandeliers and a statement-worthy grand staircase. And while a stay will give you access to the swanky pool scene and high-design digs, travelers on a budget can get a taste of the hotel's Old World charm at the Polo Bar, where a jazz band accompanies brunch every Sunday.
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See India on the Maharajas Express
Opulent doesn’t even begin to describe India’s Maharaja Express, the train touted as the most lavish in the world. Inspired by the country's royalty, the extravagantly outfitted carriages feature precious antiques, huge windows, four-poster beds, and some with marble bathrooms and tubs. Turbaned butlers serve cocktails at the Safari Bar while celeb chef Vivek Singh of London's Cinammon Club prepares the meals. Offering five jaunts that depart from New Delhi or Mumbai, the India Splendor Journey—a seven-day trip from Delhi to Mumbai (with Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipir and Vadodara along the way)—is by far the dreamiest. Exclusive activities include elephant painting, walking tours of historic bazaars and lunches with members of the royal family from the town of Balasinor, in Gujarat, western India. No joke.