Hot, sweaty and close; normally? We might all want a bit of that, but when it comes to hopping on a train in London, we know the feeling in all the wrong ways. And while most wear their daily commute as a badge of honour, lockdown has proven that it's often a burden, so what about a commute that really does bring pleasure? Introducing Steam Dreams.
A luxury steam train experience that pulls out from Victoria, Steam Dreams offer Sunset Express tours across the Surrey hills that offer deluxe dining, set across a 2 or so hour experience, and I was lucky enough to hop aboard.
Steam Dreams create plenty of drama at Victoria station, not only because of the queue we generate waiting to board, but because this isn't your normal 6:45 to Orpington. The mega Mayflower locomotive is a goliath in the station, causing a buzz as guests clamber to get that gorgeous bygone shot (thank you, yes we did), but it's not just the sheer size of the engine that is so admirable about Steam Dreams.
As we board, we're thrown back to times gone by, with vintage fittings, as our Pullman-style carriages reminding us why we (and everyone else for that matter) had dressed up in the first place. Hunkering down with a quick glass of bubbles, we set off, before three courses slowly do the rounds. While I'm not all that impressed with a starter of balsamic vegetables, I am impressed with the tightly organised team, as staff bring out plates and drinks with ease, even as they have to meander around moving guests.
Our main shapes up to be a delicious vegetarian pie, along with the trimmings, as dessert continues to keep it British with meringue and berries. The three courses are a top touch, but it's the constant peering out of the window that keeps us busy. Admittedly, as we reached the hills, darkness had creeped on in, but that was only owed to us being on one of the last trips of the season, while the rest of the journey was a gorgeous bobbing past houses and fields.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I always thought that steam train experiences were limited to the rolling Scottish hills, so it's nice to know that Steam Dreams can also cater to the city dweller looking to latch on to that once-in-a-lifetime experience. And while I might not have been sold on all dining elements, it's an unforgettable round-trip that I'll be recommending to family and more.
💰 The damage: £260 for two, if you're opting for luxury Pullman dining.
📍 The location: Departs from Victoria station.
👌 Perfect for: That bougie couples experience you've never tried before.
⭐ Need to know: Close your window while travelling, you WILL get specs coal in your prosecco.
Try out more luxury London experiences here.