My husband and I nearly missed our trip on the Belmond Royal Scotsman, the wine-colored sleeper that sets out from Edinburgh and travels throughout Scotland. Our route went north along the east coast and into the Highlands over several days before slicing through the Cairngorms National Park and returning to the capital.
It was a cold, sunny morning in October, and after handing over our luggage and checking out of the Balmoral Hotel, we went to buy lunch at I.J. Mellis, a cheesemonger in the Stockbridge neighborhood of Edinburgh and maker of one of the best cheese toasties anywhere. The Keens Cheddar would not be rushed. We watched as it melted over a scrape of hot English mustard on white bread, swallowed a sandwich each, and then sprinted to Waverley station with butter on our chins. With minutes to spare, we fell into step with a crowd of fellow passengers moving toward the platform. A bagpiper in full Highland dress played us onto the train, to the delight of the commuters who stopped to listen, and we were off.
The interior of the observation car, where we huddled over salted nuts and Champagne to listen to the dos and don’ts of life on board, evokes Edwardian sleepers with mahogany panelling and brass ceiling fans. Rose Uniacke, an interior designer in London, spearheaded a recent wave of updates to the train. “I wanted to evoke the comfort and pace of travel in a bygone era, and reclaim the romance of journeying in style,” Uniacke says. “It was important to me that the space felt fresher, delivering a timeless quality which combines modern convenience and engineering, with fabrics and finishes that reflect the landscape of Scotland.”
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY BELMOND
WRITTEN BY JO RODGERS
This story appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of MILIEU.