A first look inside the glamorous new Orient Express train arriving in Paris

On its first journey from Paris to Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1883, the Orient Express redefined what train travel could look like. Almost 140 years later, as it prepares to hit the rails again, the premium rail line could be another benchmark for train travel.

News that the legendary train would return to service made the rounds in the summer, when French hotel group Accor, which took a 50% stake in the Orient Express brand in 2017, announced it would restore and reinvent the original luxury convoy – formerly known as Nostalgia-Istanbul-Orient-Express – to welcome passengers in the near future (2025, to be exact).

The first fruits of this restoration have now been unveiled. A first batch of images of the updated car interiors has just been released to the public, while an immersive exhibition aptly titled the ‘Orient Express Revelation’ is being held in Paris this week.

Brightly colored furniture adds a modern touch to the train’s bar car.

The new Orient Express reinterpreted by Maxime d’Angeac

New textured rugs add style to the original hallways.

The new Orient Express reinterpreted by Maxime d’Angeac

At a quick glance, you can tell that the “new” train exudes as much glamor as its predecessor. Opulent and visually arresting, the Orient Express 2.0 appears to blend a 1920s aesthetic with contemporary and modern styles – a champagne call button at the bar car tables, modern artwork in all cabins , a layout designed to optimize space – alongside original details such as Lalique flower lamps and Morrison and Nelson marquetry. These were found virtually intact when the train was “rediscovered” in 2015 by industrial history researcher Arthur Mettetal, after being abandoned for almost 10 years on the border between Belarus and Poland.

“[When we arrived on site] the woodwork, furniture, marquetry panels and Lalique glass were all in their place,” recalls Mettetal. “It was sublime.”

For Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accor, having different decorative codes, past and new, rather than a historically faithful reproduction of the early 20th century train was a key aspect of the redesign. “The Orient Express is a legend that has gone through stories, journeys and years,” he says. “The nature of this heritage means that the rebirth of the brand must resonate both with its history and with the present, to create something timeless.”

French architect Maxime D’Angeac, known for his design collaborations with a number of French fashion houses, was tasked with this goal. To achieve this, he approached the most famous train in the world from two different angles. “I had to respect two key elements in this great project,” he says. “To extend the spirit of innovation that characterized the original train and reinvent the concept of comfort and luxury for the 21st century.”

Each room sports leather walls and headboards with mother-of-pearl details.

The new Orient Express reinterpreted by Maxime d’Angeac

A hidden vanity and sink in a suite.

The new Orient Express reinterpreted by Maxime d’Angeac

Within this framework, D’Angeac endeavored to reinterpret some of the characteristic elements of the first Orient Express, such as the tapestry with railway motifs developed by Suzanne Lalique in the 1930s, which he incorporated throughout the train, leather partitions from the bar to designer touches in the dining car. He also reintroduced dark wood panels – “a signature of the Orient Express”, he explains – but gave them new life by juxtaposing them with bright colors like green and purple, which the can be seen on the plush velvet furniture that adorns the train.

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