Belmond British Pullman + Venice Simplon-Orient Express + Murder Mystery Lunch

The Snuff That Dreams Are Made of

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Minerva © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Hard copy invitation cards are so dreadfully last season. This fall it’s all about (minimum 600 gsm) hard copy personalised travel journals arriving first class. Ever since George Pullman launched his eponymous coach in 1874, that surname has become synonymous with luxury train travel. The British set of sumptuous carriages dates back to the swigging swirling Swinging Twenties. The Belmond British Pullman service forms part of Venice Simplon-Orient Express’s British journey. You really can’t overdress on the Orient Express. And certainly not on this ride for it could be your last. Best looking drop dead gorgeous, so to speak. Wait, just dress to kill or be killed! Now all aboard! There’s a murder mystery to solve – although not before five course table d’hôte lunch is served on William Edwards Phoenix Blue (The Queen Mother’s favourite hue) finest bone china.

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Perseus © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Murder on the Orient Express isn’t just an Agatha Christie novel. Avoiding Istanbul and Calais, it’s a thriller of a circular route (with some twists) from London Victoria through the Kent countryside and back again in time for gold rush hour. We’re in Minerva (1927), one of 11 Pullman carriages or belles. Minerva, Cygnus (1938), Perseus (also 1938) and Phoenix (1927) are all 26 seater carriages. Six carriages are 20 seater: Audrey (1932), Gwen (1934), Ibis (1925), Ione (1928) Lucille (1928) and Vera (1932). Zena is the only 24 seater carriage. Our dining car – all marquetry panelling and art deco detailing just like The Gore (pun) on wheels – is filled with accents as polished as the overhead latticed brass luggage racks.

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Ibis © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

As the long lighted platform fades from view, we start breezing through the Garden of England. The 270 kilometre journey departs via Ashford passing Leeds Castle and on to Canterbury before following the south coast taking in Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate and Whitstable. Not that we’re paying much attention to the great outdoors – there’s too much action in our carriage. Amidst smoke (or at least cigarette holders) and mirrors (bevelled not crack’d), there are flapper girls sporting cloche hats, turbans, fringed shawls, boas and strings of pearls as well as dapper guys in black tie. The zesty citrus notes of Laurent Perrier La Cuvée and the fruity aromas of Terre del Noce Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2018 lace the air.

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Vera © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Bang! The dashing self proclaimed wine connoisseur Van Quaffleur bombastically bursts into our carriage. He was a close friend of Nicholas 6th Lord Deville who was poisoned a few days ago at a dinner party in Knightsbridge. Van Quaffleur is now a suspect in his murder. “Nicholas face planted the semolina,” he howls. “A splurge and a splat!” Hang on, there’s something fishy and we’re not just talking about the off menu red herrings. Lunch – the Chef de Train has clearly been scouring the archives for some vintage seafood favourites – is served:

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Lucille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Minerva Model © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Kent © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Railway © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch View © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Rack © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Minerva Interior © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Marquetry © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Corridor © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Goody Bag © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Lamp © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Window © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Tassels © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Curtains © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Pinot Grigio © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Amuse Bouches © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Biscuits © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Bread © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Pickled Beets © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Basil Soup © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Main © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Seared Sea Trout © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Sea Trout © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Apricot Tart © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Waiters © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Waiting Staff © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Waiter © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Staff © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Van Quaffleur © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Wine Connoiseur © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Tamara Crispin-Pettipace © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch TCP © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Tamara Crispin-Pettipace © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Nurse B Ware © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Jezebel Horne-Deville © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Mrs Horne-Deville © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The supremely attentive exquisitely liveried marvellously mannered completely courteous waiters cater to our every caprice. All is calm, serene, peaceful. Sleuth! Strewth! A fracas breaks out in the middle of our carriage. “That nurse is a gold digging little trollop! I would’ve killed her, not dear Nicholas!” Lord Deville’s close friend Mrs Tamara Crispin-Pettipace aka TCP has arrived. Tamara’s referring to Brenda Elsie Ware aka B E Ware, a rather attractive and by now very indignant nurse from Tender Temps who has turned up unexpectedly. Awks. Brenda was engaged to the somewhat older Lord Deville and is now suspected of senicide. As the quarrelsome madams jostle their way into the next carriage, the Honourable Jezebel Horne-Deville, the 6th Lord Deville’s younger sister, rocks up, dressed head to toe in blood red. She’s suspected of fratricide. “I arranged a huge life insurance on Old Nick just for the fun of telling him he was worth more to me dead than alive!”

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Smith the Butler © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Smith the Butler, Lord Deville’s faithful manservant, joins in the melee. He cuts quite a swathe. “I have no motive! But the nurse is a flighty thing. So vulgar! She was very hands on with His Lordship!” he smirks. The frisson of intrigue intensifies but surely we’re not losing the plot? “Oh, do you know Nick? I think we’ve seen you at one of his soirées perhaps?” Flummoxed, banjaxed, poleaxed, we slink off to the bathroom. The Indian summer sunlight streaming through an oeil de boeuf window illuminates its mosaic floor. Floris, The Queen Mother’s favourite handwash, stands next to the marble basin.

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch Seyton Deville © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Back in Minerva, the final suspect introduces himself. “I am the Honourable Seyton Deville, Old Nick’s son and heir.” He’s suspected of patricide. “Ask me questions, I’ll tell you no lies. The others have all spoken complete poppycock.” Van Quaffleur reappears: “The more you drink, the easier it is to solve the murder!” We start tying up the loose ends. And then there was one. So whodunnit? Well, we couldn’t possibly say – only servants tell tales before bedtime. A rumbustious scuffle breaks out. Mercy! Such brouhaha! Somebody makes a dash for it. Is the guilty party about to escape? You really can’t overstress on the Orient Express. The Murder Mystery Lunch on the Belmond British Pullman is a day of curious tensity, filled with indulgent fun, and heaps of occidental decadence.

Belmond British Pullman Murder Mystery Lunch It's a Wrap © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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3 Responses to Belmond British Pullman + Venice Simplon-Orient Express + Murder Mystery Lunch

  1. Janice Porter says:

    Such an exciting article !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an exciting day! Murder! Intrigue! And jolly good food!

    Liked by 1 person

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