Accor presents the new look of the Orient Express

5 min reading time

Published on 19/10/22 - Updated on 19/10/22

Maxime d'Angeac présentant le bar

To mark the occasion of the contemporary art week in Paris, Accor unveiled the look and aesthetic inspirations of the future Orient Express train. At the Domus Maubourg, Guillaume de Saint Lager, vice-president of the Orient Express, was accompanied by Maxime d'Angeac, the train's architect, to present the genesis, inspiration and design of this renewal of a legendary train.

The visit begins with an immersive experience via a virtual reality headset. The viewer is plunged into an immersive universe where he/she finds him/herself on board a future Orient Express train. The visit goes from the cabin to the train's restaurant and its famous bar. The luxurious pieces and details in each space individually draw the viewer's eye as the wild Eurasian landscape flits by at dusk through the train's windows.

Guillaume de Saint Lager then took the floor to explain the genesis of this ambitious project. Through elements of the brand's archives, such as photos dating from the 19th century of the construction of the first Orient Express trains, as well as original decorative elements such as a magnificent tile decorated with blackbird and grape motifs by Lalique, he recounted the heritage that the Orient Express brand represents. Guillaume de Saint Lager revealed that from the carriages found in 2016 near the border between Poland and Belarus, some of the intact decorative elements were recuperated and integrated into the design of the future train.

To design a contemporary and "impossible to date" train, all whilst respecting the history and heritage of the brand, Accor called on the architect-decorator Maxime d'Angeac. He is the man behind the 2004 transformation of the historic Guerlain building on the Champs-Elysées. d’Angeac delivered to the Accor group "an original design, inspired by the 1920s, conceived with the codes of contemporary luxury". It should be noted that in the design of the train, all the decorative elements are either original or reinterpreted from the brand's archives by French artisans.

Maxime d'Angeac continued the tour and presented the concept and design behind the train cabins. A carriage will consist of either three standard suites or two premium suites. The presidential suite will occupy an entire carriage by itself. The bathroom is at the heart of the suite, and everything starts from this circle. The private area is equipped with a dressing room, a washbasin and a shower. Each suite offers two configurations: "Day" and "Night". During the day, a sofa invites the traveller to relax. At nightfall, the sofa becomes a 2 x 1.40 m bed. The partitions are covered with precious woods and a leather wall ornament, which reinterprets Suzanne Lalique's "rail" motif. Other decorations include wood embroidery, original Lalique "blackbirds and grapes" panels and ellipse shelves. The transformation to night-time is designed to be easily carried out by one person.

The architect then moved on to the bar. In designing this key area of the train, he revisited the decorative codes of the 19th century. Maxime d'Angeac confided that he was inspired by the train model dating from 1883, whose decor paid homage to the city of Paris. Although large Second Empire-style light domes are present in the space, green leather chairs, marble tables and original decorations still give a sense of timelessness to the bar's atmosphere. The bar counter is made of glass to pay homage to Lalique, and each table has a clock to signal cocktail and dinner times, as well as a button to call the staff. All the 21st century amenities are concealed to maintain a timeless atmosphere without compromising on comfort.

Like the other living spaces, the restaurant of the future Orient Express respects the codes of the train of the past (more precisely, the codes of the Art Deco period). For example, Maxime d'Angeac reinterprets Suzanne Lalique's "rail" motif on the partitions using stoneboard. Under a mirrored ceiling, crossed by a series of arches, armchairs and tables lit by lamps with shades line the length of the carriage. At the back of the car is the kitchen where the chef and their team prepare gourmet dishes for the travellers.

Guillaume de Saint Lager announced that the official opening of the train will take place in 2024, on the occasion of the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the first departures are planned for 2025. A typical journey will last five days and four nights.

The vice-president of Orient Express also took the opportunity to announce that Accor is developing a business unit to market trains. The group's ambition is to sell its own trains and, also, to sell trains for other companies. In addition, it will operate the La Dolce Vita train owned by Arsenale. This announcement is in line with Accor's eco-friendly strategy and will allow the group to expand its offer by giving its customers a low-carbon way to discover new destinations. In the long term, Accor aims to expand its rail portfolio by integrating other trains around the world. The new members will benefit from access to the group's resources, including its distribution, communication and marketing platform.

Today we are proud to reveal the first images of the future Orient Express train. A story inspired by a dream, a timeless train, the object of all fantasies, which is now becoming reality. Maxime d'Angeac's design awakens the myth with the revelation of its luxury, modernity and French elegance. Tomorrow, the Orient Express will shine again, proud of its 140 years of history with an eye to the future. The legend continues.

Sébastien Bazin, CEO of Accor



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