Once Upon A Time on the Orient Express in Singapore highlights: What it’s really like aboard the palace on wheels
Time to board
As a massive fan of anything to do with trains, murder-mystery, and the beloved narrative in which one Hercule Poirot saves the day, the Orient Express that's landed in Singapore is really one to hold the key to our hearts. The key sentiment? It sparks the wonder of travelling — something sorely missed in 2020. From its platform-like entrance to the opulent decadence that scatters through every crevice of the carriages, the entire 'Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express' pop-up experience located in our very own Gardens by the Bay is truly one that makes you feel like you could be transported into another space-time, one that can attest to an era of romance, splendour, and mystifying travel.
Perhaps it was the idealised sentiment that we were standing in the very carriages — yes, the original ones — that carried the likes of Agatha Christie, the stained glass windows in the neck of each carriage, or the realistically portrayed artefacts from back in the day, but there's no lying when we say that the exhibit takes one into a fantastical world that never felt like it was ours in the first place: it was simply a lost era, but one that blazed through the changing of political and geographical history from 1883 to the 1980s. The impressive locomotive engine that had driven and made most of the travel of the Orient possible, is also grandly situated just outside the exhibit, paying ode to its old travels that once joined Europe to the Orient.
And the artefacts arranged throughout the two carriages truly make for a rich experience. The Orient Express itself was accredited for its grandiose — from lavish decor to how their affluent travellers were well spoilt in a similar vein as how we'd treat a royal or celebrity in today's age. Since its debut in 1883, the masterpiece of the fast-moving vehicle held pride in its exquisite construction, with its embossed leather ceilings, velvet curtains from Genoa, silverware as cutlery, and crystal fine glasses.
The interactive exhibit that continues after the walkthrough of the carriages gives you exclusive access to the viewing of rare artefacts such as the strong historical markers of affluence, Louis Vuitton trunks, the inventive closed sleeping compartments and the vintage advertisements and tour posters that were designed for the train's travels. And of course, the exhibit is nothing short of educational and insightful; it seeks to be one you can properly take your time to walk through, marvel at its magnificence, and discover about how the train enabled a new age of luxury travel and the immense exchange of varying cultures.
But the experience would not be complete without a proper throwback to how it would have been like to dine on the Orient Express. Whilst the train's original carriages a.k.a the National Treasures of France are much too precious to be dined in, a perfect replica of the restaurant carriage awaits you, along with the famed double three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno who will be offering only the best of French gastronomy and fusion cuisine. All of which have been curated to relay the elegant yet creatively spun gourmet experiences one might have expected aboard the Orient Express. Whilst the current housing of the pop-up restaurant is only offering high tea sessions for now, guests can await a broad range of lunch, brunch and dinner options very soon.
Apart from the restaurant, guests can also visit the Orient Express Road Cafe that will expose all to a myriad of coffee blends that had previously been discovered and made famous along multiple stops along the train's route such as Paris, Venice and Istanbul. Of course, no exhibit would be complete without its accompanying boutique for souvenirs, and one can expect a range of posters, bags, and the every odd trinket to bring home the little bit of wonder from the Orient Express.
Open from now till 13 June 2021.
The Once Upon A Time on the Orient Express Exhibition is priced at $25 (free for children under 3), or $88 for a family bundle of 2 adults and 2 children. Find out more here. Reservations for the Orient Express Pop-Up Restaurant is advised to be done separately.