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I am very lucky that where I work, we don’t do Christmas Parties by halves. My first Christmas party with Neo PR was a trip to Geneva featuring a trip up Mont Blanc. In 2017, we went to New York for two days and experienced snow in Central Park, spurring my love affair with the city. This year, we spent the day getting wined and dined on the Belmond British Pullman. This is definitely a bucket list experience – we had an absolutely incredible day! If you have ever dreamed of travelling back in time to the days of luxurious rail travel on the Orient Express, you would love the British Pullman. The carriages of the train are restored to the finest detail to look like they have come straight out of the roaring 20s. Some of the carriages have even travelled with the rich and famous inside! We all got completely glitzed and glammed up to the nines and for some of us with a penchant for Vintage fashion, it was a great excuse to live the dream.

With our tickets in our hands, it was time for a very festive day aboard the British Pullman…

The train departs from London Victoria station on platform 2. I have to say it was bizarre walking amongst the morning commuters in a full face of makeup and a fancy dress! However, when you reach the platform, you soon feel at home. The carpeted entrance to the Belmond British Pullman waiting hall provided the perfect photo opportunity! We were greeted by some Christmas songs swing-style from the Spitfire Sisters which definitely added some atmosphere!

The train was scheduled to depart 11:05 from London Victoria and our particular trip would take us south of London, past Canterbury, through the beautiful Kent countryside towards Margate and then back to London. Once we were on the platform there was time for a few quick photos before we were ushered onto our carriage which was called Iode. As I mentioned, some of these carriages have held many celebrities including royalty and Winston Churchill. Some of them have also starred in films.

Each carriage sits 16 people in gorgeous upholstered arm chairs. The interior is stunning, with varnished walls and gold details. It is a very decadent experience! We had a whole carriage to ourselves which was great fun. Our butlers, David and Charles were great sports – lets just say we became known as the party carriage!

Once we had settled into our seats, the butlers came round and filled our crystal glasses with champagne to start the journey. The table was impeccably laid out, featuring beautiful glassware, silver service and duck egg blue crockery. We each had a Christmas cracker with a special gift inside. I got a silver keyring, which I think I ended up leaving on the train – I was gutted! There was also a selection of canapes to whet our appetites. The stilton topped with fig was my favourite.

I felt very glamorous on this train, and despite feeling overdressed in London Victoria, I didn’t feel overdressed at all on the beautiful carriages. We had all been up since 5am having our hair and make up done professionally to ensure we were dressed for the occasion. I (controversially!) didn’t buy a new dress this year. I bought this beautiful black midi dress from Oasis a few years ago which has served several black tie events and weddings, and now this Christmas party. My shoes and coat are also from last year. The shoes are from last year’s Oasis sale and my fur coat is from ASOS.

I was very much looking forward to the food! The ticket includes a five-course meal with half a bottle of house wine. We had the Christmas menu which started with a gorgeous warm salmon, crab and leek tartlet with a tomato and dill butter sauce. This went down a treat with everyone. It was perhaps a little filling for a starter, but it was a welcome start to the meal and full of fresh flavours. I loved the dill sauce too it added a nice savoury contrast to the sweet pastry.

The second course was a pumpkin and butternut squash soup with crispy curly kale and chestnuts. This has mixed feedback, but I loved it. This sweet soup was warming and I loved the addition of the kale.

The main event was a roast breast of guinea fowl which was filled with a wild mushroom and spinach farce, a chipolata wrapped in pancetta, celeriac dauphinoise and cranberry jus. This unique take on Christmas dinner was amazing. The guinea fowl was rich and succulent, and the dauphinoise were lovely and gooey. The cranberry jus was probably my highlight of this course – sweet but with a slight tang and there were whole cranberries involved too, it was delicious! It’s also worth saying how accommodating they were of dietary requirements. There was a vegan, vegetarian, coeliac and nut allergy in our group and they ensured that everyone’s dietary requirements were catered for. In fact, I was a little jealous of the veggie option – it looked glorious!

Much to everyone’s delight, there was a cheese course. Our butler brought round a lovely board featuring a range of cheeses from around the country. I chose a sheep milk cheese, the goats cheese and an aged cheddar. I also had a helping of pear, date and ale chutney which was really tasty. The dessert was my least favourite course – Christmas pudding cheesecake. I am not a fan of Christmas pud anyway and this was just too heavy for me. I loved the scoop of Grand Marnier cream though….!

Whilst we were enjoying our wine and food, we were treated to some entertainment from a magician, who performed the most amazing close magic. How he made several citrus fruits appear from under a silver cup I will never know! He performed several tricks in the carriage, making sure everyone was involved. He even managed to retrieve Francesca’s engagement ring after throwing it out of the window… Phew!

We also had another visit from The Spitfire Sisters, who gave us a swing rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ before we all opened our secret santa gifts.

As our trip came to an end, we were served a cup of tea and a little box of festive flavoured chocolates. By this point, we were full of food and wine but we had such a lovely afternoon aboard the train. We definitely felt like Queens for the day – everything from the service to the train to the food was second to none. It is such a wonderful thing to do – it’s by no means cheap – but it’s perfect for a special occasion. Or, if you’re just feeling extra decadent…

What a day – this is definitely a trip for any one who wants to take a trip back in time and indulge in a little luxury. Add it to your bucket list!

You can find out more about the Belmond British Pullman’s trips and experiences on their website: www.belmond.com

Milton Keynes based blogger who likes to eat and explore.