Luxury train travel in the UK is a bit of an oxymoron but there are a few exceptions. One of these is the Great Western Railway Pullman service. On certain routes, the Pullman dining carriages are available for booking.
These Pullman carriages are beautifully appointed dining cars serving silver service meals on linen table cloths with proper crockery and cutlery.
We were on the 10.45 from Paddington to Swansea. We take our assigned seats in the Pullman dining car and the table is laid ready for breakfast service. The table is set with a pristine white starched linen tablecloth, proper silver cutlery with a monogrammed cup and saucer. The seats are generous leather seats, a far cry from the regular carriages.
It’s early but the carriage was full. Most of the regulars know to book a seat in the dining car as they are very popular. The remaining free seats were quickly filled by the suits on their way to a meeting at a stop down the line. Dining in the Pullman car is available for all passengers but first class ticket holders get priority.
As the train pulled away, the smartly liveried waiters took out orders. Our choice of paper is delivered with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. On this service, 2 ultra friendly Welshmen were on hand to top up our tea pots, serve us a never-ending full Great Westerner Welsh Breakfast and to regale us with Welsh tales.
Besides the Great Westerner, there is a choice of a vegetarian breakfast or Eggs Benedict, all cooked to order in the little galley kitchen off the dining room.
As we watch the unidentified suburbs go past our windows, our waiter brings us some piping hot plates with the GWR emblem. He returns with trays laden with our piping hot breakfast. He proceeds to tell us that all the ingredients are fabulously Welsh and of the highest quality. There are eggs, tomatoes, sausages, thick slices of Welsh bacon and of course baked beans. The Welsh sausages and black pudding are just delicious. We indulge in the selection from the bread basket which includes warm saffrom bread and some buttery welsh cakes. They serve proper tea and freshly squeezed orange juice too.
Along the way, we chat up the Welsh waiters for foodie tips in South Wales and of course, we have lots of suggestions for local favourites.
Seconds are offered and our drinks are refreshed all the way to Cardiff. Two hours we spent in the dining car seemed to pass by in a flash. The Great Westerner Breakfast we find out is a bit of a cult favourite among the regular commuters and I can see why. It is a delicious meal, served with Welsh congeniality. It is certainly a great train dining experience.
We arrive in Wales great spirits and all ready to discover more fabulous Welsh foods on our trip.
There isn’t much opportunity to experience luxury train travel in the UK. GWR runs this service to set them apart from their competitors and it runs at a loss. I hope they don’t have a penny-pinching management consultant advising them to shut this down as it is quite the most charming experience on rails in the UK.
About the Pullman Dining Service on GWR
The Pullman Dining service exists only on Great Western Railway routes today. They have dining cars on 12 services on these two routes, London to Penzance and London to Swansea. It’s a far cry from a soggy bacon buttie and a lukewarm tea in a paper cup.
There are a couple of other trains where you can get a luxury meal, one is Belmond who operates the London to Venice Orient Express and sometimes the They really should bring back the dining car. It’s such a wonderful way to spend a train journey.
EatCookExplore was a guest of Great Western Railway.