At a time when travel is denied to most of us, a special pop-up exhibition charting the romance, nostalgia and glamour of the Orient Express provides the rare opportunity to step back in time to the Golden Age of Travel.
For the first time outside of Paris, the ‘Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express’ Exhibition brings 300 historic artefacts that tell the story of the world’s most famous train and its rich heritage. These include newsreels, film clips, posters, menus, exquisite porcelain, cutlery and vintage luggage. You can also visit some of the train’s international stopovers with scenic sights from London, Paris, Venice, Baghdad, Istanbul, Cairo and Luxor, making this the only way to travel from Singapore.
In the near future, Accor plans to open a collection of luxury Orient Express-branded hotels across Europe and Asia, as well as operating restored carriages as dining venues in some of its hotels globally.
As a partner of the exhibition, Accor is giving members of ALL – Accor Live Limitless – exclusive access to enjoy Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express with a preview dinner before it opens to the public and access to special events throughout. The Fairmont Hotel Singapore is also the only hotel to offer Orient Express accommodation packages that include tickets to the exhibition, overnight accommodation including breakfast, two specially-made 'From Orient Express with Love' cocktails, and an exclusive memento as well as a VIP package including dinner aboard the carriage and a bottle of champagne in your suite.
Within the recreated walls of the neo-classical Gare du Nord, Paris’s largest train station, you will find two gleaming blue 1930s Orient Express carriages and an original 158-year old locomotive, which will allow you to relive the mystery and magic of the world’s most iconic train. The legendary Orient Express has been the backdrop to film stars, spies, diplomats and writers from its inception to its last journey in 2009. This exhibition weighs more than 200 tonnes, took 42 days to transport and has to be carefully housed to protect the delicate artefacts from Singapore’s steamy heat.
Famous guests over the years included Léon Tolstoy, Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, Lawrence of Arabia, Mata Hari and even fictional characters such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Perhaps the train’s most famous passenger is private detective Hercules Poirot, who solves Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express in both novel and film adaptations. You can play Poirot yourself, with a specially themed Escape Room that will challenge you to solve another murder aboard the Orient Express.
It was 1883 when the Orient Express made its first voyage, redefining luxury travel by creating a hotel on wheels with gleaming wood, opulent seating, and comfortable beds made with crisp silk sheets. The dining cart served champagne and caviar; guests dined on specially created crockery. At the time, it became the preserve of Europe’s wealthiest, with royalty, movie stars, spies and diplomats amongst its passengers.
Now, the cabins are beautifully restored cars that gleam with polished wood panelling, leather banquets and vintage details that will thrill the most discerning trainspotter. Here, you can enjoy a range of dining experiences that will transport you back to the 1930s, gliding effortlessly between Occident and Orient as you enjoy sumptuous menus by Yannick Alleno. Alleno is one of the most feted chefs of today, whose first job was at Le Royal Monceau, a Raffles Hotel and who has been named Chef of the Year, won three Michelin Stars on two occasions and whose Pavillon Ledoyen is the most star-rated independent restaurant in the world. He is known for pushing boundaries with French cuisine and for his vision and audacity to create the purest flavours.
Breakfast, lunch, high tea and two dinner services are available, with seating limited to just 24 on each carriage at a time, adding an air of exclusivity. In keeping with the elegance of the day, guests are encouraged to dress for dinner. The clever team at anti.dote bar have even created a specially crafted 'From Orient Express with Love' cocktail, featuring an elegant blend of vodka, sea buckthorn puree, Perrier Jouet Champagne and lemon, which you can sip as you are transported back in time.
A menu from 1882 featured oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, fillet of beef with ‘château’ potatoes, ‘chaud-froid’ of game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding and a buffet of desserts. Today’s menu references the train’s legendary history but brings it into the 21st century with dishes inspired by the road map concept. There is also café, a bar and a beautifully curated merchandise outlet with collectors’ items to bring the experience home with you.
“Orient Express has given me the chance to express myself through their pop-up restaurant that took place in an Orient Express car at the square of the Arab World Institute in Paris in 2014 and my second collaboration was in 2016 for La Table Orient Express, the travelling restaurant with exclusive dinner experience,” said Chef Alleno.
“Being associated to a magical name such as Orient Express for the third time is a fabulous opportunity. The Orient Express is a fairy-tale universe linked to travel, culture and gastronomy. It has always spread ‘l’art de vivre a la Francaise’, the French art of living to the entire world. I am very proud to be associated with this project and to be able to offer a pop-up café and restaurant experience made especially for Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express in Singapore.”
Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express runs from 12 December 2020 to 13 June 2021 on the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay. Entry to the exhibition is $25 and dinner service aboard the train starts from $298++ for food only.