What a one-night journey costs

Reservations for Italy’s new “La Dolce Vita Orient Express” train open Tuesday.

Luxury train enthusiasts may want to lock in the current rate now — before it climbs any higher.

Starting rates for a one-night journey on the luxury train increased from 2,000 euros ($2,168) per person in December 2022 to 2,500 euros per person in November 2023. Both rates were set during a pre-sales reservation period, which required a refundable deposit.

But starting rates have now jumped to 3,500 euros per person per night, according to a press release published in March.

That’s an eye-watering 75% price increase in a 16-month period.  

The train is set to start running in the spring of 2025, according to Accor, the French multinational hospitality company that operates the train.

What is happening?

Accor did not directly answer CNBC’s question as to the reason behind the steep price hike.

A representative said, “Pricing evolves according to occupancy, season, route, and cabin type.”

However, again, the train isn’t operating yet.

Rates for a deluxe cabin on Accor’s La Dolce Vita Orient Express train have risen 75% since late 2022.

Courtesy of Accor

Ticket prices are still lower than another train using the “Orient Express” moniker in Europe — the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Nightly rates for that train, which is operated by the LVMH-owned Belmond company, start from £7,060 British ($8,925) per passenger, according to a review of its website.

Dave Goodger, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, said rising prices are caused by consumers’ continued willingness to pay higher rates for luxury experiences. But, he said, that’s likely not the only reason.

The lounge on the Accor’s new La Dolce Vita train.

Courtesy of Accor

“Luxury travel demand is reflected in some continued price increases,” he said. “However, the price increases are not profiteering and are broadly in line with rising costs, including higher staff costs as well as increased debt service requirements.”

Goodger called the La Dolce Vita train’s price increase “something of an outlier,” but also noted it’s reflective of the unique service it provides.

The ‘La Dolce Vita’ trains

Accor’s La Dolce Vita Orient Express is set to run nine routes through Italy, including a coastal journey from Palermo to Rome and another from Rome to the Tuscan commune of Montalcino.

The “La Dolce Vita” train — which translates to “the sweet life” — channels the era of Italian glamour captured by Federico Fellini’s famed 1960 movie of the same name. The film is perhaps best remembered for the scene in which actor Anita Ekberg frolics in the Trevi Fountain, an act that tourists can be fined heftily for replicating.

Reservations for the train open via telephone on April 2, and via the train’s website from April 24.

Accor has plans to launch another train — named “The Orient Express” — using restored 19th-century carriages that were once part of the historic “Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express.”

The train will run various routes through Europe, including the iconic Paris-Istanbul route.

Originally scheduled to launch this year, the train is now set to begin services in 2026.

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