This Luxurious Train Through the English Countryside Now Hosts a Murder Mystery Trip With a 5-course Lunch
One travel writer hopped on board the nostalgic British Pullman, A Belmond Train, for a 1950s whodunnit while touring the English countryside.
Calling all armchair sleuths, rail enthusiasts, and lovers of all things vintage — this one’s for you. There's a brand-new murder mystery day trip called "Dead on Time" that takes you aboard the iconic British Pullman, A Belmond Train, and inside a 1950s British thriller.
Departing from London’s Victoria Station at 11 a.m. and returning at 4 p.m., the train speeds to the Kentish coast and back again without stopping. Over the course of the journey, guests aboard work out clues and interact with actors — all while feasting on a five-course lunch and drinking in the views of the lush green countryside. It’s essentially a murder mystery on rails — very Agatha Christie — and it couldn’t be more fun.
The immersive theatrical experience starts before you even board the train at the dedicated British Pullman lounge in Victoria Station, where a trio of vintage music makers sing boogie-woogie renditions of modern tunes until it’s time to board.
Once guests are snugly cocooned in overstuffed armchairs at two-person dining tables (or in one of the deliciously private four-seat coupes), liveried stewards with white gloves splash Veuve Clicquot into cut crystal and warm ginger wine (from Devon-based Lyme Bay Winery) into charming William Edwards china cups. Then, the train sways out of the station and into the 1950s.
Here's how it works: Ten actors — dressed to the nines — come through the carriages one by one to tell the story of a thrilling “murder,” each imparting clues, red herrings, and plot twists. Guests need to have their pens ready, as the case is complex, but there’s an illustrated, retro-style magazine to act as a guide to the cast of characters. Plus, this is not a play: Guests are encouraged to interact with the actors, so don’t be afraid to do your best Miss Marple impression and ask questions. (The best detectives are rewarded with extra bubbly.)
Murder mysteries can be a little kitschy, of course, but there is nothing low budget about this production, created in collaboration with hot-shot live events curators, Private Drama Events. The actors are West End-quality (London’s answer to Broadway), and the hair, makeup, and wardrobe look straight out of Old Hollywood’s Technicolor golden age — with a slight English twist.
While it’s easy to get caught up in all the brilliantly bonkers British melodrama, the countryside views are equally compelling — as is lunch. The British Pullman’s chef, Jon Freeman, focuses on handpicked suppliers and English heritage products like Cornish haddock; heritage beets from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire; and plenty of British cheeses like punchy stilton from Tuxford & Tebbut. Craft chocolatiers Pump Street provide the after-dinner treats, served alongside silver kettles of coffee from Drury of London, a British fixture since the '30s.
This is not the first murder mystery lunch to be held aboard the British Pullman; however, "Dead on Time" is the first production that is bespoke to the train. Without giving too much away, the plot leans into the British Pullman's historic heritage by setting the story during its heyday in the 1950s. It all happens at the 1951 Festival of Britain, where four British Pullman carriages — the Phoenix, Cygnus, Minerva, and Perseus — were first revealed to the public. The cast of characters takes their names from the train cars, though the rest of their personality traits (murderous or otherwise) are entirely fictional.
While all the carriages have a nostalgic charm of their own, Cygnus carriage is especially cinematic — thanks to filmmaker Wes Anderson, who dressed the space in 2021. Camera-ready with art nouveau swirls; glossy marquetry; and shades of mint and classic racing green, the whimsical space is named after a Greek god who was transformed into a swan. The carriage includes a few playful nods to the myth, like silver swan-shaped Champagne buckets and images of swans on the intricate mosaic floors.
The British Pullman’s Moving Murder Mystery 'Dead on Time' will run every two weeks from now until December 2023. Price per person starts at £540 ($640), and you can book your trip at www.belmond.com.
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