Of the many misconceptions that persist around touring holidays, perhaps the most misguided is the idea that a tour has to involve sacrifices. Mention escorted tours and many people will immediately imagine cramped coaches, bland food, run-of-the-mill accommodation and dull itineraries where you’re herded around like cattle. This stereotype is being slowly skewered right across the touring sector, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the incredible range of luxury tours on offer from those companies that cater to the top end of the market. Inclusions will vary depending on the operator, but these tours will normally use a luxury vehicle with large windows, comfortable seating and more legroom. You’ll travel in a smaller group, stay in the best hotels and enjoy varied and exciting cuisine, where dinner is often an event in itself. Your tour may include a private chauffeur transfer from your home, starting your holiday in style, and itineraries will usually be enhanced with exclusive events and experiences, whether it’s after-hours access to museums, private concerts or guest lectures from experts in their field. In this article we’ve picked out just a few of the amazing luxury tours on offer, featuring some of the most highly regarded operators in travel...
Abercrombie & Kent are well established as one of the world’s most respected tour operators, with an impressive network of local contacts around the globe. In Japan you’ll be accompanied by a resident tour director and English-speaking guides, in a group of no more than 18 people, as you travel from the sprawling, futuristic city of Tokyo to historic Kyoto. You’ll travel across the country on the famous shinkansen, the bullet train, staying in five-star accommodation and visiting some of the highlights of Japan, including the beautiful countryside around Takayama and the moving Hiroshima Peace Park. Two days are set aside for you to ‘Design Your Day’, with optional activities including sushi making, swinging a samurai sword and learning the art of taiko drumming.
Australia-based APT’s Luxury range of tours and river cruises includes this wonderful voyage on the Danube between Bucharest and Vilshofen. You’ll be travelling on board the brand new AmaMagna, a unique double-width ship which boasts some of the largest suites in river cruising, four different dining options and a watersports platform at the back of the ship. En route you’ll visit some of Central Europe’s most alluring destinations, including the buzzing Serbian capital, Belgrade, and the Austrian town of Linz, gateway to beautiful Salzburg. Your tour also includes an exclusive classical concert featuring members of Mozart’s Boys Choir in Vienna, and a trip on Budapest’s historic Grand Empress steam train to Gödöllő Palace for a private tour.
If backpacking through Peru and hiking the Inca Trail doesn’t appeal then fear not, as there is a more luxurious way to explore this fascinating corner of South America. Cox & Kings have over 250 years of experience in crafting unforgettable holidays, and this amazing itinerary includes a journey from Lake Titicaca to Cuzco on the stylish Belmond Andean Explorer train, a guided tour of Machu Picchu and accommodation in top-end hotels including the Palacio del Inka in Cuzco and the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu, the only hotel located at the gates of the site itself. Other highlights include the chance to see condors soaring above the Colca Canyon and a home-cooked lunch with a local family on one of Lake Titicaca’s islands.
Luxury Gold’s escorted tours focus on the finer things in life, featuring five-star accommodation, haute cuisine and exclusive travel experiences. On this fabulous tour of South Africa you’ll kick things off in style with a welcome dinner at Camissa Brasserie, with amazing views over Cape Town, and you’ll also enjoy a private wine tasting at the Vergelegen estate and a sunset drinks reception at the top of Table Mountain. You’ll also spend three days in Kruger National Park on a luxury safari, heading out on twice-daily game drives in search of the Big Five, and you’ll stay in refined surroundings at the legendary Victoria Falls Hotel, with magnificent views of the thundering falls.
Combine the romance of rail travel with some of India’s most iconic sights on this wonderful journey with Riviera Travel. You’ll be staying in a deluxe en suite compartment on the Deccan Odyssey train, with butler service and all your meals included. You’ll also stay in five-star hotels in Delhi and Mumbai, experience a tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park, and enjoy guided visits to the Taj Mahal, the palaces of Udaipur and the breathtaking ‘pink city’ of Jaipur, accompanied throughout by a dedicated Riviera Travel tour manager.