South America’s first luxury sleeper train, Belmond Andean Explorer in Peru, launched on rails in May 2017. Its handsome interiors were conceived by Muza Lab – a highly specialised studio founded by Inge Moore and Nathan Hutchins – and draw from the spectacular vistas along its routes.
“We design journeys,” explains Inge Moore, “and with Belmond Andean Explorer, we have distilled the romance, nostalgia and freedom of the train voyage.
“The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul.”
The train was formerly the Great South Pacific Express and while select nostalgic elements from its original form have been restored, the 16 carriages have benefited from extensive refurbishment to create the refined, pared-back aesthetic suited to the modern traveller.
“The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul”
The original exterior palette of maroon and ivory has been updated to a glossy blue livery, in a nod to Belmond’s partnership with PeruRail, whose day train locomotives are also a vibrant blue.
Inside, beautifully-crafted furnishings – reference Peru’s heritage and natural bounty to create a welcoming, honest feel. From the timber floors and linen roman blinds, to colourful woven textiles, almost everything has been locally sourced.
The sleeper cabins accommodate up to 48 passengers, and have been designed with all the sumptuous amenities guests might expect. Each sleeper car is named after Peruvian flora and fauna and – whether it contains double, twin or bunk beds – has been individually designed as a spacious suite.
Timber wall panels have been painted in parchment tones, while linen-look wallcoverings give the ceilings a tailored look. Neutral carpets have been introduced, while the seating has been covered in sumptuous fabric and leather. Muza has considered even the smallest of details, such as timeless brass room keys forged into the shape of the Chakana Cross – one of the most enduring shamanic symbols of Incan civilisation and the train’s official crest.
With its outdoor deck complete with scrolled balcony rails, the Observation Car offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in 360 degree views of the vibrant landscape. Inside, guests can enjoy a drink from the bar and unwind on cosy sofas. Decorative cushions upholstered in tapestry patterns woven in different regions of Peru are offset by the deep teal of ceramic table lamps. Embossed leather chairs with nail heads affixed to chunky timber frames inject a spirit of traditional craft and a casual, laid-back style.
The Piano Bar Car, meanwhile, offers a vibrant social hub with a more formal ambience. A sophisticated palette of grey tweed on the sofas and lounge chairs here is brought to life by splashes of cornflower blue and golden yellow in the cushion fringe, lampshades and delicate paintings.
“With its outdoor deck complete with scrolled balcony rails, the Observation Car offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in 360 degree views of the vibrant landscape”
Moving through to the Dining cars, the atmosphere transitions from the more casual feel of the breakfast service to a refined, fine dining ambience for the evening meal.
Pale shades of taupe and cream enhance the cars’ open spaciousness, while divider screens between seating groups are refreshed with white macramé that replaced inset timber panels.
Rich, cognac-toned leather chairs bring a substantial feel that is complemented by the fine leather trim added to the millwork.
The train’s luxurious offering is completed by its Picaflor Spa, which offers three treatment rooms.
“Our spa design encourages deep relaxation by tapping into the train journey’s dreamlike sense of suspended time,” Inge explains. “A soothing shade of white on the streamlined car panels helps create a moment of stillness as the colourful landscape whirs by, inspiring guests to internalise the beauty outside as the therapists work their magic.
“The design is both poetic and practical, with treatment beds securely affixed to the floor due to the train’s movements. Small, locally-made sunburst mirrors bring sparkle as passengers emerge refreshed and energised.”