I bought a $2,530 ticket to travel from Vancouver to Banff on the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer train.
The glass-roofed train was surprisingly comfortable, had great food, and traveled during daylight.
We passed by incredibly picturesque areas of Canada and drove through the scenic Rocky Mountains.
I booked myself a journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury train known for its spectacular views.
Recently, I rode on the First Passage to the West, which starts in Vancouver. On this route, the train made an overnight stop in Kamloops, a city in British Columbia, and ended its journey in Banff, a town in Alberta.
Both Canadian cities are located by the Rocky Mountains and bodies of water, so I saw lots of beautiful scenery along the way.
The ride itself spans two days and three nights and the train only travels during daylight hours.
We spent 22 hours total on the train, split up over 10 hours on the first day and 12 hours for the remainder of the journey.
Masks were required at all times, except when eating or drinking on the train.
The night before the train ride, I flew to Vancouver and stayed at the Sheraton Hotel.
The train ticket covers overnight hotels, so the Sheraton was included in the price. Typically, these tickets can cost $2,900 or more, but I got mine on sale at $2,530.
For the journey, I booked the Gold Leaf service, which includes the larger, double-decker train car and comes with extra perks, like drinks all day and menued dining.
A regular ticket, or the Silver Leaf service, includes pre-selected meals and doesn’t offer as expansive views during the ride.
The next morning, we met in the lobby and headed to the station.
At 6 a.m., we met in the hotel and took a bus to the Rocky Mountaineer station to begin our journey.
The station was just a short ride away from the hotel, so it took us only 10 minutes to get there.
Upon boarding the train, we were greeted by the staff.
Both of our train hosts were extremely welcoming and made me feel right at home.
I had never been on a train like this before, so I absolutely adored the experience.
This was my first time seeing such spectacular views via train, and the scenery throughout Canada was beautiful.
The seats were extremely comfortable and the train car was spacious.
The train was super spacious, with roomy seats, very large windows, and a massive glass roof.
The seats were arranged in a two-by-two configuration, so there was plenty of room to stretch your legs and store your personal belongings, like jackets and purses. I was able to fit my coat and oversized bag in front of me without worrying about being too cramped.
The seats even reclined.
Each seat reclined all the way back and had a control panel to turn on seat warmers and position the chair however you preferred.
Once the train departed, the Rocky Mountaineer staff positioned themselves in a half-moon and waved the train out of the station.
The staff did this at every station stop, which was lovely to see.
We started the day with a warm bite to eat and a greeting from the chef.
Our group’s breakfast wasn’t offered until the second shift, so we were given a warm pastry with some cinnamon cream to hold us over.
Coffee and other beverages were also offered.
The chef joined us in the car to welcome us aboard and tell us that the pastries were flown in from Paris.
After a little while, we headed down to the dining area.
For meals, we walked down to the floor beneath the seating car to order off the menu. We headed here for breakfast and lunch on both days.
The staff also accommodated allergies and other dietary restrictions, which was fantastic.
The breakfast menu offered traditional favorites.
Some breakfast options included pancakes, eggs benedict, and yogurt parfaits.
My table received a beautiful croissant board with butter as an appetizer. We each ordered individual dishes as well and I opted for pancakes.
After breakfast, I stepped onto the outdoor viewing platform to see the river.
It was cold outside and the platform was crowded, so I opted to stay inside for most of the journey.
Before I went back upstairs, I decided to head to the bathroom.
On board, the bathroom was large and clean, with an oversized mirror and great lighting.
I went back to my seat to view the scenery on the way to Kamloops.
On the first day, we saw some desert and river views along the ride.
After taking in the scenery, I was greeted by our host.
Tyler, our incredible host on board, handed me a drink menu, which listed local and reserved wines, cocktails, and hard liquor.
He also came around with a tray full of snacks and shared history and other facts about the places the train drove through, which was a large part of what made the journey so special.
At around 1:30, it was time for lunch.
The lunch menu changed day-to-day and was curated by the chef, who used the trip itinerary as inspiration.
Some lunch items included a power bowl, salmon, and chicken.
After lunch, I went to my seat to enjoy the scenic views until we arrived at Kamloops.
After 10 hours on board, we arrived at Kamloops station.
Before getting off the train, we were given maps with listed restaurants, facts about the town, and other information.
Once we got off the train, buses took us to our hotels for the evening.
We rode a bus to the Delta Hotel Kamloops, where there was a sign in the lobby informing us of when we had to meet for our departure the next morning.
Though 5:50 a.m. was a bit early, it was worth it. The wake-up time changes according to daylight hours since the train only travels during the day and must reach its destination by a certain point.
I checked in and went to my room to find my luggage waiting inside.
Passengers’ luggage was transported via truck and was left in our rooms or the hotel lobby.
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up at 5:30 to get ready to board the train.
I met the train group downstairs and left my bag outside with all the other luggage, which was sorted according to destination by the Rocky Mountaineer team.
Our luggage was then transported to our destination by truck since there wasn’t room for bags on board.
Once again, buses took us directly to the train station so we could board for day two.
Day two’s breakfast was relatively similar to day one’s.
We rode on the train for 12 hours on the second day, which was two hours more than the first half of the trip.
Our group had the first breakfast shift, so there was no morning pastry this time. The menu for breakfast was the same as on day one.
I noticed the lunch menu was different on the second day.
On the second day, the menu included items like butternut-squash risotto and a Lois Lake steelhead salmon.
We were told that the chefs even created a special vegan menu and that all dishes used as many local ingredients as possible.
In GoldLeaf Service, all meals are cooked fresh in the kitchen.
I opted to get the vegetarian butternut-squash risotto, which they made to accommodate my dietary restrictions and allergies. The staff helped me with every meal so I didn’t worry about eating something I shouldn’t.
Since we journeyed to Banff on the second day, the views were even more gorgeous.
On the second day, we saw the Rocky Mountains and some other scenic views.
When we got closer to the train stop, we saw incredible views of the Rocky Mountains for a few hours.
Driving through the Rocky Mountains was a surreal experience and was one of my favorite parts of the entire train ride.
Before departing the train, we got a sweet dessert.
Finally, we arrived in Banff.
Before heading off the train, one of the chefs handed out warm oatmeal-raisin cookies.
Buses were waiting at the station to transport us to our final hotel.
Each bus had a numbered sign on it that corresponded with different hotels, which is how I figured out which to board.
I checked into Elk and Avenue Hotel, located on a central street in Banff and just a short walk from stores and restaurants.
I stayed one night before flying home the next day.
Overall, leaving the train was a bittersweet goodbye.
The 22 hours on the train were broken up by hotel stays and bus rides, which made it feel like it wasn’t too long.
The views were incredible and I felt like this experience was worth every penny.
Read the original article on Insider
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