The staff were friendly and pleasant, working hard to ensure our comfort.

Overall Impression Billed as “the most luxurious train in the world,” Rovos Rail created high expectations. We enjoyed the recreation of the vintage train experience, a relaxed and slow mode of transportation from Pretoria to Cape Town . We appreciated the excellent service with great attention to details; the all-inclusive format; the classic d├ęcor, especially the antique 1920’s and 1930’s dining cars; the beautiful custom made crystal glassware, dinnerware and silverware; the banning of cellular phone use in common areas; the comfortable observation and lounge cars; the limited smoking (smoking was allowed only in the suites and in the back half of the observation car). The staff were friendly and pleasant, working hard to ensure our comfort.

Though it was not an issue for us, the old style train ride with frequent rocking and noise made getting around and sleeping difficult for some. Storage was a minor challenge; we hardly had any space in the bathroom and little space in the closet. Though there was a large space for luggage overhead, to reach it you had to be tall or standing on a chair. The food service was uneven; sometimes delightful and at times not quite as good. We were disappointed with the train manager’s aloof attitude and an information omission in our printed itinerary that caused us to miss one of only two excursions. We wished non English speaking guests had been provided information and instructions in their language. Some of the guests were discourteous and inconsiderate of the rest of the group.

Class Of Accommodation : Luxury antique style train

Handicapped Access No

Length Of Stay : Two nights

Owned-Managed Rohan Vos

Size A 20-carriage classic train for up to 72 passengers in 32 deluxe and four royal suites

Year Opened-Renovated 1989

Common Areas Edwardian features, antique style. We enjoyed spending time in the cozy and comfortable observation and lounge cars. It afforded us a relaxed opportunity to meet fellow passengers and view the scenery in between meals and excursions. There was always a staff person available to offer us refreshments.

Bathroom Our small bathroom featured: A toilet; stainless steel sink; wood and glass shower enclosure large enough for a 6′ tall man; and a small wood vanity above the sink. The shower and sink had hot and cold water. Though arriving at a comfortable temperature in the shower required some finesse, it was wonderful to have truly hot water.

The sink had separate hot and cold faucets; it was necessary to press and hold down each valve for the water to flow. This meant we could only wash one hand at a time. There was a blow dryer on the wall. Flushing the toilet was frustrating. Often times it required several back to back flushes.

Room : Our 11 m 2 (110 square feet) Deluxe Suite was spacious enough to spend time in. It included air conditioning/heating; a double bed, two chairs, a mini refrigerator/table; small closet including a small electronic safe. There was a wall phone to contact fellow passengers and staff. There were four windows and shutters in the suite and one in the bathroom. When we opened them the dark suite brightened and we were sometimes able enjoy a lovely view. Though it was a slight chore, anytime we were away from our suite we had to close the windows and shutters for security reasons.

Meals We had our meals in one of two antique dining cars. Breakfast was between 7 and 9:45 a.m. ; lunch at 1 p.m. ; and dinner at 8 p.m.

Breakfast was a combination buffet and menu service. We enjoyed the buffet’s cereal/yogurt, fresh fruit and cold meat options. The light lunch was in keeping with the higher day time temperatures and opportunity for excursions.

Dinner was the most uneven of the meals. The first courses including, for example a cauliflower soup and a stuffed salmon appetizer, were delicious. The main courses we tried were overcooked. A replacement main course, though it arrived after everyone had finished dining, was an improvement. Although we enjoyed the milk tart, overall the desserts were disappointing.

Amenities : We received a complimentary Rovos Rail toiletry bag including shampoo, soap, shower gel, ear plugs, and mosquito repellent towelettes. There were two khaki bath robes and slippers for use during our stay. All meals, snacks and unlimited South African wine and spirits were included.

Facilities Two dining cars, one observation car at the rear and one lounge car near the front with a small souvenir corner to purchase Rovos teddy bears, clothing and golf supplies.

Other We took advantage of both opportunities to visit off train attractions. Saturday: A guided visit of Kimberly Diamond Mine including the museum, a view of the famous Kimberly hole and a short ride through the town in a trolley. Sunday: We strolled on our own through the tiny Karoo village of Matjesfontein . At the wee hours of a Sunday morning we were amazed anything was open. We found a couple of local museums (Marie Rawdon and Transport museums), the town hotel and a small curio shop from which we mailed some gifts that never arrived. It was nice to get off the train and walk around for a short while.

Route Pretoria to Cape Town

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Review May 2004 2012

Ease Of Reserving A Room Though we inquired months in advance, our first choice of dates was unavailable. As a result, it was necessary for us to rearrange our entire flight schedule and hotel reservations. Advance planning advisable to secure desired dates.

Michaela at Blue Travel provided us with information and facilitated our reservation process. She was helpful, quick in responding by email, accommodating and always pleasant.

Would You Ride It Again? Yes

Service We found the service outstanding. This was the case in our suite and in the dining and observation cars. We were greeted by name upon arrival at the private train station Rovos has in the outskirts of Pretoria, and immediately escorted to a champagne (South African sparkling wine) reception. Once we boarded the train we were assigned a dedicated staff person. Tania looked after us and two other couples. She showed us the features in our cabin and provided us a number to reach her 24 hours a day. She had a sunny disposition and was efficient.

One morning we broke a lamp cover. Unable to reach Tania right away we went to breakfast. By the time we returned, our room had been made; the laundry had been collected; the broken shards had been removed; and the lamp cover had been replaced!

The room was serviced multiple times during the day. The staff went beyond the usual garbage pick up and bed making. For example, one cold morning we left the heater on when we went out on an excursion. By the time we returned, the temperature had increased significantly. We approached the room with trepidation anticipating the oven we would encounter. To our surprise, Tania had tidied our room and lowered the temperature.

Contact Information

  • Address:
    • Capital Park
    • PO Box 2837 Pretoria 0001
    • Republic of South Africa
  • Phone :
    • +27 (0) 12 315 8242
  • Fax :
    • +27 (0) 12 323 0843
  • Website :
  • Email :