Considering taking a trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train and wondering what the Gold Leaf service is all about? Or perhaps you’re looking for a unique luxury trip and wondering if seeing the Canadian Rockies by train is right for you? Here’s what to expect when you travel on the Rocky Mountaineer Gold Leaf service and how it differs from the Silver Leaf level.
Thank you to the Rocky Mountaineer for hosting me on my trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own based on my experience aboard.
Gold Leaf Glass-Dome Train Cars
In my opinion, the Gold Leaf (GoldLeaf) service is all about the train cars. They’re bi-level with the seats on the top level and a dining room down below. The seating area is topped with glass-dome windows, giving you the most spectacular full view of the towering mountain scenery.
The seats for the Gold Leaf cars are in a 2 x 2 row configuration and have approximately 20 rows, with a center walkway aisle down the middle. There is a stairwell to the lower level towards the back of the train car.
Your seats in the GoldLeaf cars are plush and comfortable. They come with a control panel that allows the back to slide down and create a recline but without actually reclining into the row behind you. There’s also a footrest that can be extended, but for long-legged passengers, it’s not really ideal or needed as the floor space in front is fine. You can even turn on a seat heater if you’re feeling chilly!
Gold Leaf Dining
Another aspect of the luxury aspect of the Gold Leaf service are the meals. Your car will have a chef and dining staff that will prepare your meals and serve you during your ride. You’ll eat two meals aboard, breakfast and lunch.
GoldLeaf passengers will eat in two rotations. Half of the car will have the first-seating of meals, the other half will have the second-seating. These rotations flip each day, so you’ll get to experience each timing. While the first-seating goes down for the meal, the second-seating guests will be provided a beautiful snack service at their seats while they wait.
My absolute favorite experience with this was at breakfast because we were served the most delicious cinnamon scones with fresh jam for our morning snack. The second day we had the first-seating meal time and I greatly missed the cinnamon scone! The pre-lunch snack was dried fruit and cheese.
GoldLeaf guests dine in a dining room that is located on the first level of your train carriage. Again, there are two seating times for the meals so each meal has approximately 36 guests seated at tables of four. Those with motion sickness will want to talk to your dining host and make sure they seat you in a front-facing seat, two people at each table will sit backwards to the train motion.
Meals on the Rocky Mountaineer
The meals for Gold Leaf guests are deluxe and absolutely delicious. A menu is provided and there is some variety so you’ll have new options on your travel days.
Breakfast menus have a number of egg dishes as well as some popular options like pancakes and a yogurt parfait.
You can also add some requests to your meal, I asked for my skillet to have scrambled egg instead of a baked egg.
You’ll also be served lunch aboard the Rocky Mountaineer. Again, you’ll have some delicious options, typically they have meat, seafood, and vegetarian choices. Since we were in Alberta for the start of our journey, I decided to give the popular Alberta beef burger a shot. The next day I tried the salmon – and this Seattle gal was very happy with the taste! The menu has some variations so you won’t get tired of the same options every day.
Drinks On Board
In addition to the morning and lunch snacks served to the second-seating diners, you’ll also be given some snack mix during the day. And you’ll have access to unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Just remember that you do have to walk up and down stairs, and make it on and off board, so don’t imbibe too much. :)
Gold Leaf Outdoor Viewing Platform
Another feature that you’re allowed with the GoldLeaf service is an outdoor viewing platform at the back of the lower level of your train car. This space allows a few guests at a time to get some fresh air and gives you a unique feel for the train travel experience that’s different from your seat on the second level.
Gold Leaf Dress Code
It might be a relief to know that there is no dress code for the Gold Leaf service. It’s up to you how you dress and when I was onboard it seemed that most guests dressed casually. I will say that if you’re indulging on a bucket list experience like the Rocky Mountaineer, it might feel nice to take some care and dress nicely.
As for what to wear, I’d recommend wearing a resort casual outfit. For men, that could be slacks and a button-down shirt. Women might want to wear a nice top and pants and add a cardigan or shawl. You will be sitting for a few hours so you might want to wear clothes that hold up well for wrinkles and are comfortable to sit in. Don’t forget to pack a jacket if you’re planning to go out on the viewing platform, it can be chilly and windy.
The temperature in the train car can vary greatly because of the glass dome. When the sun is high overhead it can feel hot shining on you. However, there is also air conditioning running and it might feel cold blowing on you. The seats do have heaters, which can be great if you feel a little chilled.
Gold Leaf vs Silver Leaf
When you’re deciding to book your Rocky Mountaineer trip in GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf service there are a few things to consider. The most notable differences are with the carriage cars, meal service, and hotels. You’re looking at paying approximately $500 more for Gold Leaf over Silver Leaf prices.
The Gold Leaf cars are bi-level, with a dining room and bathrooms below. Silver Leaf cars are one level. You get the glass-domed windows with Gold Leaf service whereas Silver Leaf guests have standard wide train windows next to their seats.
The Gold Leaf cars also have an outdoor viewing platform space for guests. Silver Leaf cars have a very small outdoor space but it’s not large and might only allow one or two guests out at a time. Gold Leaf cars can seat 72 guests, whereas Silver Leaf cars seat 56.
The other main difference between the two service levels is with the meal service. Gold Leaf guests dine in a separate dining room for breakfast and lunch. Silver Leaf guests dine at their seats. Gold Leaf guests also have quite a few more meal options on their menus.
Lastly, your service level helps decide what type of accommodations you’ll be placed at for your journey overnight(s). Our journey overnighted in Kamloops and the options are fairly simple no matter what service level you’re booked at. Both service levels include a check-in service (you receive your key on the train), and room-drop of your luggage from the train.
Your hotels in Banff and Vancouver are booked separately outside of your package, so the hotel consideration only matters for your overnights during the train journey.
I truly loved my time aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and hope I have the opportunity to ride again. It’s a beautiful way to see the Canadian Rockies!