You arrive at a bustling train station late in the night. Leaving the steam covered platform, you hop on board your sleeper train. As the whistle blows, the cars begin chugging down the track into the night. In just a few hours, you will arrived rested, refreshed and ready to explore your exciting new destination dawn’s morning light. Sound too good to be true? Let’s jump aboard the Caledonian Sleeper and see!
We are lovers of train travel! Really, if I could easily travel everywhere in the world by train, I’d totally be on board. So, we jumped at the chance to try out the Caledonian Sleeper Train for our trip to Scotland. It fit perfectly into our travel itinerary from London and would be a great new experience.
If you are looking for an alternative to flying, train travel might be an option for you. Although slower, sleeper trains are a more environmentally friendly travel option to see the world.
We booked our tickets well in advance in a standard sleeper berth. A few months later, Caledonian Sleeper announced new cars were coming just in time for our trip. This meant we had to option to re-book an en-suite berth! Way better than using the communal bathrooms and train station showers, so it would be totally worth the $70 upgrade fee… or so we thought.
Tickets and Boarding
Because we try traveling with as little paper as possible, we were glad to be able to add our tickets to our Apple Wallet. This is very convenient and makes for easy access at the station.
The Caledonian Sleeper departs London Euston station around 11:30 p.m. It arrives in Edinburgh, Scotland around 7:30 a.m.
Neither the tickets or itinerary confirmation shared the exact boarding time. European train stations are known for not announcing platforms until about 20 minutes before boarding. Don’t panic – this is normal.
We found passengers are able to board the Caledonian Sleeper at least one hour before departure. You just need to find it at the platform (the train stands out), show them your ticket and they will let you on.
They also did not overtly share that if you purchased a club room berth (the ones with the en-suite), you have access to the Euston train station’s Virgin First Class Lounge prior to departure. Lounges are a great break away from the hustle and bustle in the station. We hung out in the lounge for a bit and had some refreshments before making our way back to the main part of the station.
Again, the station departure displays don’t announce the platforms well in advance. But, we wanted to spend a bit of time exploring the train and getting settled, so we made our way to the train early. Friendly platform staff greeted us and we finally made our way to the train for a quick boarding pass scan. Before long, we boarded the train car for our overnight adventure.
We thought we booked an upgraded room with a double bed. It was surprising to walk in and see two bunk beds. But, we managed.
The sleeper berths, more commonly know as couchettes, are small. Tiny. There is limited space. We recommend packing light (as always) because there just isn’t any room. The space allowed barely any room for two people, let alone large bags. Both of our 50L backpacks and some shoes fit in the under-bed storage space, but there wasn’t much room for anything else. I’m not sure how anyone could reasonably fit large suitcases into their room and still move.
They do provide a very nice amenity kit for their guests. Many of these items are focused on getting cleaned up and having a restful nights’ sleep. Trust me, you’ll need that pillow spray and ear plugs.
While it was nice in theory to have the en-suite access, I am not sure it was worth the upgrade fee. The space was so small it was hard to move around. I didn’t much care for trying to get cleaned up with only a lid between myself and the toilet. And, the water was lukewarm at best.
However, given consideration to the current state of things, I am now glad we had our own bath area. Under normal travel circumstances, I don’t think we would upgrade again.
Although relatively comfortable, the beds are not big. I am average height and I took up the length of my bed when my legs were straight. The train jostles about during the night as well as makes a considerable amount of noise. You feel every movement as the train works down the track. If you are a light sleeper, do not anticipate a restful nights’ sleep regardless of the pillow spray or ear plugs.
Late Night Food and Drink
After we initially settled in our room, we made our way to the club car to enjoy a cocktail in celebration of our new adventure. That cocktail never happened. We were some of the first people to enter the club car, but that didn’t matter. The attendant in the club room appeared to deliberately ignore us, serving people who came into the car well after us. After about 25 minutes of waiting, we left.
Staying in a club sleeper berth includes free breakfast. We ordered our meals to be delivered to our room due to our experience with drinks (or lack thereof) in the club car. Upon delivery, I was informed they could not provide my selected breakfast because they did not stock enough on the train. Bummer! But, the alternative provided was tasty and filling. A perfect start to the day in Edinburgh!
Before we knew it, it was time to get off the train at our destination. It seemed like we just got on the train! While the service we received was not great and the night’s sleep was not restful, we are still glad we tried the Caledonian Sleeper Train. What an adventure!
It was a unique experience which also provided the opportunity for us to get from point A to point B between London and Edinburgh.
Would we do this (or another overnight sleeper train) again? Probably so.
But we would not upgrade to the en-suite sleeper berth under normal travel circumstances. The showers in Waverley Train Station appeared to be quite nice and more spacious. We could have received tokens for these showers from a train attendant too… And, we certainly would not anticipate sleeping well on any future sleeper train experiences either.
Regardless, I am glad we tried this travel method and can add this experience to our travel repertoire. There are plenty of other sleeper trains out there we hope to try, and would recommend the Caledonian sleeper to people expecting a similar experience this offers.