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.
Enjoyed your post! I have not tried the Caledonian Sleeper train in UK yet, but train travel can be a lot of fun. The cabin with bunk beds tends to be tight in many trains like the VIA in Canada. It is a pity that service was not good. I hope you filled the review form. The gentle rocking of the train helps to get a good night’s sleep , so long it is not too strong. 🙂
We love to travel by train so it was good to discover a new route to try for travel to Scotland. The last time I did a sleeper trip we booked something like the club room with a bathroom. Probably still the only choice for this light sleeper. Great to have breakfast delivered to you. We will definitely check out the Caledonia Sleeper Train if we ever get our big UK road trip on the planning board.
Really interesting & always good to hear about train travel & alternatives to flying nowadays. However, I’m so sorry that your experience of the service was so poor! I hate bad service at the best of times but it seems very little of yours was actually any good. I would try this but not disappointed that when I (hopefully) head to Scotland in the summer, I’m planning to drive.
Super jealous that you have the ability to drive to Scotland. Would do the same if we could for sure! Enjoy your trip (I’m confident you will make it!!)
What can I say – I tried the Caledonian Sleeper and I did not like it at all. It was way too small a space and that took me by surprise. Along with that, I hardly slept! I’m glad not all was too bad for you and you are willing to try again.
It sounds like our experience was somewhat similar. I’m glad we tried it and would do it again, but I just know what to expect now. Needless to say, we were super tired in Edinburgh. In fact, I fell asleep at the Scott Monument…
I love taking the train – and don’t mind spending the night on trains if necessary. Also, this one looks particularly comfortable – and clean which is important 😉 I would also appreciate all those little extras very much – all in all, what a great and sustainable way to travel!
I love road trips and since I’m not driving, many of them turn out to be railroad trips. I find them very relaxing and the fact that they are more sustainable makes me feel even better. Nevertheless, poor service can certainly spoil the experience – but I hope that at the end of the….night your experience was an inspiring one 😉
Yes, even though it wasn’t the best, we are still glad we went and would do it again!
I have never traveled in a sleeper train before, but this sounded very intriguing. I may have to try it out one day when I travel.
It was a great way to travel. Wish we had more opportunities in the States.
I love overnight trains and have done this exact same trip myself, about 3 years ago. I would love to do it someday in one of the new train rooms with the double bed. Agree that it can be hard to sleep, but I’m willing to overlook it for the journey itself.
Oh yay! How was your experience on the Caledonian?
Loved reading your post. I would like to try the Caledonian Sleeper train someday. Previously, I have travelled in sleeper trains in India, Italy and Germany and absolutely loved the experiences especially in the morning when I smell the coffee or chai after waking up.
Would love to do a sleeper in India some day!
We went on the sleeper decades ago and loved it, definitely the best way to travel from London to Scotland
So glad you had a great experience! It is the best way to travel!
Great post. Train travel isn’t big in the USA so I have only done a few train day trips abroad. I’ve always wanted to overnight on a trail, sounds so fun. This is a good option for us in the future. Hopeful to make it happen as the world slowly opens…
Wouldn’t it be amazing if train travel was popular in the US? We’d never be home….
We would love to do this! We love train travel, too, but have never done a sleeper. Dying to add this to our travel experiences, and the Caladonian seems like the perfect way to do it. Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Thanks for popping by! Hope you guys get to try it out some time!
Haven’t done a sleeper train yet, but is on the list to do someday. Bummer that you didn’t have the greatest service on the train.
Hopefully it will be better next time around. Still, we are glad that we did it!
I enjoyed reading about this. Though not everything was perfect, it does sound like the ideal way to arrive in Edinburgh. What an experience!
I couldn’t agree more!
I didn’t even know there were ensuite sleeper trains. I’d certainly go for this as I imagine it must be cheaper than a hotel room + flight. How much was it? Price ranges don’t seem very obvious on the website.
Prices vary depending on dates, number of people, and accommodation selected. Ours was about 200 Euros.