London to Glasgow Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper Train

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Travelling overnight between Scotland and London on the Caledonian Sleeper, is often touted as a travel must do. It’s not the fastest nor even cheapest way to get to Scotland from London, but it’s certainly the most exciting.

Boarding the train in London Euston, at around 11pm, then after a quick night cap in the lounge, its time to retire to your cabin, before waking up to a view of the Highlands whizzing past your window.

Check out my onboard experience below.

Included in my 1st single berth ticket:

  • Exclusive use of 1st class single berth cabin
  • Free hot or continental breakfast to eat in your cabin or lounge car
  • Complimentary toiletry pack and sleep kit
  • Free access to First Class lounge at London Euston and other station

Upon arriving at Euston station I headed for the Virgin 1st class Lounge, and before you start getting excited , it’s nothing like Virgins airport lounge, but it is away from the hustle and bustle of the main station. The lounge serves a limited range of free refreshments, ( tea ,coffee & soft drinks ) and snacks ( crisps , biscuits & fruit ). There is alcohol available, but it’s chargeable, there are comfortable seats , plug sockets and quiet work spaces so it’s definately worth stopping by.

This best thing about access to the Euston station lounge , is that theres a decent shower to use, ( there are no showers on the Sleeper ) so you can get a hot shower on arrival, before you head off to start your day. If your travelling first class its free, including towels and shower gels etc. If your on a standard ticket, you can still have access to the showers for £5.00, you just need to buy a voucher from the on train host.

Virgin trains 1st class lounge Euston shower room

The Sleeper runs 6 nights a week , Sunday to Friday in both directions. Boarding starts at 11pm and the train leaves Euston promptly at 11.50pm.

Before turning in for the night, theres just time to visit the onboard lounge for a night cap, or a traditional Scottish supper of a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Night cap on the Caledonian Sleeper Dining car on the Caledonian sleeper

Then is back to your extremely snug cabin, check out my in room vlog below.

There are no plugs in the cabin, but there are 3 newly added USB sockets, oddly located above the sink area, if you want to use your phone / laptop while charging, a 2 meter lead just about reaches the bed.

The bed was comfortable, and I managed to get a decent nights sleep, but I personally found them extremely narrow, and there was certainly no room for tossing & turning.

As previously mentioned there are no showers on the train ( the whole service is due an major overhaul in 2018 which will include ensuite showers ) . There are a couple of toilets at the end of each carriage and a wash basin in each cabin.

The cabin comes with bottled water, and a cute sleep kit from Scottish company Arran Aromatics, body wash & lotion, an eye mask , flannel , ear plugs , socks and a pretty nice smelling pillow spray to help you drift off into the land of Nod.

If your getting off in the Lowlands, ie Edinburgh / Glasgow the train pulls in at approx 7 am, I was disappointed that due to leaving late and arriving early there is no view from the window, as your travelling in darkness. So its worth noting if your taking the train for the view, you wont see it on this train, you’d have to travel further up to the highlands i.e. Inverness , Aberdeen & Fort William, where ive been told you’ll be able able to take in the amazing mountain views over breakfast.

I was given a prearranged knock on my cabin door at 6.30am and headed down to the lounge for my breakfast , A hot breakfast is included in the price of your first class ticket , you can choose from porridge , salmon and eggs or a traditional Scottish breakfast. You can also take it in your cabin if you wish.

Breakfast on the Caledonian Sleeper

Unfortunately there are no on station shower facilities in Glasgow , so its worth enquiring with your hotel if you can check in early, so you can take a shower when you get off the train.

Conclusion

As already noted this is not the fastest nor cheapest way to travel to Scotland , but you do save the cost of a hotel room. And it really is a great experience. Whilst i did the return journey between London and Glasgow , I probably would advise, if you just want to do it to tick it off the bucket list, one way is enough.

Booking

In order to get the cheapest fare , its best to book as early as possible , tickets are avalible up to 12 months in advance, and fares start from £130 for a single berth and £70 for sharing a twin ( one way )

To book go to

http://www.sleeper.scot

For a sneak peek at the new trains lauching in spring 2018, with double beds and ensuite showers check out the link

http://newtrains.sleeper.scot/on-board/

Please note that Serco the current operator of the Caledonian Sleeper kindly hosted my journey in order for me to write this review, but as usual opinions are all mine.

Virgin Trains 1st Class London to Liverpool ….

I was in Euston station, for my first trip on Virgin Trains, up to Liverpool. I was excited to bag a seat up front in first class, but what’s it really like ?, is it worth it? , it was time for me to get on board & check it out.

The Lounges

  
  Euston’s first class lounge


Liverpool Lime Street first  class lounge 

On a first class ticket your entitled to lounge access , but before you get all excited, it’s nothing like the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse , much to my bitter disappointment.

To be honest it’s somewhere to grab a snack , and escape from the crowds. There’s pay bar , with free soft & hot drinks and a few snacks which were pretty thin on the ground. Limited to crisps, biscuits and some sorry looking fruit. I wouldn’t bother getting to the station early just to spend time in the lounge, but if you find yourself with time to kill before your train its worth popping in for a cuppa.

On Board

This is where the magic happens, the first class carriages  are usually grouped together at the front of the train , shut off from the rest of the train with frosted glass to keep out prying eyes.

 Plenty of room to swing a cat or two 

The first class carriage was nice and spacious , with plenty of room to stretch out. Seats are configured on a table of 4 or 2, and every seat has a power point , so perfect for keeping everything in your electronic arsenal  fully charged. Though I’m disappointed to report, the promised free wifi failed to work at all on both legs of the journey, which was a bit of a bummer.
 Table for two 

About half an hour into leaving Euston , the food & drink service started passing through the carriage. Wine & spirits are free on board , and the food choice served is dependant on the time of day . As I was travelling mid afternoon it was mainly sandwiches & salads on offer.  I had dinner plans in Liverpool , so my deli plate successfully plugged the gap til I made it to dinner .


Yay it’s the Wine Trolley

  Mid afternoon food offering
 Ain’t no party like a in seat vodka party 

Even going to the loo gave me a bit of a giggle, in typical witty Virgin style.

But Is it worth it ? 

Virgin Trains regularly run special fares, and the on board experience in first class  is definitely worth the splurge , especially during busy periods as you can pick your seat when booking, so you know exactly where you’ll be sitting.

On weekends you can pay £15 on the train to upgrade your standard ticket to an available first class seat , but there’s no free alcohol and the food is limited to a small snack box. But it’s worth it for the comfort and power socket especially on longer journeys. The seat & space are the main factors your paying for here.

Weekend food offering in first class 

With journey time to Liverpool an extremely swift 2 hours, and fares bookable up to 24 weeks in advance , starting from just £16.50 each way travelling to Liverpool, was speedy efficient, and extremely comfortable, they just need to work on getting that Wifi up and running .

Check out all their UK destinations at http://www.virgintrains.co.uk

Please note my ticket to Liverpool was generously provided by virgin trains in order to write this review.