Review: The Caledonian Sleeper Train
Feeling pretty keen that I come to Edinburgh before I go on my 2012 travels and my RTW Route, I wanted to demonstrate to backpackers coming to Britain that travel in this country is brilliant outside of London!
Researching online, I came across a journey I believed would offer a fun and backpacking style of travel. And this was the Caledonian Sleeper (click on the name to direct yourself to the website)
This overnight train service gives backpackers and also those looking to miss the crowds of the roads and rail network of the day and make better use of their time the affordability to relax and arrive at their destination refreshed. So they say and I’m going to test it out!
As their only English station on their Edinburgh Line is London Euston, it would have meant travelling from Leicester to London but as I went to London on the National Express before on a cheap ticket, I knew I could sort myself a good ticket there and then for a reasonable time.
Their booking system online is easy to navigate and you can book tickets 12 weeks in advance subject to availability from £19 for either both a seat or a berth. This is a stark contrast to the very high fares of trains during the day. I booked it for the last weekend of February and was pleased to get the tickets in the post direct to me very quickly within 48 hours.
Came the day, I arrived to Euston to embark on the Sleeper at 11pm and settle in my berth. Luckily, I got the single berth so I had the ‘room’ to myself. But first I admired the Caledonian Sleeper from the platform.
The attendant knocked on the door and was pleased to discover that breakfast would be included and also a wake up call. As I said I was nervous about waking up on time for my arrival due to my deafness, he assured me that he would discreetly wake me up by entering my room and shaking me. Phew, so that was sorted.
Finally, the Caledonian Sleeper set off very quietly to my surprise. I didn’t realise we were moving until I opened the blind to find the world go whizzing by.
So what were my initial thoughts? A mixed bag I thought. I think I arrived at the train with expectations of a train billowing smoke, you could lean outside the window and wave at the many admirers waving you off…you know like in the old romantic movies. But unfortunately that was not the case. It was pretty modern and no way you could pull the window down…if you could, the health and safety executive would be having a field day!
See the photos of my berth.
The bed was very comfortable despite the small width and especially long enough to fit my 6ft+ frame! A blanket was included on top of the duvet and the attendant could supply you with more blankets should you wish. All in all good!
There was also a hidden washbasin in the table and all you have to do was lift the table top and viola. You could then use your complimentary wash bag for it.
There were lights for everything! You could have a small berth light, a main light, an emergency light and a night light. There was also a switch to call the attendant. I likey very much!
As it was very late, I settled in bed and sorted out my belongings, and went to plug my charger for my phone and my cochlear implant….wait. There was no plug socket in my berth room. Summoning the attendant, he explained I could charge my phone in the lounge car. But it meant I would have to sit with the phone while it charged overnight. I didn’t want to leave it as you never know who you are sharing the lounge car with. I sat with it for an hour while I had a drink and read a book, wearing my pjs. I must have looked a sight as people walked past me. However, many people opted to do the same and we blearily looked at each other as a few of us were charging our phones. But I was happy enough as it meant figuring out the Fife accent of the Scottish man going home for the weekend!
Taking time to consider the fashion of the train, it felt like the train was stuck in the 1970s. Perhaps the Caledonian Sleeper train was built in the 70s!
Phone mostly charged, I slipped into bed and fell asleep immediately. I have to say on the journey there, I slept soundly and hardly woke up. The train was so smooth. Sure it did brake a few times but not jolting enough to wake you up.
Waking up around half 6 in the morning, I pulled down the blind and watched the sunrise and the beautiful scottish scenery. A knock on the door was the attendant coming in to wake me but as I was already awake, he served me breakfast. Yumminess! There is a breakfast tray that you could flip down from the wall. Pretty good!
The toilets were adequate enough and you do have to get used to either standing or sitting on a toilet on a rocking train!
The Caledonian Sleeper pulled into Edinburgh at half 7 and would wait there for another 45 mins to allow people to get off in their own time.
I was pretty impressed when I got off and enthusiastically looked forward to my weekend in Edinburgh.
However, I soon came to realise that the journey and the amount of sleep you would have received would be dependent on the train driver. Arriving on time to Edinburgh Waverley Station to catch the sleeper back to London, I found my berth, ordered my breakfast and settled in (this time with a fully charged phone). Turning my lights off, I tried to go to sleep before the train would roll off. I just about to fall asleep until the train jumped forward with a massive jolt fully waking me up. Trying to get to sleep again proved to be impossible as you feel the train was accelerating wildly and thus breaking harshly which would jolt my body to roll side to side. It was pretty annoying. I wanted to go and tell the driver off and why could he drive like the journey to Edinburgh? I didn’t really get much sleep and nearly hit the attendant in the face as I woke to see his face close to mine as he tried to rowse me awake. Oops! I apologised and took my breakfast. But really, I wanted a good night’s sleep.
All in all I would give this 3/5 Rexy Stars. Good service, good customer attention, good ideas. Very good way to get to Edinburgh to London in just approx 7 hours. But the Caledonian Sleeper needs updating to include amenities to reflect today’s demand and also the amount of sleep would depend on the driver. But if you want to go to Edinburgh and you want a night to save yourself on accommodation and travel at the same time. I’d recommend this!
Many thanks to Scotrail for providing me with transport on the Caledonian Sleeper. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Have you been on the Caledonian Sleeper? What were you thoughts?