London to Scotland by bed!
As someone who used to fly up from mental Heathrow to Glasgow every month, going to bed in London and waking up in Scotland sounds divine. Sleep and no stress! Scotrail Caledonian sleeper runs Sunday to Friday. The sleeper train is the longest passenger train in the UK and has been running since 1873 and has always been a popular way to travel to the north of the UK. We took a weekday departure to Glasgow from London Euston and left London at 23:50.
The Caledonian sleeper departs from a platform at London Euston like normal trains, but has a steward at each door to greet you and make sure you are at the correct carriage. Once your name is checked off, you are shown to your room, asked if you would like tea or coffee for breakfast and left to settle in.
The carriages are laid out with a walk-way down one side and the cabins on the other. The cabins have air conditioning and are non-smoking. Inside there is a berth with a towel and soap for the morning as well as a wash basin and shelf at the far end. There is also a window which has a black-out blind so that you can sleep, and complimentary bottles of water on the shelf.
There is also a full length mirror and hangers for coats and jackets help with storage (which is lacking).
First class passengers also receive a comfort kit which includes the world’s cutest tube of toothpaste, razor, toothbrush, towel, socks, soap, moisturiser and ear plugs.
There is also a lounge car on board, however due to the long day we decided to go straight to sleep. Comfortable pillows and a duvet, with a night light for each berth for some reading as well as a pull down table for tea/water.
Breakfast was delivered just as we arrived at Motherwell at around 06:50. A lovely cuppa and some shortbread. You can order a continental breakfast for a supplement. Taking the London to Scotland Sleeper train is a great experience and one we would recommend trying at least once. No rushing to airport terminals, no metal detectors or searches. We found the sleep comfortable, rocking relatively smoothly along the tracks.
Hopefully some investment is made onto these trains so that WIFI and charging points for phones are also made available.
Railcard holders get a 34% discount on Advance fares & 10% discount on Anytime fares, in standard class. There’s a 10% discount on first class Anytime fares with a Senior, Family or Disabled railcard.
Bargain berths from £19…
There are a very limited number of bargain-basement sleeper tickets are sold for £19, £29, £39 or £49 at www.scotrail.co.uk. Bargain Berths are only available in very limited numbers, usually mid-week & not on every date. With a Bargain Berth ticket, you can only take children under 5 free if you occupy all the berths in a compartment. You can only book these online at www.scotrail.co.uk.
How to buy sleeper tickets
To book a proper sleeper, not just a reclining seat, make sure that the fare you choose has a bed symbol against it.
UK train bookings normally open 12 weeks before departure,
Sleeper reservations are usually released each Friday morning (or sometimes in the afternoon) for the whole of ‘week 13’, in other words, the week that is about to become 12 weeks ahead of the current date.
First ScotRail telesales on 08457 55 00 33, lines open 07:00-22:00 daily. Bookings open 12 weeks before departure.
The very cheap Bargain Berths can only be booked online at www.scotrail.co.uk.
Luggage: There is room for small & medium-sized bags and cases on the luggage racks in your compartment, or on the floor if necessary, though very large suitcases can be placed in the guard’s van.
Bicycles: You can take bikes on the Caledonian Sleeper trains free of charge, placed in the bike racks in the guard’s van. A bike reservation must be made as the number of bike spaces is limited. To reserve your bike, call ScotRail on 08457 55 00 33, lines open 08:00-22:00 daily.
There is a separate guard’s van with 6 bike spaces (only 3 spaces London-Inverness) in both the London-Edinburgh & London-Glasgow portions of the Lowlands sleeper, and in the London-Inverness & London-Aberdeen portions of the Highland sleeper, but not on the London-Fort William portion. So if you’re taking your bike to Fort William you’ll need to transfer it at around 5am from the London-Inverness guard’s van to the new guard’s van attached in Edinburgh bound for Fort William.
At London Euston, first class sleeper passengers may use the Virgin Trains first class lounge, located on the first floor above the food court, WiFi-enabled with complimentary tea, coffee & snacks. There are free showers in this lounge.
At Edinburgh, both first & standard class sleeper passengers may use the ScotRail first class lounge near platform 14 with complimentary drinks & refreshments.
At Aberdeen, first class sleeper passengers may use the first class lounge next to the ticket office with complimentary drinks & refreshments & WiFi. Open daily from 06:15 in the morning (09:00 Sundays) until the sleeper leaves at night.
Power sockets: There are standard UK 3-pin power sockets in the sleeper lounge car for recharging laptops & mobiles, located on the tables between the sofas. In the sleeper compartments there is a 2-pin sockets above the window marked ‘Shavers Only’.
Showers: There are no showers on the sleeper train itself, but shower facilities (for which a charge is made) are available in the customer toilets at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness & Fort William. For first class passengers there are free shower facilities at London Euston in the Virgin Trains first class lounge. Showers are free for first class passengers at Aberdeen, Ft William.
There is an inter-connecting door between each pair of adjacent sleeper compartments, normally kept locked shut. If there’s two of you in first class, or four of you in standard class, ask for two adjacent compartments with an inter-connecting door. Simply by unlocking the bolt on each side of the door, you can turn your two compartments into a suite with 4 beds in standard class (2 upper & 2 lower berths) or 2 beds in first class (2 lower berths). You can work out which berth numbers have the connecting door like this: Berths 1 & 2 have a connecting door with berths 3 & 4. Berths 5 & 6 have a connecting door with berths 7 & 8.
Information correct at time of publication.