Caledonian Sleeper train review
The Caledonian Sleeper is the night train, operated by Scotrail, which runs between London Euston and many destinations in Scotland including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William. It’s a great and reasonably economical time-saving way to span the length of Britain while you sleep.
Where & when does it run?
The train runs every night, except Saturdays, year-round, except for Christmas day. You can even catch it on New Year’s Day, making it a viable way to reach Edinburgh’s legendary Hogmanay celebrations.
The train leaves from Edinburgh Waverley at 23.40 arriving in Euston at 6.47am. From London it goes at 23.50 arriving into Edinburgh for 7.20am.
For all the latest timetables and ticket info, see the Caledonian Sleeper train’s PDF guide.
What are the sleeper cabins on the Caledonian Sleeper like?
If you’re travelling as a couple or with a friend, you can book a private double cabin. If you’re travelling solo you can get a couchette bunk in a shared car or in a cabin with another traveller of the same sex.
The double cabin is a fairly tight squeeze, but it was fine once our cases were firmly decanted above our bunks, it’s nicely carpeted and you’re supplied with a dinky overnight toiletries bag, with your early morning wake up call of coffee and croissant delivered to your cabin around half an hour or so before your scheduled arrival time.
What’s the food, drink & service on the Cally Sleeper like?
The Cally Sleeper has a very pleasant lounge car with a bar that stays open to a more respectable hour than many other night trains. Even if you’re boarding from Edinburgh after 11pm, you can still get a decent and surprisingly continental snack plate of bread, crisps and olives.
The atmosphere in the lounge car when we last took it was pleasantly restrained and low key, with mostly suited business folk having a leisurely glass of wine or reading the paper.
Train staff were mostly friendly and efficient enough, although our train guard was a wee bit on the grumpy side.
How much does the Caledonian Sleeper cost?
As is usually the case with British rail tickets, there is a confusing array of options available, but you can at least search for their cheapest sleeper fares, bargain berths, on Scotrail’s site, which are advertised as starting from £19 per single journey.
You can book berths up to 12 weeks in advance, which we would advise as their much touted Bargain Berths tend to get snapped up pretty swiftly.
I looked over two months ahead for a single berth ticket on a midweek night. The cheapest I found was £39, with a first class berth going up to £143, this includes a ‘refreshment voucher’ and a zone 1 and 2 London travelcard.
Is the the Caledonian Sleeper service worth it and what makes it stand out?
One nice touch the train offers is the chance for bleary-eyed travellers to stay in their cabin for over an hour after reaching the Euston terminus.You can also board the train up to 50 minutes before its nocturnal departure.
Their double sleeper cabins are not the largest going, but they’re well designed and cosy, while the train’s public areas and catering service beats many of its more expensive continental competitors.
If you’re taking the train during late spring and summer months and are something of an early riser, it’s well worth venturing out of your cabin for the strip of coastal scenery north of Newcastle to Edinburgh, and even more so for the dramatic lochs, glens and rugged Highland vistas on that final stretch of the full journey.
All things considered, it’s still a very civilised and not overly expensive way to cross the border, especially for those who are loath to fly or spend a business day taking the same journey.
Have you taken the Caledonian Sleeper train?
How was it for you? Tell us with a quick comment below.