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Last Updated on 12/12/2022

Sleeper trains hearken back to a golden age of rail travel which blossomed in Europe during the 1920s. They’re often considered a more romantic way to travel, offering luxury, glamour and leisure. 

In the UK, there are two sleeper trains. One of which is the Caledonian Sleeper. Hailed as one of the world’s greatest train journeys by Lonely Planet, the Caledonian Sleeper offers a greener way to travel too.

In this Caledonian Sleeper review, I share what it’s really like to travel on this iconic train.

I was fortunate enough to ride it twice with my partner from London to Fort William and from Edinburgh back to London. On both occasions, I stayed in a Classic Room. The sleeper train’s entry-level guest rooms. 

What is the Caledonian Sleeper? 

The blue exterior of the Caledonian Sleeper at Euston Station in London.
This Caledonian sleeper review will explain everything you need to know about this iconic train

The Caledonian Sleeper is a sleeper train that connects England with Scotland. First launched in 1996, it has become an icon the world over and a symbol of train travel at its best. 

The line technically has two routes – the Highlander and the Lowlander with the train splitting into sections depending on where it’s going. 

The sleeper train travels from London to Scotland every night except Saturday and gets you to your destination in time for breakfast. 

Currently, it’s one of only two sleeper trains in the UK. The other one is the Night Riviera Sleeper from London to Penzance! 

Read more: Get My Complete Scotland Travel Guide

Caledonian Sleeper accommodation types 

The sleeper train to Scotland has different accommodation types to suit a range of budgets and travel styles. These are: 

  • Comfort Seat
  • Classic Room 
  • Club Room 
  • Caledonian Double

Here’s a table of what’s included with each one: 

Comfort Seat

Classic Room

Club Room

Caledonian Double

Footrest

Tray table 

Lockable storage

Reading light 

WIFI 

Charging point

Free sleep kit

Food and drink menu

Twin bunk beds with Glencraft mattresses

Breakfast available to purchase

Washbasin

Free sleep kit

Interconnecting room option

WIFI

Charging points 

Room service

Keycard entry system

Temperature control

Dimmable lights

Twin bunk beds with Glencraft mattresses

Breakfast included

Ensuite toilet and shower

Washbasin

Free sleep kit

Free toiletries

Station lounge access

Priority Club Car access

WIFI

Charging points

Room service

Keycard entry system

Temperature control

Dimmable lights

Double bed with Glencraft mattresses

Breakfast included

Ensuite toilet and shower

Washbasin

Free sleep kit

Free toiletries 

Station lounge access

Priority Club Car access

WIFI

Charging points

Room service

Keycard entry system

Temperature control

Dimmable lights

Editor’s tip: All rooms are available for shared or single occupancy. Family room and accessible room options for wheelchair users are available. 

What else is on the Caledonian Sleeper? 

Aside from rooms and seats, the sleeper train has shared toilets. For those staying in rooms, there are Club Cars, a lounge car which serves drinks and hot food. Priority access to the Club Cars is given to Club and Double Room guests. 

The Club Car isn’t always open though. If you board the train at 23:00 in Edinburgh, for example, there’s a strong chance it will be closed. 

Off the train, Club and Double Room guests also have first class lounge access at the station while they wait to board the train. 

However, I can’t comment on it as A) I booked a Classic Room, and B) the lounge was closed anyway…

Where does the Caledonian Sleeper train go? 

The Caledonian Sleeper route goes from London right up to the Scottish Highlands. Its northernmost station is Inverness. 

Scroll down to the FAQ section to learn more about routes, popular stops and how long it takes to travel to each one!

Caledonian Sleeper price list 

In 2022-20223, ticket prices start as follows: 

Comfort Seat – from £35 (London – Edinburgh or Glasgow) or from £40 (London – north of Edinburgh or Glasgow)

Classic Room – from £140 for solo travellers or from £170 if you’re sharing 

Club Room – from £205 for solo travellers or from £250 if you’re sharing

Double Room – from £335 for solo travellers or from £400 if sharing (London – Edinburgh or Glasgow) or from £395 for solo travellers or from £470 if sharing (London – north of Edinburgh or Glasgow)

Family Deal Classic – from £140 (London – Edinburgh or Glasgow) or from £185 (London – north of Edinburgh or Glasgow). Includes 2 adjacent berths which sleep 4 in total

Family Deal Club – from £250 (London – Edinburgh or Glasgow) or from £275 (London – north of Edinburgh or Glasgow). Includes 2 adjacent berths which sleep 4 in total

Accessible twin or double – from £140 (London – Edinburgh or Glasgow) or from £170 (London – north of Edinburgh or Glasgow)

Editor’s tip: These are one-way fares. For a return, the price is simply two singles. The price is by the room. If there are three of you, book two berths adjacent to each other. 

My Caledonian Sleeper review 

Girl taking a photo inside the Classic Room of the sleeper train for this Caledonian Sleeper review.
Inside the Classic Room on the sleeper train

Finally the review! Here is my honest review of riding the Caledonian Sleeper in a Classic Room. 

I was so excited to book the Caledonian Sleeper up to Fort William for my trip to the Scottish Highlands. I had never ridden on any form of sleeper transport, so it was a first for me in many ways. 

I should add that I didn’t actually book the tickets myself. I had arranged my travel through Byway Travel who handled all the bookings for me. Read more about them here. 

So, did the sleeper train live up to my expectations? Read and find out! 

Boarding the train

Our train was due to depart from London Euston at 21:15 so we got there an hour before. It meant waiting on the station concourse (which isn’t the nicest!) for about 20 minutes before we heard the announcement called. 

Before we could board, we had to join a queue which was absolutely huge. I was worried we’d be stuck there for ages but luckily, the train staff checked our tickets pretty quickly. 

But then came the tricky bit. 

We had to make sure we were in the right section of the train as it was going to split at Edinburgh. 

The inspector told us to walk down the platform to our carriage where a colleague would check us in, and give us keycards for the room and a menu for our breakfast orders. 

The train was long. It was a good while before we found our carriage, but eventually, we bundled through the door and looked for our room. 

It was a good thing we found a carriage from the platform rather than walking through the train as the corridor was very narrow. 

You had to go single file – and good luck if you had large luggage items with you!

The Classic Room 

Bottom bunk bed in the Classic Room on the sleeper train.
The bottom bunk bed in the Classic Room

Narrow was a theme that carried right through to our room. Inside the compartment was a bunk bed, a sink and hand towel in the far end with a window above it and a small table that could be pulled out. 

The back of the door at a floor-to-ceiling mirror which gave the illusion of more space in the room. 

The wall opposite the bed had a locked door which led to the neighbouring room. This is a handy feature if you’re booking as a group. 

Although small and simple, the room was clean and comfy enough for a night. It was impossible for two people to be in there wearing backpacks though!

The facilities 

One thing obviously missing from the Classic Room is an ensuite bathroom. 

The toilet was a couple of doors down from us and pretty similar to your typical plane or train facilities. 

Mercifully it was a bit cleaner as you’re sharing with other people in your carriage rather than the whole train. 

I would still bring flip-flops or wear shoes if you’re getting up in the middle of the night! 

There were no showers though. For that, you’ll need to book a Club or a Double. 

Inside the room, there were handy control panels above each bunk which had a USB charging port, a reading light, a thermostat, a room light and a dimmer. 

There wasn’t a standard plug so if you want to use your electronics on the train, make sure you bring a lead or power bank with you. 

If you’re wondering about WIFI, yes there was but it wasn’t particularly fast when we tried to watch a film. Have your films downloaded before you travel. 

The Club Car 

The Club Car in the Caledonian Sleeper. A table with salt and pepper and a blue seat behind.
A glimpse of the Club Car

After dropping our bags off in the room, we went to get a seat in the Club Car. There are a few on the train, each catering to wherever the section of the train is going. That means you don’t have to go far from your room or worry about spaces filling up. 

I would recommend getting there in good time to guarantee a seat as it’s not huge. Club and Double Room guests are meant to get priority over Classic but we were still allowed in. 

We started off with a sandwich platter (four sandwich quarters), mac ‘n’ cheese and a vegetable soup with crusty bread. The food was delicious, but it was expensive and the portions were a little on the small side. 

I haven’t included a menu here as it changes frequently depending on the season!

We were keen to try the cheeseboard, but it was sold out sadly! So instead, we had a couple of Scotch whiskies to toast our Scottish adventure. Not a bad compromise. 

As we wined (or whiskied, in this case) and dined, the train slid out of Euston station and sped northbound. 

If I’m being honest about the food – if you’re on a budget I recommend bringing your own such as snacks and sandwiches rather than eating in the Club Car. 

The only downside is you don’t have much space in your room and there’s nowhere else to go. 

The sleep

Arguably, the most important part of the review. Did I sleep? Admittedly, I’m not the best sleeper so no, I didn’t. It wasn’t an issue with the facilities. The bed was comfortable and cosy. The Glencraft mattresses were nice and firm too. 

I made use of a pair of earplugs and an eye mask that came sealed in a sleep kit on the bed. I still use the sleeping mask today – it’s pretty good quality, to be honest!

The problem for me was the subtle movement and the noise of the train. I normally need quiet and stillness. 

One thing which made it 100% worth the sleepless night was the dawn light breaking as we sped through the Scottish Highlands. It was utterly magical and encapsulated the romanticism of train travel for me. 

Arriving in London on the return was less fun though. It was painfully early and there were no pretty views to enjoy. 

The breakfast

The Caledonian Sleeper breakfast was arranged by ticking the items that we wanted off a paper menu after boarding and hanging it on the door outside to be picked up. 

It’s worth noting that Club and Double get a free cooked breakfast but the Classic room and seats have to pay extra. We did get a free tea, juice and a biscuit though!

Breakfast was delivered to our rooms early the next morning – about an hour before we were due to arrive in Fort William. 

I had a small tub of porridge and my partner had a sausage bap all packaged up in a paper bag. I was able to pay by card. 

Although it was nice to have hot food, it was expensive and a little on the basic side. I would again recommend bringing your own breakfast rather than paying for this one. 

The Club Car wasn’t open for breakfast during my journey which was a shame as it would have made the experience more enjoyable. 

The arrival 

Hills and a river in the Scottish Highlands. A view from a train.
Waking up to the Scottish Highlands is an unbeatable feeling

About an hour before we were due to arrive, the cheery train staff member knocked on the door to make sure we were awake and ready for breakfast plus our imminent departure. 

It was a bit of a scramble making sure we had packed everything up – hint, don’t unpack all your belongings in the tiny room! –  but we made it to Fort William in one piece. 

In fact, we arrived at the leisurely time of 9:57 am, so it wasn’t really an early start! 

Is it worth upgrading or downgrading from the Classic Room? 

The Classic Room suited our needs perfectly at a reasonably decent price point. 

The one big downside was the lack of an ensuite bathroom which you can get if you choose the Club Room. That being said, I don’t think I would upgrade unless it were for a special occasion. 

If that were the case, I would skip the Club Room and go for the Caledonian Double – upgrade from a bunk to a double bed! However, I’ve heard that even those rooms are a bit cramped (I overheard a tall man complain about it in the Club Car). 

Would I downgrade to the Comfort Seats? In all honesty, no. If I had to sit then I would book the LNER or Lumo trains and get there much quicker and for a cheaper price. 

This London to Scotland sleeper train is more about the experience than the destination. I would rather have a bed than a seat even if I were travelling alone. 

You also don’t have access to the Club Car if you choose the seats!

Pros and cons of the Caledonian Sleeper  

Pros of the Caledonian Sleeper

Cons of the Caledonian Sleeper

  • A leisurely way to travel 

  • Travel and accommodation rolled into one 

  • Seriously comfy beds

  • Free goodies such as sleeping masks and earplugs 

  • Breakfast room service - complimentary if you upgrade

  • Fabulous lounge car

  • Free eye mask that I still use months later

  • More eco-friendly than flying and driving

  • The carriages and rooms are a bit cramped 

  • Food is expensive and dishes are on the small side 

  • The lounge car isn’t open late so don’t rely on it to eat 

  • The walls between the rooms are thin 

  • I didn’t sleep particularly well 

  • It’s not as nice waking up extremely early in London 

  • Could do with having entertainment on board 

Caledonian Sleeper train FAQ 

Here’s everything you need to know about booking and travelling on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Is the Caledonian Sleeper comfortable? 

It really depends on your personal preferences and what accommodation type you choose. The train is certainly comfortable – for a train. 

While space isn’t one of its strongest points, the train’s beds are comfy and have cosy Glencraft mattresses. I can’t really comment on the seats as I travelled in the Classic Room. 

While I’ve mentioned a few times that the train is a little cramped, I’m aware that it’s making do with what’s available. The train can’t be wider as it has to operate on standard train tracks. 

The Club Car has a range of different seating types from booths to small tables. It’s a great spot to have dinner or get a change of scene from the rooms. It’s only available to guests staying in rooms though. 

How early can you board the Caledonian Sleeper? 

Inside the carriage. The corridor outside the rooms of the sleeper train.
The narrow corridor outside our room

Rooms / seats are available 30-45 minutes before departure. That’s the absolute minimum time you’ll want to get there though. 

Try to get there at least an hour before departure to board the train as smoothly as possible!

How long does the Caledonian Sleeper train take? 

That all depends on where you’re going. Here’s how long it takes for some of its most popular destinations if you’re travelling from London. Times may differ on return and from weekdays to weekends. 

London to Edinburgh – approx 8-9 hours 

London to Glasgow – approx 7-8 hours 

London to Aberdeen – approx 10 hours 

London to Fort William – approx 13 hours 

London to Inverness – approx 11 hours

In terms of the Caledonian Sleeper timetable, most trains depart at around 21:00 or 23:00 and terminate at the above stations between 07:00 and 10:00 – just in time for breakfast!

Read more: 10 Best Things To Do In Edinburgh For The Ultimate Travel Itinerary

What is the route of the Caledonian Sleeper? 

The sleeper train technically has two routes: 

Caledonian Sleeper – Highlander Route 

Northbound from London Euston, the train splits into three at Edinburgh Waverley and each section travels to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William with stops along the way, for example. 

The Aberdeen train stops at Montrose, Stonehaven, Leuchars and Dundee. 

The Inverness train stops at Stirling, Gleneagles, Pitlochry, Perth and Aviemore. 

The Fort William train stops at Helensburgh Upper, Rannoch, Corrour and Crianlarich. 

Southbound, the train starts in thirds from Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William and heads down towards Edinburgh. 

Caledonian Sleeper – Lowlander Route

Northbound from London Euston, the Lowlander Route takes the Caledonian Sleeper to Carstairs where it splits off and travels to Edinburgh Waverly and Glasgow Central. 

Southbound, the train departs from both Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly. The Glasgow train stops at Motherwell before joining the Edinburgh train at Carstairs. 

The now conjoined train travels down to Carlisle and Watford Junction before arriving at London Euston. 

Confused? When you book your tickets, you’ll only be asked about where you’re departing from and the station you want to arrive at. 

You don’t need to worry about which half of the train is going where, as the staff will do that for you when you board. 

If it isn’t clear – no you don’t need to change trains if you’re travelling past Edinburgh or Glasgow (e.g. London Euston to Fort William)!

Can you use a railcard on the Caledonian Sleeper? 

a bowel of soup and some bread. An example of a dish on the train for this Caledonian Sleeper review.
Yes, soup is a bit sloppy on a moving train…

Yes – well, some. 16-25, Disabled, Disabled Child, Friends & Family, HM Forces, Senior, Two Together and Veteran are accepted. Sadly my 26-30 railcard didn’t make the cut :(. 

Can you take bikes on the Caledonian Sleeper? 

Yes. There’s secure storage space for up to six bikes in the Seated Carriage. There’s an option to add a bike when you book your ticket. 

Read more: 5 Of The Best Cycling Routes In Scotland For Epic Views

Can you take dogs on the Caledonian Sleeper? 

Yes, you can take up to two pets with you (including dogs and cats) but it will cost you extra. Let them know ahead of time if you’re travelling with an assistance dog. 

When should you buy your tickets? 

Like all trains, it’s recommended that you buy your tickets as far in advance as possible. For the Caledonian Sleeper, it’s not necessarily because of the price – rather availability. 

If you try and book two weeks before you travel, there’s a very good chance your ideal accommodation won’t be available. 

Caledonian Sleeper tickets go on sale up to 12 months before you travel so book them as early as you can!

Can you book a room on the sleeper train as a solo traveller? 

Yes. You book rooms like you would in a hotel. This means they’re available for single occupancy as well as sharing. 

Don’t worry, if you book a Classic Room for yourself, you won’t have to share it with another solo traveller!

The one big downside is that although you get a slight discount on the room overall, the cost is still much higher than if you were splitting it with someone else. 

Caledonian Sleeper train review: My verdict 

A whisky tumbler and small bottle of whisky on a table in the lounge car.
Toasting our Scottish adventure with a dram

So, is the Caledonian Sleeper worth it? In my opinion, yes it is. 

Rather than a train getting you from A to B, this sleeper train is part of the experience of travel. It’s also a more leisurely, sophisticated and sustainable way to travel. 

I recommend doing the trip at least once. 

But it is expensive.

I justify it by seeing it as one night’s accommodation and transport rolled into one. However, the food is overpriced. I suggest bringing your own if you want to keep costs down. 

If I did the Caledonian Sleeper again I would only book a one-way ticket to the Scottish Highlands. Watching the sunrise over the passing hills was one of the highlights of my trip. 

However, arriving in London at seven in the morning was not the one. It would have been much better, cheaper and quicker to get the LNER for the return journey. 

So, book it if you’re interested in the experience of sleeper train travel from England to Scotland. Book another train if you just want to get from A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible. 


Looking for more Scotland travel tips? Check out these posts!

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Thinking of travelling overnight on the Caledonian Sleeper train? Read this review to decide if it's right for you. Discover up-to-date prices, routes and what the food is really like. Check out my honest opinion about what the beds are like and what to expect onboard.| Sleeper Trains | Train Travel | Europe Train Travel | Scotland Travel