THE JOURNEY: I travelled on the Caledonian Sleeper from Inverness, Scotland, to London Euston.
THE CHECK-IN: Check-in was quick and easy, done on the platform as I boarded the train and combined with a welcome explanation of the cabin key-card system and dining options. Digital displays in each carriage give location and destination guidance and updates.
THE SEAT: My Club Room offered bunk beds, wash basin and an ensuite toilet which doubled as a shower cubicle. The space was limited but good design touches ensured there was sufficient space to stow a bag, hang clothes and power or charge electricals. A collapsible table pulled out from below the sink for those who want to work or dine in the cabin. The lower bunk doubled as seating, with head rest for added comfort. Each cabin has its own temperature controls, dimmable lights and complimentary wifi.
THE SERVICE: This overnight journey leaves Inverness at 8.26pm (and it left on the dot) and arrives in London approximately 12 hours later (depending on signalling priorities). Towels and Scottish toiletries were provided and the bunks were made up ready for the night with a very comfortable well-padded Glencraft mattress, two full sized pillows and a generous duvet in quality white linens. The entire train felt clean and modern with décor and colour schemes matching that of the Scottish landscape.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Due to staff shortages the station lounge was closed but onboard dinner was available for purchase in the Lounge Car from boarding (45 minutes before departure). Menu choices included Haggis, Neeps and Tatties or Macaroni Cheese, as well as a local cheese board and snacks. There was a broad choice of wines, whiskies and soft drinks. Availability of some choices was limited on my trip, due to issues with return catering out of London apparently, but the staff were very friendly and cheerful and as obliging as they could be.
Breakfast was pre-ordered by door card half an hour after boarding and could be delivered to your cabin or served the Lounge Car. The menu ranged from yoghurt and granola to a hearty Full Highland Breakfast complete with potato cakes and black pudding.
THE VERDICT: This was a fun experience that got me from one end of the UK to the other with effortlessly ease. No queuing and no security checks. The rocking and rumbling of the train is a constant companion through the night, of course, but I awoke refreshed. The staff were helpful and friendly and the trip really was fuss-free. In these CO2-conscious times, this rail journey really did make the switch from air or road to rail seem a sensible, easy and enjoyable option.