The Caledonian Sleeper
The Caledonian Sleeper is hands down the most civilised way to travel between England and Scotland – after all, what better way to arrive in the Highlands than after a cosy night sleep, few drams of whisky and a cosy dinner of haggis, neeps and tatties. Running six days a week, Sunday to Friday, the train runs two routes to either the Lowlands or Highlands, and the latter is the one you’ll want to take.
Departing from London Euston, passengers head north, across the border and onto the picturesque West Highland Line, trundling past expansive moors, mountain ranges and glittering lochs. Unlimited luggage, premium private compartments and a three-course dinner are all huge pulls to travelling on this train. Other terminuses on the Caledonian Sleeper from London are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Prices from: £140
Departing from: London Euston
Journey length: 1 night
Caledonian Sleeper journey
The Caledonian Sleeper’s Highland route runs from London Euston to Fort William, departing at 21:15 and making stops at Watford Junction, Crewe and Preston before pulling into Edinburgh Waverley six and a half hours later. At Edinburgh, the train is divided into three sections, with one of these sections contuining north to Fort William.
Most of the journey happens overnight, but after awaking to views of the Scottish countryside, guests can admire the spectacular scenery of the West Highland Line, voted World’s Most Scenic Train Ride more than once. Highlights include Rannoch Moor, where mossy-antlered deer can be spotted from the train and the beautiful Loch Treig. The train finally pulls into Fort William station at around 10am. Other trips include London to Edinburgh, London to Glasgow, London to Aberdeen and London to Inverness – all depart from Euston at night and arrive early in the morning.
Caledonian Sleeper train
The train mostly consists of sleeper and seating carriages, but there is also a cosy Club Car for passengers to mingle and unwind. Perfect for enjoying a Scotch whisky or a good book, the Club Car offers free wi-fi, comfortable booths and swivel seats at a bar, with a steward on hand to take food and drinks orders. A galley at one end of the car pumps out hot meals and sandwiches for guests, who are welcome to dine in one of the car’s smart booths. Caledonian Double and Club room passengers are given priority to the car, and seating only passengers are not allowed in the car. Sink into a cosy booth, order a dram of whisky as you embark on your journey to the Highlands.
Cabins on Caledonian Sleeper
With the train travelling overnight, passengers can choose between three categories of compartment, a Classic Room, Club Room or Caledonian Double. All are available for shared or solo use, and you’re most likely to end up sharing in the Classic Room, a four-berth compartment of adjacent two bunk beds. Classics come with an in-room washbasin, complimentary toiletries, wi-fi, charging points, dimmable lights, temperature control and room service.
One up is the Club Room, available in either four or two berth. Along with the amenities of the Classic Room, the room comes with an en-suite shower room and toilet, priority boarding and Club Car access, along with access to the Station Lounge and breakfast included in the fare.
Slightly larger and boasting a plush double bed is the Caledonian Double (first class), perfect for couples or those who love their space. Comfortable seats are also available for those not wanting a private cabin, coming with lockable storage, a complimentary sleep kit and reclining seats. One accessible car is usually put on the Caledonian Sleeper, with rooms with disabled access.
Food and drink
The Caledonian Sleeper showcases the best of Scottish produce, from its meats and cheeses to its whiskies and beers. Classic Room and seated guests pay for breakfast, but in Club and Caledonian cabins it is complimentary, and the menu includes bacon rolls, a full Highland breakfast, porridge oats and dishes like eggs royale. A menu of hot meals, sandwiches and snacks is also available on board, with different menus for those in seating and those in cabins.
Passengers in cabins can purchase snacks, sandwiches and even a full three-course dinner, choosing from iconic Scottish dishes like Scottish smoked salmon (£9.20) haggis, neeps and tatties (£9.50) and whisky marmalade pudding (£5.70). The train also champions Scottish beers and spirits, and has an extensive beverage offering.
Expect a mix of people on this train, tourists and locals venturing cross country. Pets are also welcome on the train, so you might encounter some furry friends.
Passengers with Caledonian Doubles and Club Rooms tickets have breakfast and included and receive complimentary toiletries in their accommodation. All other meals are at an additional cost and free wi-fi is available throughout the train.
Pros and cons
Compared to budget flights and mainline rail services, the Caledonian Sleeper is the most comfortable and luxurious way to travel to the Scottish Highlands. Pets are allowed on board, wi-fi is free and luggage is unlimited.