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Aboard the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Edinburgh

A woman looks out the window in a Caledonian Double room aboard the Caledonian Sleeper overnight train between London and Scotland

Our slow travel series explores how you can take more mindful journeys by train, boat, bus or bike – with tips on how to reach your no-fly destination, and what to see and do along the way. Author Monisha Rajesh (Around the World in 80 Trains) recently traveled from London north to Edinburgh, Scotland on the Caledonian Express.

Blinds down and humming quietly, the Caledonian Sleeper was already snaking the length of the platform as I braced against the wind in search of my carriage.

It was just after 11pm, and the thrill of adventure was setting in. A wave of passengers pushed toward the exit of London’s Euston station, while I wheeled my bag against the tide, delighted that I was about to board one of the UK’s only two overnight train services. Climbing up the steps into a carriage warm as toast, I produced my ticket and was handed the key card to my room. 

The Caledonian Double includes an en-suite shower, toilet room and breakfast in the dining car © Lucy Knott Photography / courtesy Caledonian Sleeper

The many ways to experience the Caledonian Sleeper

Like most sleeper trains, the Caledonian Sleeper offers a range of options to suit different budgets and requirements, with accessible wheelchair-friendly rooms available. At the top end of the scale is the Caledonian Double with an en-suite shower and toilet room, with breakfast included in the price. The Club Room offers the same but with a twin bunk, while the Classic Room, with no toilet or shower room and breakfast available for purchase, is the most popular choice. At the bottom end of the scale is the Seated Coach, which usually resembles a sixth-form common room: socked feet hanging over armrests, hoodies pulled over tired eyes, and heads face down on tray tables doubling up as pillows. For £50 a seat, it’s around the same price as a flight but without the hassle and cost of traveling to and from airports and stumping up for a hotel. 

Three years earlier, I’d taken the same service from Glasgow to London, expecting to travel on the much-hyped fancy new fleet after Serco had taken over the franchise. But owing to numerous delays and setbacks to the grand unveiling, the familiar, fusty old cars were waiting on the platform instead. Eight months pregnant and unable to fly, I’d rolled myself into a lower bunk and spent most of the night being jolted awake by thuds, creaks and braking, grateful for my ever-expanding center of gravity. So this time I’d decided to treat…

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