Caledonian Sleeper Review: Is the Club Room Worth It?

Sleeper trains are more than just a practical way of covering a large distance in one overnight journey. They are laden with the promise of excitement and adventure, evoking the golden age of rail travel romanticised by Agatha Christie.

Minus the murders, that is.  

A UK staycation gave me the chance to try out the the Club Room on the iconic Caledonian Sleeper service from London to Scotland. The Caledonian Sleeper Club Room may be worth it if you value a private shower and toilet, complimentary breakfast, priority access to the Club Car and lounge access prior to departure.

Get the full lowdown in my Caledonian Sleeper review. This is based on my journey as a solo traveller between London Euston and Fort William in June 2021.

blue exterior of carriage of train considered in caledonian sleeper first class review

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What is the Caledonian Sleeper?

The Caledonian Sleeper is a night train service linking London with cities in Scotland. Strictly speaking, it is two services.
 
Departing London Euston, the Highlander train splits into three at Edinburgh Waverley in the wee small hours of the morning. The three sections terminate at Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.
 
The Lowlander train dissects at Carstairs and the two halves continue their respective journeys to Edinburgh and Glasgow. 

Rooms on the Caledonian Sleeper

There are three types of rooms available on the Caledonian Sleeper:

  • Classic Room
  • Club Room
  • Caledonian Double

If you are travelling on a budget, there are also Comfort Seats. These are reclining seats (but not lie-flat) in a standard rail carriage.

Comfort Seats feature a pull-down tray table, a footrest, an individual reading light, a charging point and access to lockable storage. Wi-Fi is available and all Comfort Seat passengers receive a complimentary sleep kit, which includes earplugs and an eye mask.

classic room on caledonian sleeper train
  • Twin bunk or single bed options.
  • Toilets at the end of the carriage
  • Access to Club Car is subject to availability
  • Breakfast is available to purchase.

CLUB ROOM

club room on caledonian sleeper train
  • En-suite toilet & shower
  • Breakfast included
  • Priority access to Club Car
  • Breakfast included
double bed in room on caledonia sleeper train

The Caledonian Double offers the same amenities and facilities as the Club Room but has a double bed instead of twin bunks.

What are the differences between a Classic Room and a Club Room on the Caledonian Sleeper? 

There are few differences between a Classic Room and a Club Room on the Caledonian Sleeper. Or one big difference, depending on your point of view.

CLASSIC ROOMCLUB ROOM

Twin bunk beds
Twin bunk beds

In-room washbasin
In-room washbasin

WiFi
WiFi
Complimentary sleep kit with Arran Aromatics toiletriesComplimentary sleep kit with Arran Aromatics toiletries

Breakfast available for purchase
Breakfast included
En-suite with toilet & shower
Station lounge access where available
Priority access to Club Car
Mackie’s of Scotland chocolate

The most significant difference between the Caledonian Sleeper Club Room and the Classic Room is the en-suite toilet and shower room. No scuttling down the train’s corridor to the loo in your PJs when you book a Club Room.  

But the rooms themselves are identical, including square footage. It’s just that the Club Room has this en-suite facility.

Can you book a room on the Caledonian Sleeper as a solo traveller?

If you are travelling alone, you will need to book a Classic Room, Club Room or a Caledonian Double on the Caledonian Sleeper for solo use. Unsurprisingly, you will pay a supplement for the privilege of having one of these rooms to yourself.

My Experience of Travelling in the Caledonian Sleeper Club Room

First Class Lounge at London Euston Station

When I travelled, I used the old Caledonian Sleeper First Class lounge at London Euston, which was operated by Avanti West Coast. 2023 heralded the opening of a new flagship lounge at Euston Lounge, conveniently located alongside Platform 1.

This offers the following services:

  • Complimentary hot drinks & soft drinks
  • Complimentary sweet & savoury snacks
  • Food & alcoholic drinks available for purchase
  • Shower & toilet facilities
  • Plug sockets for charging laptops and mobile devices

Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper First Class carriage

The cheery train attendant checked my ticket at the carriage door and asked for my breakfast order and if it was likely that I would want room service.  She also asked if I wished to be informed if the service was running late. I replied that I would prefer it if this was a surprise.

The corridor of the Caledonian Sleeper is so narrow that I wasn’t able to wheel my rolling backpack along it. Instead, I did a sort of side shuffle to my room.

train corridor
Breathe in …

Caledonian Sleeper Club Room

Clearly, the size of the rooms wasn’t a factor in the revamp of the Caledonian Sleeper. To say the Club Room is compact is being kind.

The space between the bed and the opposite wall is narrow, and manoeuvring and storing a wheeled backpack was a little challenging. There is modest space under the bed but this wasn’t big enough to accommodate my luggage. This and two hangers comprised the total storage capacity of the room.

bunk beds and sink in club room of caledonian sleeper train
Club Room, Caledonian Sleeper

Thought has gone into the interior design of the Club Room. The Edinburgh restaurant designer Ian Smith has used tartan patterns and rusty oranges as well as grey and taupe tones.

The lighting and temperature controls are also well thought out. It was easy to keep the room at a comfortable temperature and the lighting was dimmable.

Plug sockets and USB charging points were plentiful.

wall-mounted room controls
wall-mounted room controls

The Caledonian Sleeper WiFi allowed me to check email but not stream audio or video.

Your own keycard allows you to leave your room securely.

Although narrow, the bed was surprisingly comfortable. Its linen-clad mattress is made by Royal Warrant holders Glencraft and the pillows were plump. Although I didn’t have the most restful night’s sleep, this had more to do with the movement of the train.

Next to the bed, there is a small sink, beneath which is a pull-out table.

It’s the en-suite that distinguishes the Club Room from the Classic Room. This is an interesting design.

Essentially, you pull the cover over the toilet to convert this into a bench seat for the shower. Although the shower wouldn’t be the most powerful in the world, it does the job and the temperature adjusted as expected.

Just make sure that your morning routine is in the correct order. I wouldn’t fancy using the toilet after the area is drenched post-shower.

shower fitting in wet room

A welcome Caledonian Sleeper Club Room perk is the complimentary sleep kit with Arran Aromatics toiletries.

Inside the bag, you’ll find conditioning shampoo, hand and body wash, body lotion and an aromatherapy sleep spray. An eye mask, earplugs and a small bottle of mineral water are also provided. 

miniatire bottles of toiletries and small bottle of water

Food & Drink on the Caledonian Sleeper

Due to coronavirus safety measures when I travelled, the Caledonian Sleeper Club Car had suspended its services. This was understandable but a shame.

However, room service was available and I treated myself to a cheeky Macallan as a nightcap.  

woman holding up glass of whisky

Breakfast came in a brown bag at the allotted time. This mini-feast of a hot bacon roll, orange juice, porridge bar and cup of tea was an excellent start to the day.

The Caledonian Sleeper pulled into Fort William station a few minutes ahead of schedule at 9.50 am

First class lounge at Fort William station

The friendly lounge assistant in the Caledonian Sleeper’s small but comfortable lounge at Fort William offered me tea/coffee plus biscuits. Self-serve packets of crisps and cold drinks were also available.

The lounge has toilets and showering facilities.

exterior of train guest lounge
orange vinyl armchairs and table in lounge

In 2023, travelling from London Euston to Fort William, Comfort Seats start from £55 and Classic Rooms start at £180 for solo travellers and £245 per room if you’re sharing.

Club Rooms cost from £215 for solo travellers and £265 if you’re sharing. Caledonian Doubles start from £405 for solo travellers and £480 if you’re sharing.
 
Accessible rooms are priced separately as a twin or double room.
 
You need to book well in advance to take advantage of the lowest fares. You can check ticket prices here.

Are rail passes accepted on the Caledonian Sleeper?

I’m a huge fan of Europe rail passes and the good news is that an Interrail or Eurail pass will cover your journey on the Caledonian Sleeper subject to the payment of a room supplement.
 
There are also deep discounts with some national railcards.

How Often Does the Caledonian Sleeper Operate?

Both the Highlander and Lowlander Caledonian Sleeper services operate six days a week. There are no Caledonian Sleeper services on Saturdays.

You can check current timetables here.
 
You will arrive at some of these destinations bright and early. Whilst this is good news in terms of maximising your time away, your accommodation may not allow you to check in until later in the day.
Therefore, you will need to check that you will be able to leave your luggage with them or find somewhere else to leave it.

Booking the Caledonian Sleeper

Book your Caledonian Sleeper ticket online. You can make a reservation up to 12 months ahead of the date of travel.

Tickets are sold as one-way journeys. If you want to book a return journey, you will need to book two one-way tickets. 

Caledonian Sleeper: Other Useful Information

Taking your bike on the Caledonian Sleeper

Cyclists can take bikes on board for free as long as they fall within the maximum measurements (the bikes that it, not the cyclists).

Bikes require a reservation to travel in a dedicated storage area next to the seated carriage.  

Accessibility on the Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleeper trains have fully accessible rooms with a double bed or two single bunk beds. Both the Club Car and the seated coach have dedicated wheelchair space

Taking your pets on the Caledonian Sleeper

Cats and dogs are welcome on board the Caledonian Sleeper, provided you are not travelling in the seated carriage. You can take up to two pets on board but at the time of updating this post (August 2023), a £30 cleaning fee per room was levied.

There is no charge for service dogs.

Is the Caledonian Sleeper Club Room Worth It?

Travelling first-class on the Caledonian Sleeper is not a cheap way of getting between London and Scotland. I justified it in that it offset the cost of a night’s accommodation in Glasgow.

Travelling between London and Fort William in 2023, it can cost you as little as £35 to upgrade to a Club Room as a single traveller, less if you are sharing. For this premium, you get en-suite facilities, breakfast, lounge access where available and priority Club Car access.

To me, this is money well spent, especially as it means you don’t have to trot down the corridor to use the bathroom. However, once the price differential between a Classic Room and a Club Room exceeds £50, I would think twice.

Other than the presence of a toilet cum shower, these two rooms are identical. And equally cramped.

The other perks of Club Room travel – namely breakfast, lounge access and priority Club Car access – don’t make an enormous difference to the travel experience.

For a more upscale experience, you could opt for the Caledonian Double which will give you a little more space than the Club Room. But the hefty price tag attached to this room places it out of the reach of many solo travellers.

Even as a flashpacker, I would struggle to justify £400 for a train journey. Affordable luxury travel this is not.


Thank you for reading my Caledonian Sleeper review

Putting to one side the pros and cons of a Club Room, everyone should travel from London to Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper at least once in their life. The experience of chugging out of the grey suburbs of London at night to be greeted by the dramatic landscape of the Scottish Highlands in the morning is unforgettable.

If you are looking for information to help you plan your Scotland vacation, take a look at a few of my destination guides:

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.