How to sleep on the sleeper

Did I mention that I came back from London on the sleeper? It remains my favourite way of travelling back from south to north as you can catch it after a night at the theatre. (In this case Democracy at the Old Vic). Generally I prefer to fly down and sleeper back.

Here are my Caledonian Sleeper tips….

  • Don’t believe the time that they advertise as when the sleeper will be ready for boarding. It is often later than that.
  • Leaving a big city at midnight by train is inherently romantic.
  • Being in Euston at 11.30 pm is inherently unromantic.
  • For excitement, intrigue, value for money and frisson book a bargain berth and share with Who Knows Who.
  • If sharing with an unknown companion who has not arrived when the train leaves, don’t presume anything. He could show up anytime, anywhere.
  • For a better night’s sleep pay more and get a cabin to yourself.
  • For no sleep at all, use the reclining seats. You will however, learn much about humanity.
  • Don’t worry about sleeping – tell yourself that all you have to do is doze and you’ll probably fall asleep anyway.
  • The more you pay, the better the breakfast in bed.
  • Murmur in the steward’s ear as you get on that you’d prefer your breakfast to be served after everyone else if possible
  • Beware of muddling the buttons that open the toilet compartment with the adjacent buttons which open the disabled cabin next door. (Especially at 4 am).
  • Flipflops.
  • Travelling North to South on certain tickets give you access to a lounge at Euston with free showers. No such luck coming the other way.
  • If turfed off the sleeper at 7 am and going to work at 9 am, don’t go home and go to sleep. Go swimming instead.
  • You can charge phones in the lounge car but not in your cabin.
  • That little hook by your head is for putting your watch on, but don’t forget it in the morning.
  • Take extra water.
  • The first stop is Carlisle. The stop with all the shunting is Carstairs.
  • Don’t go for a wander before Carstairs or your cabin might go to Glasgow whilst you go to Edinburgh.
  • You might arrive going a different direction to the one you set off in. Don’t be confused, they’ve not turned you round and sent you back to London after all.

Any tips I missed?


  1. May be a different sleeper but I always got on at Preston at some ungodly hour of the morning, and got off at an even worse one. Oddly enough sleeping in the seated sleeper is possible so long as it’s not too busy – it is possible to curl up on two seats and get at least some sleep.

    Top tip: if you go on the sleeper from Inverness in the middle of winter, and there’s a foot of snow on the ground in the Cairngorms, they may upgrade you to a cabin free of charge!

  2. Mary-Cate says

    Not a tip but the last time I was in Euston awaiting the sleeper it was indeed decidedly unromantic but was definitely eventful. Among the delights was the baggage cart on which was perched a priest in clericals and flat cap. It passed several times before finally returning sans priest. Time before that I passed the early part of the journey in the lounge car talking to a man named ‘Robin Hood’ (he produced i.d.). The sleeper is always a delightful adventure

  3. Oliver Broadbent says

    Hi, I was about to set about writing something similar, but you’ve got here most things I was going to say. And you are right, it is confusing to wake up going the other way.

    The only thing I’d add for any night train is getting to the restaurant/buffet car early and settling in, as sitting in your bunk when you are wide awake is less fun.


  1. […] There is a romantic-unromantic dissonance to the experience! Kevin Holdsworth seems to agree in his blog on the same […]

Speak Your Mind