Considering a trip on the Caledonian Sleeper? Good choice! Our guide contains our review of the service plus practical tips and advice to make the most of your trip on one of the most popular train journeys in the world.

There is no better way to travel!  Train lovers like ourselves always prefer rail travel to any other form of travel, not just for the considerable advantages over other modes of transport but also for the environmental benefits.

Sleeper travel is even better!

  • Traveling overnight saves the cost of a hotel. It is amazing to fall asleep in one country/state and wake up in another and enjoy the views along the way!  The contrast in scenery can be incredible!
  • Saves time when on a tight travel schedule, travelling whilst asleep, waking up refreshed and ready for the next adventure.
  • Sleeper train travel provides fantastic travel memories and stories to tell with some of the best train journeys of the world incorporating overnight travel.
  • It is amazing fun!

In this article discover one of the most popular sleeper train journeys in the world – the Caledonian Sleeper service from London to Scotland (and vice versa). You will find essential tips to make the most of your journey plus a first-hand review of our own experiences using this service multiple times.

If you are considering booking the Caledonian Sleeper for your next journey from London to Scotland you will find everything you need to know in our article.

Tracy Collins on the Caledonian Sleeper 1
About to leave Euston for Fort William
UK AND LONDON TRAVEL PLANNING

What is the Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleeper train is the name of the service that runs on the train route between England and Scotland 6 days a week. 

This service runs on the West Coast Main railway line from London Euston to 5 Scottish locations on the Northbound services with Southbound services running in the opposite direction.

The word Caledonian is taken from the Latin word which generally refers to the land in the north, Caledonia, the name the Romans used to describe Scotland.

This post is a review of our most recent experience using the northbound Highlander Caledonian Sleeper between London Euston and Fort William where we share not only our experience of the journey in ‘Our View’ but also details alternative available train routes, travel classes, accommodation types, costs and much more.

This is our favourite route we prefer to travel on when possible for various reasons… read on to find out what these are!

Though we have travelled on this service on numerous occasions this was our first time travelling on the new and updated sleeper service in January 2020.  Having travelled on sleeper service around the world we think this is one of the best, and the Lonely Planet also agreed in 2016.

The newer more modern services incorporate more hotel-style cabins, or berths, as they are termed, with lighter/brighter accommodation.  Also improved is the WIFI throughout the train and greater accessibility arrangements that increases inclusivity for all.

➡️ Click for further information and to book your Caledonian Sleeper Train tickets

Sign on the Caledonian Sleeper.

The Caledonian Sleeper – Route information

Caledonian Sleeper. sign for the next station.

Caledonian Sleeper – Station and Stops

The sleeper service provides a Highlander and a Lowlander train service options for passengers to choose from travelling either Northbound from London Euston or Southbound from Scotland. 

Each route and destination are as follows, also showing the principal train station stops along the route.

South Bound Caledonian Sleepers

  • Highlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from: –
    • Fort William – Station stops include Dumbarton, Helensburgh Upper and all the listed West Highland Line railway stations.
    • Aberdeen – Station stops include Kirkcaldy, Leuchars (station stop for St. Andrews), Dundee, Carnoustie and Arbroath.
    • Inverness – Station stops include Stirling, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, and Aviemore.
  • Lowlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
    • Edinburgh Waverley– Station stops include Watford Junction and Carlisle and Carstairs.
    • Glasgow Central – Station stops include Watford Junction, Carlisle, Carstairs and Motherwell.

North Bound Caledonian Sleepers

  • Highlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from London Euston as one train before dividing/splitting into sections at Edinburgh Waverley railway station (in the middle of the night).  Then three individual trains then travel onwards to Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness.
    • Principal trains station stops – As per South Bound Services (in reverse).
  • Lowlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from London Euston as one train before dividing/splitting into two separate trains at Carstairs (a station south and between Glasgow and Edinburgh) and then travelling onwards to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
    • Principal trains station stops – As per South Bound Services (in reverse).

Caledonian Sleeper – Boarding Times and Timetable

South Bound Caledonian Sleepers

  • Highlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness 
From InvernessFrom Fort WilliamFrom Aberdeen
Monday to FridaySundayMonday to FridaySundayMonday to FridaySunday
Room Available From.200019451920183021152100
Departure Time204520261950190021432143
Arrival TimeEuston074907490749074907490749
Vacate Train by080008000800080008000800
  • Lowlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
From EdinburghFrom Glasgow Central
Monday to FridaySundayMonday to FridaySunday
Room Available From.2300223022002200
Departure Time2340231523402315
Arrival TimeEuston0707070707070707
Vacate Train by0730073007300730

North Bound Caledonian Sleepers

  • Highlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from London Euston as one train before dividing/splitting into sections at Edinburgh Waverley railway station (in the middle of the night).  Then three individual trains then travel onwards to Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Monday to FridaySundayFort WilliamInvernessAberdeen
Room Available From.20302015
Departure TimeFrom Euston21152100
Arrival Time (Mon to Sun)095708420740
Vacate Train by095808450745
  • Lowlander Route – Departs Sunday to Friday each week (not on Saturdays) from London Euston as one train before dividing/splitting into two separate trains at Carstairs (a station south and between Glasgow and Edinburgh) and then two trains travelling onwards to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
Monday to FridaySundayGlasgow CentralEdinburgh Waverley
Room Available From.22302230
Departure time from Euston23502330
Arrival Time07220722
Vacate Train by08000800
  • NOTE – Important to check booking for timetables alterations that may occur due to unforeseen circumstances, i.e., weather, unplanned engineering works etc, safety, public holidays or winter months. 
  • Always check departure and arrival times prior to travel, the week or day before. 

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Caledonian Sleeper – Options for sleeping or seating

Caledonian Sleeper corridor and door swipe card.

There are options to choose from for your accommodation for each journey depending on your preferences and budget. The class of travel choice is highlighted for each option and our experienced opinion is expressed in ‘Our View’ for the options we have tried out.

Comfort Seats (sometimes referred to as sleeper seats)

  • Cheapest option available for passengers by buying a valid train ticket through any regular ticket outline/outline.
  • Passengers required to call the ‘Guest Service Centre’ to make a reservation, this is no extra cost for Seated accommodation only.  The telephone number is a UK telephone number 0330 060 0500.
  • The seating configuration is the same as conventional UK First class seating carriages with 2 -1 seats in an airline type set up.
  • The seats are part reclining with a slide forward for the seat cushion section.
  • Facilities include:
    • A Drop-down footrest.
    • Tray table, drop down.
    • Lockable storage for peace of mind.
    • Seat specific reading light.
    • WIFI
    • Multiple at seat charging point or socket.
    • Complimentary sleep kit (ear plugs, mask)
    • Call button for at seat service food and drink (menu provided at the seat).
  • NOTE: Northbound travellers between London Euston and Fort William have to change seats at Edinburgh Waverley train station from one train to another.
  • Prices around £70 to £75.

OUR VIEW – We have not taken any journeys on the Comfort Seats on the new improved services, but I did quite a few years ago on the older trains.  This was generally very uncomfortable and I did not sleep at all! There was no WIFI, no charging sockets and the lighting was terrible.  The new service looks 100% improved.

Caledonian Double (Room)

  • Luxury Double bed and not two separate bunk type beds.
  • Breakfast is included.
  • Facilities include:
    • Priority train boarding.
    • En-suite toilet and shower.
    • In room wash basin.
    • Complimentary sleep kit, including Scottish toiletry items.
    • Priority Club Car Access
    • WIFI
    • Electrical charging points.
    • Room Service.
    • Key card door access.
    • Berth Temperature control.
    • Lights dimmer control.
  • Prices around £345 to £405 for all guests depending on Lowlander or Highlander service.

OUR VIEW We have never stayed in one of these rooms. The feedback from other travellers is that the double room (s) get booked up quickly as the demand is always high.  The advice would be book early if this is what you want.

Club Room (A hotel Experience)

 Caledonian Sleeper amenities.
 Caledonian Sleeper ensuite.
  • Twin bunk- beds.
  • Breakfast included.
  • Facilities include:
    • In room wash basin.
    • En-suite toilet and shower.
    • Complimentary sleep kit, including Scottish toiletry items.
    • Priority Club Car Access
    • WIFI
    • Electrical charging points.
    • Station Lounge access. (see later section).
    • Room Service.
    • Room Key card access.
    • Berth Temperature control.
    • Lights dimmer control.
    • Priority train boarding.
    • Available for single or shared occupancy.
  • Prices around £180 to £315 for the Highlander service and around £150 for the Lowlander service.

OUR VIEW – This is the type of room we prefer and generally settle on, it seems to tick the boxes for us in facilities, availability, as well as the cost value for money.

Note – Check when making a booking if travelling alone if a single person supplement fee is applicable.

Classic Room (the new Standard)

 Caledonian Sleeper bunks.
  • Twin bunk- beds.
  • Breakfast is NOT included but can be purchased.
  • Facilities include:
    • In room wash basin.
    • Complimentary sleep kit, including Scottish toiletry items.
    • Interconnecting door options.
    • Priority Club Car Access
    • WIFI
    • Room Key card access.
    • Electrical charging points.
    • Berth Temperature control.
    • Lights dimmer control.
    • Available for single or shared occupancy.
  • Prices around £155 to £222 for the Highlander service and around £100 for the Lowlander service.

OUR VIEW – The classic type berth we have used in the past due to our budget but we now prefer the Club option if possible, mainly due to the benefit of the en-suite toilet which we think is worth paying a little more for. 

Club Car – Food and Drink Lounge

 Caledonian Sleeper lounge.
Club car

The new Club car option is a designated coach to buy food and drink on the go in a modern, light and friendly setting. The Club car is available to all guests using berth sleeping accommodation only. Comfort seat passengers have at-seat service options.

  • Facilities include:
    • Seasonal Scottish food, ranging from snacks to full dinners and breakfasts.
    • Drinks menu including Scottish drinks such as whisky.
    • Menu in each berth.
    • Reasonably priced.
    • Access priority is given to the Caledonian Double and Club Room guests.
    • Booth seating options and swivel chair options available.
    • WIFI.
    • Electrical charging points.

OUR VIEW – We enjoyed sitting have a drink in the evenings and also having breakfast in one of the booths depending on availability. We thoroughly enjoy travelling in the Scottish Highlands eating an excellent Scottish breakfast with a lovely cup of tea. 

NOTE – The Club car can get a little crowded so you may have to wait for a table.  For breakfast, we try to have everything packed ready so we could enjoy the breakfast, just finishing in time to arrive at our destination.

Tracy Collins in the lounge of the Caledonian Sleeper.
Ready for a meal and a drink in the Club car
 Caledonian Sleeper menu.
Perusing the menu
 Breakfast on the Caledonian Sleeper.
Breakfast was delivered to our room – make sure you give yourself time to enjoy it before you arrive at your destination

Caledonian Sleeper Tickets and Passes

 Caledonian Sleeper.

All Caledonian sleeper tickets need to be valid on the ARRIVAL date of your end destination station not necessarily on the date you leave starting point train station. 

It is important to check that if using a Britrail Pass or Inter-Rail/ Eurail (that includes Great Britain) that you check the dates are still valid on your travel pass for your journey before travelling.  

National Rail tickets can be accepted between stations served by the sleeper services with a reservation made via the Guest service Centre telephone line. 

Passengers requiring to book accommodation already holding a national rail ticket or any of the above valid travel passes will be required to book through the service centre and pay a Room Supplement.

Room supplements are available for Solo or Shared room occupancy in Club and Classic accommodation.

Any doubts call the Caledonian Service Centre – (UK Telephone number) 0330 060 0500 for further information or to check terms and conditions of purchase.

⭐️ CLICK TO PURCHASE A BRITRAIL PASS

There are 2 types or categories of purchased sleeper tickets available for all services for general ticket sales, the Flexipass is for a collective purchase: (information from the Caledonian Sleeper Homepage 13/12/2021).

  • Fixed Advance – These are the best value tickets available if you are certain of the day of travel with no anticipated changes.   No changes are allowed, refunds or any upgrade permitted.
    • Available for Classic and Club rooms.
    • Includes reservation costs and accommodation.
    • Can be purchased 12 months in advance.
    • Single journey ticket purchases, you buy 2 tickets for a return journey.
  • Flexible – These types of tickets are fully refundable and with no administration fee to pay a request is made by 12 noon 2 days before the original planned destination arrival time. After this time no refunds will be available.
    • Available for Classic, Club rooms and Caledonian Double rooms.
    • Includes reservation costs and accommodation.
    • Can be purchased 12 months in advance.
    • Single journey ticket purchases, you buy 2 tickets for a return journey.
  • Flexipass – This a group purchase for 10 single journey tickets over any Caledonian Sleeper route, valid over 12 months for your own use, family or friends. The pass starts at the first booking not the date of the first travel.  Cost is £1650.
    • Check terms and conditions regarding breakfast or room type. 
  • Purchased TicketsSee earlier section for Approximate seat or berth prices (correct as 14th December 2021).

OUR VIEW – Using the fixed tickets suited our needs best of all, knowing with our research and itinerary planning exactly when and how we planned to travel we could manage our travel cost better throughout. For the same reasons, the Flexible tickets was also not an option. The Flexipass was not an option for us with only one journey planned at that time. 

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper – FAQs

Views from the Caledonian Sleeper.
Beautiful views of the Scottish Highlands

Station lounges

Depending on whether you are travelling on the north or southbound Highlander or Lowlander Caledonian Sleeper service from the start of the service or joining the train en-route, you may want to take advantage of the station lounge facilities. 

These are available at the following stations.

  • Guest Lounges – Dundee, Fort William, Inverness, Leuchers (for St.Andrews), Perth and Stirling.
    • Showers/Toilets available.
    • Drinks/snacks provided.
  • Shared Lounges (with other train operators).
    • Edinburgh – With LNER.
    • Glasgow Central – With Avanti.
    • Euston – With Avanti.
    • Aberdeen – With Scotrail.

OUR VIEW – As a rule we do not use the station lounges too often, preferring to eat a meal before arriving at the station and spending as much time on board the train and using the onboard facilities as much as we can.  This includes the onboard showers and lounge facilities as well as enjoying the unique sleeper berth experience.

Accessible Travel

The Caledonian Sleeper accessible travel policy (2021) includes information for:

  • Helping older and disabled passengers – Summary leaflets provides key/vital information for journey planning and booking/arranging assistance.
  • Station Accessibility Guides – On depth information about the train stations the sleeper train service stops at.
  • Train Accessibility Guides – Provides the information relating to the features on board the train designed to help everyone.

Key Points (Selected)

  • Guest Service Centre – All travel information, regarding planning, booking tickets, berths and all questions regarding accessibility can be provided to help guests to make their own choices.   UK Telephone number 0330 060 0500.
  • On board Host service – See below under Boarding the train.
  • To book customer Assistance – Needs to be booked prior to 6 hours before the train leaves its starting point station. (This is to be reduced to 2 hours from 1st April 202).
    • 48 hours in advance for international travel bookings is requested.
    • Customer assist is not compulsory but is recommended for peace of mind.
    • Accessibility Enquiries – Call UK Telephone 0800 904 7267 (up to 12 weeks in advance of travel).
  • No Charge for Customer Assist.
  • Dedicated wheelchair space in each Seated Coach – Priority for wheelchair spaces is given to reservations in advance.
  • Wheelchairs/Scooters. – Requested to be no bigger than 70cm wide, 120cm long. Overall weight with guest and luggage does not exceed 300kg.
  • Baggage Assist – Guest consideration is requested for the size/weight/and quantity in relation to available space on the train and being safe for staff to manually handle.
    • One hand luggage (able to be held by guest on the lap if required) and up to two items of luggage no bigger than 30cm x 70cm x 90cm.
  • Assistance Dogs – Welcome on board.  Call the guest centre for further information regarding further assisting the dog’s comforts.

Baggage Size

One item of hand luggage and up to two items of luggage no bigger than 30cm x 70cm x 90cm is permitted as space is of a premium onboard the train.

View of Rannoch train station Caledonian Sleeper.
Pack lots of warm clothes if you head up to Scotland during the winter months!

Boarding the Train

When advised from the station electronic boards which station platform your train will be departing from the easiest way to find your correct coach is to ask one of the train hosts. These are Caledonian Sleeper staff who greet guests at the train. 

Even if you know the number of the coach your seat/berth is in sometimes it is still not the easiest thing to find.  A top tip is to ask the first host you can and ask them to direct you to the correct host who will have your name and booking on a list.

OUR VIEW – All the on-board hosts we have ever come across have been extremely helpful and knowledgeable not just about the train and the facilities but have excellent train route knowledge about what to see on the way.  On top of all that they do seem very friendly. Unlike some countries, they do not expect a financial tip at the end of the service.

SCOTLAND road trip link 1

Plan your train travel in the UK

We have a love for train travel and enjoy exploring the UK by train. If you are unsure about travelling around Britain by train our Guide to Train Travel ebook contains everything you need to know (including 10 itineraries)

You can purchase our ebook here!

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