Skip to Content

Caledonian Sleeper Review: London – Scotland sleeper train

There is something undeniably romantic about travelling by train, especially on a sleeper train where you can fall asleep in one city and wake up in another.

The Caledonian Sleeper train offers this experience and more, with the added bonus of breathtaking views of the Scottish and Northern English countryside along the way.

Having travelled on the Caledonian sleeper train before its updates many years ago, I was excited to see the changes that had been made to improve the overall experience. The updates included new carriages with improved facilities, including private cabins with en-suite bathrooms ad charging points, a new lounge car, and upgraded dining options.

On the many occasions, I’ve taken the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Scotland, I never fail to be amazed at how fun this mode of travel is (and how environmentally friendly too!).

The journey to Scotland from the South of England can feel like a million miles. In reality, our island is rather small and Scotland can be reached with a short overnight journey on the Caledonian Sleeper train, also known as the Scot Sleeper.

Thanks to the Caledonian Sleeper you can take the train after work on a Friday and arrive early on Saturday morning ready for a whole host of adventures in Scotland before catching the train back on a Sunday evening ready for work on a Monday! If you’re heading to Scotland for some adventure I highly recommend this Scotland to London train.

But what’s it like to travel on the Caledonian Sleeper? Is it comfortable enough to get a good night’s sleep, how much does it cost and what are your options for seats vs berths?

In this Caledonian Sleeper review, I’ll share my experience travelling on the updated Caledonian Sleeper train, including the booking process, boarding the train, the facilities, dining options, and the overall experience. I will also provide tips for making the most of your sleeper train journey and share why I believe the Caledonian Sleeper train is a must-do for anyone planning to visit Scotland.

What is the Caledonian Sleeper?

Caledonian Sleeper Review

The Caledonian Sleeper train is an iconic train service that connects England with Scotland.

Launched in 1996, it has become a symbol of train travel at its best, offering a unique and convenient way to travel between the two countries at opposite ends of the UK.

It’s been whisking people from London to destinations such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Fort William while they sleep. And, with a capacity of up to 500 passengers, it’s the longest train in the UK.

The train technically has two routes, the Highlander and the Lowlander, with the train splitting into sections depending on its destination.

Operating every night except Saturday, the Caledonian Sleeper train departs from London and arrives in Scotland in time for breakfast. You can see the full Caledonian sleeper timetable here.

It is currently one of only two sleeper trains in the UK, the other being the Night Riviera Sleeper from London to Penzance.

In recent years, the train has undergone exciting developments as new owners have revitalized its carriages and introduced everything the modern traveller requires, including WiFi.

As of 2023, the Caledonian Sleeper train is set to be nationalised, which could see prices become more affordable for passengers.

Whether you’re a backpacker or a business traveller, the Caledonian Sleeper train offers an unforgettable Scottish railway journey.

With its comfortable accommodations, convenient departure times, and breathtaking views of the Scottish countryside, the Caledonian Sleeper train is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Scotland in a unique and unforgettable way.

Caledonian Sleeper accommodation types

Caledonian Sleeper Review

The Caledonian Sleeper train offers a variety of accommodation types to suit different budgets and travel styles, including Comfort Seat, Classic Room, Club Room, and Caledonian Double.

Each type comes with its own set of amenities and services, I’ve put this into a table below so that you can see the difference between the Caledonian sleeper types.

All rooms are available for shared or single occupancy, and family room and accessible room options for wheelchair users are also available.

Type of seatComfort
Seat
Classic RoomClub
Room
Caledonian
Double
Bed typeAdjustable headrest
+ footrest
with a tray.
Table and reading light
Twin bunk beds w/
interconnecting door option
Twin
bunk beds

Double bed
Breakfast
Food optionsNot includedNot includedFree breakfastFree breakfast
Lounge accessStation lounge accessStation lounge access
Club car accessCan access it, may need to waitPriority Club Car AccesPriority Club Car Acces
Bathroom accessStandard train toiletWashbasin in roomEn-suite with toilet and shower + in-room
Washbasin
En-suite with toilet and shower + in-room
Washbasin
Sleep kitYesYesYesYes
Charging pointsUSB + plug charging points at your seatYesYesYes
Wi-FiYesYesYesYes
ExtrasFree washbag and chocolateFree washbag and chocolate
TicketsBook hereBook hereBook hereBook here
Comparison table for ticket options on the Caledonian Sleeper

For accessible rooms on the Caledonian Sleeper, you can choose between the Accessible Classic Double, which comes with a double bed, the Accessible Classic Twin, which features two single (bunk) beds, or the dedicated wheelchair space in our Seated Coach.

There are 3 options for travelling on the Caledonian Sleeper. You can choose between a Sleeper Seat, Standard Class and First Class.

Caledonian Sleeper: Comfort Seat ticket

The seated coach is the cheapest way to travel on the Caledonian Sleeper train. Here you don’t have a room but will be sat on what’s essentially a more comfortable train seat in a train carriage with other passengers.

The seats don’t recline as such, which is kind of nice since you won’t have someone reclining into your space as you can get on planes. Instead, the seat cushion slides forward to give 10 degrees of recline without impacting other guests.  

There’s also an adjustable footrest and headrest to make things a bit more comfortable.

When it comes to food, you’ll have a call button on your seat so that you can call a member of staff over to order dishes from the menu available on the Caledonian Sleeper.

If you travel in the sleeper seats on the Caledonian Sleeper you’ll have access to a counter-service but can’t access the lounge and dining car.

You’ll also be given a sleep kit which includes earplugs and an eye mask.

Classic Caledonian Sleeper Room

The next comfort level up is the Standard Sleeper Room. Sleeper rooms are good for 2 people and the beds are in bed bunk format. As with the sleeper seats, you’ll also get an eye mask and earplugs.

In addition to the beds, you’ll also find a washbasin, and power outlets and you’ll be able to order breakfast for an additional fee.

You can stay in a classic sleeper room on a solo-occupancy or double-occupancy basis.

A ticket for the standard sleeper room on the Caledonian Sleeper train also grants you access to the lounge car.

But, if this is full, priority is given to Caledonian Sleeper Double and Club Room passengers. In the lounge car, you can sit whilst watching the scenery outside pass by and enjoy some drinks and food.

There is no toilet in the classic sleeper room but toilets are available at the end of every carriage.

I have travelled in this style of room between London and Edinburgh and found it very comfortable.

Caledonian Sleeper Club rooms & Caledonian Double rooms

Caledonian Sleeper Review
Image from the old-style of rooms

These two rooms are pretty similar, just one has two twin beds, while the other has one double bed.

They’re essentially First Class tickets for the Caledonian Sleeper and offer you some luxuries including an en-suite shower room and access to the lounge at the station before boarding as well as priority access to the club room.

On top of the amenities given with the standard sleeper room, Caledonian Sleeper first class rooms (the Club Room and the Caledonian Double) come with a free washbag and toiletry kit, chocolates and your breakfast included in the price of your ticket.

These rooms can be booked for both solo and double occupancy.

Caledonian Sleeper ticket types

All rooms on the Caledonian Sleeper can be reserved for either solo occupancy, or two guests travelling together who want to share a room.

You can book tickets up to 12 months in advance through their website online and all are single tickets. To book a return, you book two single tickets.

Caledonian Sleeper flexible tickets are fully refundable for room tickets with no admin fee as long as you request a refund 2 days before your scheduled arrival time at your destination.

You can also get family tickets which offer savings of up to 33%. To book a family ticket, you’ll need to just select the number of children and adults travelling and you’ll get a family ticket price on the next window of the booking process.

You can also use the standard UK rail passes including the youth passes, Two Together and others. If you’re travelling with national rail tickets including Inter-Rail passes and Eurail Passes including travel in the UK, then you can book a seat on the Caledonian Sleeper. If you wish to book a room with these passes you’ll need to pay extra.

How much does the Caledonian Sleeper cost?

To get the cheapest prices on the Caledonian Sleeper, you’ll need to book as far ahead as you can, as the ticket prices rise as you get closer to the departure date.

The cheapest fares are mid-week since these are less popular times to travel. And the most expensive is usually Friday or Sunday since these are popular travel times.

June and the summer months are usually more expensive than the winter.

It can also be cheaper to get to Edinburgh and Glasgow than to travel all the way to Inverness or Aberdeen or Fortwilliam since there are fewer seats and rooms available on these routes.

Caledonian sleeper prices for a single ticket on the Caledonian Sleeper going from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow, ticket prices start at (room shared/solo occupancy):

  • Seat: £35
  • Classic room: £140/£170
  • Club Room: £205/£250
  • Caledonian Double: £335/£400
  • Family deal (Classic): £170
  • Family deal (Club): £250
  • Accessible twin or double: £140/£170

Going from London to Inverness, Aberdeen or Fort William prices start at (room shared/solo occupancy):

  • Seat: £40
  • Classic room: £140/£170
  • Club Room: £205/£250
  • Caledonian Double: £395/470
  • Family deal (Classic): £185
  • Family deal (Club): £275
  • Accessible twin or double: £140/£170

What is the route of the Caledonian Sleeper?

backrock cottage glencoe photography
exploring the highlands

The Caledonian Sleeper train offers two different routes: the Highlander and the Lowlander.

Although the different routes and sections of the train may seem confusing, when booking tickets, you only need to enter your departure and arrival stations.

The train staff will ensure you arrive at your desired destinations.

If you’re travelling beyond Edinburgh or Glasgow, such as from London Euston to Fort William, you do not need to change trains. Apart from those on a comfort seat ticket from London to Fort William where you’ll need to change carriages at Edinburgh and wait a short time.

The Highlander Route

When departing from London Euston on the Highlander Route, the train splits into three at Edinburgh Waverley, with each section heading to Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort William, making stops at various destinations along the way.

For instance, the Aberdeen train stops at Montrose, Stonehaven, Leuchars, and Dundee, while the Inverness train stops at Stirling, Gleneagles, Pitlochry, Perth, and Aviemore.

The Fort William train stops at Helensburgh Upper, Rannoch, Corrour, and Crianlarich.

On the Southbound journey, the train departs from Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort William and travels down towards Edinburgh.

The Lowlander Route

When taking the Lowlander Route, the train travels from London Euston to Carstairs, where it splits off and heads to Edinburgh Waverly and Glasgow Central.

On the Southbound journey, the train departs from both Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly, with the Glasgow train stopping at Motherwell before joining the Edinburgh train at Carstairs.

The conjoined train then travels down to Carlisle and Watford Junction before arriving at London Euston.

My Caledonian Sleeper review

I’ve taken the Caledonian Sleeper train twice. Once I took the sleeper train Glasgow to London before heading to the Scottish Highlands for the weekend and another time on the sleeper train to Edinburgh.

My first journey to Glasgow was on the old-style Caledonian Sleeper before it went through upgrades to include double beds, en-suites and wifi and charging points in the room and at the seats. My second journey was on the newer style trains.

Besides these upgrades, the general experience is much the same, just with a few extra facilities. In terms of comfort, noise and space things are similar.

Review of the Club Room on the Caledonian Sleeper

In the cabin, you’ll find a wash basin, complimentary Arran Aromatics toiletries, a towel, and a sleep pack. You’ll also get complimentary breakfast delivered straight to your cabin.

While the cabins are pretty small (as you’d expect), they have enough room to store your luggage and the beds are surprisingly comfortable.

My head melted into the pillows (perhaps helped by the whisky from the Lounge Car) and I drifted off into a deep sleep thanks to the pillow spray included in the sleeping pack.

The only downside to the cabins as they are at the moment is that there’s nowhere to charge a phone (this has now been updated and there is Wi-Fi!)

The sleep quality on the Caledonian Sleeper

Whilst a night’s sleep on the train is never going to be perfect, I was surprised at how much I managed to sleep on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Whilst a little bumpy in places the train runs smoothly for the majority of the evening, I failed to even notice when the two trains were split to reach their separate destinations!

If you struggle to sleep due to noise or light then you needn’t worry.

The sleeping pack provided came with an eye mask and earbuds to help you drift off into a deep sleep and dream of all the adventures to come!

Food & drink on-board the Caledonian Sleeper

Caledonian Sleeper Review

I’d already eaten by the time I boarded the Caledonian Sleeper, but the smells from the kitchen in the Lounge Car were incredible.

Other travellers I was with dined on Award-winning Cockburn’s Haggis, neeps and Docherty Tatties, and Clunes Lamb, new potato and mint casserole with spring greens. The Scottish cheeseboard for dessert looked particularly tasty!

If you’d rather have a nightcap, there’s an impressive whisky list on board the Caledonian Sleeper train including whisky from Glenfiddich, Laphroig and an Old Pulteney.

There’s not much better than a bacon roll in the morning for a breakfast treat and the Sleeper’s chefs serve up a great Ayrshire bacon roll.

You can also go all out with a hearty Highland breakfast (sausage, bacon, beans & scrambled eggs) or scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

Fancy keeping breakfast light? Opt for a creamy porridge or crunchy granola and yoghurt.

Overall thoughts on this Caledonian Sleeper Review

I’ve used the sleeper train twice and have enjoyed both experiences. The bed was far comfier than expected, service friendly, food tasty and it looks like the upcoming improvements will only see facilities improve further.

However, there’s no getting around the fact that taking the Caledonian Sleeper is expensive. However, if you factor in the price of a hotel plus a train or a plane ticket, then it’s not too bad. Plus, it’s just a cool overall experience.

While you could fly for less and quicker, flying is extremely damaging to the environment and is something we should be avoided when there are alternatives.

If you want to avoid flying but can’t justify the price of the Caledonian Sleeper train, you can also get trains during the day. Again, book these in advance as far as possible for the cheapest price. You can book tickets for ‘normal’ trains through Trainline.com.

Want more Scotland travel ideas? Read these

FAQs about the Caledonian Sleeper train

How long does the Caledonian Sleeper take?

The sleeper train London to Edinburgh takes about 7.5 hours and this is roughly the same for the London to Glasgow sleeper train. Getting from London to Inverness takes around 11 hours and from London to Fort William is around 13 hours.

Is there WiFi on the Caledonian Sleeper?

With the new refurbishments to the Caledonian Sleeper, you can now get WiFi in your room as well as throughout the train on the sleeper train to London. With the new refurbishments to the Caledonian Sleeper, you can now get WiFi in your room as well as throughout the train on the sleeper train to London.

Is the Caledonian Sleeper comfortable?

The comfort level of the Caledonian Sleeper train largely depends on your personal preferences and which accommodation type you choose.

While it may not offer the most spacious accommodations, the train’s beds are undeniably comfortable and feature cosy Glencraft mattresses.

As I’ve personally travelled in the Classic Room and Club Room, I cannot comment on the comfort of the seats, though if you’ve ever done long bus journeys, these are definitely going to be better.

While the train may feel a bit cramped at times, it’s making the most of the available space. Due to operating on standard train tracks, the train’s width cannot be expanded beyond what it currently offers.

How early can you board the Caledonian Sleeper?

Rooms and seats are available to board 30-45 minutes before departure. That’s the absolute minimum time you’ll want to get there though. Try to get there at least an hour before departure to board the train as smoothly as possible. If you’re staying in the club or double room you can arrive even earlier and access the lounge at the train station beforehand with free snacks and drinks.

Can you use a railcard on the Caledonian Sleeper?

Yes, you can get a discount with many of the railcards. The 16-25, Disabled, Disabled Child, Friends & Family, HM Forces, Senior, Two Together and Veterans are accepted with up to 34% off. It does not accept the 26-30 railcard.

Are pets allowed on the Caledonian Sleeper?

Yes, you can take up to two pets with you (including dogs and cats) but it costs extra. If travelling with an assistance dog, you’ll need to let them know ahead of time.

Can you take bikes on the Caledonian Sleeper?

Yes, you can take bikes on the London to Scotland. There’s secure storage space for up to six bikes in the Seated Carriage. There’s an option to add a bike when you book your ticket on the overnight train to Scotland.

How to get cheap Caledonian sleeper tickets?

The only way to find cheaper tickets is to book far in advance (you can book 1 year in advance) and use a railcard that is accepted. You could also book a seat as these start at just £35.

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Hannah

Leave a comment

  1. […] were a huge amount of brilliant moments. From the time we were serenaded by bagpipes on to the Caledonian Sleeper, to a spa experience, lunch in a tree-house, falconry and a helicopter tour – and […]

  2. Roma says:

    I’ve heard of the Cal Sleeper but never been as we tend to do the Scotland drive. I can see why people do it though. Are the beds long enough? At 6ft, that’s a definite concern of mine!

  3. Good post, from all modes of transfer I prefer traveling by train (as I am always scared in the plane :)). You have enough time to watch the country around, read a book, or relax. Once in Scotland you can start exploring it right away! Unlike with car, then you will need to sleep for another day to start living. 🙂

  4. I have never tried riding a sleeper train but perhaps I should also try that. Scenic and well, better than long flights?

  5. I’m personally crazy over Scotland and hoping to visit it one day. Thanks for this great post! 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    Ugh, I love how you are just a train ride away from a new country and fabulous destinations when in Europe. The Sleeper train looks devine and I especially loved the little suitcase with snacks…nice touch!

  7. I never knew this existed! I love going up to Scotland but as you said sometimes it can feel really far away! This would make that journey so much more relaxing and it’s not all that expensive either!

  8. Erica says:

    I haven’t traveled to Europe but when I think of train travel, it’s very similar to the pictures here. So when I traveled with an overnight sleeper train in Vietnam, I was very excited. Butttt….let’s just say it was an experience quite nothing like my expectations. Haha.

  9. Bettina says:

    This looks so much more enjoyable than ANY of the trains I’ve been on! How cool! 😀

  10. sara says:

    I’ve never heard about this train before 🙂 Looks like a good experience!

  11. Ever traveled by Indian railways? 😀

  12. karen says:

    We had booked the Caledonian sleeper train for myself, husband and adult daughter as part of our UK trip. I love trains and they idea of a sleeper train and getting us to our London destination was a bucket list for me. It was pretty pricey, about $700 US dollars in comparison we could of flown for about $150 for the three of us. What a disappointment right from the start. We were greeted by what appeared as a drill sergeant who showed us to our berths. The train is very old and tired but the berths were clean. I booked a solo berth for each of us so that we would not be cramped with our travel bags and all. The “sergeant “told us not to put our stuff on the upper berth because they would then have to be cleaned. We later found no outlets in our berth and had to go to the lounge to “plug” in. Oh yea, by the way they had no food or beverage service available – which is not the norm but they had some problem.
    I highly recommend not spending your money on this mode of transportation!

  13. […] The Caledonian Sleeper: Scotland’s Closer Than You Think UK […]

  14. Margaret Jolly says:

    21 Park road
    Shiremoor

  15. HMargaret Jolly says:

    Hi how much would it be for 3children and 2adults thanks

This post may include affiliate links. These give me a small source of income and come at no additional cost to you.