If you love the idea of boarding a train, going to sleep and then waking up at your destination, a sleeper train may well be the transport mode for you. The good news is that you don’t even need to leave the country to experience it. Here’s our guide to the best and the cheapest UK sleeper trains.
What Sleeper Trains Are There in the UK?
There are currently two sleeper trains operating in the UK on a frequent basis. The Caledonian Sleeper travels between London and Scotland, while the Night Riviera Sleeper travels from London to Penzance, Cornwall.
The Caledonian Sleeper
The Caledonian Sleeper train is an overnight train service operated by Transport Scotland and offers travel between London Euston and Scotland.
Although the services have been running since 1873, the Caledonian Sleeper Train underwent a fancy new overhaul in 2019 – to the tune of £50 million – which involved replacing all of their carriages.
The cabin sleeping arrangements offered are the Classic Room, Club Room En-suite and Caledonian Double En-suite. However, they also have a cheaper Seated Coach option where yes, you’ll need to sleep upright.
Where Does the Caledonian Sleeper Train Go?
Whilst many know about the option to get an overnight train to Edinburgh, The Caledonian Sleeper Train is actually the umbrella term for multiple overnight services from London Euston to different parts of Scotland.
It runs two different services – the Highlander and the Lowlander – which stop off at numerous cities and towns along its routes.
Caledonian Sleeper Train Highlander Route
The Caledonian Sleeper Highlander route travels from London Euston to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The train departs six nights a week, with the northbound train leaving from London Euston station at 21:15 (20:59 on Sundays). The train is made up of three portions that separate around 04:30 at Edinburgh Waverley and then head to their final destinations.
One portion travels towards Inverness, another to Aberdeen, and the third to Fort William.
Caledonian Sleeper Train Lowlander Route
The Caledonian Lowlander sleeper route travels from London Euston to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central. The northbound train departs from London Euston at 23:50 (23:30 on Sundays) and consists of two portions that separate at Carstairs.
One portion of the split stops at Motherwell for passengers to disembark and then continues without stopping to Glasgow, ultimately arriving in the morning. The other portion continues to Edinburgh Waverley without stopping and arrives in the morning.
What Seat and Cabin Options are Available?
There are several options on the Caledonian Sleeper, ranging from an upright seat to a double bed! There’s also accessible rooms on offer making it a great option if you’re look for UK sleeper trains.
The cheapest option on the Caledonian Sleeper is a seat. However, it is definitely more comfortable thanks to more space and the ability to recline.
The cheapest sleeper cabin on the Caledonian Sleeper is the Classic Room. There’s a bunk bed and sink. You’ll be able to use communal toilets in the carriage instead.
Club Room En-Suite
The Club Room En-Suite is similar to the Classic Room however this option comes with an en-suite shower, free onboard breakfast, and station lounge access. It’s the cheapest en-suite option and you also get station lounge access.
This room offers the same facilities and amenities as the Club Room but features a double bed instead of a twin bunk bed. You also get some chocolate and a souvenir toiletries bag!
What Is The Club Car?
If you’ve booked any sleeper cabin on the Caledonian Sleeper, you will get access to the Club Car. However, if it’s busy, those in a ‘Club’ cabin will get priority access.
The Club Car is a place for guests to unwind. There’s booths for groups travelling together, as well as a row of swivel seats for solo travellers. You can also order food and drink here, or simply take in the passing views!
How Much Does The Caledonian Sleeper Train Cost?
The cheapest ticket you can get is £50 for a seated coach spot; however, if you use a railcard, that drops to £33 per person. Prices for cabins are more expensive, however you can bring costs down by sharing a cabin with another person and/or by using a railcard – though note that not all railcards are accepted.
London to Glasgow/Edinburgh
1 Person w/ Railcard
£175 – £225
£115.50 – £148.50
£205 – £265
(£115 – £132.50 each)
Club Room En-suite
£118.80 – £204.50
£235 – £370
(£117.50 – £185 each)
Caledonian Double En-suite
London to Aberdeen/Fort William/Inverness
1 Person w/ Railcard
£180 – £270
£118.80 – £178.20
£210 – £320
(£105 – £160 each)
Club Room En-suite
£180 – £385
£118.80 – £254.10
£230 – £415
(£115 – £207.50 each)
Caledonian Double En-suite
Do I Have to Share a Cabin With Strangers?
Caledonian Sleeper cabins are sold in their entirety and so you will not share with strangers. This is why the cabins are much more expensive if you’re travelling alone as you have to pay for the entire cabin yourself. It’s also why prices tend to be cheaper if you have a travel partner as you can split the cost!
Can You Use a Railcard on The Caledonian Sleeper Train?
16 – 17 saver
16 – 25 railcard
26 – 30 railcard
Family & Friends
Do Children Get a Discount on the Caledonian Sleeper Train?
Yes, and actually, the cheapest way to travel on the Caledonian Sleeper Train is as a family with a Family and Friends railcard.
The cheapest option we found was £190 each way for two adults and two children, staying in two classic sleeper cabins. This price breaks down to just £47.50 per person.
When booking tickets for the Caledonian Sleeper Train those under 15 years old are classed as children. Infants aged between zero and four can travel free of charge but have to sleep in the same bed as the adult.
Children under 12 have to travel in the same room or an interconnecting room with their accompanying adult, while children aged 12-15 are allowed to stay in a cabin alone, but the cabin must be directly next door to the adult’s room.
Cabins with interconnecting doors come in handy for families. However, not all the cabins have these interconnecting doors. If this feature is a must-have for you, make sure to double-check if the room you’re booking has it.
When is The Cheapest Time to Book?
The Caledonian Sleeper Train booking system uses dynamic pricing, which means they tweak their prices depending on a number of factors like demand and the time of year.
This means you’ll find cheaper tickets during off-peak times, especially on weekdays and outside school holidays, and booking ahead can also save you some cash.
When Do Caledonian Tickets Go on Sale?
You can buy train tickets up to 12 months in advance from the Caledonian Sleeper Train website or by phone on 0330 060 0500.
The Night Riviera
The Night Riviera is the second option when it comes to UK sleeper trains. Run by Great Western Railway, it’s a train service that links London and Cornwall. It operates six days a week, except on Saturdays, and the overnight journey typically takes around 8 hours.
Where Does the Night Riviera Sleeper Train Go?
The Night Riviera connects London to the picturesque towns and villages of Cornwall. The London Paddington to Penzance train departs at 23:45 from Monday to Friday and at 23:50 on Sundays. This service allows passengers to disembark at various stops along the journey, including popular tourist destinations such as Truro, Hayle, and St. Austell.
The Penzance to London Paddington sleeper train links the South West to London and provides connections at Paddington to other parts of Europe. The Penzance bound train departs at 21:45 from Penzance station on Monday to Friday and at 21:15 on Sunday.
What Seat and Cabin Options are Available?
There are two classes on the Night Riviera Sleeper – seats and cabins. Unlike the other option when it comes to UK sleeper trains, the Caledonian Sleeper, there are no ensuite rooms, which means passengers need to share the toilets. However, passengers in cabins have the perk of accessing an onboard lounge and the lounges and showers at Paddington, Penzance, and Truro stations.
Here are the facilities and amenities you can expect for each sleeping option:
The cheapest option on the Night Riviera is a seat. The seats have a fair amount of room and the seats do recline back to make this. a comfier than a standard train journey.
It’s small but perfectly formed! The sleeping cabins on the Night Riviera can fit up to 2 people, though if you’re travelling alone they will store the top bunk away to give you more space.
How Much Is the Night Riviera Sleeper Train?
You can grab your tickets in advance on the GWR website, usually up to three months ahead of your trip. However, when you start booking, it might seem a tad confusing at first. That’s because the booking involves two separate steps – first, you select your journey fare and then you add the additional supplement for the cabin at a later stage in the same booking.
If you want a cabin, you need to select the super off peak fare to be able to choose a cabin at the next step.
These are the current prices we could find for seats and cabins. This includes the price of the journey fare as well:
£43 – £63
£28.35 – £52.10
£137 – £179.50
£110.10 – £152.20
£245 – £309
(£134.50 – £154.50 each)
The cheapest way to book a sleeper cabin on the Night Riviera as adults is actually as 2 people with a railcard – and remember, any two people can get a Two Together Card. With this setup, we’ve found tickets from £191.20 total, meaning you’re paying £95.60 each one way.
As for families, if you’re 2 adults and 2 children using a Family & Friends Railcard, I found tickets from £308.20 which works out at £77.05 each. Whilst you can find the same setup cheaper on the Caledonian Sleeper, you do need to be travelling off peak. On the Night Riviera, however, it’s more about booking your ticket in advance rather than way day you’re travelling on.
Do I Have to Share the Cabin with Strangers?
Similar to the Caledonian Sleeper train, you won’t share a cabin with a stranger on the Night Riviera. It’s important to note that ticket prices cover the entire cabin, so it’s not possible to simply purchase a bed in a twin cabin.
Can You Use a Railcard on the Night Riviera?
You can use your Railcard to get a discount on your journey fare, however you do not get a discount on the price of the cabin supplement.
Do Children Get a Discount on the Night Riviera?
Children under five travel for free but won’t have their own bed. Those under 16 pay the reduced child fare for the train ticket, however, there isn’t any discount on the cabin supplement for children.
When Is the Cheapest Time to Book the Night Riviera Sleeper Train?
For Night Riviera Sleeper Train you’ll find the cheapest fare in off-peak times, at weekends and outside of school holidays.
When Do Night Riviera Sleeper Tickets Go on Sale?
What is the Cheapest UK Sleeper Train?
There isn’t one answer here and in fact, the cheapest UK sleeper trains are dependent on four factors:
- Who is booking (and whether you have a railcard)
- Who you’re travelling with
- What dates you’re travelling
- When you’re booking your ticket
However, our general takeaways are that The Caledonian Sleeper train is particularly good value if you’re travelling on their off peak dates, and travelling with an accepted railcard. It’s also very good for families. When travelling in a pair, their classic room also offers good value too and sometimes you can find their Club en-suite for not much more, meaning you can have your own bathroom for a fair price.
On the other hand, The Night Riviera Sleeper train is particularly good value if you’re travelling on peak dates but you’ve booked in advance as they don’t have the same dynamic pricing strategy as The Caledonian Sleeper. In addition, the prices tend to be kinder to solo travellers who don’t have a railcard. More railcards are accepted too, and so this is a good shout if you’re travelling with a 26-30 or Two Together Railcard – both of which aren’t accepted on the train up to Scotland!
So, it helps to consider those factors when deciding what are the cheapest UK sleeper trains.