What it’s like to ride the new sleeper train from London to Berlin (2023)

The excitement for the inaugural departure of European Sleeper’s Good Night Train from Brussels to Berlin is palpable — not least because we’re tooting out of Brussels Midi/Zuid station just one minute behind schedule.

A Dutch-Belgian co-operative two and a half years in the making, European Sleeper is the brainchild of a pair of self-confessed train freaks, Elmer van Buuren and Chris Engelsman. This first route (others to Prague and Barcelona are planned for the next two years) stops at Antwerp, Rotterdam and Amsterdam before, just under 12 hours later, reaching Berlin, where bright-eyed and bushy-tailed travellers disembark and get straight to exploring the city — well, that’s the idea anyway.

From the looks of my compartment I have a smidgen of a chance. This is a Deluxe Sleeper, the poshest of the three cabin types on board — there’s a maximum of three beds (although I’m lucky enough to have it to myself), each with a sheeted mattress, pillow and duvet, plus a sink, a padded seat and table, a towel and some soap. Next down are the Comfort Couchettes, which have up to six padded beds, each with a blanket, sheet and pillow. Lastly come the budget seats — liable to induce numb buttocks, these are probably best avoided if you want to have any chance of some shut-eye.

Orient Express-style luxury this is not. Thanks to a dearth of new trains, European Sleeper’s carriages are decommissioned German models from the Fifties and Sixties, while interiors have been resurrected (or resuscitated, depending on your take) from the Eighties and refitted. You won’t need a dinner suit, as there’s no dining car (although limited snacks and drinks are available to buy); anyone wanting a shower has to make do with a quick splash at the sink. And, as in the Eighties, there’s no wi-fi. Indeed, in my compartment there was only one electricity socket, precariously situated above that enclosed sink. While there is talk of newer trains in the future, for now it’s a bells-and-whistles-free zone. But in many ways therein lies the charm.

What it’s like to ride the new sleeper train from London to Berlin (1)

(Video) London to Berlin by Sleeper Train from May 2023?

Kate Leahy’s compartment aboard the new Good Night Train service

Basic sleeper trains first appeared in the US in the 1830s, before George Pullman pioneered a luxurious version in 1867. Services such as the Rheingold and Orient-Express became legendary in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century and boomed in the early and mid-20th century. Improvements in roads and, crucially, low-cost air travel brought about a swift decline, however.


Since 2016, though, a resurgence in this once-revered form of long-distance transport has seen options popping up across Europe, aided by growing climate concerns and the frequent hassle involved in air travel. Be it Austrian Railways’ Nightjet or the Italian-owned Frecciarossa, new services are making it possible to cross the Continent in a more adventurous and sustainable way as they link London, via Eurostar services, with Zurich, Venice and Milan.

Keen to try this newest one, I made the direct, two-hour Eurostar journey from London to Brussels, timing it so that I had a few hours to explore the Belgian capital before setting off for Germany.

(Video) LONDON TO BERLIN BY TRAIN | A Travelogue and Guide

After the initial excitement of being on board the Good Night Train, everyone settled into cabin life as though sleeper train veterans. Wandering through carriages I saw couples snuggled under blankets, families eating snacks around tables, children in pyjamas ready for bed, friends (new and old) playing cards and enthusiasts catching the breeze by standing near open windows. Each compartment had a life of its own and — bar a group of male cyclists drinking into the night — a trainload of wholesome fun was on display.

My fellow passengers’ reasons for being on board varied from being train fanatics to reducing their environmental impact. Dorota from Dorset was off to see her sister in Warsaw and opted for a 20-hour door-to-door train mashup through Europe because she hates air travel. Sarah from Bristol was mainly trying to reduce her carbon emissions, but also liked the social aspect. “As there’s no wi-fi I’ve been having really nice chats with people in my cabin,” she said. “I don’t think you do that on other modes of transport.”


As I tucked myself in for the night, the train rattled over the tracks, as did its interiors (top tip: bring earplugs). The ladder for my bunk, tucked away in its little storage space, was also making a racket until I shoved in the arm of my jacket to muffle it. With the cabin a little toasty I opened its small window, only for it to bang to and fro so continuously that I had to close it again and make do with poking my legs out of the duvet. My mobile phone was also making a right din, hanging from its cable in the sink cabinet, before I scrunched up a towel to act as a cushion. But it’s all part of the adventure, right?

What it’s like to ride the new sleeper train from Brussels to Berlin

We arrived in Berlin at 7.50am — ten minutes ahead of schedule, but at a station ten minutes’ north of the intended Hauptbahnhof terminus thanks to engineering works. I’d estimate that I had about three hours of sleep, but not because the bed was uncomfortable — it was more down to loo trips and some snoring in the adjoining compartment.

What it’s like to ride the new sleeper train from London to Berlin (2)

A Deluxe Sleeper cabin

(Video) Europe's newest sleeper train: breakfast in London, dinner in Amsterdam and wake up in Berlin?

There were mixed reviews for the other carriage classes: Hans from Holland told me that he slept perfectly; Claire from France wearily said that her padded bed was a little hard.

(Video) European Sleeper: Europe’s New Night Train


Refreshed or not, Berlin beckoned. I stayed in Charlottenburg, at the newly opened Hoxton Hotel, which offers sleeper-friendly early check-ins and late check-outs; I was unpacking by 9am. Its bedrooms are elegant with an art deco twist and come with spacious rainfall showers, cloudlike beds below soft, sculpted headboards and milk in the fridge to make a much-needed brew. But I opted for brunch around the corner at Benedict, where you can have your eggs any which way, from omelettes to shakshuka — it does get busy, though, so be prepared to wait for a table (mains from £14; benedict.world).

Museum Island is one of Berlin’s biggest lures, with its five gallery spaces hosting Byzantine art, Monet paintings and, at the Neues, the Nefertiti Bust (£9; smb.museum). Just opposite is the newly opened Humboldt Forum, a reconstruction of a former baroque royal palace that houses exhibitions on everything from nature to ethnology (free; humboldtforum.org).

21 of the best things to do in Berlin
Best affordable hotels in Berlin

By the evening I’m in Papillon, the latest Berlin restaurant to hide behind an unassuming façade — in this case two railway arches beneath Zoological Garden station. Inside it’s a mix of industrial meets velvet chic. The menu is Mediterranean with subtle Asian touches — my recommendation is the burrata with strawberry sofrito and macadamia biscotti, followed by the sole meunière with lemon and parsley sauce. Come 11pm a DJ fires up the decks, performers parade with fire and diners become dancers (mains from £12; papillon-berlin.com).

So was Berlin worth the journey? Those tired trains are certainly not the most glamorous way to travel, nor the fastest and, as I found, not even always the most reliable. But they are undeniably an adventure — and that part seemed really to have everyone on board.

Kate Leahy was a guest of European Sleeper, which has seats on its Brussels to Berlin service from £51 and B&B sleeping compartments from £95 (europeansleeper.eu); Eurostar, which has returns to Brussels from £78 (eurostar.com); and the Hoxton, which has room-only doubles from £147 (thehoxton.com)

Share your favourite journeys by train in the comments below


Sign up for our Times Travel newsletter and follow us on Instagram and Twitter

(Video) Inaugural Journey: European Sleeper Train Berlin - Amsterdam - Brussels in Deluxe Sleeping Car


Are sleeper trains comfortable? ›

Sleeper trains are making a welcome comeback and it's easy to see why; they're more environmentally-friendly and sustainable than air travel, as well as being a fun and, often, comfortable way of traveling.

How is the sleeper train? ›

Bedding is provided. Sleeper, which has three tiers of bunks and open windows instead of air-con. You'll get plenty of fresh air in Sleeper, and a great view in the morning through the open windows, but it's more crowded, noisy, and bedding isn't provided.

Is there a sleeper service from London to Berlin? ›

A new sleeper train will enable passengers to travel from London to Berlin in 16 hours. The European Sleeper service from Brussels, Belgium to the German capital launches on 25 May 2023, joining other overnight routes made available by the rail company, including Hamburg to Stockholm and Brussels to Prague.

What are sleeper trains like in Europe? ›

The most comfortable travel option on night trains, sleeper cabins are almost like staying in a moving hotel. Available as one, two, three and sometimes four berth carriages, during the day these rooms can act as a sitting room with comfortable seating and a small table.

Which seat is best for sleeping in train? ›

Use the middle berth.

Passengers cannot fold down the berth during the day as the lower and upper berths are used as seats. Passengers can only sleep on the middle berth from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. In case a passenger exceeds the time limit, the lower berth passenger has the right to ask them not to.

What do you wear on an overnight train? ›

We're not talking full-on pajamas, but breathable, stretchy clothing will make your ride more enjoyable. If you choose to have dinner in our awesome dining car, the dress code is still casual. Feel free to wear jeans and a T-shirt or take it old school and wear a dinner jacket.

Do sleeper trains have toilets? ›

Each seated coach provides access to an accessible toilet. For guests staying in an accessible room, there is an accessible toilet adjacent to the room. Standard toilet facilities or en-suite facilities re available for guests staying in other (non-accessible) rooms.

How many people can sleep in an Amtrak sleeper? ›

Each bedroom has the capacity of two adults (with an option for a third), one to two suitcases and are 6'6” x 7'6”. Unlike roomettes, our bedrooms also have an in-room toilet, shower and a sofa that converts to a bed. Travelers looking to stretch out and upgrade from our roomette should explore our bedroom option.

Which class is best in train? ›

3A Travel class is the most preferred category of train-tickets for traveling as they provide a fairly good experience at an affordable price. Due to this, they are usually the heaviest coaches on the train. It has 8 berths in each compartment.

What is the easiest way to get from London to Berlin? ›

The quickest and most popular way to get from London to Berlin is by air; a number of different airlines fly this route using several of the cities' airports. Those who prefer a more leisurely way of life can use the efficient train service or bus.

What is the difference between a sleeper and couchette train? ›

Sleepers include a bed and usually a private washbasin, towels and bed linen and can accommodate up to four passengers in single, double, or 3-person compartments. Couchettes offer simple overnight accommodation that sleeps up to six people on bunks, with a pillow and blanket provided.

Are there sleeper trains in the US? ›

The Amtrak Sleeping Car fleet consists of two types of cars: Superliner and Viewliner. The primary difference: a Superliner features two levels of private accommodations per car and Viewliner features a single level.

How safe are sleeper trains? ›

Night trains in Europe are just as safe as their daily counterparts. If you're in a shared compartment and want to ensure your valuables are safe, keep them within reach and out of sight while you sleep.

Are there showers on sleeper trains? ›

Sleeper train facilities

Both sleeper services have onboard lounge cars for you to relax in before you turn in for the night. Depending on your journey and ticket, you may also have access to guest lounges and shower facilities at stations, and breakfast on the train.

Do European sleeper trains have showers? ›

Standard Sleeper Compartments

At the end of each coach, there is a washing facility, toilet, and shower.

Do you get a blanket on sleeper train? ›

In 4-berth compartments, passengers receive a comfortable bed with a mattress, sheets, pillow and blanket. There's a washbasin, soap and towels for your use as well as an included bottle of mineral water.

Which is the most comfortable berth in train? ›

Lower Berth(LB):

The lower berth is the most accommodating for all types of passengers.

Which is better lower berth or upper berth in train? ›

Lower Berth: This, I think, is the most comfortable berths for every walk of people. So someone who has this tendency of getting down at every station or using the loo every now and then can be benefited with lower berth allotments. You get an extra table where you can keep your laptop or can use it as a dining table.

How do I prepare for an overnight train ride? ›

Best Tips For Your Amtrak Overnight Train Trip
  1. Always pack a roll of tearable duct tape. ...
  2. Bring Rubber Flip-Flops. ...
  3. Get Some $5s and $1s For Tipping in the Dining Car. ...
  4. Designate One Bag for Your Overnight Gear. ...
  5. Train clothes. ...
  6. If You Wear Contact Lenses. ...
  7. Washing/Make-Up Removal Before Bed. ...
  8. Bring (and use!)
Jan 6, 2022

Should I bring a pillow on the train? ›

Bring a Travel Pillow and Blanket

While Amtrak does provide bedding in the Sleeping car rooms, you may wish to have your own pillow and an extra blanket for warmth. You may also ask your Sleeping car attendant for an additional blanket when they come to turn down your bed for a cozier night's sleep.

How do you sit comfortably on a train? ›

Tips to Increase Your Comfort on Planes, Trains and Cars

Sit at the front of the chair with your pelvis rolled a little forward so that you sit on your “sit bones” (the bony protuberances at the bottom of your pelvis). Have both feet clearly in contact with the floor.

How do I know if there is a toilet on my train? ›

If the train has a toilet then there will usually be a sign in your carriage pointing you in the direction of the nearest one. Don't assume there will always be a toilet though. Short distance commuter trains don't always have them, they tend to only be on longer distance trains.

Do train toilets dump on the tracks? ›

The traditional method of disposing human waste from trains is to deposit the waste onto the tracks or, more often, onto nearby ground, using what is known as a hopper toilet. This ranges from a hole in the floor to a full-flush system (possibly with sterilization).

Why can t you use the toilet when the train is in the station? ›

That's because most trains don't have sewage tanks, meaning anything in the toilet is dumped straight onto the tracks. So as you can imagine, if the train is stationary, it can cause huge problems.

How much do you tip an Amtrak attendant? ›

Tipping. General Guidelines: Tipping is NOT required, but is considered correct for the service crew personnel on the train. Recommendations: Snack bar attendant: roughly 10%. Dining car: 15% of menu prices (sleeping car passengers may want to note this when ordering their meals).

What's the difference between a roomette and a bedroom on a train? ›

In a roomette, daytime seating converts to beds at night. Electrical outlets, climate controls, reading lights, a small closet, and a fold-down table are all within easy reach. Bedrooms are larger than roomettes and offer a sink and vanity with enclosed toilet and shower facilities.

Is Amtrak fat friendly? ›

Although Amtrak does not have an explicit customer of size policy, they do have an “accessible travel request” the process to ensure the safety and comfort of any passenger wanting to travel with them.

What does first class on a train get you? ›

First Class carriages offer comfort and space, often with larger tables and reclining seats and sometimes with complimentary food and drink, newspapers and other perks. Check with your train company to see the benefits of their First Class service.

What does 2S mean in train? ›

2S Second Seating Non AC

Second seater: 2S Second Seating, lowest class where the seats are in form of benches may or may not be with cushion. CC means AC chair car, usually preffered for short distances & is commonly found in Shatabdi trains.

What is the difference between first class and second Class in train? ›

What is the difference between First and Second Class? First Class has bigger seats and more leg room than Second Class and there are additional facilities in a number of trains.

Is it easy to get around Berlin without speaking German? ›

As Berlin is becoming a very touristic place, it is not difficult to find people who speak English well, so you don't need to be fluent or to use sign language. But knowing basics words of politeness and conversation is always helpful and will most of the time be rewarded by a friendly attitude and smile.

Is there a high-speed train from London to Berlin? ›

Travelling from London to Berlin by train

In around nine hours, Eurostar and ICE high-speed trains can transport you to the centre of Berlin, so you'll be able to start sightseeing straight away.

Which station do you arrive at if you go from Germany to London by train? ›

Travelling from Berlin to London by train

All trains depart from Berlin Hbf station. All trains arrive into London St Pancras International station.

What is the most luxurious sleeper train in the world? ›

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Paris to Venice

Perhaps the most luxurious, and most famous, of the overnight sleeper trains, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is nothing short of a legend. There are several different routes guests can take on this historic train, but the most iconic is the one from London to Venice.

What is a sleeping room on a train called? ›

A roomette is a type of sleeping car compartment in a railroad passenger train.

Why are sleeper trains so expensive? ›

Operating a sleeper coach is also more expensive as it is needed to provide bed linen and towels, some toiletries and a car attendant to convert the cabins between day and night positions, keep the coach clean and quiet and deliver any food or beverages its occupants order.

Do Amtrak roomettes have toilets? ›

Roomettes are private from the rest of the train and come with seats, bunks, and a basic toilet.

What meals are included on Amtrak roomette? ›

What meals are included with an Amtrak roomette ticket? When you are in a roomette, you have 3 meals included a day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner and all non-alcoholic drinks.

What is the longest sleeper train journey in the US? ›

The California Zephyr train travels one of America's longest—and most scenic—railway routes between Chicago and San Francisco. Over 51 hours, it passes through the plains of Nebraska (shown), the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the deserts of Nevada.

How do you sleep on a sleeper train? ›

I always aim for a bottom berth and facing the direction of travel. The bottom berth gives you control of the table and of course avoids any undignified falling out bed in on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's usually cooler down under and you can watch the sunrise out of the window from your bed.

What is the safest seat on a train? ›

"The safest spot in a train, during an accident, is the center of the train," said Mann, who was the principal author of the Federal Railway Safety Act in 1970. "Because if there is a front-end collision or a rear-end collision, the damages will be greater at those locations.

Which is the safest berth in train? ›

On a train, if you get a seat in the centre then it would be relatively a safe one, opine some experts, citing laws of physics. For example, a seat in the middle or central coaches, preferably 6th, 7th, or 8th are good bets (If it is a 13-15 coach train).

What is the 7pm rule? ›

With the 7 PM rule you were allowed to travel over-night while using only a single travel day. If you boarded any train, that departed after 19:00 and arrived after 04:00, you only had to write down the day of arrival .

Can you use the toilet on a train? ›

Full toilet tanks

All of our trains use a system known as Chemical Emissions Tanking (CET) to store waste from the toilets. This makes it safer for everyone around the train as well as colleagues that work on the track – and means that unlike older trains, our toilets can be used while the train is at the station.

Do you have to share a room on the Caledonian Sleeper? ›

All of our rooms can be reserved for either solo occupancy, or two guests travelling together who want to share a room.

How do they empty toilets on trains? ›

Most trains don't have sewage tanks so anything in the toilet is dumped straight onto the tracks. Human waste is deposited onto the tracks at Paddington station on a daily basis, causing it to pile up and create a disgusting mess.

Where do you shower on a train? ›

Private sleeping room accommodations

Each room includes a big picture window, fresh towels and linens, and access to a private restroom and shower.

Are Amtrak sleeper cars comfortable? ›

Sleeper car amenities include blankets, small pillows, bottled water, linens, and access to a coffee station. Pro Tip: I was comfortable on my short trip, but if you're spending multiple nights on the train, I recommend keeping room in your carry-on for your own pillow and blanket.

What is the most comfortable way to travel by train? ›

So, here are eight tips to make your train ride as comfortable and enjoyable as possible:
  1. Get A Good Seat. ...
  2. Wear Comfortable Clothes. ...
  3. Pack A Blanket And Inflatable Pillows. ...
  4. Bring Food And Drinks. ...
  5. Bring A Book. ...
  6. Get Up And Move Around. ...
  7. Socialize. ...
  8. Be Prepared For Delays.
Sep 30, 2022

Can you shower on a sleeper train? ›

Sleeping accommodations on board Amtrak are considered "Sleeper Service," which means passengers are entitled to a range of hotel-like amenities. These include fresh linens and towels, a hot shower, complimentary bottled water ice, soft drinks, and hot coffee.

How much do you tip a sleeper car attendant? ›

While tipping isn't required, leaving a gratuity is the norm. Usually, for one night in a sleeper, I suggest about $10 per person/per night. If your room attendant brings your meals to you in your room, then think about adding more to the tip as you would have left a tip anyway for the dining car waiter.

Is there a bathroom in the sleeper car on Amtrak? ›

Amtrak Superliner Sleeper Cars have 4 bathrooms and 1 shower per car. There are 3 bathrooms and a shower on the lower level and 1 bathroom on the upper level.

What is the difference between couchette and sleeper car? ›

Sleepers include a bed and usually a private washbasin, towels and bed linen and can accommodate up to four passengers in single, double, or 3-person compartments. Couchettes offer simple overnight accommodation that sleeps up to six people on bunks, with a pillow and blanket provided.

Where is the best place to sit in a train car? ›

When choosing a seat on a train, try to get one in the center-most car, or one of the central cars. This will put you as far as possible from the most common points of issue for collisions or derailment, namely the front and end of the train. Also, when possible, sit in a rear-facing seat.

Do you sit anywhere on a train? ›

It actually depends upon the Amtrak route. Some routes are simple, open seating. However, others, such as long-haul trains, have assigned seating.

What happens to toilet water on trains? ›

The traditional method of disposing human waste from trains is to deposit the waste onto the tracks or, more often, onto nearby ground, using what is known as a hopper toilet. This ranges from a hole in the floor to a full-flush system (possibly with sterilization).

When should you sleep on a train? ›

You can sleep in your berth only from 10 PM to 6 AM. You can't keep your berth up more than this sleeping hours duration.

Can you drink water from train toilet? ›

Yes. Potable water goes in the potable water tanks, and you can drink it.


1. OBB Nightjet from Munich, Germany to Rome, Italy | Sleeper Train Deluxe Cabin | Train Travel
(Aplins in the Alps)
2. 🇩🇪🇸🇪Riding on Sweden's Amazing Sleeper Train from Berlin to Stockholm | Snälltåget
(Kuga's Travel)
3. 🇬🇧Trying the British First Class Sleeper Train from England to Scotland | The Caledonian Sleeper
(Kuga's Travel)
4. How to rravel from London to Germany by train in 1st class - The Eurostar
(Reens Rails)
5. Berlin - London by High-Speed Train in First Class (Eurostar)
(doc7austin’s DreamlinerCentral)
6. 80 hrs from London to Istanbul by Sleeper Train
(Trek Trendy)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dong Thiel

Last Updated: 07/05/2023

Views: 6236

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dong Thiel

Birthday: 2001-07-14

Address: 2865 Kasha Unions, West Corrinne, AK 05708-1071

Phone: +3512198379449

Job: Design Planner

Hobby: Graffiti, Foreign language learning, Gambling, Metalworking, Rowing, Sculling, Sewing

Introduction: My name is Dong Thiel, I am a brainy, happy, tasty, lively, splendid, talented, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.