Everyone knows the easiest way to hop from London to Paris is by Eurostar. Sure, you have security and check-in as with an airport, but there’s no long two hour arrival time, and the station is slap-bang in the middle of the city. Just turn up 30 minutes before your scheduled departure, scan your tickets and two hours later you’re in the centre of the City of Lights.
So you’ve planned to head to King’s Cross to catch a Eurostar over to Gare du Nord. But which class, Standard or Standard Premier, should you opt for?
In most cases, it’s only around £30 per ticket more. Is it worth plumping for Standard Premier and escaping cattle class, pictured above? (Business Premier is rarely priced under £245 per ticket, so unless you’re stuck with last-minute standard fares, it’s not something most weekend travellers would consider.)
What can you expect travelling Standard Premier on the Eurostar to Paris?
Basically, expect first class seating without all the bells and whistles a £245 ticket brings. This is solely for the old-style trains, I’ll be posting my experience of the new, Italian designed trains soon.
We arrived at London’s King’s Cross St Pancras early early to catch our 8am train. For me, this meant a 5am wake up and travelling across Essex and London on a Monday, so the thought of bigger seats, some reclining action and a slap up breakfast was enough to get me through.
Waltzing up to the check-in gates with 30 minutes to spare, we managed to blag our way into the Business Premier lounge – only available to those with the golden ticket (and loyalty points or Amex). Usually, Standard Premier ticket holders aren’t invited into the lounge, however as we were part of a press trip, our guide had arranged access for us.
The Business Premier lounge at St Pancras
This, dear travellers, is where luxury travel is made. After clearing security were warmly greeted by the lounge receptionist, and swanned past racks of international magazines and newspapers. Plush and swanky leather chairs lined the walkway, and after commandeering a table, we happened to be sat next to a very well-to-do international magazine editor.
With a full bar featuring gin, brandy, vodka and everything needed for an early morning Bloody Mary, I helped myself to coffee and pastries while mulling over the latest copy of Vogue. There wasn’t a huge selection of food at all, and no hot options so foodies will need to consider this when redeeming their points.
What I loved most about the lounge was the peace and calm. Having travelled to Brussels a month before in standard class, there were no seats in the departure lounge, and the only food and drink offerings were overpriced watery coffee and expensive soft drinks.
On board in a Standard Premier carriage
Our train was soon boarding, but our tickets allowed us extra time in the lounge to hop on and get settled. Standard Premier seats are huge, and either four to a table, or single seaters. Meaning no annoying neighbours, lots more legroom and UK/EU sockets to charge your devices.
Due to the Parisian terror attacks, the carriage was empty thanks to fearful travellers and cancellations, so we found a table and settled in for a few hours.
Just before leaving, Eurostar crew walked up and down handing out croissants, jams, breads, yoghurt and coffee for breakfast. This is included in the ticket price, something Standard travellers aren’t entitled to – though there is a bar on board to purchase drinks and food. And you can pick up food and drink beforehand of course.
After wolfing down our second helping of pastries, the crew walked the aisles again checking we were all full and offering extra breakfast goodies if we wanted them.
The crew disappeared and were nowhere to be seen after the first half hour of the journey, so I found a two-seater row, kicked off my shoes, stuck my phone on charge and took advantage of the 3G/4G on offer to stream a film. Being a Three mobile customer means I get to use my data plan for no extra charge in France, so the lack of wi-fi wasn’t a massive deal to me.
The early morning, though, had taken its toll, and having so much space to myself I dozed off to a comfortable sleep before being woken up in Paris.
The only real difference between a Standard and Standard Premier ticket is the small meal, extra spacious seats (which are exactly the same as in Business Premier), and a few magazines dotted about the carriage. Is it worth shelling out £30 each way to upgrade? Possibly. But not for such a relatively small journey across the channel, and not with the limited extras on offer.
What really made it stand out was the lounge access, but that’s not even worth considering unless you have frequent traveller points of an Amex Premier account as most travellers will still be sat int he crowded departure lounge, with expensive coffee and over-priced soft drinks.
It’s a shame, really, that you don’t get that little bit more for your money. Sure, the seats are comfy, but a hot breakfast (hey, if Virgin First Class can get their bacon baps out for their travellers, I’m pretty sure Eurostar can too) would go a long way, as well as self-serve pastries, coffee on tap and a little glass of fizz on departure.
I can tolerate two hours to France in standard class, and honestly, if you can you should too. Save the £60 and splash out on a lovely Parisian meal, instead of a snack.