Benefits of Train Travel
Travel by rail has long been a favorite mode of transportation for backpackers and families alike. It’s a truly effective way to journey throughout Europe. Many choose train travel over air travel for the sake of ease. Rail stations are often conveniently located in city centres, as opposed to airports that are often located outside of the city.
When you travel by plane, you have to remember to check-in for your flight, then you must wait in long security lines at the airport and waste precious time sitting at the gate. With train travel, you often have a pre-printed e-ticket as soon as you make your reservation and can often show up for your train shortly before departure. With a pre-printed boarding pass (or even an app on your smartphone), check-in times are minimal and you’re on board and in your seat in no time! Many times, you can conveniently buy your tickets upon arrival at the station at a kiosk and hop right on the next train (depending upon availability, of course)!
The other hassle of air travel, especially on many of the European budget airliners, is the extremely strict luggage policies. Trains often have increased luggage allowance, but this will vary from company to company and from train to train, so it’s important to check luggage policies before travel.
We were fortunate enough to partner with Eurostar for a luxurious trip from Brussels to London. We were provided with 2 Standard Premier tickets, so that we could share this review of our experiences with you!
Our Experience Riding with Eurostar
We arrived at the train station (Gare du Midi) in Brussels about 45 minutes ahead of our departure time, as it is requested that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior.
The reason for this is because you are crossing borders and must get your passport inspected.
The lines may appear long, but they move very quickly (hence, the blurry photographs I captured while moving in line, also trying to manage my luggage!). Speaking of luggage, you have to go through security, but I didn’t have to take off my shoes, take-out my laptop, showcase my liquids, etc, so the line went extremely quick!
There is a waiting area where you can take a seat and rest or grab a snack prior to boarding.
An announcement is made to let you know when it is time to proceed to the platform.
Each car is labeled with a number, so it was extremely easy to locate where to board. Helpful Eurostar staff greet you upon boarding and indicate where your seat is located.
There is an area for travelers to store large luggage, while smaller bags can be stored above your seat, so you don’t have to compromise any leg room, like on an airplane.
We originally booked two side-by-side forward facing seats, but upon boarding were offered two seats facing each other with a table in between. This seating arrangement better allowed me to get some work done while on the 2-hour ride to London. (There would’ve been a pull down tray at our original seats.)
It was a smooth, quick ride. We were under the English Channel for about half of the journey, so there wasn’t much to look at. I didn’t mind, since I was working. I actually appreciated the lack of glare from sunlight on my computer screen!
We were provided with a light meal in Standard Premier, which was much appreciated on this morning ride.
Sam made friends with the gentleman sitting across from us and had an interesting conversation for most of the duration of the trip.
Before we knew it, we had arrived in London and were headed to the Underground to explore the city!
Eurostar operates up to 9 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels with return fares from £69. Tickets to any Belgium station start from £79. Fastest London-Brussels journey time is 2 hours. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.
Standard Premier offers the freedom to work, think, or simply unwind. You will be presented with calm, spacious surroundings with on-board staff offering a light meal and a selection of magazines. Standard Premier flexible fares start from £189 return.
Business Premier customers can enjoy fully flexible fares, 10 minute express check-in and business lounge access, along with the perfect working environment in dedicated, comfortable surroundings onboard and new onboard menus designed with Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc. Business Premier fares start from £490 return
Eurostar travellers to Paris, Brussels and Lille can also take advantage of 2-for-1 entry into paying exhibitions and permanent collections at some of the city’s most popular museums and galleries, all by simply showing their Eurostar tickets at entry.
Brussels Galleries include: Bozar, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (including the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art) and the Magritte Museum.