I wanted to reshare our trip on the GWR Night Riviera sleeper train from London Paddington to Penzance back in the summer of 2022. We did a two-night trip for Luke’s birthday, one night there, a day at Lands End (touristy as **** but he loves geography stuff) and then one night back.
You’re allowed to use the first class lounge at Paddington for a few hours until boarding at 2230 (coffee and fruit cake until you explode), and then once on board you get welcome soft / hot drinks, biscuits and crisps in the bar. I had a cup of tea made from actual British tea leaves grown in Cornwall (Tregothnan). Never even realised you could get tea like that. I can see all the ‘I only buy British’ types foaming at the mouth already, so I won’t tell them it’s blended with other leaves from Assam.
Back in the cabin, you get one or two beds made up with the top bunk slightly wider than the bottom one, and we ended up swapping as it was his birthday. The cabin also has a small desk that lifts to reveal a wash basin (shared toilets in each carriage), a small wardrobe, air con, a baffling number of lighting combinations, a window with a blind, plugs and USB sockets, and a key card to enter like a hotel. The bedding was ridiculously soft and comfortable as well.
If there are more than two of your travelling, you can have two cabins with an interconnecting door left open.
Before departure at 2345, someone visits your cabin to ask what time you want to be woken up with a breakfast tray (bacon roll / croissant / drinks / more biscuits), and you can also book a shower for when you get off at the other end. If you want maximum sleep, they can give you breakfast in take-away bags instead.
The staff are great, and our check-in lady even explained when there might be some noise as we were in the rear carriage where a big chunky locomotive had to uncouple at Reading in case it woke Luke up (he was too excited to sleep anyway).
Once you get used to the rocking and turning etc it’s possible to get a decent night’s sleep, and if you’re travelling all the way to Penzance you leave the train at around 8am (all timings differ slightly at weekends) and pop to the sleeper lounge for a shower, more drinks, more fruit cake. There’s a bus station right outside, and if you don’t want to go to Lands End PLC there are open top buses that go all over Cornwall. £5 for an all-day ticket and the views are utterly ridiculous.
The sleeper back leaves a bit earlier, so you’re allowed to board at 2115 for a 2145 departure, with all the same frills as the outbound, and you get to Paddington just after 0500 but you can stay onboard until 0645. We then spent an hour in the lounge showering and seeing how many slices of fruit cake I could shove into a sports bag.
All in all it was really good fun and I would recommend it if you want to try a slightly different kind of trip, kids or otherwise. If you like your fruit cake nice and moist, it’s a no-brainer.
As a rough guide, you buy a normal train ticket first and use whatever railcards you have, and then the ‘cabin supplement’ is £80 to £90 per cabin per ride.
FIND OUT MORE on the GWR Night Riviera page. We also made a quick video …
Oh I forgot we did a video too! pic.twitter.com/A7SsQAHm7H
— Simon Harris – Man Behaving Dadly (THAT’S DADLY) (@simonharris_mbd) December 28, 2022