Eurostar and St Pancras International
For the nostalgic, train travel may evoke images of romance and long journeys but the modern traveller is more attuned to efficiency and comfort.
Eurostar is a high speed train that connects London to Paris in just 2 hours and 15 minutes. Since its first service in November 1994, it has been connecting travellers between London and Paris in under three hours, city centre to city centre. Previously departing from London’s Waterloo Station, the operation was moved to St Pancras International in 2007, and later the train journey was shortened to 2 hours and 15 minutes after an upgrade to the British rail lines.
Eurostar at London’s St Pancras International
Previously featured, St Pancras International, – a station for foodies with The Gilbert Scott restaurant in St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Searcy’s Champagne Bar – is well worth visiting ahead of departure time. But if you’re a Business Premier traveller, the lounge beckons for a period of rest before the journey begins.
Eurostar Business Premier Lounge at St Pancras International
For Business Premier travellers, check-in is a swift process through a dedicated Business Premier area and after security check and passport control, the Business Premier Lounge is located to the right.
Eurostar Business Premier Lounge
The lounge is a narrow space resembling a train carriage in its layout, split over two floors. There are various seating options including a more comfortable lounge with leather sofas. Workstations are available as well as complimentary WiFi, AC sockets in both EU and UK, a magazine rack and a recharge station with lockable doors on the lower floor.
Eurostar Business Premier Lounge
The food offering is limited to self-service drinks and some snacks, with a selection of nuts and croissants available at the time. The upper level tends to be a little quieter as most travellers are on a short stay before departure.
On Board Eurostar Business Premier
Getting to the Eurostar platform is quick via a travelator that leads directly to the trains. Boarding the Eurostar, you need to carry your own luggage up a few steps unless you have asked for a porter which comes as part of the service. Luggage racks are located near each end of a carriage and may not be that close to your seat.
Eurostar Business Premier Class
Business Premier has a 2-1 configuration, unlike Standard Class 2-2 which I experienced on prior jaunts across the Channel. Some seats face each other in pairs.
Table for Four
Groups of four face each other in pairs and benefit from conference-style seating if you’re working or merely with a small group. The table can fold down to allow for more space when working or eating and it folds up to allow more comfort and easier access to one’s seat. A power point is located underneath the table with UK and EU sockets for charging electronic equipment. There is no wifi on the train.
Wide Comfortable Seating with Head Rests
The seats are wide and comfortable with head rests and ample leg room. The interior colour scheme in beige and brown looks a little dated and will soon be replaced by a new fleet of trains by 2015. There are racks above the seats for holding small bags and coats.
The train departs St Pancras International station at 12.30pm sharp with a brief stop at Ebbsfleet Internationals station at 12.41 pm to pick up passengers. Announcements are made in English then in French, assuming it is the reverse from Paris to London.
Drinks at Your Seat
Not long after, service begins with the aperitif tray coming into view. There is a choice of wines, nuts or Japanese crackers,
but when heading to France, champagne is the beverage of choice with a glass of chilled Champagne Pannier.
The carriage is relaxed and quiet, and the journey through England’s countryside at the time is that of a wintry landscape with rolling hills. During drink service, the train enters the tunnel for approximately 20 minutes, emerging in France with verdant fields dotted with small villages.
Eurostar Business Premier Menu by Raymond Blanc OBE
Olive Bread with Entree (left) and Dessert (right)
The food menu by renowned Michelin-starred chef, Raymond Blanc OBE is distributed, listing the choices in English, French and German. In October 2012, Eurostar appointed his as its culinary Director. His focus is on seasonal and sustainable dishes that are rustic, traditional yet contemporary at times including some Blanc family recipes. As a result, Eurostar was granted the One-Star Sustainability Champion status.
The meal consists of a starter, a main course which is served separately, and dessert. A selection of breads from Sally Clarke’s Bakery is offered. There is a choice of British Chicken (hot option) and Smoked Fish (cold option). The entrée is a curious mix of flavours and textures, with Poached Pear with red wine braised chicory and crumbled Cheshire cheese.
Business Premier Main Course
The Roast British Chicken is tender and flavoursome, served with new potatoes flavoured with thyme and marjoram with zucchini ribbons. The Apple and Pistachio Tatin is tasty though it had lost a little of its crumble. Coffee and tea are subsequently served along with a top up of champagne.
Eurostar at Paris, Gare du Nord
The high-speed train journey from London to Paris was smooth with no delays. The train arrived in Gare du Nord at 2.45 pm, Paris time and it was a short taxi ride to the hotel.
Whether it is Business Premier Class or Standard Class as experienced on the previous two trips, for travel between London and Paris, Eurostar is by far the transport of choice. There are no lengthy check-ins at airport, no need to check-in bags, no chance of luggage going missing on a flight, no obligatory period of switching off electronic devices and best of all, you depart and arrive in the centre of each city.
Eurostar Useful Information
Eurostar runs daily from London’s St Pancras International Station to Paris Gare du Nord in just 2 hours and 15 minutes. The train service offers three classes of travel starting at Standard Class (from 49 euro) with cost effective fares and a 30 minute check in. Snacks are available at the bar buffet, supplied by Waitrose, a leading retailer in the UK.
In Standard Premier class (from 133 euro), passengers can enjoy more spacious surrounds a choice of light meal or snacks served at the seat. Business Premier (from 345 euro) offers lounge access with free wifi, snacks and drinks and a minimum of 10 minute check in. A three course meal is served at the seat from a menu created by Michelin-starred chef, Raymond Blanc, OBE.
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