I travelled top quality from Paris to London on Eurostar however then switched to no-frills Megabus for the ultimate leg of a return journey to Newcastle on Tyne. What’s it like going from unadulterated luxurious to cheap-as-chips?
Truly, not that dangerous. If I might afford it, naturally, I’d plump for the posh possibility every time, nevertheless it’s not each day that I get invited on an all-expenses-paid VIP journey from London to Paris. (I used to be gifted money-can’t-buy side-of-the-stage entry to the Rock en Seine music pageant courtesy of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programme – see truth field under.)
Because it was my paltry financial institution steadiness taking the hit for the hop residence, it was a no brainer to guide Megabus.
Carlton Reid journeyed on a Eurostar from Paris to London – and had a seat within the practice’s swanky Enterprise Premier part
The ticket worth for Carlton’s journey in Enterprise Premier (above) was £276
Quick-track: Carlton was in a position to whizz previous the queue at Gare du Nord
Free fruit smoothies within the Eurostar Enterprise Premier lounge at Gare du Nord
The 212-mile practice journey from Paris to London in a Eurostar Enterprise Premier seat with quick entry previous the station ticket queue price my benefactor a whopping £276, whereas the 286-mile coach journey to Newcastle was a comparative snip at simply £17.
Whereas Eurostar deposited me in London greater than an hour and a half late, the Megabus into Newcastle was simply 5 minutes not on time. Given the vagaries of highway journey, that was a minor miracle.
Nonetheless, in comparison with the London-Newcastle LNER journey on the East Coast mainline, which may take as little as 2 hours 36 minutes, the Megabus journey dragged on and on.
The view of the tracks at Gare du Nord from the Enterprise Premier lounge
Booze for breakfast? There for the asking from a Eurostar Enterprise Premier seat (left). The meals within the prime Eurostar carriages is overseen by superchef Raymond Blanc
I slept for as a lot of the journey as attainable, however even for any individual with diddy legs, the seats had been cramped and solely actually cozy for the primary ten minutes. Snoozing, I squirmed periodically, making an attempt and failing over the seven hours of the journey to discover a remotely comfy place. Numb bum syndrome is par for the course, I suppose.
Most individuals bought off the coach in Leeds, together with the huge particular person sitting subsequent to me, and that gave me an additional wedge of wriggle room, however you don’t journey on Megabus for the consolation.
The Megabus journey to Newcastle price simply 16 pence per mile, whereas the lavishly catered and bottom-friendly journey from Paris to London was 5 occasions dearer at 79 pence per mile.
Carlton’s 286-mile coach journey to Newcastle price simply £17 (inventory picture)
‘The Megabus journey to Newcastle price simply 16 pence per mile, whereas the lavishly catered and bottom-friendly journey from Paris to London was 5 occasions dearer at 79 pence per mile,’ reveals Carlton (inventory picture)
The Megabus nudged 70mph on the motorway; the Eurostar cruised at greater than double that and travelled at 186mph for lengthy stretches. All through many of the journey the Megabus bucked like a jet hitting turbulence, whereas there was no spilling of the free drinks on the greater than twice-as-fast Eurostar.
Needing a pee, I might solely marvel on the teeny-tininess of the half-a-cupboard that housed the on-board toilet on the Megabus. I’m compact and bijou and even I solely simply managed to squeeze via the hole. How I used to be in a position to shut the door behind me remains to be a marvel.
However, you possibly can throw a socially distanced get together within the big lavatory on the Eurostar – a commodious get together that wouldn’t really feel like a cube with loss of life. The Megabus micro-space lavatory proved to be terrifying to make use of at motorway speeds so as soon as out, I used to be grateful to be again in my seat and within the seatbelt’s tight embrace.
On the Eurostar earlier that day, I had dined on Raymond Blanc’s thought of a 140mph breakfast. In some distant branding train, the Michelin-starred chef determined that I must be served with pistachio granola and a yogurt atop a candy plum compote. Plus, an compulsory croissant. Roast apricots, orange segments and watermelon chunks adopted. (The new breakfast alternative was an Emmental and Comté flan, accompanied by rosemary-infused bacon, spinach, and mushrooms. Do you have to need it, all meals include wine, even at breakfast.)
Carlton says that one of many highlights of the Megabus journey had been the tongue-in-cheek names given to the wheelchair-accessible coaches
On the Megabus, I self-catered, forking out on a £1 flapjack. The apple I additionally ate had been stashed from that morning’s go to to the Eurostar lounge, open solely to passengers holding Enterprise Premier tickets.
The second-floor lounge, transformed from grandiose railway workplaces in 2017, is zoned into stylish compartments, some overlooking the ready trains. I grabbed a choice of free newspapers and upscale magazines on the entrance and checked in with the lounge gatekeeper. She informed me my practice had been delayed however, ought to I so want, she would change me to the sooner service. I did so want, I answered.
It was solely later that I realized that standard-class passengers needed to queue and grizzle to be in with the possibility of an analogous change whereas my ticket was efficiently amended quietly and effectively. I assume that this private service — super-useful when journey glitches come up — is the type of cosseted profit that first-class passengers take as a right.
One other key profit is area, not simply to your legs and hips however to your baggage.
On the Eurostar, there was ample room to maintain my giant bag with me so I might entry its contents all through the journey, which is important for a digital nomad requiring a laptop computer, charging cables, and the like.
Carlton loved ‘a grandstand view over London’s visitors jams’ on the Megabus
Carlton ‘might solely marvel on the teeny-tininess of the half-a-cupboard that housed the on-board toilet on the Megabus’ (left). Pictured proper are the charging factors on the Megabus
On the Megabus, I needed to retailer my bag within the locked-away baggage compartment beneath the bus. I had forgotten to unpack a few cables, so I couldn’t plug into the on-board USB sockets to cost my iPhone. Sure, I might have stretched my legs and requested to entry the bags bay at one of many a number of stops en route, however I didn’t as a result of the drivers (there have been two modifications alongside the way in which) had been clearly on a decent schedule.
One of many highlights of the Megabus journey had been the tongue-in-cheek names given to the wheelchair-accessible coaches: My bus was referred to as Queen Elizabus II. I noticed a Jenson Busson. Different names for these Volvo workhorses, urged in a social media competitors, embody Basil Bus, Bus Lightyear, and but-where’s-the-joke Mega-tron.
One other spotlight was the peak. Seating is on the prime of the coach, giving a grandstand view over London’s visitors jams. I had my beady eye on one sports activities automobile driver who was blithely texting as he drove beside us. (He had German numberplates, so I suppose reporting his illegality could be pointless.) However, oh, these visitors jams. It was painfully sluggish at first of the journey, taking greater than an hour to succeed in the outskirts of London. Nice for sightseeing, however not so nice in case you’re used to already being a 3rd of the way in which to Newcastle when travelling on LNER.
The Megabus (inventory picture) nudged 70mph on the motorway; the Eurostar cruised at greater than double that and travelled at 186mph for lengthy stretches
Carlton says that he was impressed by Victoria Coach Station in London
The crimson Transport Belief plaque explaining that the Artwork Deco Victoria Coach Station dated from 1932 and was the ‘largest in Britain’
The Megabus arrived into Newcastle simply 5 minutes not on time (inventory picture)
I used to be impressed by Victoria Station. It was cleaner than I remembered it (I’ve completed my fair proportion of red-eye Nationwide Categorical journeys down the years), and whereas the bathrooms had been whiffy, no less than there was a crimson Transport Belief plaque explaining that the Artwork Deco constructing dated from 1932 and was the ‘largest in Britain’. Then and in addition now? The plaque didn’t clarify, though it said that the station was ‘purpose-built’. Perhaps that explains the station’s glorious air flow as a result of, regardless of being stuffed with idling coaches, there was no feeling that standing earlier than them meant inhaling a cocktail of chemical compounds.
Cocktails of an altogether completely different type had been obtainable within the Enterprise Premier lounge on the Gare du Nord in Paris. A spherical bar serves signature concoctions created for the lounge. One of many boozy choices is predicated on Toujours 21, a gin developed by the ever present French chef for Eurostar. In fact, Raymond Blanc, who owns Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a restaurant in Oxfordshire with two Michelin stars, isn’t readily available to cook dinner the finger meals within the lounge, however there’s a ‘mixologist’ to repair the cocktails.
I might get used to travelling like this.
The video of the journey is accessible on Carlton’s YouTube channel. Comply with Carlton on Twitter here.
The view of the Eiffel Tower from the higher suite in Le Metropolitan lodge in Paris
Marriott Bonvoy’s money-can’t-buy Moments
Because of these pleasant people on the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programme, I gained a close-up view of Doncaster’s pop punk star Yungblud as he wowed the Rock en Seine annual music pageant in Paris. You couldn’t pay for this side-of-the-stage entry. VIP tickets bought you near the mosh pit, however solely invited Marriott Bonvoy company had been guided to the again of the stage by one of many pageant organisers. What a thrill! We had been additionally led via the band-only chill-out zone, choosing out the hammocks for every band, together with that night time’s headliners, the Arctic Monkeys.
Marriott Bonvoy sponsors many different music festivals worldwide in addition to main sporting occasions and in addition organises particular one-off occasions permitting members to make use of their factors to purchase tickets or, for the extra choose presents, bid on money-can’t-buy experiences referred to as ‘Moments’.
For example, a current Second – solely obtainable in any other case in case you had been a profligate billionaire – concerned staying in a Marriott Motels visitor room created for one night time solely inside Manchester United’s Previous Trafford floor – the pop-up suite ignored the pitch on a match day. There’s additionally a semi-permanent Marriott Bonvoy sofa sited above the dugouts and obtainable solely to Moments company.
Different experiences have included rides in Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS from the Petersen Automotive Museum’s non-public assortment in Los Angeles.
Lots of the experiences ship with a lodge keep. Profitable bidders for an F1 Second in Kyoto, Japan, on Friday will keep on the luxurious Ritz-Carlton earlier than gaining follow day entry to the VIP lounge utilized by the Marriotts-sponsored Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 crew.
Marriott’s loyalty scheme is the world’s most intensive lodge programme, with 6,700 collaborating properties in additional than 100 nations worldwide.
As a part of the Rock en Seine Moments package deal, I stayed at Le Metropolitan, a Tribute Portfolio lodge with an uninterrupted view of the Eiffel Tower.