I was recently lucky enough to win two nights’ free accommodation in a hostel in Edinburgh – a city I’ve wanted to visit for years! However, with trips to Japan and Sweden planned this year, I really didn’t have the money to spend on a flight, and the train was even more expensive at hundreds of pounds – which left me facing a lengthy coach journey either way. I googled around and struggled to find many reviews so that I’d know what to expect, so for anyone planning the same thing, here’s my experience!
I decided to get the sleeper coach on the journey up as it was only a few pounds more than the day time one, and meant I wouldn’t waste a day travelling – it was such a good decision! The bed was narrow and in the lower bunk that I was in, there was no headroom (there’s a bit more space in the top bunks), but it was comfortable – and with the journey starting at 10pm and arriving at 6am, it wasn’t really a hassle just lying down to go straight to sleep, which is what most people did. I’m only 5’2″ so I had enough space, but I think if you were around the six foot mark it would be a bit ‘cosy’ – so it would depend how you’d feel being curled up for the journey!
As you get on the coach, you get a muffin and a bottle of water, plus an eye mask and ear plugs in case you need them. Each bed has a travel pillow and a blanket, plus a plug socket and a little overhead light. There’s no curtain at the side of the bunk, but it’s pretty dark when they switch the lights off.
There’s hardly any room in the beds, so think about what you want to take on! I put most of my stuff in the hold, and just kept a few things in a backpack that I could squash down the side of the bed. Don’t try to take a big bag on – there’s definitely not room in the bed for both you and a bag!
In the morning, they turn the lights on to wake you, and come round with fruit juice and croissants which is a nice touch! Our coach arrived late in Edinburgh because of road closures through the night, but I was actually quite grateful for that – it was nice arriving at 8am before the city got busy, but I’m not sure what I’d have done with myself if I’d arrived at 6am as planned – probably spent a few hours in McDonalds, which maybe wouldn’t have been the best introduction to the city!
Overall it was a really good experience, and definitely better than spending a day on a coach. Speaking of which..
For my return journey, I got a bargain on a National Express coach – it saved me over a hundred pounds on the next cheapest option, so I just accepted I’d be on a coach for 10 hours for the trip home! As it happened, it wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting – the seats were bigger than those on coaches I’ve taken for shorter trips, and each seat had a plug socket so using my phone the whole way wasn’t a problem.
The coach started out half empty, but quickly filled up as we stopped along the way, so there wasn’t much room to relax. It was also pretty noisy with everyone on there, but that’s to be expected – luckily I’d come prepared with films and podcasts to pass the time in my own little world!
You only get one stop on the trip, so it’s worth taking food and water with you – my journey was 10am to 8pm and we didn’t stop until around 3, by which time I was starving! For some reason I’d been expecting a couple of stops. You stop for a good twenty minutes though, which is nice to stretch your legs.
I’d compare the experience to being on a flight – none of the food or entertainment, but slightly more leg room! For the price, you certainly couldn’t complain though.
If I go back to Edinburgh (and I’m sure I will – it’s amazing!) I think I’d go for overnight coaches both ways – I loved not losing a day (and not having to pay for a night’s accommodation!), and it’s brilliant arriving in a city with the whole day ahead of you, especially if you’re not going for long. I think next time I’ll be booking the top bunks though – you don’t realise how often you want to sit up until you can’t!