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Over Christmas, I was in London visiting my family. Given its proximity to Paris, I decided at the last minute to join a close friend for New Years in the City of Light. To get there, I took an easyJet flight from Luton and on the way back I took the Eurostar in Business Premier class from Paris Gare du Nord to London St Pancras.
The Eurostar took less time and was far more comfortable–undeniably the more pleasant experience–but it wasn’t worth the eye watering price.
Eurostar has three classes of service:
- Standard Class is the most basic and economical option. Passengers in Standard Class have access to seats in a 2-2 configuration and a selection of food and drinks for purchase. There’s also free Wi-Fi on board.
- Standard Premier Class is a step up from Standard Class and offers more spacious and comfortable seating in a 2-1 configuration. Passengers in this class are served a light meal and drinks at their seat, included in the ticket price. I’ve written a review of Standard Class here.
- Business Premier Class is the most expensive class on Eurostar. It offers identical seating to Standard Premier Class, but serves a more substantial three-course meal and complimentary drinks. Additional benefits include access to exclusive lounges at the stations, fast-track check-in, and flexible ticket conditions (like easy exchanges and refunds).
I booked my one-way Business Premier ticket on the Trainline app for a whopping $434. Between London and Paris, the price will always be around this much, regardless of how far out you book.
For reference, that’s about $50 more than a nonstop ticket from London to Singapore on Singapore Airlines on the same day and at the same time. For that price, Singapore Airlines will give you a more comfortable seat, more food, and more wine.
What you’re really paying for with Business Premier is the ability to change the ticket anytime up until (and even after) your journey. All the other perks are, in my opinion, not even close to worth the money.
Paris Gare du Nord
I arrived at Gare du Nord at 3:30 PM, about 90 minutes ahead of my 5:12 PM departure. One benefit of Business Premier is access to the Business Premier Lounge. If you don’t have a Business Premier ticket, you can enter the lounge with a European personal Platinum Card from American Express–an American card will not work.
The lounge was a much more pleasant place to wait than the main station, though the food and drink options were paltry. I’ll publish a full review in a few days.
When it came time to board, there was a mad rush to the doors. There seemed to be no ryhme or reason to the process, and no separate line for Business Premier passengers.
Eurostar Business Premier seating
Business Premier, like Standard Premier, feature identical seats in a 2-1 configuration. If you’re traveling alone, the single seat rows are obviously the best choice since you’ll get a window and direct aisle access. These single-seat rows are either individual seats facing forward or two seats facing each other sharing a table.
Likewise, in the double seat rows you’ll find forward-facing seats or four seats set across from each other sharing a large table. The seats themselves aren’t particularly wide, but they do provide ample legroom–more than you’d find in economy class.
Each seat in Business Premier comes with two power sockets, one European and one UK. You’ll also get a Standard Class, but there’s only one for every two seats. At around shoulder level, you’ll find reading lamps next to every seat.
Seats come with either a large seat back table or, if you’re seated in the set of two or four seats, a central, shared table.
There was ample overhead luggage storage along both sides of the carriage, as well as an area to store bigger bags at the ends of each car.
Eurostar Business Premier food & drink
One of the differentiating features of Business Premier is a meal. You’ll also get a meal in Standard Premier but the one you’ll get in Business is, theoretically, hot and slightly larger. The menu offered on my journey a choice of two mains and two desserts. I ordered the salmon and the Mont-Blanc with blackcurrant coulis.
Dinner service began within 10 minutes of departure. I ordered a glass of sparkling white wine and, soon after, was served my meal on a single tray.
The beetroot and apple salad and the dessert were good, but the salmon dish was downright terrible. My biggest issue was the fact that the salmon tasted so fishy I couldn’t finish it. The whole dish was also bland and soggy, like it had been frozen and thawed three times over. Overall, one of the grossest things I’ve eaten in a while and worse than any economy class meal I can remember.
I also have to point out here that I noticed literally no difference between the size or quality of this meal and the one I had in Standard Premier a few months ago. Admittedly, I didn’t go for the hot option because I mostly don’t eat meat, but I don’t think you should have to eat meat to enjoy a differentiated meal, especially on such an astronomically priced ticket.
Eurostar free Wi-Fi
The onboard Wi-Fi was free but spotty. There were times when I was getting 10 Mbps, but in the Channel Tunnel and parts of France, it was unusably slow or completely non-functional. Overall, I had Wi-Fi for about 60% of the journey.
Eurostar Business Premier lavatories
There were three lavatories between the two Business Premier carriages. They were spacious and looked clean but, as far as I could tell, there was no difference between lavatories in different classes.
Eurostar Business Premier class service
The service was great throughout the ride. Attendants welcomed each passenger onboard and were warm and attentive. Food and drinks were served and cleared quickly, and staff walked through the cabin periodically to refill drinks and ask whether I needed anything. Overall, service was miles better than what I got in Standard Premier.
Arrival in London
At 6:30 PM, 45 minutes after emerging from the Chunnel, we pulled into St Pancras International. I’ve generally found that the Eurostar part of the station is eerily quiet even when the Kings Cross is absolutely mobbed. This time was no exception.
Since entry immigration was done in Paris, all we had to do once getting on the train was leave the station. Sure beats the hell out of Heathrow.
In the end, while the Eurostar Business Premier experience was comfortable and the service attentive, the high ticket price just wasn’t justified. With a lackluster lounge, an inedible meal that was no different from Standard Premier, and spotty Wi-Fi, the inflated cost offered little extra value beyond flexibility to change plans. For a comparable price, you could fly halfway around the world and enjoy superior food and connectivity.
Taking the train between London and Paris definitely beats flying in terms of speed and hassle, but opting for Business Premier makes little sense for all but a very few travelers. You’d be better served staying in Standard Premier or even Standard Class and spending the savings on a nice hotel and meals at your destination. The Eurostar is undoubtedly the best way to cross the Channel, but leave Business Premier to expense account road warriors and those with an abundance of extra cash.