Tried & Tested

Rail review: Eurostar Business Premier London-Amsterdam

1 Dec 2021 by Tom Otley
Eurostar Business Premier

BACKGROUND

Eurostar has double daily departures to Amsterdam at 1104 and 1804. The total journey time is 3 hours 52 minutes. Stops include Lille, Brussels, where the attendants change, and Rotterdam.

I travelled back to London in Standard Premier (see the review here).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I arrived at the Eurostar check-in area at London St Pancras at 0900 for the 1104 departure. The normal check-in times have been extended as a result of Covid-19, in particular because of the documentation needed to undertake journeys.

Eurostar offers three classes on its trains, with Standard passengers advised to check in 120 minutes before departure, Standard Premier 90 minutes to 120 minutes and Business Premier 45-60 minutes. I arrived earlier because at the time of my journey (October 2021) visitors to the Netherlands from the UK needed to take an antigen test less than 24 hours before departure. I booked a test at the Collinson Test Centre on the first floor of St Pancras International for 0830 that morning. Once I got the result, at around 0900, I went to check-in where there was no queue for Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 train

THE LOUNGE

The Business Premier lounge at St Pancras is a long thin room, set over two levels. It is quieter upstairs, and there are plenty of places to sit, have a croissant and a cup of coffee (or lager, cider or wine). There are complimentary newspapers, magazines and wifi. Trains are called from the lounge.

BOARDING

When the train was first called I went out and saw a long queue. A lounge attendant said it would be better to wait a few minutes. I took his advice and when I went out, the queue had almost gone. There is a choice of lifts or a long escalator up to the platforms from the lower ground level.

THE SEAT

Business Premier seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration, with four seats at a table, seats in pairs and then single seats. My forward-facing single seat had ample leg room, a plug for powering my laptop (EU adaptor necessary) and a USB charging point. A lever reclines the seat and there is plenty of overhead storage. I was in carriage 16, the first carriage. Toilets were at the rear of the carriage – two of them, though unfortunately one of these was out of order.

Eurostar Business Premier

FOOD AND DRINK

On boarding we were offered drinks, including Piper Heidsieck Champagne. The food was served within 30 minutes, before I had a chance to view the menu. It is accessed by scanning a QR code printed on the antibacterial towel or on the website at eurostar.com/uk-en/businesspremiermenu where you select your class, week of travel and route, and you’ll get menu options. For my journey there was one starter – a Freekeh and bulgur salad, a choice of three mains: chicken curry, a salmon dish and a vegetarian option of spiced broccoli salad. The dessert was a blackcurrant mousse.

THE JOURNEY

We started off on time and it took only 30 minutes or so to get to the Channel Tunnel. By 1220 (1320 French time) we had arrived at Lille Central where the stop was around five minutes. By then the Eurostar app was showing we would be arriving into Amsterdam some 17 minutes late (1628), though there hadn’t been an announcement to that effect. Later, after Brussels, there was an announcement of a further delay “because of the fire brigade” meaning we would not be travelling on the high-speed line through the Netherlands, and would be diverting via Roosendaal. We were given an arrival time of 1714.

Service was good up until Brussels but tailed off and, apart from the offer of a drink, vanished altogether for the last hour, with the only member of staff telling us politely that if we weren’t eating and drinking, we should keep our masks on. I went to the galley at around 1630 to see if I could get some water but it was shut. We pulled into Amsterdam around 45 minutes late.

ARRIVAL

I was expecting our documents to be checked on arrival, but we walked through the ticket gates and out into the main concourse of Amsterdam Central.

VERDICT

It was a shame about the delays and, of course, the food is still being altered because of the pandemic, but this was a comfortable journey which meant I could do almost a full day’s work en route to Amsterdam. Note that the seat is exactly the same as Standard Premier, so the difference in price is accounted for by extras, including ticket flexibility, the upgraded menu and lounge access.

FACT FILE

  • BEST FOR Business Premier lounge access and later check-in
  • SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return Business Premier class fare from London to Amsterdam in February 2022 started from £260 each way
  • CONTACT eurostar.com
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