Eurostar Business Premier
THE JOURNEY: I travelled from Ebbsfleet International to Paris in Business Premier Class on one of Eurostar's new e320 trains.
THE CHECK-IN: Business Premier passengers can check-in as late as ten minutes before departure and I cut it pretty fine. Thankfully, checkin was painless and security was speedy enough to allow me a fleeting visit to the lounge.
THE LOUNGE: Seating options included soft-leather swivel chairs or stools at large, high tables, and there was free wifi and a wide range of newspapers and magazines. Hot drinks and a selection of breakfast items were available, including cereals, porridge, fruit, toast, jams, cheese and yogurt. Juices, wines and beers were also available.
THE SERVICE: I travelled in coach 16 in a single window seat facing a fellow passenger across a table. The seats were large and comfortable with plenty of legroom and a power socket at each. We left Ebbsfleet on time and were soon given a breakfast tray with a croissant and a roll served from a basket and choice of preserves, juices and hot drinks. This was followed by a choice of English breakfast (omelette with spinach and cheese, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms), gravlax or a melon plate. The service was friendly and attentive and we were offered more bread and another hot drink later in the journey. Business Premier menus are designed by Raymond Blanc. Three-course lunch options change seasonally and include aubergine Caponata, marinated chicken with lemon polenta and rhubarb, and strawberry tart served with soft or alcoholic drinks. A useful service that staff offered was the booking of a taxi for you upon arrival in Paris.
THE VERDICT: There's still a certain romance to international, high-speed train travel and Eurostar is certainly the most enjoyable and effi cient way to travel from London to Paris.
THE DETAILS: Eurostar operates 18 trains a day between London St Pancras and Paris; five call at Ebbsfleet International. Return standard fares between London and Paris start from £58; Standard Premier fares are from £169; and fully-flexible Business Premier fares cost £490. Launched late last year, new e320 trains are being rolled-out first on services to Paris and then on services to Brussels. See eurostar.com.
Reviewed by Sally Parker (2016)