When I first heard about the Megabus sleeper service I must say I was intrigued. I’ve always preferred train travel to coach travel in the past. It’s usually more comfortable, particularly where night journeys are concerned. However, if a night bus service could provide a bed like they do in sleeper trains then it could certainly compete! Especially if they were able to keep the prices down and lower than a typical train journey to/from the same destinations.
So what is it like? A bed on a bus you say!
I should first point out that Megabus are currently trialling this sleeper service between Glasgow and London. Things may change in the future. However based on my own experience – over this trial period – I found there to be both upsides and downsides for the traveller who decides to use this service.
I slept for 6 hours straight on the bus. For someone like me who finds it hard to sleep on night buses this was certainly an improvement. There bed was long, i.e. there was a lot of leg room. The beds are also well designed to keep the light out and the bedding was thick and warm. You also have little added extras like a socket for your laptop or phone, a bed light, and a croissant & orange juice in the morning.
With each bed that is allocated you are also allocated a seat at the back of the bus too. It’s just like the seat you would get on a regular coach service. This means if you want to sit up and read a book with the light on you can do so without waking anybody up! The only major downside is that it is impossible to sit up in the beds and I can only assume this is why they have had to allocate seats too. There is very little height room. Even just lifting your head to try and turn sides was hard. On my return I found that there was more height room in the top bunks due to the extra curve on the roof of the bus, so my advice to anyone taking this service would be to ask for a top bunk!
What about price?
Megabus very kindly offered me my return trip for free for the purpose of this review, however, had I purchased this trip ordinarily it would have cost me 40 GBP each way. Considering you save a night on accommodation and you get a bed I think this is a very good price.
Comparatively to a regular night bus service with Megabus, i.e. where you just get a seat and no bed, you’re paying around 25 GBP more per journey. Personally I think this is worth the extra money for one journey as getting a good sleep is so much easier on the sleeper service than is is sat in a seated position with limited leg room next to someone on a bus for 6 or 7 hours.
What most people will probably be interested in however is the price in comparison to a typical rail sleeper service for the same journey. If I was to book a sleeper service with national rail for Friday 28th Jan, it would cost me 120 GBP. This is considerably more than what it costs for a Megabus journey. That being said, if you book well enough in advance by rail, and travel on selected promotional deals, then I have seen similar journeys advertised in the past by rail for as little as 16 GBP. Equally, I’ve also seen Megabus put on promotional deals for their sleeper service at 1 GBP a bed! I’m therefore not going to go by promotional offers as these might not be available when you attempt to book. Instead I’m going to take the average price for journeys from Glasgow to London, and for a one way ticket by rail it usually costs around 60 – 70 GBP at a few weeks notice. Based on this you’d make a saving of around 20 – 30 GBP on a Megabus sleeper service compared to the average sleeper rail journey of the same distance.
What I like about the Megabus service in general compared to rail travel is that prices tend to stay relatively low. With rail travel it can yo yo greatly, and you really have to book well in advance to get a good price. With Megabus, or coach travel in general, it’s much more suited to the budget traveller who doesn’t like to book too far ahead, who likes to keep their plans flexible.
I found the Megabus staff to be very friendly and helpful and never experienced any problems on either of my journeys.
– If you want to book the sleeper service with Megabus between Glasgow and London and try it for yourself then you can head over to their UK site www.megabus.co.uk and make a booking.