Full disclosure: I love train travel. And I hate Charles de Gaulle airport.
So I’ve long been a firm believer that the only way to travel between London and Paris is by train.
Even if both airports were as wonderful as Changi, to fly you’d still have to go through the hassle and time getting to and from both airports, checking in, going through security with your little liquids out, boarding your flight, waiting for luggage and then finally making your way into the city.
Compare that to starting and ending your journey in the heart of both cities and seeing the countryside change along the way? No competition in my book.
And when you’re travelling in the pointy end of Eurostar’s new e320 trains, the journey is all the more fabulous.
Eurostar Business Premier Class Lounge, St Pancras, London
My journey begins in London’s St Pancras International, where I breeze through the Business Premier entrance so quickly I’m not able to finish my takeaway coffee.
Just as I’m looking for a bin I’m told I can take the coffee with me, and the nice man at security smiles as he passes it around the barrier for me as my luggage and I go through the scanners.
While Business Premier Class tickets allow you to check in just ten minutes before departure, I’d be far too nervous to skate in that close to the time, so I do my usual arriving early trick.
Which is a lot more fun when there’s a nice lounge to enjoy.
Eurostar’s Business Premier Class Lounge at St Pancras is long and slim, split over two levels with staircases at either including a rather lovely spiral one.
Both levels are quite stylish, with a mix of glass wall panelling with the building’s original stone and red-brick, and there are comfortable leather chairs to kick back in, or a foosball table where you can help little men kick a wee ball around.
There’s a good range of magazines and newspapers to peruse and a variety of snacks. Though with a three-course meal to come on my train there’s no need to fill up before boarding.
The self-service bar is stocked with wine, beer and soft drinks, including Cawston Press Elderflower Lemonade. Perfect for Elderflower lovers like me.
And of course there are ample places to plug in your devices and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. While sipping bubbles. Of both the sparkling wine and elderflower lemonade variety.
All Aboard Eurostar e320 Business Premier Class
While I may have taken the Eurostar more times than I can remember during my London years, this trip was the first time I was boarding one of their new trains, and I was a wee bit excited.
Eurostar introduced their new e320 trains to coincide with their 20th anniversary in 2015, the first complete train redesign in the company’s history.
The sleek looking high speed trains reach speeds of up to 320km/h, easy to remember when you know their name, and each one can carry almost 1000 passengers. That’s more than double the average A380.
After taking some overexcited photos at the front of the train, I step inside and am greeted by interiors designed by the Italian design house Pininfarina, which also counts Ferrari and Maserati among their other clients.
As I settle into my ergonomically designed seat I get out my iPad, choose between the UK and European power sockets, connect to the free Wi-Fi and start checking out some of the free movies and TV shows we can watch on our own tablets when I’m not looking at the view.
Food and Drink Onboard Eurostar Business Premier Class
Not surprisingly, Eurostar’s Business Premier Class had a few business travellers on board.
But it also had people like me, who were clearly heading to Paris for pleasure and quite happy to start the journey with a glass of bubbles or two.
The drinks trolley was quick to come around, and after we raised our glasses towards each other with happy traveller smiles I checked out the menu for the journey ahead.
The Premier Business Class menu has been designed by Eurostar’s culinary director, Raymond Blanc.
Before 11am breakfast is served, and mid afternoon there’s an afternoon tea.
I was travelling at lunchtime, and at lunch and dinner guests can choose between a hot and cold option as part of a three course meal.
My lunch started with smoked trout, fennel and radish salad, before I chose the hot option of lamb fillet with sea salt and rosemary roast potatoes, aubergine puree, and sweet pepper chutney, finishing with lime and chocolate tart and blueberry jelly.
As the head of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Raymond has worked with Eurostar to make sure the meals onboard are sustainable, seasonable and responsibly sourced.
Eurostar has already become the first transport provider to be awarded SRA’s Good Made Good Champion status with two stars, and they’re now working to get their third star so, as they put it, they can become “part of the sustainability elite”.
A good goal to have.
Top Value Luxury Hotels for Both Ends of Your Eurostar Journey
While train journeys like the Venice Simplon Orient Express are all about taking your time with the journey, the high speed Eurostar is all about whizzing you to your destination.
I’m not sure exactly which stretches we hit 320km on, but around two and a half hours after we pulled out of London St Pancras we were pulling into Paris Gare du Nord and it was time to collect my bags and head for my hotel.
As it turns out, the hotel I stayed at and loved in Paris, and a hotel I have also stayed at and loved in London, which is right there at Kings Cross station, are both considered Top Value hotels by Booking.com
And they’re both absolutely gorgeous luxury boutique hotels.
But no matter where you stay in both cities, I think we’ve established the only way to get between them is by train.
Amanda Woods travelled as a guest of Eurostar but as usual all opinions remain her own.
Love trains? You may also like to check out what it’s like to travel to Machu Picchu on the Hiram Bingham, travel Norway’s great train journey on the Bergen Railway from Bergen to Oslo, and take the last sleeper carriage train in Queensland, the Spirit of the Outback.