Here at Flying Fluskey, we love an overnight train. It’s no secret (just check out our train reviews). However, let’s be real, it is never an amazing night’s sleep. The rocking of the train, the squeal of its breaks, the movements of fellow passengers as they board and disembark, these all disturb slumber. So what is the solution? Enjoying a night in a stationary sleeping car perhaps? Find out in our Glenfinnan Sleeping Car review.
Our stay at Glenfinnan Sleeping Car was partially sponsored but all opinions are our own
Glenfinnan is a small village in the western Highlands of Scotland that has been catapulted to fame by the nearby viaduct. It was included in a famous Hollywood film and the small number of trainspotters are now joined by many Harry Potter fans and Instagram addicts. You can reach Glenfinnan on a quick drive or train from Fort William but it is nice to stick around. For the coolest night’s stay around, those in the know pick Glenfinnan Sleeping Car.
Glenfinnan Sleeping Car
Nestled next to the Glenfinnan Railway Station (a working Scotrail station) sits The Sleeping Car. It was originally opened by passionate owners John and Amy as a bunkhouse. In Scotland, a bunkhouse is like a hostel with affordable rooms and self-catering facilities, mostly serving those on touring or walking holidays. However, with the changing travel climate, they are now converting it to be rented out as a whole unit. It sleeps up to ten people in four rooms.
All rooms in The Sleeping Car, run off the corridor (as old slam-door compartments used to).
For our stay, we were assigned the family/quad room. We had a high double bed to sleep in as well as a bunk bed to one side of the room. This gave us lots of wiggle room. We loved that this felt like a proper double bed. it was definitely the most comfortable bed I’ve ever had on a train! Bedding and towels are not automatically included in the price but we opted to rent them and we got a proper duvet and pillows.
It is worth noting that the huge space under the double bed and smaller space under the bunk bed mean that even if the room were full, there would be room to store everyone’s luggage out of the way. Plus, there are original luggage racks above the double bed.
Other rooms just have the bunk beds and so they are tighter, much like you would expect on a real train. Once again, there is room under the beds for luggage but it wouldn’t fit giant suitcases.
At the end of the corridor is a collection of bathroom amenities. An open sink stands next to the toilet. The toilet can be locked separately and has its own sink in too. You could have toothbrushing going on in one room and handwashing in another.
The shower is in another separate area, independently lockable again. It was a basic electric shower that warmed up quickly and although not the strongest, did the job with no complaints. There was plenty of room in the shower room so you can shower and get dried and changed in there as well. No toiletries beyond hand wash were provided so ensure you bring your own.
The Common Areas
The kitchen felt just like that of a small cottage or flat. The cabinets on the wall were full of everything we needed. Cooking basics like salt made it easy to whip up dinner. There were cups, glasses, pots and crockery galore, more than enough for a big group. We used the hob to make pasta but we could also have made use of an oven, microwave, kettle or toaster. ith just two of us, we didn’t need both fridges but its good to know they are there for larger bookings. One for food, one for prosecco?
The most charming room of The Sleeping Car is the dining/lounge section. Vintage railway posters adorn the walls, seating is in old bunkettes and it is all overlooked by a pleasing jumble of board games and other wholesome family activities. The TV wasn’t required as we were only there for a night but we can imagine it would be lovely and cosy to stick an old film on. Our intention was to grab a board game down but after a full day of driving and sightseeing, we were so tired that we opted for an early night…so rock and roll.
The Dining Car
Next door, but closed during our visit, is The Dining Car. This used to be catered by a local chef as his pop up restaurant. However, it is now being converted into more of a community hub cafe. Meetings, coffee mornings and other social events are due to be hosted here.
Glenfinnan Railway Museum
On the station’s platform is a great little museum, the Glenfinnan Railway Museum. We took a platform ticket and spent a good while reading all about the train line and the unique concrete viaduct down the line. There is a nice mix of info and vintage memorabilia. I especially liked the token machines that helped train drivers negotiate the single track sections of the line. Happily, the museum entrance fee is included for those staying in The Sleeping Car.
Four times a day, visitors to Glenfinnan Railway Station get a unique chance to get up close to the Jacobite steam train. This is the famed train in the Harry Potter film. It passes through, briefly stopping along its route between Fort William and Malliag. If you are lucky, you may get the same chance to see it from the signal box as we did. Inside the signal box, the old signal levers are still all there. They are now linked to a fun computer programme, showing you how they all work. If you have kids, they will absolutely LOVE “working the points” and let’s be honest, we did too.
Glenfinnan Viaduct and Memorial
If you are interested in visiting the viaduct, look out for the walking route that leads from the station. It takes you over the hill and to a great spot overlooking the viaduct. It is a steady 30-minute walk that goes up and down but is manageable for most people. If you follow it all the way down and across the road, you can visit the Glenfinnan Memorial and Loch Shiel as well.
Value for Money
As a couple, it’s not the cheapest way to visit the area (£150 for one night and £250 for two) However, it is such a novelty and a dream when the steam train comes through. Booking it with a group of 10 friends is a more budget-friendly option. It’ll cost £21pp for the first night, and £16pp for each subsequent night (plus £5 for bedding/towels).
Final Thoughts for this Glenfinnan Sleeping Car Review
Glenfinnan Sleeping Car would make a really unique spot for a group trip or a cool place to stop off on a road trip like ours. It is a fun mix of vintage novelty and homely comforts. We were sad to leave after just one night. For train buffs and adventurous tourists alike, this is a fabulous option for your Scottish tour.