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Eurostar Standard Premier reviewed – a bit of a mess

This is my review of my Standard Premier trip on Eurostar to Paris.

As I wrote yesterday, I was out in Paris a couple of weeks ago on Eurostar.  My photographs of the Eurostar lounge in St Pancras showed that it is not a place to go if you are hungry.  Lucky for me (I thought) that I have booked Standard Premier on the outbound and will get a decent breakfast.

Er, no.

Standard Premier has an odd history.  When the Eurostar trains were ordered, they massively overestimated the demand for First Class seats.  In order to fill the first class seating, a ‘middle class’, initially called ‘Leisure Select’ but now ‘Standard Premier’ was introduced.

You effectively get a first class seat but with a lower food and drink offering and no lounge access.  That is it.  American Express Platinum cardholders get lounge access thrown in anyway, so for them the only difference between Standard Premier and Business Premier is the food.

Here are a couple of pictures of the seating.  The seats are an excellent size, but there are few single seats and you are likely to have a seatmate.

Eurostar Standard Premier Business Premier seat review

Eurostar Standard Premier Business Premier seat 2 review

Now, let’s get down to the food.  This is what passes for breakfast in Standard Premier:

Eurostar standard premier food review

That is it.  I wasn’t entirely sure for a while if that was it or if it was just an appetiser, but unfortunately that was the lot.  One croissant (dry), one weird seed roll, one small pot of yoghurt, tiny cup of (non fresh) juice.

It makes the British Airways Club Europe breakfast look good – at least you can drown your sorrows in Club Europe with free champagne over breakfast!

OK.  Let’s be fair here.  Standard Premier is not ludicrously expensive (£150 in a Eurostar sale return).  However, take a look at what I served in Business Premier on the way back, where seats can run at close to £500 return:

Eurostar Business Premier food review

It really was as bad as it looks.  You have a mushroom wrap topped with cheese on the left, a roll, one tiny scone and then some weird curry chickpea salad on the right!  There is no separate dessert – that is what the scone is for!  That wine glass at the very top of the picture was also very small.

There is also no food OF ANY SORT to be had in the Paris lounge, as you will see in a couple of days.

I was, genuinely, lost for words.  The service was also dreadful, with huge waits for drink refills (my wine in that tiny cup was never refilled), although I will be slightly lenient on them because it was the day of the French air traffic control strikes and the trains were busier than usual.

It is a real shame.  Leisure Select, back in the days before it was renamed Standard Premier, was well known for providing decent food presented as separate courses.  Now you get this truly pathetic ‘one tray’ offering.

I was mortified to see that the same approach had reached Business Premier.  I hadn’t been on Eurostar for about four years, but before that I used to take it a couple of times a year on business and had fond memories of the food and drink served.

There was absolutely nothing about the food or service I received this time to convince me that I wouldn’t have been better off heading to Heathrow instead, especially with lounge access.

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Comments

  1. You also get WiFi access with business premier.

    • No you don’t! Not in all carriages, certainly not in mine. It is coming on the refurbished trains.

      • correct. No onboard wifi at all.

        Not only are refurbished trains on their way but new trains also. They will be Siemens ICE trains and build to continental loading gauge so should be more spacious than the existing trains

  2. Bobw1951 says:

    Totally agree with your comments, as an retired railwayman I get a very good deal on the Standard Premier as long as I book well in advance, but would rather pay a bit more and fly these days to Brussels, as the offering in Standard Premier is awful, and if I do go by Eurostar I go Standard and pay for anything I want to eat, also the state of the seats are getting abysmal, the only +1 is the ability to use the power sockets to watch a movie on the tablet.

  3. James67 says:

    Sad indeed. I recall a few first trips from Ashford soon after service began and it was great. Service was timely as London passengers had already dined. Now it looks like best option would be a standard seat and a decent packed lunch or coffee and a sandwich from the station.

  4. andy stock says:

    Next time when we are moaning about BA Lounges and club Europe think of Eurostar! Even the afternoon tea on BA CE is better than that, at least BA keep you topped up with drinks and you can usually find some food in the LHR lounges, had a nice Thai red chicken curry last time at BA Galleries T3.

  5. I still don’t see why the poor food offering would encourage a person to take a tube/train/taxi to Heathrow, having to be there an hour before a flight, and then fly to CDG and have to take another train or taxi into the centre of Paris. The convenience of going from city centre to city centre in about 2.5 hours far outweighs the difference in food quality. Get a post-breakfast train and have lunch in Paris! Or a post-lunch one with dinner there! Or just buy something for the journey. I can’t see the problem.

  6. It’s true that the food is not that great, but to say that this would force anyone to take BA is just silly. You’d rather spend four hours in the Tube/HEX(which costs about as much as the Eurostar on its own)/shuffling through security/waiting on the runway/RER because your croissant was dry?

    • From where I live it is the same time to St P or Heathrow. The lack of wifi on Eurostar is also a killer for me, I lost 5 hours work time over 2 days.

      • Yeah but BA doesn’t have wifi on-board either. On Eurostar you have 3G/4G all the way, even under the sea– tether to your laptop (you can do it over wifi/bluetooth) et voilà! You can also make calls/join conference calls/take e-mails etc. on your phone, which obviously you can’t do on a plane.

        On a plane, you can’t work while going through security, waiting for boarding, waiting silly hours on the runway (can’t even have your laptop on!), flying in circles over London waiting for a slot (again, can’t even have your laptop on!). On the Eurostar, except for the 2 minutes it takes to get through sec/immigration, you can work non-stop, at all times.

        Again agree with Reno– I have Eurostar Carte Blanche and go to Paris/Brussels 1-2 times a month on average, sometimes same-day. I certainly couldn’t maintain this pace if I had to fly there!

        As for the class differences, I agree that BP is not a big upgrade over SP, EXCEPT for unlimited, free changes/refunds, which can be a life-saver if meetings run over/you have to stay an extra day etc. When my dates are fixed, I go for SP as it’s more quiet and relaxed than Standard, which helps with work.
        Would certainly take standard class over even a business class plane seat though.

        And finally: St Pancras has Foyle’s; LHR has W.H. Smith…

  7. Lady London says:

    I used to get a filled baguette and coffee at Paul in the departures area at Gare du Nord and look longingly at the doors to the lounge. Now I won’t.

  8. As a Eurostar Carte Blanche (frequent traveller) member who recently had to fly CDG to LHR, I have to second the opinions that this article sounds a bit insane.

    Air travel to Paris means : transit to LHR (1 hour from Central London on the tube, or a bit less but 20£+ on Heathrow Express, or 50£+ on a cab) + check in 1 hour early + hand luggage limitations due to airport security and/or waiting for luggage on arrival + horrendous transit from CDG to Paris (50€ cab or 1 hour on antiquated tube going through dodgy areas)

    A Eurostar trip to Paris is a maximum of 4 hours total door-to-door for most people (let’s say 30 mins average to/from train stations, 30 min check-in, 2h20 uninterrupted work/leisure time, no luggage hassles on arrival)
    Throughout, you can use electronic devices and through most of the trip you can get on 3G/4G to get online.

    If you think the infinitely worse experience of air travel for such a short distance is worth a slightly better breakfast, may I suggest you save the extra £50-100 you’ve put towards airport transfers and next time and use that at a really good Parisian restaurant instead ? I can give you a few addresses :)

    • Yes, if you’re already in Central London/Paris then Eurostar makes sense. Obviously if you’re starting your journey somewhere else then it’s quite different. My main take home message from this article was that it is in no way worth paying extra for anything more than standard class on Eurostar unless you really want a more spacious seat for a couple of hours. Whatever you do don’t think that you’ll get an amazing food or lounge experience for the money!

      PS one thing to be aware of – don’t turn up too early or they won’t let you through checkin/security! (presumably due to the limited size of the waiting area and lounge)