My review of the excellent new Eurostar Business Premier Lounge in Paris

This is our review of the new Eurostar Business Premier lounge at Gare du Nord in Paris.

Every now and then I get to do something fun but slightly odd for HFP – like going to a different country for the day and not leaving the airport or, in this case, the railway station.

Last Friday I took an early Eurostar to Paris for the press preview of the new Eurostar Business Premier lounge at Gare du Nord.  I must say what I found was very impressive.

The lounge opened to the public on Saturday so if you are heading to Paris this week you will have the opportunity to try it out.

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

eurostar business premier lounge gare du nord review

Instead of simply refurbishing the old Eurostar Paris lounge, a completely new lounge has been created inside former office space.

The new lounge is on the second floor above the security area – speaking of which, I can also confirm that the process of putting in new security gates looked pretty advanced. Once the new gates open the whole check in process from arriving at Gare du Nord to entering the Business Premier lounge promises to be much quicker than it is now.

eurostar business premier lounge review check in desk

As you come out of the lift and turn right you walk along a magazine shelf with an impressive selection of English and French titles.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

The new Business Premier lounge consists of different ‘compartments’ with various seating arrangements.  There is room for 160 guests in total.

Alongside the window facing the station are booth-like sofa areas.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

At the far end is a long bar table with phone charging stations.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

The first ‘room’ to the right gives the impression of having stepped into the living room of a Parisian flat.  It has sofas, armchairs, fireplaces and paintings selected by The Hospital Club in Covent Garden.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

The London-based architecture and interior design studio Softroom has managed to create an atmosphere which they describe as ‘enjoying a little bit more of Paris’ before getting on the train.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

With 12 ‘environments’ regular travellers can have a different experience every time they visit the lounge without getting bored.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

The food adds another wow factor to the lounge.  If you are used to railway station lounges offering the odd sandwich, pastry and drinks (regular readers may remember my tour of Virgin Train lounges last summer) this is like stepping into food heaven.

Raymond Blanc has created an individual and innovative menu with the right balance of healthy and ‘naughty’ food.  This includes various juices and salads as well as chocolate cake and various sweet treats. The French chef, who owns Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, a hotel / restaurant in Oxfordshire with two Michelin stars, wants guests to ‘enjoy food and celebrate life’.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

There are actually two food areas …..

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

…. and a self service drinks station.

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

As you leave the food area you step into the next highlight of the lounge: the bar.

Yes, the new Paris Eurostar Business Premier Lounge has a fully staffed cocktail bar:

Review new Eurostar business premier lounge Paris Gare du Nord

….. with signature cocktails especially created for the lounge.  Raymond Blanc has even developed a signature gin, Toujours 21, exclusively for Eurostar.  (See our teaser article from Friday for a cheesy photograph of me, Raymond and the gin …..)

IMG_5729

Getting in

The lounge can be used by anyone on a Business Premier ticket or with the appropriate Eurostar Frequent Traveller status.

You cannot use Eurostar lounges when travelling in Standard Premier or Standard class.  The lounges are not part of Priority Pass or any other lounge programme.

There IS one way of getting in without a Business Premier ticket.  American Express Platinum charge card holders get free access to all Eurostar lounges.  You cannot bring a guest but you can issue a free supplementary Platinum card to your partner which would get them in.  I know that Rob has also been allowed to take his kids into the old Paris lounge in the past when using an American Express card for entry.

Conclusion

The new Eurostar Business Premier Lounge is very impressive. It’s by far the best train station lounge I’ve ever seen and can compete with many airport lounges.

The lounge makes travel to and from Paris by train even more attractive than the Eurostar product already does.  The only ‘downside’ is that it takes longer to get to the train than from the old lounge, however looking at the quality of the new lounge this is a sacrifice worth making.

If you missed our short lounge video on Friday, here it is again:

If it isn’t visible on your device, click here to see it on our YouTube page.

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Comments

  1. Anika, great review. However, I was there yesterday and 1) the bar was shut (as I knew it would be) and 2) instead of that table laden with cakes, there were 4 bowls of crisps, olives, some tiny madeleines and what looked like dry fruit. There was no other food! Fortunately we had already eaten, as otherwise we would have gone hungry.

    • I was wondering whether all that food had been laid on specially for the launch, rather than because it’s part of the general offer. I assumed that Anika had asked, but if your experience is anything to go by, apparently not!

      • It was a private preview purely for members of the media, as we made clear. What the day to day offering is like remains to be seen.

        • We were there at breakfast time yesterday and the food offering is exactly the same as in the old lounge.
          The new lounge is stunning though, especially the private booths.

        • Yes, I know you made it clear – but this paragraph ‘The food adds another wow factor to the lounge. If you are used to railway station lounges offering the odd sandwich, pastry and drinks (regular readers may remember my tour of Virgin Train lounges last summer) this is like stepping into food heaven’ makes it sound like this is what ‘ordinary’ passengers will get.

        • Indeed. Rather a poor show however by Eurostar if the press preview food a one off.

          One can but hope that the reek of cynicism to be dispelled and provision to improve on a consistent basis.

          • Not really a poor show or that cynical – it’s consistent with what the travel industry tends to do – it’s in their interests to treat the press well, so that the journalists write great reviews. It’s why they always comp Rob or (more usually) Anika upper-level rooms, rather than the bog-standard ones.

            The important thing is that the reviewer is aware AND makes his/her readers aware that this special treatment is not part of the normal package. With a superior hotel room, it’s not so much of a problem, since at least we know we’ll get that sort of room if we book it. In this case, I certainly got the impression from the review that the food offering was what I can expect when I next go – clearly, this is not accurate.

          • It isn’t really comparable to an upper-level room, because those higher categories of room do exist to be booked (or upgraded to)… If the food were a one-off, it’s more as if media were invited to a hotel room which has a bespoke bed, whirlpool tub and miniature ride-on train set installed for their review which are then stripped out and unavailable to anyone else.

      • According to Eurostar’s official statement the dishes will be added throughout the year:
        https://mediacentre.eurostar.com/mc_view?language=&article_Id=ka3b0000000TgjQAAS
        They didn’t mention this on Friday…

  2. Reading this article while stuck on a broken Eurostar on our way back from Brussels. Now waiting in Lille to change trains. Anyone knows What is Eurostar delay compensation policy?

  3. the real harry1 says:

    Is there any opportunity for split-ticketing here? ie shortest/ cheapest part of the route in business & the remainder in economy – purely to get into the lounge?

    • Is it possible to travel intra-country on Eurostar? Eg. London-Ebbsfleet, Paris-Lille?

      • No you cannot; I think Lille-Bruxelles can be done because it’s not intra-country. It’s been a few years London-Paris trains do not call in Lille any more. London-Paris is priced the same as Ebbsfleet-Paris.

        • RussellH says:

          Lille-Bruxelles is Theresa May’s worst nightmare. All Bruxelles-London trains stop at Lille (in both directions) and as it is intra Schengen there is not, normally, any ID check at Bruxelles Midi for those with tickets just to Lille. There have, though, IIRC, been periods when such tickets were not available, but when it came to Eurostar demanding compensation for lost traffic if they could not sell Bruxelles-Lille the UK government gave way.

          Last time I travelled Bruxelles-London was 2012 and ID checks were a nightmare.

          1. Usual passport / ID card check at Midi.
          2. Check of tickets on leaving Lille by G4S who checked tickets that they were valid for the UK, then stamped them.
          3. On arrival at St. Pancras, herded into that ghastly underground cellar to queue again while UK Immigration checked ID again.

          When I asked we were being hassled in such an unpleasant manner after having passed UK immigration, I was told that the order for this had come directly from Theresa May in person (presumablu under pressure from the Daily Mail which was, at the time, contantly going on about the “Lille Loophole”.

          I am told that things have improved since then…

    • RussellH says:

      Split ticketing Paris-UK?

      No. Current timetable all Paris-UK trains are non-stop Paris to UK. They may stop at Ashford or Ebbsfleet before St. Pancras.

      Eurostar’s mind set has always been that of an airline, not a rail operator. They have always thought in point-to-point terms, with one of the points being either the starting point or the final detination.

      You can buy, for example, London-Lyon or London-Bordeaux tickets which are normally cheaper than separate London-Paris / Paris-Lyon tickets, but have a max booked stopover in Paris of 23h 59m. IIRC, these could be in different classes of travel – not least because SNCF trains have only two classes, Eurostar has three.

      Remember that Eurostar Business Premier is sold as a premium product only – flexible tickets only at a price to match.

      Eurostar have never provided Rail Inclusive Tour tickets to tour operators in Business Premier – leisure passengers are expected to travel Standard Premier if they want first class seating, but in terms of the on board service and lounge access it is Premium Economy, not business class.

      • I normally use standard premier for work as I generally cannot justify the difference to business premier.

        I get lounge access with Amex Plat and even the supposed hot meal (more of an amuse bouche in terms of size) in business premier before xmas became something cold, just like you get in standard premier.

        Only advantage for me I see is the flexibility as when I was delayed in Paris with a standard premier ticket they refused to let me change trains (without a fee) to get back to London.

        • RussellH says:

          Eurostar were quite open about the reasoning for renaming Leisure Select to Standard Premier. It happened during the aftermath of the expenses stushie, with people saying that public figures should not travel first class. So they put ‘Standard’ into the name so that people could still claim it on expenses.The seating is still first class 1 +2 across, the same as in Business

          They did downgrade the service though, “because of passenger demand”.

          Really?? The last time I travelled Leisure Select back from Bruxelles to London I was the only person seated in the car. The stewardess was pouring me a glass of Champagne before I even got my coat off. I got a much better meal than they serve now, and she kept coming back to top up my champagne.

          Sadly I had to go staright to another meeting in London, so I had to upset her and decline most it.

  4. BUSINESS platinum amex cards are not valid, weirdly for a business lounge :)

  5. Departing Gare du Nord last night (Sunday) was not fun . It took us a full hour from joining the queue, just over an hour before our train, to exiting the security check, most of which was spent in a cramped area with inefficient queuing process as you move from French exit check > UK border > security scan (the latter took maybe 1 minute). I was really worried we were going to miss our train, but what I didn’t know and what wasn’t announced to the waiting crowd was that the train was being held; much unnecessary stress caused as a result!

    The train experience is overall an efficient one but leave plenty of time if departing from Paris and prepare to be irritated by the experience; Business Premier (not Standard Premier) get a fast track, so may be worth the extra, particularly if there is now a decent lounge to spend time in. Departing St Pancras is a much smoother experience, as you might expect of a much newer facility.

    • RussellH says:

      My experience of SNCF staff when things are not going to plan has never been very positive, TBH.

      The relative newness of St Pancras International is a factor, but I have always felt that part of the problem is the insular attitude that has always pervaded a section of this country.

      Once we accepted French immigration at Waterloo and then St Pancras, you could always just walk off the train at the Gare du Nord in Paris like anyone else arriving on any other train. It did, for some reason, take some years to banish the passport check at Bruxelles Midi, though it was always a bit perfunctory.

      But coming back to the UK, being made to feel unwelcome was obviously designed into St Pancras International, forcing people down into that huge yellowed cellar, then passing through a heavy one-way door into the light, rather than being able to just make your way straight onto the concourse.

      So I would guess that there is just nothing to encourage improvement. No one in this country will psuh for it, and the Parisians will shrug their shoulders in that way they do best.
      :-)

  6. Tim Rogers says:

    I travelled back to London from Bruxelles-Midi and the immigration/security situation seemed a total shambles there. By the supposed leaving time of the train, no more than 10% of passengers had got through the metal detectors, due supposedly to a “reinforcement” of the British passport control (but not any “reinforcement” perceptible to me – they were just waving people through!).

    As ever, there was little to no information, although they did say once in the hour queueing period that the train would be held until everyone had got through. Since I was one of the first through, I headed into the Business Premier lounge, to be told insistently within seconds that the train was boarding. So I went to the train and then sat there for an hour until we actually left! They really could have let us stay in the lounge.

    The only silver lining was that we were exactly an hour late back to London (rather than a few minutes earlier) so we’ll get the 25% compensation.

    • Half the problem with brussels is that they’ll not let you through until the previous train has left, to stop people getting on the earlier train. Which means at best they’ve got an hour to do that.

      It has never improved in the 14 years since I’ve started using it, indeed, it’s got worse..

  7. Eurorrocket says:

    I’m in the lounge now, having failed to notice that I’m on the 18:13 and not the 17:13. Eurostar staff were charming as usual and let us in early and so here we are about two hours before our train leaves.
    So what can I tell you? Well, I like the little cubicles off the corridor. Well thought out and classy and comfortable. I’m right opposite the bar and the bar man is giving it his stuff. Good man! The wifi works better at the entrance end and certainly doesn’t work down here and that is pretty stupid in 2017. The barman was aware of the problem.
    Other than that, I’m disappointed that there is no bottled water, as I used to pick up a couple to take on the train. I guess this way Eurostar will make a couple of euros extra from those of us who travel in standard but access the lounge on our Platinum Amex.
    For a first experience, I’ll give it 6 since I’m not looking forward to having to walk through to the train when we have to board and I’m otherwise underwhelmed.

  8. Soooo Mr Russell know-it-all… if there’s no ‘intra-country’ eurostars, how do the Paris-Calais-London ones work then? The ones that SNCF happily sells tickets for?

    The Brussels rule about one-train-only is completely stupid to be honest. Why can’t they just ask conductors to check tickets onboard? Union issues?

    Thank heavens Lille is rarely plagued by these issues. Usually they don’t even open ‘check-in’ until 20 mins before the train arrives and it’s always a peaceful pleasant experience.

  9. Brusselsprout says:

    Looks like the enhancements have started. Not a single item of food in here on Thursday evening at 6.15pm. Not even an empty plate.

  10. Does Amex Platinum give access to business premier check-in on Eurostar?