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Review: I try Eurostar Standard Premier from London to Amsterdam

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This is our review of Standard Premier on the Eurostar rail service from London to Amsterdam.

Despite living in the catchment area of Eurostar for many years – including when it used to stop at Ashford International in Kent near my family home – I’ve never actually tried it. After winning the competition to name Eurostar’s latest cocktail in the Business Premier lounge last month I wanted to give the full Eurostar experience a go.

Since I saved them thousands of pounds from having to hire a cocktail branding agency, Eurostar was happy to give me a free ticket to try it out for Head for Points 😉

Eurostar e320

What is Standard Premier?

Eurostar offers three classes on its services: Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier.

I will go into more detail on the differences between Standard Premier and Business Premier in a future article, but fundamentally they are quite similar: both feature the same spacious seats and a meal service, created by Raymond Blanc if you are in Business Premier.

The big differentiator is actually at the station: Business Premier gets you access to fast track check-in, security and immigration plus lounge access, whilst Standard Premier doesn’t.

At the station

So, as mentioned above, there is no priority security or check-in at St Pancras if you are travelling in Standard Premier – you join the great unwashed. That said, when I was there two hours before departure, the queues were surprisingly short, certainly compared to what we’ve seen at some airports recently.

Once through security and European immigration you are ejected into the main concourse in the middle of the station. Whilst it was virtually empty when I arrived it was heaving towards 6pm when two trains leave in quick succession:

Eurostar concourse

There isn’t a huge amount of seating so there are plenty of people sitting on the floor. Lounge access via Business Premier (or American Express Platinum!) is a big benefit here. I got lounge access as a courtesy from Eurostar so that I could cover it – my review of the Eurostar St Pancras Business Premier lounge is here.

In terms of some retail therapy there is a World Duty Free and Pret available.

Trains are announced twenty minutes prior to departure and when full it can be a bit of a rush. For some reason both the 18:01 to Paris and the 18:04 to Amsterdam were boarding from adjacent platforms, which made the rush even worse given the shared escalators. It would have been smarter to use platforms at different ends of the station to spread passengers out slightly.

It’s hard to beat the boarding experience, right in the middle of St Pancras with Tracey Emin’s artwork at the end:

Eurostar St Pancras

On board Eurostar Standard Premier

Standard Premier is at the back of the train at St Pancras, from Carriage 1 onwards.

My train was pretty much fully booked, so some of the photos below were taken at the end of my journey in Amsterdam. Apologies in advance for any continuity errors! The cabin offers a range of seating in a 1-2 layout:

Eurostar Standard Premier

As you can see, there are several face-on blocks with proper tables, great for families or groups:

Eurostar Standard Premier quad

The rest are normal ‘rows’ with half forward and half rear-facing:

Eurostar standard premier 2

(The crumbs are from guests, not because the train wasn’t cleaned.)

I was sat in one of these rows. The seat-backs are very high – higher than on a plane:

The seats are pretty firm – much firmer than I was expecting, not dissimilar to BA’s slimline seats on its A320s. That’s fine for a couple of hours to Paris but slightly less comfortable on the four hour journey to Amsterdam.

If you are sat in a pair of seats you get TWO armrests, so no fighting about who gets it!

The legroom is much better than on BA Club Europe:

Eurostar Standard Premier legroom

In between the seats in front you’ll find a UK and EU plug sockets plus two USBs:

Eurostar Standard Premier connectivity

A tray table flips down, although annoyingly it is fixed in position which means it is quite far away from you.

Above the tray table is a little mirror!

Eurostar Standard Premier mirror

There’s also a personal reading light.

One thing that airlines have done well in recent years is introducing mood lighting depending on the time of day. This is something Eurostar could take inspiration from – on a four hour journey, especially in the evening, the bright overhead light gets a bit exhausting. Having pre-programmed lighting would be a simple but effective way of changing this.

Standard Premier food on Eurostar

One of the key features of Standard Premier, as per the Eurostar website, is a “light meal, served at your seat”. It is VERY light.

The speed of service is pretty quick because I believe the same staff then head to Business Premier to do the full meal service there. The meal was served within minutes of leaving St Pancras.

The choice was between chicken and a vegetarian quiche option, both served cold. I went for the chicken, which came with a teeny portion of potato salad:

Eurostar Standard Premier meal

If you have dietary requirements these can be specified online prior to departure.

The size of the ‘main’ course is about the same size as a starter in Club World. It really is ‘light’ and there were no vegetables to speak of. There is definitely room for improvement here. You could easily serve something like a lasagne or shepherds pie and leave the ‘fancy’ food for Business Premier.

After stopping at Brussels, just over halfway, the crew came through again with a second drink service and a choice of snacks – nuts or a Kit Kat:

Eurostar Standard Premier snack

WiFi on board

There is WiFi on board which is free to use for all passengers. Connecting is easy, but because the connection is reliant on 3G and 4G it isn’t perfect. Whilst at some points it was pretty fast it was also prone to dropping out for a minute or two.

Arriving in Amsterdam Centraal Station

Arrival is easy, and one of the attractions of taking the Eurostar. All document checks are done in London so you literally just walk out of the station – easy peasy.

Conclusion

Even though it clocks in at four hours door to door (or platform to platform), taking Eurostar to Amsterdam takes no longer than flying unless you live close to the airport. It’s a lot less hassle than having to get to and from airports on both ends – I was checking in to my hotel within 15 minutes of arriving in Amsterdam.

There are two ways of looking at Standard Premier, I think, and both offer good value.

If you treat it as an upgrade from Standard, and the price difference can be as low as £20, you are getting a lot for your money. The far bigger seat is the key benefit, of course, but you also get the meal with wine. The meals won’t win any awards any time soon but it is certainly worth factoring in to the upgrade maths.

Comparing Standard Premier to Business Premier, you are making a large saving for giving up some flexibility, lounge access and fast track. We’ll look at what Business Premier offers in a future review.

We haven’t mentioned Club Eurostar, the loyalty programme, in this review. Rob wrote a full review of Club Eurostar here, and as you can transfer in American Express Membership Rewards points it is easy to top up the points you earn to enough for a free ticket.

You can find out more, and book, on the Eurostar website here. Standard Premier is available from £70 one-way to Paris in June.

Stay tuned for my review of Eurostar Business Premier, as well as reviews of the W Amsterdam hotel and Andaz hotels in Amsterdam.


How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards

How to get Club Eurostar points and lounge access from UK credit cards (June 2022)

Club Eurostar does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Club Eurostar points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards

Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

Membership Rewards points convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar points which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, so you will get the equivalent of 1 Club Eurostar point for every £15 you spend.

American Express Platinum comes with a great Eurostar benefit – Eurostar lounge access!  

You can enter any Eurostar lounge, irrespective of your ticket type, simply by showing The Platinum Card at the desk.  No guests are allowed but you can get entry for your partner by issuing them with a free supplementary Amex Platinum card on your account.

Comments (75)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • lumma says:

    I wish reviewers would check USB sockets when they’re available to see if they’re actually useful or not.

    Sometimes they’re so underpowered that you can’t charge your device at all from them.

    • Rhys says:

      I charged mine. Don’t remember it being slow.

      • cinereus says:

        That’s still completely useless compared to a measured wattage. As the poster above says, there can be orders of magnitude in difference.

  • Patrick C says:

    Also worth mentioning that the Eurostar allows you to do the trip with close to 0 carbon emissions (thanks to French / Belgian nuclear power 😉 )

    The old train seats were really plush, though looked old. The new train sets are typical Siemens products, which means cheap plastic and density optimised. Though to be fair here, this allows for weight savings (=energy efficiency) as well as more efficient operations as you can carry substantially more people for the same overhead cost as an old train. It is the same platform as the ICE4 with the difference that the E320 can actually run at 320hm/h. (ICE4 are limited to 250/285)

    As fpor competition, Eurostar is not profitable today and barey ever made a profit. Some fo those issues are homemade, but mostly this is due to excessive track charges in the UK and France. Given that we are in a climate crsis this is just a little insane.

  • Speedbird676 says:

    “The size of the ‘main’ course is about the same size as a starter in Club World.”

    Have you been in Club World recently? The starter, for many months, has been a single floret of cauliflower.

    • mvcvz says:

      Good. The less cauliflower in the world, the better.

    • ANNE says:

      Flying Club World today, very much looking to my single floret of cauliflower later – it’s the stuff dreams are made of

    • Andrew J says:

      It was in the “good old days” that a starter in Club World looked like that. The Covid excuses continue to prevail at BA, that apparently you can catch Covid from serving a meal on a plane in courses, so in order to avoid this public health risk, the meal is served on one tray with the “starter” resembling something you get in economy and are a few lettuce leaves and a bit of avocado.

      • Rob says:

        That’s not the reason. BA is running long-haul flights with the legal minimum number of crew. This makes it impossible to serve a full meal because of the time taken. There will be no change until at least October apparently.

        • Nick says:

          Yet the one-tray service on flights from the East Coast USA had substantial starters; BA never cease to chase tiny savings, whilst throwing a fortune at wetleases to keep their slots.

          • Rob says:

            I’d love to know what they are paying Titan per week for the 757 just to get their hands on 10-15 (?) crew members.

  • TimM says:

    There appears to be huge scope for airline-style optimisations, e.g. smaller seats, less legroom, charged wi-fi, etc..

    As a Northerner, I have never seen the point in Eurostar, nor for that matter, France. Amsterdam is a pleasant overnight cruise from Hull.

  • Andy S says:

    That meal looks awful.

    A Pret Sandwich would have been much better!

    • mvcvz says:

      Indeed. A remarkably generous interpretation of the term “meal”.

    • AJA says:

      +1 I would be very disappointed with that. I would not be choosing Standard Premier over Standard based on the food offering. For £20 you can get much better options at Pret. The different seating is really what sways you one way or the other.

  • Ian says:

    An interesting and informative article, but please will you stop using the word ‘sat’ when you mean ‘sitting’. It’s not “I was sat in one of these rows”, it’s “I was sitting in one of those rows” or “I sat in one of those rows”. Let HfP be a beacon of good journalism!

    • AJA says:

      😀 It does jar and I agree the word was is superfluous in that sentence but English is a continually evolving language and a lot of people do speak that way.

    • Nick says:

      Indeed, it does make it hard to read but you have to keep reminding yourself that this is not written by journalists but by bloggers focussed on credit card / hotel commissions. Having [sic] for unintended pun was particular egregious this week!

    • cinereus says:

      What do you expect from someone like Rhys?

  • Mark Robey says:

    I did this in standard on 22 Apr 22, using the lounge with my AMEX. The only issue I had was on arrival at Amsterdam that my ticket wouldn’t let me out of the station, there were no staff around, and no one was answering the help point. Nevertheless, it was a great journey. When we did eventually (probably only after 5 minutes) manage to get through the gateline, we brought our onward tickets (to Haalem), and we were on our way.

    • John says:

      The last time I did this, my Eurostar ticket let me in and out of Amsterdam Centraal unlimited times for the rest of the day (I had several other valid tickets that day but used the Eurostar one to go in and out for fun/it was the easiest to get out and it worked).

  • PB says:

    I should have mentioned its often better to ask for a gluten free meal , they tend to be slightly better .

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