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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 (August 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:

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

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.

  • Rob says:

    As a frequent traveller between London and Amsterdam, I have taken the Eurostar on many occasions before the pandemic in Standard Premier. After the pandemic, when there is still a reduced service, I had to experience the ordeal of checking in for the Friday 18:04 service from London to Amsterdam. I did not realise there was also the 18:01 service from London to Paris, which means close to 1800 people can be checking-in around the same time! In my case, the check-in queue went through the whole of St. Pancras Station. Eurostar/customs could not handle the amount of passengers in time, causing people to panic because of missing their train. Eurostar had to delay the 18:01 and 18:04 trains circa 35 minutes already at departure! I never had to stand in the queue for more than an hour and I am not planning to take the 18:04 service again before this is resolved. Also, in my opinion, Standard Premier should be able to use fast track check-in because that lane was hardly used.

    • John says:

      It wouldn’t be hardly used if standard premier got to use it. But agree there should be priority queues for SP.

      In standard, I always try to go to the security lanes on the right hand side and often they direct me to the business premier lanes when they are empty.

  • lumma says:

    Apart from the bread roll, it’s looks pretty much gluten free anyway

    • mvcvz says:

      It looks pretty much food free to me.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I ordered lactose free version once to avoid yoghurt which I don’t like but ended up with tasteless stuff and fake butter. Another sad lesson against ordering special travel meals unless you really need them

  • Michael C says:

    As soon as requirements were dropped last Oct., we did St. P-Paris-St. P, out in standard, back in standard prem.
    There was a definite difference in seat/cabin ambience, and the meal was not only really quite decent, but of course made the time whizz by. Oh, and 4 mini bottles of wine for the 2 adults!

    • Alex Sm says:

      I remember that Eurostar once offered me an upgrade on a work trip to SP for €10. I paid myself but it was one of if not the best spen €10 in my whole life!!!

  • John says:

    I recall a much better meal service in Standard Premier to Brussels about 4 years ago, including hot food, dessert, and a frequent drinks round. So, either we sat in Business by accident or the offer is much diminished…

  • Richard Lewis says:

    I wish you hadn’t referred to people travelling on cheaper tickets as the ‘great unwashed’.

    • Spike Spiegel says:

      I’m usually one the “great unwashed” and didn’t feel offended. Found it amusing!

      • Londonsteve says:

        I didn’t. It was an unfortunate turn of phrase. Writing about luxury travel and having the funds to pay for it oneself are two different things.

        • Andrew J says:

          And washing yourself is something different again. A very outdated and inappropriate turn of phrase by the author.

    • Rhys says:

      I consider myself part of that group 🙂 im just lucky enough to get to travel for work!

      • NC says:

        It does not make it any more appropriate just because you consider yourself to be part of that “group”. Your are essentially calling people who travel in cheaper tickets “dirty”. It is offensive and classist, and I am surprised that it still has a place in modern journalism.

        • Craig says:

          +1 “great unwashed” – what an incredibly offensive, snobbish and arrogant thing to say.

        • cinereus says:

          Agreed.

  • John T says:

    That ‘meal’ looks terrible.

    Given how close AMS airport is to the city I prefer flying LCY-AMS to taking the train. Eurostar is great for Brussels and Paris, but the numbers don’t add up for Amsterdam.

    • Luke says:

      Do they add up for Heathrow to Amsterdam though?

      It sounds like by the time I have reached the Heathrow departure gate I would already be in Amsterdam by train!

      • John says:

        My house to LHR / STP roughly both 70 minutes by bus/tube and 45 minutes by taxi. Need to arrive 1hr in advance for both, though I’d go to LHR earlier for free food. ES then takes 3.5hrs to Schiphol while flying takes 1.5hrs + immigration / walking 30m-1hr, so flying usually makes more sense for me unless ES is £35, but not in a hurry to do it again after 4 hours crammed into a full train at the end of 2019

  • Sam says:

    The boarding experience at Eurostar St Pancras is very, very European. If it was a British railway company managed section I’d expect full-on loud announcement for the whole duration of your wait, but then they would have split up the boarding points if there are two trains using the adjacent platforms. All in all travelling from St Pancras on Eurostar has always been chaotic and stressful to me, especially it seems you can never get through the queues to the immigration, even though the queue moves much quicker than looks.

    • John says:

      Europe is a big place. St Pancras experience is very French, which is to be expected, though I wish it could have been more German.

      • RussellH says:

        You cannot have people boarding a train German style in the UK. We have ticket barriers, the Germans and Swiss do not.
        And in this country, it seems absolutely forbidden to tell people which platform a train will leave from until just a few minutes before departure.
        Most European rail stations have printed departure and arrival sheets telling you which platform your strain will be at, so you can go there whenever you are ready.

  • Peter says:

    It’s a shame that they run so few trains. I’ve never been on a Eurostar that was not filled to the last seat, and it’s not competitive price wise either to Easyjet and co, unless they have one of their very rare offers

    • Kalan says:

      I honestly considered convincing my friend to take Eurostar instead of a flight when we went to GMFest until he has quickly booked flights already, but it would just not have made any sense price‐wise; maybe for me considering I had to book a hotel room for one night to be able to catch the plane, for the same price as a one‐way Eurostar ticket, but that’s just the thing: all four flight tickets combined were still cheaper than two one‐way Eurostar tickets, and the coach tickets to and from Stansted were only like 25£ (though, if it had been at all possible for me to pay for all four Eurostar tickets I would’ve done it in a heartbeat simply to avoid that coach ride—my God, even on a Sunday it was dreadful, to say nothing of the Monday back, and with the price of STN Express you might as well go ES)

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