I arrived at international departures to a daunting sea of queuing crowds but as I was travelling with a disabled traveller, I had booked Eurostar Assist and was waved through to a dedicated check-in desk. From here a cheerful Eurostar Assist assistant led us through Fast Track security and passport control, across the busy concourse to the Business Premier Lounge. The process could not have been easier or less stressful and we had a complimentary coffee and croissants in the calm oasis of the airy lounge within 10 minutes of arriving. Upstairs in the lounge, they were serving freshly-made smoothies and cocktails.
NB Passengers are advised to pre-book Eurostar Assist at least 24 hours in advance and to arrive 60 minutes prior to departure to ensure support. The service is run by Eurostar in London but by partners in overseas stations so support offerings may vary. In Amsterdam we received no assistance on arrival but were offered a wheelchair and assistance to transit through the station on the return trip.
We were called to board 20 minutes before departure and clear signage and plenty of welcoming support staff made it easy to find our carriage and seat. Seating is pre-allocated and tickets include details of which carriage you should board in. Staff were happy to help load luggage and help passengers negotiate the steps in. Ramps are available for wheelchair users, as are four pre-bookable wheelchair or mobility scooter spaces which allow disabled travellers to remain in their chair for their journey if they wish. These are located near the accessible toilets.
The spacious Business Premier seat had ample leg room, a footrest and gentle recline option. A drop-down table was wide enough for a laptop and charging points were conveniently positioned. Wifi worked well and a seat pocket allowed for magazine storage. There was ample stowage nearby for our bags.
Within minutes of departure the trolley service began with a choice of wines, beers and soft drinks, served with Abakus Foods’ crunchy endamame beans or crunchy broad beans. The drinks mat featured a QR code giving digital access to the full menu.
The menu has been designed by Raymond Blanc, who is Eurostar’s Business Premier Culinary Director, and was awarded a 3-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (the highest possible) in November 2022.
The meal tray arrived promptly after, loaded with a summer salad starter, roll and butter, bottle of Harrogate water and a cherry clafoutis tart.
There were three choices of main course – a hot haddock with ratatouille and couscous; a masala chicken or a bulgur wheat salad. I took the salad which was tasty and fresh, my companion took the chicken which was delicious. This was followed by the tea and coffee service. Staff returned regularly with offers of additional drinks and when an unexpected delay occurred they went above and beyond to keep passengers informed and happy with extra drinks, including champagne, and snacks.
A stress-free masterclass in how easy rail travel can and should be. Staff were welcoming and helpful, carriages were clean and user-friendly, and onboard services were timely and well thought-through. If it hadn’t been for journey delays, it would have been a pretty perfect trip. As we weren’t in a rush, the delays on this occasion just provided staff with an additional opportunity to shine!