We recently used the Megabus Gold Sleeper service for our city break to Edinburgh. We booked our tickets at the start of March because previous Megabus bookings have been cheaper to book in advance and as we were travelling on a budget we thought that the Megabus would be one of our best value for money options. Looking online the website didn’t give much away regarding the interior of the bus and we were unsure what to expect in terms of space and size of the bunks. I did have the chance to read one very useful review on line from a student’s perspective of using the service. We paid £120.50 for two adult returns from London Victoria to Edinburgh bus station online with a 50p booking fee. We were able to print the tickets off at home which we needed to take to show the driver before boarding. The tickets advised us to arrive around fifteen minutes prior to departure.
The bus was on time and a large, long double decker with red and gold exterior. The bus facilities included a downstairs toilet and on board refreshments. We were taken to a ‘double bed’ at the back of the bus with a hammock for a third sleeper above us. This meant sitting up was near enough impossible and you were required to lie down as soon as you got on the bus. The beds were quite thin and a divider between the head and foot of the bunk. Opposite to us was a single set of bunk beds. There was ample plug sockets and each bed had a reading light for those that weren’t ready to sleep straight away. On each bed was a small travel pillow and a red fleece blanket. Free WiFi is available on board however I found it very difficult to connect to on my iPhone 4S. Once everyone had been seated the attendant came around offering water and a muffin to each passenger. On our return journey we also had an eye patch for sleeping, a mini toothbrush and toothpaste and a luggage tag upon our pillows when boarding.
Looking back I wish we had decided to fly to Edinburgh and we will be doing so in any future journeys as the price is not much different when looking at budget Airlines and of course the journey time is significantly less. The entire journey lasted approximately eight hours and it was very difficult to get settled as the bunks are quite small and not being able to sit up to get yourself sorted was very frustrating. Getting up in the night to use the toilet was also quite difficult as you are stumbling around in the dark to get the stairs and with the bus in motion it is hard to keep steady. There is a lack of handrails so you find yourself grabbing on to other people’s top bunks to avoid falling. As with most coach toilets the space is very small however it was found in a clean condition. On our outward journey we were fortunate to not have someone sleep above us in the top bunk although my partner did try to use it for a bit more head space as he is quite tall but said it was a horrible sensation as he constantly felt like he was going to fall out. On our return a single passenger was above us who had a terrible cold and kept throwing her tissues down onto our bed which was revolting.
I don’t think we will be travelling by sleeper service again unless it is an absolute must. It was uncomfortable and very hard to rest properly and now knowing that we could have flown for the same price and for less travel time is slightly disappointing. It was nice to have the few added refreshments and ability to charge up our electronics when travelling but not worth all the extra money we paid for a sleeper service rather than a standard coach.
The idea of the service is really great because it allows customers a low cost travel option overnight and with the ability to lay down rather than sit up and drift with the hours dragging by. I do feel that if the bus had focused on comfortable sleeping spaces rather than how many passengers it could fit on it would be quite a pleasant experience. However the amount of bunks above double beds do not give the impression of a first class service and I find it strange that this is how it is advertised. On paper the service seems faultless which is probably why I was quite sceptical about what to expect. The customer service was very good however and the attendant and driver on both journeys were friendly and helpful. We were even given juice and a cereal bar on our departure from the bus.
Overall it is not a service I will be using again but it was an experience and the fabulous time we had away for our city break makes up for two nights rough sleeping.