We have just arrived back in the UK from Spain having travelled entirely by trains and busses. On our return trip we paid the extra fare and went Grand Clase on an Elipsos Trenhotel.
We found that there are shortcomings to the promised service that spoiled the experience. These included no answer on the internal phones, very slow restaurant table service and an air conditioning system that didn’t work in our cabin.
But the real issues were to follow:
The overnight service from Madrid to Paris stopped en route during the night, the power went off and back on several times.
The breakfast table service was chaotic, only two waiters were struggling to cope with passengers demands. We decided that this may be due to the impending arrival in Paris and so abandoned the restaurant.
Confused about the lack of information we found (with the assistance of another passenger’s sat nav) that we were still 100 miles from Paris. No one from the company had bothered to let any of us know the train was running more than two hours late!
No staff from the so-called first class train hotel made their faces seen until our passports were returned at 10:00am; the train finally arrived at 10:30am. Some passengers also missed their Eurostar connections.
I have looked at the Elipsos.com website and cannot find any ‘contact us’ or ‘feedback’ links for me to use to complain about their failed service and communication standards.
We travelled to Madrid by Eurostar to Paris, then sleeper from Paris to Madrid. It's a wonderful way to travel - straight from city to city, with no airport queues, and you arrive right in the centre.
However, don't do as we did and get your student son to book it for you - it's much cheaper to buy the tickets in France or Spain. He was there; so far, so good. However, the economy drive went a bit too far when we realised that rather than the comfortable two-person compartment we were expecting, we were separated into four-berth compartments - and no dinner in the very nice-looking dining car.
Oh well, it's all part of seeing life and living it to the full. We recommend it !
Turn up early at the station, because the concourse is pure street theatre. Where else can you see terrapins, high-speed trains and stunning architecture under one roof? Travel first class for not much more than standard class, and arrive at your destination with a Quixotic smile on your face.
I recommend using buses rather than trains for getting between towns and cities in Spain. They are both cheaper and quicker than the trains which tend to take indirect routes and are unreliable. The best routes to use the train for is between Barcelona to Madrid (2 hours) and Madrid to Seville (2 hours). These routes are covered by the AVE - an express train which covers the large distances between both points in a couple of hours rather than the usual 6-7 hours which the much slower regional 'express' trains take.
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