Without being melodramatic I would consider my recent trip to Edinburgh a rite of passage of sorts. In what way? Well, in the sense that I personally funded the entire weekend as a birthday treat for my father. Since finishing university a few years back I’ve not followed your typical graduate route, so I’m pretty darn well chuffed that I’ve reached the realms of self-employment that leave me with enough disposable income to take my dad away. He deserves it. Especially as he’s put up with many an existential quarter life crisis along the way without even beginning to suggest I go get a ‘real job’.
He’s awesome. I’m grateful.
I wanted to express that gratitude by making our trip as special as possible so of course, first class travel was on the agenda. Let’s be clear right now that travelling via Virgin Trains’ first class service doesn’t have to break the bank (… but shhh, don’t tell my dad)! Booking two months in advance, choosing the right trains and using our railcards, I managed to secure two advance return tickets from Milton Keynes to Edinburgh for the total sum of £140, which the Virgin Trains website was quick to inform me is a massive saving of hundreds of pounds!
That ticket price included seat reservations, WiFi & limitless food and drink. Was it worth it? Read on to find out …
Virgin Trains First Class Service: Seating
My favourite thing about the Virgin Pendolino first class carriages is undoubtedly their two seater tables. They mean you can travel as a pair, sat opposite each other (much better for conversation than side by side) and have the benefit of a table without worrying who is going to be sitting with you. The table’s decorative lamp makes for a very cosy vibe and each place is set with a glass, mug, cutlery and place mat so that you’re ready to go as soon as the food service starts. Charging points are also available for each seat, though they’re labelled as ‘phones and laptops only’ which this tablet loving soul found a little odd!
Sitting in coach H we were able to reserve our two seats right next to the luggage racks (a blessing if you’re anxious like me and like to keep an eye of your possessions); there’s much more leg room than in standard class, the seats are roomier and the two seaters span the length of an entire window which meant we had great views of the countryside, particularly as we soared through the lake district on an autumnal Friday morning with bright orange sheep in clear view. Stunning.
Virgin Trains First Class Service: Food
I still can’t quite believe that practically limitless food and drink is included in the ticket price. Within minutes of hopping on the train at Milton Keynes, a lovely lady came along to take our order from a very comprehensive breakfast menu. I opted for a sausage roll (the bread not pastry kind!) which really hit the spot and my dad happily tucked into some scrambled eggs on toast. By the time we’d made it to the first stop (Coventry) we were both suitably fed and watered, astonishing given it was a busy rush hour train. For the rest of the journey, the staff would walk up and down the carriage every half hour or so with tea, coffee, juice and water, as well as a seemingly infinite supply of toast!
Our return trip was on the verge of the afternoon/evening crossover so didn’t really span a particular meal time; but we were still offered a range of sandwiches, salads and other snacks (the banana cake is a joy!) as well as a large range of alcoholic and soft drinks, which again were available throughout the entire five hour journey.
Virgin Trains First Class: Is It Worth It?
My dad totally fell in love with the whole Virgin Trains first class experience (… I guess food really is the way to a man’s heart!) and I can’t imagine doing such a long trip in the confines of standard class which I find claustrophobic at the best of times – the extra room really did make our journey more comfortable and relaxing. I was particularly impressed by the food service and how accommodating the staff were to people’s dietary needs. Unless I win the lottery I probably wouldn’t fork out the extra expense for my regular trip to London, but I would seriously consider it for anything over a couple of hours, particularly if I could book with a discount. We had a great experience.