Flying a red-eye in economy is one of the most exhausting travel experiences out there. A sleeper train, though? The rhythmic chugging along the tracks can be better than any white noise machine—and the privilege to sleep horizontally doesn’t come with first-class prices.
Europe has been reinvesting in its night trains over the past few years to make travel between its popular destinations easier and greener. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express added a new route from Paris to the French Alps in 2022, while the Royal Scotsman, a Belmond Train is introducing two new luxury suites in May 2024 on its routes in the Scottish Highlands. On May 25, 2023, the European Sleeper night train will launch its inaugural service between Berlin and Brussels via Amsterdam. Operated by a Belgian Dutch railway company founded in 2021, the European Sleeper is a midtier private train line with lie-flat beds in cabins that can be booked privately. It gets you from Berlin to Brussels in under 12 hours.
Individual upright seats start at €49, while couchettes that transform from seats during the day into bunks at night start at €79. Beds in deluxe sleeper cabins start at €109. Factor in the cost of a hotel and the carbon emissions from a flight, and you’ll not only be saving money on accommodations but also traveling more sustainably.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new European Sleeper night train.
The route and schedule
On the outbound journey, the European Sleeper departs Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Zuid station at 7:22 p.m. and arrives at Berlin Hauptbahnhof the following morning at 6:48 a.m. That service includes stops at Antwerpen Centraal, Roosendaal, Rotterdam Centraal, Den Haag HS, Amsterdam Centraal, Amersfoort Centraal, Deventer, and Bad Bentheim stations. Trains depart Brussels in the evenings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (arriving in Berlin on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings).
On the return journey, the train leaves Berlin Hauptbahnhof at 10:56 p.m. and arrives in Brussels at 9:27 a.m. the following morning. This train makes nearly the same stops, omitting Amersfoort Centraal and Den Haag HS stations. (This means if you want to take the night train from Berlin to Amsterdam, you would arrive in the Dutch city by 6:31 a.m.) This route departs Berlin on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, arriving in Brussels on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.
Travelers who want to continue on to London can also easily hop on the Eurostar and be in the British capital by lunchtime.
Three different types of tickets are available on this train.
The Sleepers–Deluxe are the most private and comfortable cabins, with a maximum of three beds in each compartment, which can be booked as a single, double, or triple. (If you’re traveling alone and want to guarantee a private cabin, you’ll have to book and pay for this as a single—otherwise, you’ll be sharing the compartment with other travelers. Women-only compartments are available to book.) A washbasin is located in the compartment and toilets are located elsewhere in the carriage. Blankets, sheets, pillows, towels, and toiletries are provided. A welcome drink and breakfast are also included in these fares (additional drinks and snacks can be purchased separately). Prices start at €109.
Couchettes—Comfort compartments include up to six beds arranged as two sets of three-level bunks. The bunks fold up during the day so travelers can use regular seats when not sleeping. These compartments can be booked for groups of six, four, or as a private cabin. Washbasins and toilets are located outside the compartments. Bedding is provided, and breakfast and water are included in these fares. Prices start at €79.
The most affordable option is the Seats–Budget option that is offered as six upright seats per cabin (they don’t convert into beds). Toilets are located outside the compartments—and all food and drinks can be purchased separately. Prices start at €49.
In terms of safety, compartments lock from the inside, and it is possible to make reservations in the Couchette and Sleeper classes in women-only compartments.
In 2024, the European Sleeper will extend its route from Berlin to Dresden and Prague. But that’s not it for the train company. Its website says it is preparing several other new night train routes in “the short and the long term” with opportunities in southern Europe (Barcelona, perhaps?) as well as Scandinavia.