Ever since word got out that Eurostar would be running a direct route to Amsterdam, we have been tracking developments closely. Especially as it seemed that Eurostar might offer the perfect family-friendly way to travel to Amsterdam with kids.
The exciting news was dampened somewhat when it was revealed that the direct route would, at first only take place one way – running from St Pancras to Amsterdam’s Central Station with the return necessitating significantly more hassle. Namely a train to Brussels (most people board a Thalys) and a requirement to complete passport control there before jumping on the Eurostar back to London. The reason for this seemingly perverse situation is that there has been major disagreement with British customs about how to police ticket holders who buy a ticket to Rotterdam or Brussels but stay onboard to the UK.
So for now it’s really only a one way ticket and indeed on our first Eurostar Amsterdam adventure we took a decision to ‘rail out’ and fly back.
But we can’t wait for the return leg to be sorted, because it was, in a word, brilliant.
If you book 120 days in advance, you can pay as little as £35 for a ticket and of course one of the key advantages is there’s no extra charge for luggage (you can take two pieces AND hand luggage with no weight limit on your bags).
There are two departures a day at ideal times – 8.30 and 17.30 and at with just a 3 hour 41 minute journey time you can depart London in the morning and arrive in time to enjoy a late lunch by the canals.
It is a particularly excellent journey for kids. We find airports can be stressful, and even flying from Luton involves some serious logistics and a lot of walking for little legs.
With Eurostar you only have to check in 30-45 minutes before departure, and Business Premiere passengers can do it with just 10 minutes to spare.
Taxi drop-off is right by the Eurostar terminal and of course Kings Cross/St Pancras is incredibly accessible by tube and train as well.
On our recent trip, we found passport control was very efficient and after bag check we were settled in the departure lounge in minutes. The only downside is that shops in the terminal are limited, we kind of wished we’d spent a bit longer in the station before heading through – buying books and magazines is definitely a better experience in St Pancras. Still, there is a Pret a Manger for last minute food and drinks and seating is plentiful.
The minis were even offered dot-to-dot and colouring in, which engrossed them during the short wait.
Before we knew it, it was time to board. The ramps leading up to the train are another huge winner compared to airport travel, making buggy access for younger kids a dream.
Onboard we were just as happy. There are plug points by all the seats and allegedly wifi (although we found it dreadfully slow). There was ample room for restless little ones to walk up and down without annoying anyone too much, and of course a buffet car for food-mergencies. Do bear in mind it closes about 10 minutes before pulling into each station and opens again swiftly after departure.
The train stops at Brussels and Rotterdam and our kids loved the journey. Loads to see out the windows and heaps of space to complete activities at the table.
And in no time at all we were pulling into Amsterdam’s Central Station in the bright October sunshine.
We can’t wait for Eurostar to get their act together and sort out the return. With a family of mini train-lovers, this was a birthday treat of dreams and the prospect of railing our way back from Centraal Station straight into North London and avoiding hectic Schipol airport altogether would be a treat of dreams for “mummy and papa’ too!