What is the difference between a sleeper and a couchette on a night train? How can I find out more about them?
There are two main types of sleeping accommodation on European train: sleepers and couchettes. The difference between them seems to baffle even the most experienced train traveller.
Sleepers offer the highest level of comfort - they usually include a bed and private wash basin, towels and bed linen.
First-class sleeper accommodate 1-2 people; second-class 2-4 people. Sleeper trains charges are per person and will vary dependent on the route and facilities offered. Some of the more deluxe sleeper trains are more expensive but come with a private toilet as well. When you board the train you may find the beds already made up, or in the upright position - serving as your seat. The attendent will come to make your bed as evening approaches.
Couchettes are a simpler overnight accommodation. Usually located in Second-class, they are compartments sleeping up to six people on open bunks, with a pillow and blanket provided. There is a small shared bathroom at the end of each carriage. The bunks fold down to create seating during the day. The attendent may assist you to put the bunks up/down but you should make your own bed with the linen provided.
Note that since there is generally no gender distinction, you should pack appropriate clothing or sleep in your day clothes. As they are more basic, a couchette option is always cheaper than a sleeper on the same service.
When booking a ticket on Loco2 the options for seating and sleeping are displayed on the ticket/upgrades drop down. If you hover over the different seating and sleeping types you will be shown a short description to help you decide.
Check that your ticket includes a reservation for a sleeper or couchette if you plan to take a night train. This particularly applies to railpass holders. Tickets purchased via Loco2 usually include seat reservations where necessary, but railpasses do not automatically include your reservation. Seat reservations can be booked up to 90 days in advance.
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