A popular way of getting to Netherlands from the south-east UK is by taking the Eurostar train from London to Brussels and then travelling onwards to Amsterdam by Thalys or standard trains. Let's take a close look at travelling by Eurostar...
The Eurostar serves London-Brussels 5-7x daily with travel time around 2 hours. There are 3 classes of travel on the Eurostar:
Standard Class - effectively 2nd class with the normal 2-2 configuration seating, seat pitch of approximately 33" (84.5cm) and food/drink available for purchase at the bar buffet car.
Standard Premier - a first class "lite" product using dedicated carriages with 1-2 configuration and seat pitch of 37" (94.5cm). A complimentary light meal and drinks are served at your seat and a selection of magazines is available.
Business Premier - a flexible fare business product with dedicated carriages (similar 1-2 config and seat pitch as Standard Premier). A full 3 course meal with drinks is served at your seat (culinary director is currently Raymond Blanc), plus newspapers and magazines are available. At the main Eurostar stations you get fast-track check-in and a business lounge which has free refreshments and WiFi.
Both Standard Premier and Business Premier have in-seat power (both UK and Euro style sockets are available in alternate seat rows). Standard class offers plug sockets only in carriages 5 and 14 which can be booked subject to availability. Coaches 8 and 11 (Business Premier and Standard Premier) are designated as quiet coaches.
During the online booking process Eurostar allows you to select your seats and to print your own boarding pass - if you are travelling alone in Standard Premier/Business Premier you could go for a single seater. You can also collect tickets at the ticket office.
Onward travel from Brussels to Netherlands can be made using the high speed Thalys. Note, the high speed FYRA train service which replaced the Amsterdam-Brussels Intercity has been halted due to major reliability issues - it is not known when it will be restarted.
Travel between Brussels and Amsterdam can be made on standard trains - either via Antwerp and Roosendaal or using the Brussels-Den Haag Intercity service. For more info see International Trains to/from Amsterdam
Note that Eurostar also allows booking tickets starting at other stations in the UK - this may be cheaper than buying a separate ticket to London St Pancras.
The public area inside London St Pancras contains quite a decent range of shops, cafés and restaurants. Upstairs you will find the longest champagne bar in Europe.
You can check-in up to 30 minutes in advance on the Eurostar in Standard or Standard Premier. Business Premier passengers can arrive up to 10 minutes before departure. However, we advise getting there about 1 hour before as check-in queues can sometimes be long for the standard classes.
You need to go through a check-in gate (where you scan or insert your ticket) and then an immediate security check of your luggage followed by French border control. You are then in the main departures lounge area which is used by all Eurostar passengers going to Paris and Brussels. This area has a WH Smith newsagent, Caffé Nero and another café. Free WiFi is available.
Boarding is called about 20 minutes before departure and you go up the escalators to the platform to find your carriage and seats. If you have large cases there are luggage racks inside the train near the doors. Otherwise there are overhead racks for medium and smaller bags plus a smaller rack for coats. Standard Premier class has magazines available for reading (such as Time, Economist, Wired etc) but no newspapers.
The train departs and soon speeds its way out of London. It makes a quick stop at Ebbsfleet before continuing on the high speed track towards the channel tunnel. Some services stop at Ashford.
In Standard Premier, morning services before 11am get a light continental style breakfast with coffee or tea, served about 25 minutes into the journey. If you travel after 11am you will get a (cold) light meal with the option of soft drinks, wine or beer. Special meals are available on request.
The train slows down for the channel tunnel section which takes 20 minutes. It then speeds up again on the French side for the high speed run to Lille-Europe station and finally to Brussels Zuid/Midi. If you are travelling onwards to Netherlands by Thalys or FYRA then you need to go down to the concourse at Brussels Zuid/Midi station to check the boards as to which platform you need.
Brussels-London return journey
The return leg of the trip works in a similar way. Try to get to Brussels Zuid/Midi station in good time - at least 1 hour before departure. The Eurostar departures terminal is located near platform 1-2. If you wish to have a warm drink and snack beforehand we recommend Exki which is located in the side concourse near the Eurostar entrance (head towards the exit and then bear left). They sell a range of organic soups, salads, sandwiches and deserts and have a breakfast deal before 11am.
There are a few other cafés/bars at the station, a small supermarket and some gift shops. Note that there are sometimes a few "dodgy" characters hanging around the station so keep your wits about you.
When check-in opens you can go through the barrier by scanning your ticket. You then go through Belgian passport control, a security check and then British passport control before entering the main departures waiting lounge. This contains a café, newsagents, chocolate shop and the Business Premier lounge. Free WiFi is available throughout.
Boarding commences around 20 minutes before scheduled departure where you head up to the platforms. The journey back via Lille-Europe, the channel tunnel, (Ashford) and Ebbsfleet takes around 2 hours. On arrival at London St Pancras you will face a brief passport check and then exit via customs.
Overall, travel on the Eurostar is highly recommended with its city centre to city centre convenience. Standard Premier class is a comfortable and civilised way to travel in a quiet cabin and will make a good start/end to your trip.
For a visual overview of all international daytime services, check out our international rail connections map from Amsterdam