A Review of My Overnight Accommodations On Megabus UK

A Review of My Overnight Accommodations On Megabus UK

I’m always up for any alternatives to expensive airline or rail tickets. Earlier, I’d written about the Chinese bus companies that had cropped up to go head to head competition with the transportation stalwart, Greyhound. Roughly six years ago, another company begins to make waves in the U.S. by offering newer, comfortable luxury buses with free wi-fi service (though not available on every bus) and a small but functional restroom in the rear. For the longest time, their service was limited to the northeastern U.S., fortunately, they began to service the southeast by offering $1.00 introductory fares and the rest is history. Megabus USA is experiencing phenomenal success, much like its parent company in the UK which launched in 2003.

As I was planning my recent trip to Paris, I thought it would be nice to use Megabus UK to visit either London or Amsterdam while I was there. We opted to go with Amsterdam since the trip time was considerably less (by two hours) as was the cost (by £8 each way). Our fare for our trip to Amsterdam was a grand total of £20.50 roundtrip ( £10 per person plus a 50 pence booking fee which is charged for all reservations) and the trip time was a little over 7 hours. Since our departure time was at 11:30 pm this worked to our advantage since we would be able to sleep overnight and wake up refreshed in Amsterdam the next morning.

megabus1

The Megabus station is located at the Porte Maillot Coach park which is right across the street from the Palais des Congrès de Paris on Boulevard Pershing. It is easily reached by Metro on line 1 (Direction La Defense). Simply go up the stairs and exit right outside the metro station. The Palais des Congrès de Paris will be straight ahead and the coach park will be right beyond it.

bussign

It was late Fall and the weather was frighteningly cold when we got to the coach park. To our surprise, there was no waiting room so we had to stand outside for two and a half hours. There are no benches, so we decided to sit on the edge of the retaining walls that surrounded the park. Our bus arrived around 10:30 pm though it wasn’t easy to tell that it was ours because there was no signage indicating its destination. I had to knock on the door and ask if that bus was scheduled for Amsterdam. The driver confirmed that it was but there would be no boarding until 11:00 pm. Of course, I think if someone had a ticket and the weather was in the low 30’s it would make sense to let them board rather than allow them to stand outside in the cold to freeze. However, this guy wasn’t the friendliest and he seemed to turn everyone else away who had a similar idea as I did.

What made matters worse was that he thought it was more important to have a deep conversation with another Megabus driver that he didn’t come back to let us in until 11:15 pm! Had the weather not been so miserable, or his attitude so poor, it probably wouldn’t have irked me as much. We were the first to board, so we tried to find good seats while we could. The seats were as expected for a tour bus and had seat belts that we had to wear before the driver could or would pull off. I quickly learned that the pitch of the seats was pretty tight as my long thighs could attest, but anyone of average height would be comfortable. Honestly, I could have taken one of the front seats and would have been fine, but given the driver’s behavior, I wasn’t trying to sit that close to him. This bus was a slightly elevated traditional coach bus and was not like the double-decker buses that I usually saw back in the states. The interior was clean and bright, there was overhead lighting and a spot check of the restroom was satisfactory.

interior of bus

We pulled out around 11:45 pm and all in all, it was a smooth trip. I didn’t know it at the time but there was a stopover in Brussels, Belgium 4.5 hours into the journey and a slew of college kids disembarked. I made a mental note that if I ever did this again, this would be a great way to check out Bruges (which is high on my bucket list). I figured it was a great time to use the restroom since things were at a standstill and almost half of the passengers were gone. To my surprise, the toilet was full of urine….well, it was one urine sample short of being full. The driver saw me quickly close the door and explained that they were out of water which is why it was impossible to flush the contents. I had one word for that, “EEEWWWWW!”. Thankfully, I could wait.

We arrived in Amsterdam almost three hours later and were instructed by the driver where we could catch the tram (#26) to get to the city center. The ride back was less dramatic, we still had a stopover in Brussels but we would also have another stop because the driver was scheduled to be replaced by another. We still arrived back in Paris 45 minutes before we were scheduled to.

Final Verdict? It’s budget traveling! We didn’t pay much and as to be expected you can’t expect too much. If you approach the entire process with the understanding that you won’t get four-star service, you will be fine. The bus was extremely clean, with one exception that was mentioned earlier and the ride was uneventful and relatively quiet because everyone used the time to sleep like I did, no doubt. The price was excellent and it proved to be a great way to take a day-trip with very little hassle. Would I do it again? Yes, I would…..with no hesitation. I would just go light on drinking liquids!

 

Comments

comments

Renee King
aviewtoathrill@gmail.com
23 Comments
  • Gray
    Posted at 16:02h, 03 January Reply

    Oh man. A non-functioning toilet on a 7.5 hour bus trip? Totally unacceptable, I don’t care how cheap it is. You are either a camel or a saint, Renee. Or both.
    Gray recently posted…2013 Travel Sneak PeekMy Profile

    • Renee King
      Posted at 22:22h, 04 January Reply

      ROFLOL!! Gray! In fairness, it was full at hour 4.5….which is bad enough, I suppose. ;-D I agree, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I would like to think that it was just a fluke….but the driver KNEW that they wouldn’t have enough water to flush, so that’s definitely an issue that Megabus needs to fix immediately. It was unacceptable to me but there wasn’t much that I could do about it at the time….luckily, the pen is mightier than the sword. I hope.

  • Tracy Antonioli
    Posted at 16:07h, 03 January Reply

    Wow. Thanks for this review. I will NEVER (never never never) use this service. It sounds like my personal hell on earth in every possible way–the long wait in the cold, the rude driver, the college students, and the seven hour bus ride without a restroom. Seriously–I have a thimble sized bladder, there’s no WAY I could have been like ‘oh yeah, I’ll just wait THREE HOURS until I get there’. Ha!

    That seriously sounds perfectly awful. I’ll take the train ANY day! In fact, I did take the train from Paris to Amsterdam and back. I don’t recall how many euros it was, but however much I paid, it was worth it!!!
    Tracy Antonioli recently posted…The Next Big Thing: Why You Should Visit Pittsburgh in 2013My Profile

    • Renee King
      Posted at 22:25h, 04 January Reply

      Tracy, it was beyond believable. I had heard mostly good things about Megabus, so I decided to give it a shot….you never know until you try. I plan to use Megabus again in the states….but this time it will be a short trip from Atlanta to Charleston, SC. I want to experience US service too so that I can write about that experience as well.

  • Linda
    Posted at 16:27h, 03 January Reply

    LOL! Sounds like a challenge. The service was recommended to me within UK & I passed that on to my son, who used it a couple of months back. He said it was ok, but very, very late arriving, but he’d certainly use it again. Given that I’m broke right now I would definitely use it – but obviously if one could afford better probably one wouldn’t? I checked out the service from York to London last Fall, but the times didn’t work for me. Am guessing like cheap flights the hours aren’t what one would choose. Certainly part of the appeal of bus travel is to see scenery one can’t see by plane or appreciate when driving, but if you travel by night then you don’t see it. On the other hand, saving a night’s accommodation would be a big draw for me these days! Really interested to read your opinions!
    Linda recently posted…2012: Postcards to MyselfMy Profile

    • Renee King
      Posted at 22:17h, 04 January Reply

      Hi Linda,

      You’ve made some great points! I see budget traveling as a definite tradeoff. I would have loved to have seen the countryside as we traveled between the two cities, but the ride would have been much longer during daylight hours (we left close to midnight) due to traffic and it would have been less peaceful since most people would be awake. I just had to be content with the fact that once we reached our destination, we could enjoy the landscape then. My true goal was just to get from point A To point B so I was really ok with everything and most especially the fact that we didn’t have to worry about accommodations as you’ve pointed out. Sorry to hear about your financial situation, I hope everything improves quickly for you!

  • Candice Michelle
    Posted at 02:20h, 04 January Reply

    Wow! that’s pretty nice huh, it feels like challenging.
    Candice Michelle recently posted…add natural treatmentMy Profile

  • Michaela
    Posted at 15:55h, 05 January Reply

    I use Megabus frequently and enjoy the value of it’s service. You are required to have a little patience for this type of thing, since customer service isn’t a high point for their drivers!

    I hadn’t thought to use it internationally, but I’ll store this tidbit of information away for future use. Savings are savings – and Megabus gets the job done for much less!

    LOL! I sound like an advertisement! ^^^
    Michaela recently posted…Why I Stopped Giving A Damn About Ellis IslandMy Profile

  • Athena Brady
    Posted at 08:03h, 07 January Reply

    Renee, what a trip you are truly an adventurer. As you say the price was fantastic, pity about the driver. I was unaware of this bus company, thank you for sharing.

    • Renee King
      Posted at 09:58h, 07 January Reply

      Hi Athena,

      Yes, the things that we must endure when we try to stick to a budget. It was definitely a first! lol

  • Nicholle Olores
    Posted at 21:56h, 10 January Reply

    Very awesome bus and I really appreciate the good vibes of the bus. It is a nice feeling to travel with this kind of accomodations.
    Nicholle Olores recently posted…Timber Windows and Doors versus AluminiumMy Profile

  • Just One Boomer (Suzanne)
    Posted at 03:06h, 11 January Reply

    We traveled by bus in Mexico (“first class” – looks like the Megabus) and were happy with it, but we didn’t go on any trip over four hours. They even give you a snack and show a movie — and you have to go through security to board and then some guy comes on and takes a photo of everyone.

    Thanks for the Megabus report. I hate to admit this, but I think I’m just too old and irritable for your Megabus experience and we’re both Boomers so I feel badly for thinking that I couldn’t tough it out.

    BTW, definitely move Bruges up on your bucket list. Actually, Belgium was an interesting place. When you take the train from Brussels (French speaking) to Bruges, half way there, they change the train signs to Flemish, so then you’re going to Brugge. The Flemish speakers all seem to speak good English because all their TV is American and British with subtitles, so they hear native speakers from an early age.

    I’m a new follower. Nice blog!
    Just One Boomer (Suzanne) recently posted…Key West, Florida – The Literal End of the Road (Or Maybe the Beginning)My Profile

  • Lanora
    Posted at 06:42h, 11 January Reply

    Renee, double “ewww” on that toilet issue. I’ve experienced similar water shortages on overnight trains back in my student days.

    What I really want to know is why you had to stand outside in the cold so long. Weren’t there any nearby cafes where you could nurse a cheap drink while you waited?
    Lanora recently posted…Travel Writing Month challenge launches January 1, 2013, on new BuddyPress siteMy Profile

  • Purnima
    Posted at 20:50h, 25 January Reply

    That was inarguably a challenging journey . A long journey with a non functioning toilet would be no less than a nightmare for me . I wonder how you managed .

  • Lee
    Posted at 10:00h, 31 January Reply

    Hi
    I will be honest here I had never heard of the megabus and definatly hadn’t seen one on the road. Not that I have been looking out for them though. Sounds like a great alternative means of transport. Will have a look at what it has to offer in the way of pick ups and drop offs in my area.

    For great heads up thanks lee
    Lee recently posted…Summer Bucket ListMy Profile

  • Martin Cooney
    Posted at 18:10h, 31 January Reply

    haha what a wonderful story, Renee 🙂
    I suppose traveling on varying budgets just requires us all to adopt a different mindset though. I think Pam and I would enjoy the Megabus experience except for the toilet adventure.
    At least we know what to expect now.
    Martin Cooney recently posted…5 Reasons You Should Vacation Annually With Your SpouseMy Profile

  • Rakesh Sharma
    Posted at 03:20h, 12 April Reply

    This was inarguably a difficult journey. A protracted journey with a non functioning bathroom would be no but a nightmare on behalf of me. I ponder however you managed.

  • Sue Stone
    Posted at 03:55h, 07 June Reply

    Hi Renee,

    Thanks for sharing this experience. I enjoy travelling by bus too. Only if my schedule permits of course. But Gray is right, a non-functioning toilet for 7.5 hour bus trip is big no-no. That would be very uncomfortable.

    • Renee King
      Posted at 08:10h, 07 June Reply

      Yeah, agreed….it wasn’t the greatest experience in the world. lol

  • Grant Lucas
    Posted at 02:57h, 18 November Reply

    A challenging journey indeed. However I feel disappointing on the rest room part, where you know its full of … However even if its less expensive, consider budget traveling – its also better to have a better access on the restroom. Some travelers were using the restroom a couple times than an average person who normally use the restroom. I’ve known that because my sister uses the restroom more than my girlfriend is.

  • Europe Trip Prep
    Posted at 10:47h, 07 April Reply

    […] planning, especially with a family of five. We’ll fly to one country, then ride the trains or megabus to other countries. The flying destination will depend on the airfare. We can fly to Paris, France, […]

  • Jojo
    Twitter:
    Posted at 04:35h, 23 December Reply

    Thank you
    Before I read this I was a bit worried because of how cheap it was

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