Our First Megabus Gold Experience (Edinburgh to London)

by Karen

When trying to figure out a way to get from Edinburgh to London, Mark & I had tried looking at different types of transportation. Planes were cheap, but had crazy fees and we didn’t want to deal with rushing to an obscure airport. Trains were fast and ideal, but crazy expensive, at least in Britain. Then we looked at buses.

Many people in the US may have heard of a company called Megabus. They provide low-cost bus service between various cities in the US, and sometimes have crazy $1 ticket sales if you are lucky enough to come across them. They are generally these double-decker buses that provide power outlets and free (but inconsistent) wi-fi on every seat. I’ve taken Megabus before from Boston-NYC, and NYC-Albany for $18 each leg, and was generally pleased with it (though the wi-fi could’ve been better!).

Imagine my glee when I found out they also had Megabus in the UK, and for the same low costs. Imagine my even bigger glee when I discovered Megabus Gold: “sleeper buses” from Scotland to London, i.e., overnight 8 hour buses with BEDS.
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Holy crap, I thought, this is exactly what we needed. It would get us from Edinburgh to London for cheaper than a train ticket, AND it would save us the cost of a hostel for a night. Killing two birds with one stone, nice!

I managed to book our “mobile hostel” for £70 total (£35/person). I’ve had previous experience riding sleeper trains before in Malaysia, but never buses, so I wasnt sure what to expect. Our bus would leave from Edinburgh at 11pm and arrive in London around 7am.

Upon boarding Megabus Gold, we were given our choice of beds, first-come. I’ve heard of some routes with assigned seats though. Each compartment had an upper bunk and a lower bunk. The top bunks are secured by a harness and safety nets, almost like sleeping on a hammock. The bottom bunks were mattresses on top of folded down seats.
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Here’s what they don’t tell you on the website: all beds on the right-side of the bus are singles, both top and bottom bunks. All the beds on the left-side are doubles, with a single on the top. They obviously built the doubles with couples and families in mind (yay us!), but not such a great idea when traveling solo (unless you like sharing bed with random strangers)!
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Mark & I picked our double (which was the perfect size for us), but we heard other people on the bus grumble about how tight the spaces were in regards to the heights between the top and bottom bunks. Mind you, both Mark & I are shorter than 5’2″. Most of the other passengers appeared around 6’0″ or taller. If you sat up in your bed, you’d probably get a nasty bruise on your head.

Since our route was direct to London without any pickups, and with only 14 passengers that night (there are approx 24 beds), many people detached their top bunks and created cozy spaces for themselves.

The bathrooms on the bus are pretty much like airplane bathrooms, same tightness of space. On my particular trip, the sink didn’t work, but luckily I brought plenty of hand sanitizer. The “dining room” is downstairs, as are some compartments for the disabled and concierge. There is also a coffee & tea station.

So, here’s what is included:
– a small pillow (like airline pillows), wasn’t too comfy, but I grabbed an extra one off an empty bunk
– a fleece blanket, good size and very warm
– a bottle of water & a muffin as a late night snack
– a juice box and a pastry for breakfast
– a bed, the mattress feels a bit stiff in the middle
– wi-fi (still inconsistent)
– multiple electrical outlets (woohoo!)
– restrooms downstairs (it’s a double decker)
– a call button, in case you need something from their “concierge”
– a fold-down dining table (for doubles only)
– mood-lighting, or your own personal lamp
– your own air vent
– window shades to block out the sun

What you should bring:
– a second pillow, or puffy jacket to rest your head on, I felt theirs were a bit flat
– earplugs or headphones, though to be honest they didn’t help
– eye mask, in case you need it
– carabiners in case you need to put away the top bunk the way we did, in pure ghetto-engineering fashion (rolled up and secured the hammock to its safety supports)
– a sweater in case you get cold, but the fleece blanket is pretty good quality and thick, and they do turn the heat on a bit
– a flashlight or headlamp in case you need to use the bathroom, it’s pretty dark on the bus.

(Unfortunately, they do not provide you with a onesie as promised on their website.)

Essentially you are sleeping in a moving hostel. A very classy moving hostel. In fact, this bus looked and felt a lot nicer than the hostel we stayed in the previous night. I felt more camaraderie on this bus than I did sharing a room in my hostel; this whole experience is very novel to all its passengers, and we were all sharing it together. How do we create more space for ourselves? How do we hack these bunks? What do the light switches do? Oh look, you can adjust your harnesses like this! Let’s see who can snore the loudest! I know this varies on each ride, but we were lucky enough to have respectful passengers on our bus. Everyone was quiet, courteous, and didn’t disturb anyone.
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There are no privacy curtains, so you will be able to see your neighbor across the aisle. But it’s very dark and you should be sleeping anyway. There is a bit of mood & track lighting, but it’s a faint neon blue glow. It can get noisy from snoring, but the bus rattles are louder. To me, they aren’t any more distracting than an airplane engine or a train chugging along.

If you have a tendency to get sea sick or vertigo, this may not be an ideal ride for you. You are lying down flat on a moving bus! It did feel a bit strange with the bus in motion and my feet facing towards the front of the bus, the momentum made it feel as if I was tipping upside-down onto my head. It can be a bit disorienting at first, but with a proper head cushion, it should work out.

And so, the results? I didn’t get a very restful sleep (to be honest, I don’t know if it’s because of the bus, or because I’m an insomniac, I didn’t try to sleep until 2:30am-ish), but Mark slept quite well. The other passengers had mixed results as well: some slept very well, others not so much. It’s all based on your own personal sleep “skills”.

They turn the lights on about 20 minutes before you arrive at the bus station, and when you leave, they give you a juice box and a chocolate croissant for breakfast. Not bad.

I would definitely give Megabus Gold another shot. There are some things I would’ve done differently in order to sleep better (use my jacket as a pillow, wear an eyemask, use a sleepsack so I don’t flail around, left the top hammock alone and used it as our storage rack). I wouldn’t say that you’d gain an extra day of sightseeing just by doing overnight traveling, but if your destination happens to be a 10 minute walk to Buckingham Palace at sunrise, it might be worth checking out that option.
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15 thoughts on “Our First Megabus Gold Experience (Edinburgh to London)

  1. Hey, I just discovered this as I am planning taking the same trip soon. Is a bed guaranteed for everyone? Also – not sure if you experienced this – but is the top bunk easy to fold down and jump up on / can you get help with this and is Edinburgh Bus Station easy to find?

    Many thanks,
    Jess.

    • Hi! Sorry I just saw this message! It might be a bit too late for my reply, but I’ll answer it in case someone visits this page in the future.

      – As long as you have a ticket, a bed should be guaranteed for everyone. I believe they only sell as many tickets as there are seats.
      – The top bunk is easy to fold, though I would bring some carabiners (S-hooks) with you just in case you need to put it aside. I am sure other passengers and the bus drivers can help you out.
      – I don’t remember if the bus station was easy to find, I think we got a ride there. But it’s a major transit station, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

      Happy travels!

  2. Great, informative post – many thanks for taking the time to write about your experience. Currently waiting on the bus to arrive 🙂

  3. Pingback: Test Driving Megabus Gold – Intentionally Untitled
  4. 2016 Feb

    I feel the need to add extra info on top of an excellent article that might help people pre-consider this option.

    My environment:
    I’m 5’6, and avg size built. 160lbs
    Above me is an Asian guy I would approx as 140ish lbs, 5’5 and skinny

    First off I’m literally writing this at 3am in the top deck, back of the bus, sharing the dual bottom bed.

    – YOU WILL BE GIGGLY AND/OR SHOCKED AT THE SAME TIME WHEN YOU SEE THE SPACE OF THE BEDS
    – ask nicely if you can get the back of the bus bed(bc there is a step in the aisle at the back that can act as a seat ) so gives you quick access to a sortof perk. Oh yeah you can’t choose exactly which bed or change when he’s not looking. The guy WILL get mad and remembers who was assigned where, so get in front of the line if you choose to file my latter “perk” tip
    – it is an extremely wobbly ( not bumpy) ride, you really can’t be motion sickness for this.
    – you WILL sleep due to the above. You can’t walk around its £¥#^…¡ing VERY wobbly even when sitting or sleeping.
    – you will feel claustrophobic while in bed if you’re in a single or sleeping under a single ( in the dual bed option)
    – the space between my 38 inch chest and the HAMMOCK above me is exactly 2, note II width wise. ( Google specs to find out exact dimension). Also to note this gap changes depending how heavy the above person is.
    – they will not entirely care if you are large and you chose the top bunk(a large guy boarding my bus proved that)
    – when turning to sleep on your side based on my specs I measured an 3/4 inch gap. For me I would still consider this as restrictive but extremely thankful of my size when looking at others, bc I can still move around 360 degrees ( trust me, it’s the one time you’ll be thankful for being smaller)
    – yes bring something to boost that pillow size ( I used my down jacket, worked perfectly
    – GO TO washroom 30 MIN before getting in bus (30p @ station)
    – washrooms ARE MUCH tighter than airplanes
    – mine also had no soap. I do suggest to bring your own sanitizer/ soap and pack of Kleenex
    – Karens comment on sleep skill is very accurate. Hence I must reinforce this term when choosing megabus option
    – the beds ( old seats flattened with some cushion added( floor bed option) were not too soft and not too hard so no complaints here. My defn of soft would be memory foam without sinking into a crevice

    Closing comments:

    This is how in going to predict with confidence your logistics decision.

    – if you are on a budget ( as in train prices are too expensive for you)… You ain’t gotta choice so seriously STOP researching. This is THE ONLY option if you wanna lay down.

    – I chose this option bc this was the next best thing. And for me I’ll classify it as an adventure decision, trying something new!!
    – in conclusion, I dont regret this but I won’t do this again. I think a train or a plane has better value.

    Ok gonna try to sleep in this shaky bus. Hope this adds value to Karens awesome article.

    Buythisnow ( is my Craigslist call sign)

  5. Your review was very helpful and very interesting from start to finish. I will dero fry this trip from Aberdeen to London in August.

  6. hi! thank you for this post. i think my husband and i will take the megabus too! if you don’t mind, could you recommend a hotel/hostel in london and edinburgh? thanks so much!

    • Hi! Sorry for the delay, I don’t check my emails often. I would highly recommend finding a spot on AirBnb. We stayed with a host family out in Brockley, but it was a great experience! It did take almost an hour to get to the city center though.

  7. Pingback: I caught the Megabus Gold from Aberdeen to London for £25 – 6 things I wish I’d known before I did – Daily Record | Share4post
  8. Pingback: Megabus gold : un car 1ère classe de nuit ! – loukian.net

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