There's no denying that riding Europe's extensive train network is a popular option among travelers wanting to explore the continent with a more classic mode of transportation. Despite that popularity, however, the last several years have seen a decrease in overnight train service.
Only in recent months have there been signs of an overnight train comeback, with national rail providers announcing new routes.
Seizing on the open market, one French startup is stepping in to fill the void not only by offering overnight trains to and from Paris, but also by doing it in style. Founded by Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, the company recently revealed its plans to overhaul the basic overnight train experience to offer what its website describes as a "hotel on rails."
Appropriately named Midnight Trains, this red-eye rail service will connect Paris to 12 European cities, including Edinburgh, Porto, Rome, and Copenhagen. Along the way, guests will have their own private room with a bed and bathroom. Room configurations are designed for solo travelers, duos, and even friends or family traveling together.
But passengers won't need to be stuck in their rooms for the entire journey. Midnight Trains will also feature a bar and restaurant with seasonal products, homemade cocktails, craft beers, and wines. And since this is a "hotel on rails," guests can also opt for room service and have their meals and drinks brought directly to them.
"Transport operators (air or rail) have been focused on reducing prices for the last two decades, totally forgetting the customer experience and associated services," cofounder Payet told CNN Travel. "We think that travelers are now looking for a more comfortable and convenient way to travel."
Payet and Aumont also believe Midnight Trains will be an attractive option for travelers who are more concerned about their carbon footprint and sustainability.
"Travelers are more and more conscious about the ecological impact of air travel and they need an alternative," Payet told CNN Travel. "Air travel produces high carbon emissions. With Midnight Trains, we want to create a more comfortable, convenient, seamless, and sustainable alternative."
The first route will launch in 2024, with Midnight Trains expected to be fully operational by 2030. Though it's currently unclear how much a ticket will cost for an overnight ride on one of these trains, the founders say prices will be competitive with flight options, while also saving customers from paying for a night of accommodations.
For more information, visit the Midnight Trains website.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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