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Overnight in a Sleeper Cabin on VIA Rail's The Canadian

Where: Canada
February 21, 2012 at 3:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

After way too many hours logged in cramped airline seats, we knew that the romance of air travel was long gone. (What's up, Pan Am?) But, we wondered, was there still charm and romance to be found when traveling by train?

After an 18-hour journey from Vancouver to Jasper, Alberta, on VIA Rail Canada, we can emphatically say yes. Of course, we were lucky enough to be traveling in one of The Canadian's Sleeper Cabins built for two, so that might have something to do with it.

We took a tour through the train before it departed, however, and found lots to like about the cabins for one, the berths and even the economy seats—mostly the fact that you don't have to sit in them the entire way, thanks to the Skyline dome car, with its observation level seating and panoramic windows.

But before we tell you more about the journey, the food and the amazing scenery of the Canadian Rockies, let's take a look at our digs on The Canadian...

The Sleeper Cabin for two measures 7 ft. 2¾ in. x 4 ft. 11⅝ in. and has a private "washroom," as the Canucks say, that's 2 ft. 9 in. x 2 ft. 1 in. This translates into enough room for one person (especially one who's only 5'2") to navigate, although if you had two people, you'd want to know each other well or be very patient and polite.

You can see all of the bells and whistles in our gallery, but here's our take on the amenities and experience overall:

Having our own loo and sink was awesome. (Although the sink was actually less important. There's a separate drinking water faucet, so we only needed the sink to brush our teeth and wash our face. We could do that in a shared bathroom.) Of course, just having a little room to ourselves, with a door to close out the rest of the world was great. Watching the world go by in complete privacy felt about as luxurious as travel can get.

Of course, we also loved the bed. You simply ask the on-board attendant to put it down when you're ready to recline, and voila, it's done in under a minute. Laying down and nodding off to the sound and rocking movement of the train was hands down our favorite part of our journey. Waking up to a magical, snowy landscape in the morning was a close second.

In the daytime configuration, our chairs faced backward, due to the orientation of our cabin. No problem—they're not bolted to the floor, so we moved them around to fashion ourselves a snug little daybed by the window.

We were a little surprised at the overall older feel of the train, but The Canadian has serious history, with some of the cars dating back to the fifties. The good news is that The Canadian is in the midst of a major upgrade, so our cabin had new carpet and fittings, as did the dining car.

We'll have more on the journey from Vancouver to Jasper this week—but if you've got train travel on the brain, take a look at VIA Rail's current sale on this route. If you book by March 9, you can save on Sleeper Plus class like ours (and cabins for one) for travel through May 31.

We found a fare for one person traveling in a Sleeper Cabin for 2 like we did for $852.32 between Vancouver and Jasper (includes meals). For two people in the Cabin for 2, we found a fare of $567.84 per person.

Disclosure: We traveled courtesy of VIA Rail Canada, but all photos and opinions here are completely our own.

[Photos: Rebecca W for Jaunted]

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