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The Thalys train is one of Europe’s high speed rail services serving Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. The service has near hourly departures, with about 1.5 hour trips between each city pair.
In Brussels, the Thalys train departs from Bruxelles Midi/Bruxelles Zuid station. For me, I was headed to Paris, where the train lets you off at Gare du Nord. From there, I’d take an Uber to the Park Hyatt, which has special rates year round thanks to this membership.
I booked my ticket on Rail Europe, which has the best prices on train travel within Europe.
In Brussels, Thalys “The Card” holders have access to their Thalys lounge, just below the train platforms.
Unfortunately, the lounge is nothing special. There’s no free drinks, other than a water cooler you’d find in any office building, and a small coffee machine. There’s a small selection of business magazines and brochures, but nothing to keep you occupied for more than 20 minutes. Inside, you’ll also find a small meeting room you can reserve, and a restroom. Sure, there are comfortable chairs and some free coffee, but nothing you should go out of your way to find. A US Airways lounge has more amenities, and that’s saying something! 🙂
Boarding is not announced from the lounge, so you’ll need to pay attention to your watch and the tv monitors displaying train information inside the lounge. There’s an escalator that brings you from the bottom floor up to the train platform. Once there, I proceeded to my Comfort 1 car.
Comfort 1 on Thalys is their version of First Class. I paid about 30 USD more for my ticket than a Comfort 2 ticket, which I found worthwhile considering I had a single seat to myself, a free lunch, and the possibility to make one free schedule change to my trip.
Onboard, you’ll find setting in a 1×2 seating configuration. The great thing about Thalys, just like Amtrak in the US is that they feature complimentary WiFi onboard – it was a bit spotty at times, though I had my Skyroam on hand which broadcasted a strong wifi signal. European trains are known for departing on time, however my train departed close to an hour late due to a medical emergency onboard.
Unfortunately, you won’t find a great deal of legroom onboard.
The under-seat storage was perfect for my Tumi Alpha 2 backpack, and racks in the rear of the train car stored my Rimowa suitcase without any issue.
Once we departed, the 2 attendants for our car came around with a meal service. I don’t remember the other choice of meal, but I ordered the ham and broccoli (served cold) which was tasty.
The seat “reclined” a comfortable distance, which was nice for a quick nap enroute. The nice thing about these seats is that the back was stiff, and the recline feature was in the pad you were sitting on – once you pushed the controls, the seat pad moved forward, thus replicating a recline (though reducing legroom). For a more comfortable experience, consider using a travel neck pillow.
Just before arriving in Paris, the car attendants offered to schedule a cab for pickup (another feature of Comfort 1), though I declined (I wanted to take the metro to my hotel). Overall, a comfortable journey, and one I would certainly do again considering it avoided the chaos of the airport, and the hassles associated with that.
How did I book this trip: I booked this train travel directly on the Thalys website.
What was included in my ticket: a Comfort 1 seat, lunch, offer for a cab to be called, and single side seating
Pros of the trip: Quick, convenient transfer from Brussels to Paris. Cab offering, and a tasty lunch. Oh, WiFi, too!
Cons of the trip: Legroom was minimal at best, and the train was delayed (although, due to a supposed medical emergency).
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Ted Bowers says
My input based upon a trip from Paris to Amsterdam in “Comfort 2” vs. the return in “Comfort 1″ is:
-Comfort 2 seats were perfectly fine for my 6’4” frame
-The meal in Comfort 1 was nothing special: small sandwich and a drink
-Wifi was essentially non-existent in Comfort 1. With everyone using it in Comfort 1, it must have slowed the overall connectivity rate to near zero. With a percentage of “economy” folks in Comfort 2 train not having access, it worked pretty good.
Save a few euros and just go Comfort 2