As opposed to many other train First Class products, Thalys does offer a full meal service at your seat. Although this only applies to certain times of day, it is a very welcome service thought, especially when you are transiting to/from Brussels. The food was not a gourmet meal, but it hit the spot. It was also the first time I had fish on a train!
The Good: Solid hard product, with the included meal makes for a pleasant 2 hour train ride.
The Bad: The Deutsche Bahn lounge at Cologne was very basic, only had beer and soda on tap, with no snacks and slow wifi.
The Noteworthy: Tickets on Thalys between Brussels and Cologne are not that more expensive in First class than Second Class, if you want to splurge a bit, I’d recommend it.
I had booked this ticket the very old fashioned way. I went to the Brussels train station, and literally asked for a ticket. Being from America, I had never done something similar for airlines, since everything is online now a days. It was a bit like a throwback, since there is also no security to cross into the train platforms. This must have been how airlines felt during the time before 9/11. I won’t review my Brussels to Cologne train, since I literally slept the whole ride.
Lounge at Cologne
If you are travelling in First Class on the Thalys train, you get access to Deutsche Bahn’s lounge at Cologne. The lounge is very basic, it has some nice chairs, a few tables, and beer and soda on tap. If you want food, however, I recommend you go into the station itself to get food. There is surprisingly good and cheap food at the airport.
Thalys First Class
The Thalys First class cars are aligned in a 1×2 configuration, as opposed to 2×2 in Second class. The seats are wide and comfortable, and have electronic recline.
Legroom is equivalent to what you would find in a legacy US Air A320 First class, but since the seats don’t recline towards you, there aren’t that many issues with getting out to use the restrooms. The tray table is found behind the seat in front of you, similar to that on a plane. It is fairly wide and easily fits a laptop.
Service on board the train is basically “show up, and disappear”. After we all boarded and departed, perfectly on time I might add, they came by checking for tickets. After that, it was a solid 20 minutes before anyone else showed up in the car.
The next group of people who showed up brought the food and beverage carts. I was so surprised they had any food, since I had not even expected them to serve a meal. The only time I got in seat meal service on a plane was in an AVE First class trip. The first thing they gave you was a warm, packaged towel.
The food was surprisingly good and filling. It consisted of salmon steak (cold) with some orzo and veggies. They were accompanied by some cheese slices, coffee or tea, a drink and bread. For dessert, there was some really good raspberry cake, which was honestly the highlight of the meal. The whole service took about 20 minutes, and about 5 minutes after I was done, the tray was cleared.
After my tray was picked up, I never saw another member of the crew/staff. It was as if there was no crew at all. I took advantage of the peace and quiet and rested for about 45 minutes. By the time I woke up, we were arriving at Brussels-Midi station. On time. As always.
Thalys greatly exceeded my expectations. The train is comfortable, and for the usually 20Euro premium between First and Second class on the Cologne route, it is a good value. I appreciate that every seat had a power outlet, and that we got a meal. I would certainly travel with them again. Would recommend in a heartbeat.
What do you think? Have you ever ridden on Thalys First class? What was your experience like? Let us know!
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews
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