This review is also for the Trenhotel Joan Miro from Barcelona to Paris for the "Preferente" class (private 2 person cabin - washbasin/no bath & toilet). As everyone already knows, the Renfe site is a nightmare. After numerous calls with our bank (it doesn't accept AMEX), we were unable to book the tickets on-line at all, and went directly to the station (Estacio de Franca) three days before our departure to purchase the tickets. Most folks prefer to go through the website because of the "offerta duo" discount offered on it, but please be rest assured that the discount can be also be made at the station (there was a 10 Euro fee). Just ask.
The cabins are small yes, but comfortable. The train speed and time (its a night train afterall) doesn't allow for gazing at the country side. The service is pretty horrible - we called the attendant numerous times to pull our seats down into beds and after listening to the beeper at the attendant switchboard go-off incessantly for 20 minutes, decided to jimmy the seats ourselves with some butter knives borrowed from the kitchen.
The train itself is not pretty. I've ridden my fair share of 10 hr+ train rides in Europe and South America - and all have been pretty darn pleasant, if not a joy to ride. The Trenhotel is cramped, mechanically spartan and compounded with the rough service and time of day, you'll just want to hit the sack, wake up and arrive at your next destination.
That said, I feel its a much nicer alternative than flying and I would take it again in a heartbeat given the present options. Traveling such a distance overnight is cost effective - you're basically paying for a hotel + transportation, and that makes it a great value. The convenience of not having to lug your luggage via metro/taxi from the apt/hotel to the airport, check-in, go through security, etc is also immeasurable. So yes, while I recommend the Trenhotel, I would also keep my expectation low.
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