IT was with a sense of disappointment that I heard of Prue Leith’s recent “disaster” aboard the Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Scotland.

I have enjoyed this same service many times, both before the revamp in 2019 and after that impressive rebirth too.

So what went wrong for the Great British Bake Off star and were her comments fair?

The Caledonian Sleeper is a remarkable institution that has dutifully snaked between London and Scotland since Queen Victoria was on the throne.

As you sleep, it safely eases north from London, rousing you with a full Scottish breakfast in the Club Car.

For me flying is hard to go back to after you’ve taken the Sleeper. I’ve used – and massively enjoyed – this overnight service since I was a backpacker in the seated carriages, through to more recent trips with my wife and kids.

My love for the Caledonian Sleeper drifts back to rose-tinted memories of British Rail.

The very idea was spirit-soaring to a boy bitten by the travel bug of Treasure Island author and train fanatic Robert Louis Stevenson.

The National: Caledonian Sleeper passing the Auchtertyre Viaduct in Strathfillan, about one mile from Tyndrum

Swishing out a city as it slips into slumber, rushing through villages and towns, is a sheer joy.

We always travelled between Edinburgh and London, though the recently nationalised Sleeper serves a flurry of Scottish destinations.

READ MORE: Prue Leith blasts 'disaster' Caledonian Sleeper journey

My most romantic adventure was waking up in Newtonmore with Highland massifs and Highland coos out the window.

More luxurious trains run the world’s rails and as a travel writer I‘ve been lucky to ride on the Blue Train, Orient Express and Scotland’s Royal Scotsman.

But the Sleeper is a working train. And actually I’d say quite swish today with 2019’s bespoke carriages a huge improvement with many cabins en suite; some have showers too.

I make no claims in these cash-strapped times that it offers budget airline prices, but the Sleeper stacks up as you save a night at a hotel; it buys a day extra sightseeing too.

On to poor Prue’s experience - yes the "Classic Rooms" and the "Club Room En Suite" do sport twin bunks (which personally I’m happy with), but so did my pokey cabin on the ridiculously expensive Orient Express overnight service to Venice.

The National: The Oritn Express

And the "Caledonian Sleeper Double En-Suite" does feature an actual double bed, so being kind, Leith may have been the unfortunate victim of a booking mix-up.

Kathryn Darbandi, managing director of the Caledonian Sleeper, has since clarified that “in this case we delivered the room type that the guests had booked"

'Clean, contemporary and stylish' 

Even if you "just" have a bunk there is always that Club Car, welcoming with smoked haddock and Applewood arancini and a wee dram - you can order room service too.

I’m not going to argue with the culinary opinions of a TV food critic, but her Club Car comments do seem a touch unfair.

Leith dismisses the Club Car as "soulless", bemoaning its lack of white linen and silver cutlery.

But it was crafted – and crafted well I’d say by Edinburgh-based interior designer Ian Smith – to be clean and contemporary; stylish even.

The seating is handily broken up so you can enjoy a drink for two, or some solo laptop time.

Leith criticised the breakfast and lack of crockery, but it has been reported she may have had granola, which comes served in a wee pot.

READ MORE: Caledonian Sleeper 'sorry' after Prue Leith falls on train to Edinburgh

Leith romanticises the old Sleeper, claiming ScotRail must have “spent a fortune taking the comfort, romance, heart and soul out of the old Caledonian Sleeper".

Of course the Caledonian Sleeper isn’t owned, nor operated, by ScotRail, but I’d take most sleepers I’ve been on over the old Caley.

Ditching my own rose-tinted glasses I remember clanking bogies, dodgy heating, surly service and, crucially, that none of the cabins were en suite, so you had to stagger half-awake down the carriage to go to the loo in the wee sma’ hours.

I genuinely feel for 83-year-old Leith, who said she fell whilst accessing her bunk in bare feet, which she partly blamed on struggling to navigate the safety “flappy sides to prevent you falling out”.

The National: Prue Leith. Photo credit: David Loftus

The Caledonian Sleeper have apologised for the issues Leith reported, saying: "We are sorry Prue and John had a bad experience on this occasion, but we’d welcome them both back any time.”

What I don’t think the Caledonian Sleeper should apologise for is dragging the Caledonian Sleeper into the 21st century with a dash of comfort and style, even managing to squeeze wet room showers into the narrow confines of a train, which Leith dismissed as “laughable”.

I’d call them commendable as most sleeper trains I’ve been on around the world can only dream of showers.

I do hope Leith gives the Caledonian Sleeper another chance, enjoying a cheery dram in the modern Club Car before swishing off to the double bed she has booked.

I’d happily join her at Waverley for a celebratory full Scottish breakfast that might not win any culinary awards, but fair sets you up for the day.

What could be more soothing than pushing between London and Scotland with a swirl of romance in your heart on a service that has been firing imaginations since 1873?

You are travelling on a trusty tartan steed that for me deserves to be celebrated and savoured, rather than pilloried.