The Man in Seat Sixty-One
The Man in Seat Sixty-One is a travel website written and maintained by Mark Smith. The website focuses almost exclusively on train-based travel, with occasional ferry recommendations. The site has won several awards, including 'Best Travel Website' in the Guardian & Observer Travel Awards in 2008. The Man in Seat Sixty-One provides information on the best routes, fares and times for journeys from the UK to most of Europe, and for rail travel within most countries in the rest of the world, including exhaustive coverage of the Indian Railways and the Russian Railways.
The site is a personal project run by Mark Smith, formerly a manager in the rail industry. The site is called Seat 61 after his preferred seat in First Class on the Eurostar. He began the site as a hobby in 2001, after frustration with the difficulty he perceived in finding how to book rail tickets within Europe. In September 2007 he gave up his job working for the Department for Transport to run the website full-time.
The site now receives more than one million visitors a month and Smith has released a book, also titled The Man in Seat Sixty-One offering advice based on his travels. Nearly all of the information compiled in the site is based on his own travels and experiences, and it includes in-depth guides on booking rail tickets within Europe, as well as information on booking rail travel to and within other areas of the world.
Smith advocates minimal airline transport as part of travel, citing the increased environmental friendliness of train travel, as well as the ability to view scenery, such as the Austrian Alps, up close whilst travelling.
In 2010, Guerrilla Films planned a TV series based on the website. A taster episode featuring actor Kenneth Cranham was released covering the journey from London to St Petersburg by rail as far as Waterloo, Belgium .
Mark Smith is married and lives in Buckinghamshire.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One has won several awards, including:
- Best Travel Website Guardian & Observer Travel Awards 2008
- Best Personal Contribution First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards 2006
- 14th Best Travel Website The Independent's 50 Best Travel Websites
- Travel Awards 2008 Winners - The Guardian
- Great European rail journeys: Your carriage awaits
- The Man in Seat 61 - About Me
- Guardian - Me and My Travels
- BBC Radio 4 - Traveller's Tree - Series 6, Rail Holidays
- The Sunday Times - Four great rail journeys across Europe
- First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards 2006
- 50 Best Travel Websites - The Independent