I travel quite a bit aboard Amtrak trains all over the country. Sometimes for only one night, like from Florida to New York. Other times, I’m barreling across the country. One thing is certain. I always have my own compartment and a cozy bed on Amtrak. When possible and affordable, an Amtrak Superliner Bedroom.
Understanding the Amtrak Superliner Bedroom
Amtrak has two types of train cars: the single-level Viewliner and the double-decker Superliner. For the most part, the Superliner trains run west of the Mississippi, starting in Chicago and going across country.
Two east coast Superliner exceptions are the Capitol Limited between Washington, D.C. and Chicago and the Auto Train that runs between Sanford, Florida and Lorton, Virginia.
What’s included with a Superliner Bedroom
Whether you choose a Superliner roomette or the larger bedroom accommodation, all of your meals for the entire journey are complimentary. The same for bottled water, coffee and juice. Before the pandemic, you may have found a morning newspaper was quietly slipped under your door by your car attendant, while you were still asleep.
Superliner Bedroom Features
When you purchase an Amtrak deluxe Superliner Bedroom, several perks are included. Of course the main difference is the bedroom is twice the size of a roomette. Here you’ll find a long sofa and a separate chair facing the sofa.
There is also the large vanity area with counter-space for your toothbrush etc. You’ll also find small cabinet shelves if needed.
But the best advantage of a bedroom vs. a roomette on this type of train is having your own private bathroom with shower. Fresh towels, soap and a handle to hang on to as you travel! I usually try to time my shower to when the train is going slower, or pulled over while waiting for a freight train to pass.
In addition to all of the bedroom amenities, you’ll also have a Sleeping Car attendant. He or she will introduce themselves as you board and then will stop by your bedroom to ask if you know how all the electric gadgets work, explain the dining procedures and let you know their schedule for turning down and making up the beds.
Pre-Boarding Perks for Bedroom (and Roomette) Passengers
Before you board your Amtrak Superliner bedroom in either Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland or Washington, D.C., you have access to the staffed private Metropolitan Lounge. In D.C. it’s the ClubAcela Lounge. Here you have comfortable chairs, complimentary snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, newspapers, and free WiFi.
With a sleeping compartment, you also receive priority boarding. This is a wonderful feature, especially when leaving from crowded stations like Chicago, L.A. and Washington, D.C.
Superliner luggage storage
Four bags for me? Yes, this was going to be a 3-month trip from Florida to Alaska, all by train and ship. Because I was in a bedroom with a lot of empty space, I decided not to check any bags. The lower level of these trains has a luggage storage rack where you can just hoist your bags onto one of the shelves. Or if you’re one of the first to board, the bottom level of the luggage rack is level with the floor and you just slide your bag into it.
Yes, it is the honor system, so if your nervous, don’t pack your electronics or expensive items into a bag that you’ll leave in the rack. Though it is extremely unlikely that someone would walk off with your suitcase, I always bring anything of value into my room.
READ MORE: How to pack for an overnight Amtrak trip
Red Cap Service
Also, the major Amtrak stations that I mentioned above, plus a few other major train stations offer complimentary Red Cap service. Red Caps are available to load your luggage onto their carts and deliver it to your designated bedroom or roomette.
Most likely you’ll hop onto their electric “golf” cart and ride with your luggage to your sleeping car door. Here, your luggage will be carried up the narrow staircase to your bedroom.
You can arrange for a Red Cap to help with your luggage by requesting service at the desk in the lounge. If there is no lounge, ask the ticket agent where the Red Caps congregate and head over there.
After your luggage is in your room, please tip the Red Cap for their service. $5.00 per one or two bags is customary. The only time I don’t use a Red Cap when I have a lot of luggage is if there are a lot of elderly or wheel-chair guests. I don’t want to take up their seat on the golf cart.
If you decide not to check your luggage or use a Red Cap and bring everything on board yourself, to get it all up the stairs can be a challenge. And if you’re in a bedroom then you will definitely have to go up the stairs.
And unlike trains in Europe, the private compartments on Amtrak do not lock from the outside. Just so you know.
Here is my short video tour of the Amtrak Superliner Bedroom aboard the Capitol Limited heading to Chicago from Washington DC. If you like my video, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
As you can see from either the video or the photos, having a deluxe bedroom really makes for an even better cross-country trip.
Price Advice When Booking a Superliner Bedroom
You should know that the cost for a bedroom, especially in high tourist season or on short notice, is very expensive. For those on a budget, maybe a roomette would be better and still give you a private place to sleep.
The farther out into the future, the less expensive is the cost for a bedroom. These can range anywhere from just under $800 on the Empire Builder in off-season to over $2,000 for the two-night trip aboard the California Zephyr in summer.
Like most commodities, accommodation prices are capacity-controlled. As bedrooms become more scarce, their price, of course, goes up. With only four bedrooms per car, that’s not a lot of available to begin.
Choosing Your Bedroom
Finally, you should know that all Amtrak Superliner Bedrooms are not created equal. When you make your reservation, be sure to ask the Amtrak agent on the phone if you were assigned to the Bedroom nearest to the exit door. This is Bedroom A. There are five bedrooms on the upper level.
It’s not a noise issue at all. Bedroom A is nearest to the door between cars and a little bit smaller than the others. The configuration is also different with the bathroom door facing the door to the hallway. No one can see inside because of the angle, but access to the bathroom requires a little side-step. Nothing major, but you should know that this room is different from the others.
However, there is one huge advantage to Bedroom A. It does not have a sliding door that adjoins to Bedroom B. Instead, there’s a solid wall. So, B and C can adjoin to form what Amtrak calls a Bedroom Suite, usually reserved by families or couples traveling together. Bedrooms D and E also have the paper-thin partition between them.
If you don’t want to hear your neighbors’ conversations loud and clear or every flush of their toilet, request Bedroom A. A little smaller but a lot more private.
Getting a refund for your Superliner Bedroom
So far, Amtrak has a very liberal refund policy if you must cancel your reservation. Penalties are based on how close it is to the date of departure. For me, I’m always happy getting a voucher for future travel. But that’s not viable for everyone. On the Amtrak website, you can read their Refund and Exchange Policy.
My thoughts are that if you are spending $2,000 for a cross-country train trip, why not invest in travel insurance. You can even add a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) waiver.
If you have any questions that either my video or this article didn’t address, please drop me a comment.
Next, please head over to my Amtrak Guide for more suggestions on how to plan and enjoy your train trip.
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