I don’t fly so I travel a lot aboard Amtrak trains all over the country. One thing is certain. I always try to have my own sleeping compartment with a cozy bed. Depending on the route and current cost of a sleeper, I’ll buy an Amtrak Superliner Bedroom whenever possible.
Whether it’s one night on the Amtrak Capitol Limited or two nights cross-country on the Amtrak Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles, I love having the larger deluxe bedroom. Especially because it has an en suite bathroom. I’ve even rearranged my travel dates to find the most affordable Superliner Bedroom.
Amtrak Superliner Bedroom Review
Amtrak has two types of train cars, the single-level Viewliner and the double-decker Superliner. Almost all Superliner trains run west of the Mississippi, starting in Chicago and going across country. This is my Amtrak Superliner Bedroom review.
Two east coast Superliner train exceptions are the Capitol Limited between Washington, D.C. and Chicago and the Auto Train that runs between Sanford, Florida and Lorton, Virginia.
What is Included with a Superliner Bedroom
Whether you choose a Superliner Bedroom (or Roomette), all of your meals for the entire journey are included. The same goes for bottled water, coffee and juice.
In addition to all of the included bedroom amenities, you’ll also have a Sleeping Car Attendant. He or she will introduce themselves as you board the train and make sure you are in the correct sleeper.
Once the train leaves the station, your car attendant will stop by your bedroom to explain how to use all the gadgets and dining procedures. You’ll also be informed of their schedule for turning down and making up the beds. Yes, even making your bed in the morning is included with your bedroom.
What Does an Amtrak Superliner Bedroom Look Like
The main difference between and Amtrak Superliner Bedroom and Roomette is the amount of space. The bedroom features a long sofa and a separate chair that faces the sofa. There’s a pull-up table between the sofa and chair.
There is also the large vanity area with counter-space for your toothbrush etc. You’ll also find a small enclosed cabinet with a couple of shelves. There are also extra hand towels and wash cloths.
Superliner Bedroom with a Private Bathroom
Aside from extra space and a bigger bed, the really best thing about having an Amtrak Superliner Bedroom is your own private bathroom with shower. Fresh towels, soap and a handle to hang on to as you travel!
Amtrak Insider Tip: Try to time your shower to when the train is going slower, or pulled over while waiting for a freight train to pass. Don’t waste a daytime station stop, though, by showering instead of getting fresh air.
Pre-Boarding Perks for Bedroom (and Roomette) Passengers
Included with your Amtrak Superliner bedroom, when departing from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland or Washington, D.C., is access to Amtrak’s staffed private Metropolitan Lounge. In D.C. it’s the ClubAcela Lounge. Here you’ll find comfortable chairs, complimentary snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, newspapers, and free WiFi.
A sleeping compartment also includes priority boarding. This is a wonderful feature, especially when leaving from crowded stations like Chicago, L.A. and Washington, D.C.
How Much Luggage is Allowed
If you’re used to flying, you’ll be shocked to learn that every passenger on Amtrak can bring two small bags up to 25 lbs. each as well as two larger bags up to 50 lbs. each.
Whether you want to crowd yourself in your bedroom or check your bags is of course your decision. Generally, I’ll pack so that I can check the largest piece of luggage and then bring into my bedroom any smaller pieces like my computer suitcase, a soft-sided overnight bag and maybe another bag with snacks and miscellaneous stuff. But you can check up to two 50 lbs. bags for free.
Red Cap Service at Amtrak Stations
The major Amtrak stations mentioned above, plus a few other busy train stations around the country offer complimentary Red Cap service. Red Caps are Amtrak employees available to load your luggage onto their carts. They’ll also deliver it to your designated bedroom or roomette.
Most likely you’ll ride with them on their electric “golf” cart along with your luggage to the door of your sleeping car. Your Red Cap will carry your luggage up the narrow staircase to your Superliner bedroom.
How to Get A Red Cap Assistance
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 to their station.
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 if 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.
Also, if you are boarding in Sacramento, while there’s no official Red Cap service, their is someone with a golf cart to drive you to the train. It’s quite a long walk from the waiting room to the boarding platform.
Priority Boarding for Sleeping Car Passengers
If you have booked an Amtrak Bedroom or Roomette, you have priority boarding before all of the coach-seating passengers. This can be a real help, especially during holidays or vacation times. Listen for the station attendant to announce when it’s time for you to board. Smaller Amtrak stations will announce where to stand on the platform to board your sleeping car.
Superliner Luggage Storage
On my latest 3-month trip from Florida to Alaska, all by train and ship, I had four pieces of smaller-sized luggage. Because I was in a bedroom with a lot of empty space, I decided not to check any bags. Instead, I simply stowed the two largest pieces on one of the luggage storage shelves.
If you’re one of the first to board, the easiest place to stow your luggage is on the bottom level of the luggage rack. It’s level with the floor and you just slide your bag into it.
Yes, it is the honor system, so if you’re 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.
If you decide not to check your luggage or use a Red Cap or wait for your car attendant, getting bags up the stairs can be a real challenge. And if you’re in a Superliner Bedroom then you will definitely have to go up the stairs.
READ MORE: How to pack for an overnight Amtrak trip
Are Amtrak Bedrooms Safe
And unlike trains in Europe, the private sleeping 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.
How Much Does an Amtrak Superliner Bedroom Cost
You should know that the cost for a bedroom, especially in high tourist season or on short notice, can be very expensive. For those on a budget, maybe a roomette would be better and still give you a private place to sleep. But there are exceptions.
Generally, the farther out into the future, the less expensive is the cost for a bedroom. This 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. Usually.
In addition to booking way ahead, different seasons and holidays affects how much you’ll pay for a Superliner Bedroom. For example, a bedroom on the Southwest Chief from Chicago to L.A. in mid-September is $1,299 for the two-night trip. The same train route in late-December will cost $1,013. Makes no sense, right? Here’s why.
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. So even though you’d think that a pre-Christmas train trip across country in a Superliner Bedroom would cost more, because there are still several available, the price is lower than off-season September.
How to Choose Your Superliner 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.
INSIDER TIP: Why I always try to choose Bedroom A
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, bedrooms B and C can adjoin to form what Amtrak calls a Bedroom Suite. This is usually reserved by families or couples traveling together. Bedrooms D and E also have the same 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.
Amtrak Superliner Trains Routes With Bedrooms
Including the Auto Train that runs between Lorton, VA and Sanford, FL, there are nine Superliner routes across America. The Capitol Limited between Chicago and Washington, D.C. is the only Amtrak Superliner that operates east of the Mississippi.
The remaining long-distance Amtrak Superliner trains are:
- California Zephyr: Chicago to Emeryville, CA
- City of New Orleans: Chicago to New Orleans
- Coast Starlight: San Diego to Seattle
- Empire Builder: Chicago to Seattle or Portland
- Southwest Chief: Chicago to Los Angeles
- Sunset Limited: Los Angeles to New Orleans
- Texas Eagle: Chicago to San Antonio
How to Get 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 to get 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 also 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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I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath… stop for a meal and a glass of wine along the way.