Updated January 14, 2020
When planning an overnight trip on an Amtrak Superliner, it’s difficult to choose which sleeper car to book. There are three different types of sleeper cars – the Superliner Roomette, Amtrak Family Bedroom, and Superliner Bedroom. All three sleeper cars are completely different in both price and amenities.
Our family recently rode the Amtrak from Colorado to California. Before Eli was born, Chad and I wouldn’t have hesitated to share a superliner roomette. But, the family bedroom came up as an option when I was looking into booking our trip. The price for a family bedroom was substantially more but for a once in a lifetime adventure we decided to splurge.
Did we make the right choice? Yes and no.
Which Amtrak Bedroom Is Right For Your Family? The Amtrak Superliner Roomette or the Amtrak Family Bedroom?
Amtrak doesn’t provide enough information on their website. Here is what I would have liked to know before I booked.
Amtrak Superliner Roomette Layout
This is it. It’s hard to even get a picture of the roomette because it’s so small. The roomette consists of two reclining chairs facing each other with just enough room for your legs between the chairs. There is a small table that folds out between the chairs and a large window.
The exact dimensions of the roomette are 3’6 x 6’6. Yes, tiny.
The two chairs fold together to make one of the beds and a bunk bed folds down to make the other.
If you are traveling solo the roomette would be perfect. Two adults in a roomette? Extremely cramped.
Amtrak Family Bedroom Layout
The Amtrak family bedroom is spacious compared to the superliner roomette. It spans the whole width of the train car and has windows on either side. There is a fold-out table under each window. Seating consists of a large bench-seat that spans the back of the room and a chair on one end opposite the bench. Opposite the other end of the bench is the tiniest closet ever. It’s only about six inches deep so I’m not sure what you could put in there.
The exact dimensions of the family bedroom are 5’2′ x 9’5′. Huge compared to the superliner roomette.
For sleeping, the bench seat folds into what our attendant said was a double bed. To me, it seemed more like a large single bed. Above the bench is a bunk bed that folds down. It’s long enough for an adult but very narrow. The seats facing each other by the window fold into a small kid’s bed and there is another small bed that folds down above that. Those two beds are really short and wouldn’t be comfortable for a child over ten years old.
Amtrak Sleeper Car Configuration
I found a brochure in our room with diagrams showing the layout of every train car on the Superliner. It would be really helpful for Amtrak to put these diagrams on their website so you have a better idea of what you are booking.
The gray area across from the stairs on the lower level is where the sleeper-car passenger’s luggage is stored. The family bedroom is in room 15 on the lower level. Four toilets are shown in this diagram but our car only had three bathrooms and one combination shower and changing room.
Amtrak Superliner Bedroom
The superliner bedroom is the other sleeper room option. It wasn’t a good fit for our family of three so we didn’t consider booking it but we did check out an empty one while we were on the train.
Amtrak’s website stated that the superliner bedroom is ideal for two people but could possibly fit three. The bedroom could work for a family with two or three kids because there’s an option to book two adjoining bedrooms. It’s a little smaller than the family bedroom – 6’6 x 7’6 but has a small bathroom with a toilet and shower in the room.
We didn’t even think about booking the superliner bedroom because we didn’t want to try to squeeze into two beds. Booking two adjoining bedrooms would have cost twice the price of the family bedroom.
Looking into the superliner bedroom confirmed to us that we made the right decision to pass on that option. An in-room bathroom and shower sounded nice, but the bathroom takes up about a fourth of the room. Also, when we opened the bathroom door the sewer smell was really strong. Only one window is a drawback too.
Pros and Cons of the Amtrak Superliner Roomette
- Cheaper Price
- If you book two across the hall from each other you can have a view out both sides of the train without the hefty price of a family bedroom
- Nicer views upstairs (although there are a few roomettes on the lower level so you will have to call and make sure you are upstairs after you book)
- All meals are included in the price
- other passengers will be constantly walking by your room
- tiny and cramped
- only one bathroom upstairs so you’ll have to go downstairs if it’s occupied
Pros and Cons of the Amtrak Family Bedroom-
- Very comfortable and spacious
- No one is walking by your room because you are at the end of the hallway
- Three bathrooms and the shower on the same level
- Ample privacy
- All meals are included
- Luggage is stored down the hall so it is easy to grab something out of your bag
- Very expensive- we would have saved five hundred dollars if we booked two roomettes instead of one family room for our one-way trip
- There are only two family bedrooms on each superliner train and they are popular so you need to book well in advance and be flexible in order to get one
- The views aren’t as nice from the lower level and the windows are more likely to get dirty because they are so close to the tracks
- It’s a long walk to the dining car
Chances are, you’re booking a trip on the Amtrak train to relax and watch the world go by. The best place to do that is the second story observation car or the dining car. You’ll probably find that you don’t spend a lot of time in your room with the exception of sleeping at night. The Amtrak family bedroom was a great experience for our first overnight train ride in the United States. But, if I were to book the California Zephyr again, I would save the five hundred dollars and book two superliner roomettes across the hall from each other instead.
For more information read The Ultimate Guide to Riding The Amtrak Train from Colorado to California.
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