Superliner Bedrooms: Are They Worth the Extra Money?

There are five standard bedrooms in an Amtrak Superliner sleeping car, all on the upper level. They’re quite a bit bigger than a roomette, and that’s nice, but unless the Amtrak computer comes up with a bargain price for one, I really don’t think these bedrooms are worth the extra money.
Even at premium prices, however, these bedrooms are still very popular and if you want one, especially on the more popular trains, book well in advance. I just checked several random dates in May, July and September for both the California Zephyr (Chicago-Bay Area) and the Southwest Chief (Chicago-Los Angeles) and almost half the time, the bedrooms were already sold out.
SleepingCompartmentOnAmtrak-AdjustingExistingSchedulesCouldProvideOvernightServiceFromLAtoTheBayAreaThere’s a long upholstered sofa-type seat and a chair in each bedroom, plus a wash basin and a phone booth-sized lavatory which doubles as a shower. As in the photo, the large seat flattens out into a bed which, as the two pillows imply, accommodates two adults. As you can see, I hope, it’s not as wide as a standard double bed … more like a twin-and-a-half. Two people? Sleeping comfortably? I don’t think so. That leaves the upper berth, which is pretty much like the one in the roomette: no window, but perhaps a bit more headroom.
Given the choice, ask for Bedroom A when booking because there’s a solid wall between it and Bedroom B. Partitions between the other four bedrooms are removable, permitting each pair of rooms to convert into “suites”. It was a good idea in theory, but with those flimsy partitions firmly in place, anything but a very subdued conversation can be overheard by whoever is in the adjacent bedroom.
However, if you’re traveling as a couple, here’s what I consider to be a better alternative to one of these bedrooms: reserve two roomettes across the corridor from each other. Yes, you’ll have to go “down the hall” to the lavatory, but you’ll each have privacy whenever you want it; you’ll have a view out of both sides of the train, and neither of you will have to climb up into that damn upper berth. Finally, depending on the whim of the Amtrak computer, you could save some money … maybe even a lot of money. On one of those dates I was checking for fares, two roomettes on the Zephyr were $600 cheaper than one of the bedrooms.
I should note here that there are two additional bedrooms on the lower level of every Superliner sleeping car. One is a “family bedroom”, which has two adult-size berths and two smaller ones for children. The other is a so-called “accessible” bedroom which will accommodate someone in a wheelchair plus a companion. The family bedroom can be reserved anytime in advance; the handicapped bedroom becomes available to the general public 48 hours before that specific train is scheduled to depart. But you gotta ask.
And finally: in many of the combination lavatory/showers that come en suite with the five standard bedrooms, there are two buttons—one flushes the toilet, the other starts the shower. Be sure you push the right one.