Roomette vs. Bedroom on Amtrak.
I got an email a few days ago from a couple who had booked a roomette on the Southwest Chief and were complaining that it was too small and that climbing up into the upper berth was difficult. They said they would opt for one of the big bedrooms on their next overnight train ride.
I don’t think the bedrooms are that much better than the roomettes. Yes, they’re bigger. And yes, there’s an en suite lavatory. But they cost a great deal more and I’m not sure they’re worth the difference.
The Superliner bedroom has a sofa-type seat that opens out into a bed. But it’s just slightly wider than a standard twin bed and really not suitable to comfortably accommodate two adults. So the reality is that, most of the time, someone will still decide to climb up into the upper berth.
There’s a real lack of privacy in four of the five bedrooms. The reason is a flimsy removable partition between Bedrooms B and C and between Bedrooms D and E. That’s so a family can book two bedrooms and remove the partition to form a suite. In the normal configuration, with the partitions in place, even quiet conversations in one bedroom can easily be overheard in the one next door. (If you still want a bedroom, ask for Bedroom A, which has a solid wall between it and Bedroom B.)
There’s yet another negative for the bedrooms: you can only see out of one side of the train. My wife and I had a bedroom on the northbound Coast Starlight several years ago and we must have spent several hours with a rocky wall passing right outside our window—that was for at least a couple of hours before arriving in Eugene, Oregon. At the last minute, I realized that there were magnificent vistas to see from the right side of the train.
When my wife and I travel together as a couple, instead of booking one bedroom, I reserve two roomettes across the corridor from each other. The cost will be about the same, even a little less sometimes, and we each have some privacy when we want it. Furthermore, no one has to climb up into an upper berth at night and we can see out of both sides of the train during the daylight hours.
There’s a trade-off because each of the Superliner bedrooms has its own lavatory, while if you’re in a roomette, you have to use one of the common lavatories. To each his own, of course, but having tried it both ways, we feel there are more pluses to the two roomettes.