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.
As I was looking at a roomette it show one with a sink and toilet inside that you can turn in to steps to get to upper bed is the name different,this will be my first two days trip,right now use a cane and a senior
I HAVE REPLIED BY EMAIL
One Caution: Room A is nearest to the air conditioner, so the coldest of the rooms. Often, attendant will close off or restrict vent for you with duct tape and/or paper or cardboard, if you ask.
Downstairs ‘Family Bedroom’ will allow for sleeping at lower level, but costly, and without private bathroom.
Actually, I think the issue goes back to the development of the Superliner,(Later the Viewliner), when somebody decided to eliminate the time proven berth–real mattress and pillows at window level, with plenty of clearance to the ceiling for the upper! In place of the classic “Pullman berth” is this contraption that positions the lower berth with the head in a well no longer right at the window. (Solved by bringing down the plastic mattress pad from the upper).
At least in the roomette, you sleep in the direction of the train traveling; not cross-wise which is bumpier; the current Viewliner sleepers include toilet/sink; but if traveling together, not recommended to use. You are correct re the unbelievable noise level between Superliner bedrooms due to the rickety wall partition, usually stuffed with paper towels, as if that keeps out toilet sounds and flushing, voices, snoring, etc. However, going to BR “A” forces you to sacrifice space, as it is smaller than B-E.
As there is truly no substitute for the “Pullman berth,” thankfully it can still be found on VIA Rail’s premier “The Canadian.” Indeed, the last time I rode VIA’s “Ocean” in the Renaissance sleepers (built in UK for defunct “City-Night” services and sold to VIA), the berths were as bad as on Amtrak. When we achieved Moncton, NB, I ran into the ticket office to upgrade into the the two bedrooms (sold only as a suite) found in the Budd-built “Park” observation-dome-lounge car for the WB trip back to Montreal. What a difference!
Makes one wonder why Amtrak dumped its fleet of Budd-built sleepers (with real berths) that were already converted to 480 HEP; could have been used to extend frequencies or new routes; certainly augment the Superliners that replaced them.
You are quite correct about Bedroom A in the Superliner sleepers being slightly smaller. It’s also noisier because it’s the first bedroom and is therefore closest to the door opening and closing as passengers pass through the vestibule to the next car. I still believe that is much to be preferred over the privacy issue passengers in the the other four bedrooms experience.