Family Bedroom vs. Roomette
Bottom Line: It’s just hard to beat a Roomette.
I don’t quite remember how I ended up with a Family Bedroom on my recent ride across country on the California Zephyr. I think it was probably because—for whatever reason—it was less expensive than normal. At any rate it seemed like a good idea at the time and I went for it.
I wish I hadn’t.
I’ve traveled so often and for so many miles in a Superliner roomette that I felt awkward and out-of-place in the much-larger Family Bedroom. If you loose your reading glasses in a roomette, there are only two or three places where they might be. In the Family bedroom, there are countless nooks and crannies just waiting to swallow up your specs or the keys to your rental car or whatever. You find them eventually—probably—but not without a lengthy search, mostly on your knees in a moving rail car.
There is a bed that will handle two full-sized adults, but it folds out from the sofa that runs the width of the car. The result is you are lying across the width of the room and, as I think most veteran rail travelers would agree, it’s better—more comfortable—sleeping while lying in the direction the train is traveling.
It’s probably nothing more than being unfamiliar with the Family Bedroom and thoroughly familiar with the roomette, but it’s a roomette—whether Viewliner or Superliner—for me from now on.
And, finally, I have long touted my preference for the upper berth in a Viewliner seeping car. I still feel that way . . . but not for me. I’m just too old and creaky to climb up there any more.
I had a family bedroom once on the Capitol Limited, and I loved having views outside both sides, but at track level it means you get a blocked view whenever there is freight traffic on an adjacent track. You also don’t get a bathroom in the cabin, which seems like something you’d want with a family. I’ll take the upper level.