The very first US train journey i took was cross country from Chicago to New Orleans. 19 hours. I did consider just buying a regular ticket when i first started looking into the trip. But after checking the various seat options and prices, i decided i just had to book myself an Amtrak bedroom. Keep reading below to learn more about the options for Amtrak beds and Amtrak bedrooms.
What Amtrak beds and seat options are there?
Probably more than you think. The cheapest seats are the regular ones. Similar to what you’d find on any train or bus. So if your journey’s only a couple of hours. Then all you need are reclining seats and a fold down table to place your food and drink. And maybe a book or 2.
The next step up is the roomette. A roomette is where your sleeping accommodations begin. And it’s a room you’ll definitely want to consider when travelling on long distance trains. This Amtrak bedroom is also a great solo choice if you want a bit more space but don’t want to upgrade to a full room.
The roomette is exactly as it sounds – a very small room! It’s made up of 2 seats that face each other and they can both be reclined so they meet in the middle. Thus creating a relatively flat sleeping surface. Pillows and blankets will be provided. But if you might still consider taking your own if you’re looking for extra comfort. The roomette is accessed by a sliding door and can be locked from the inside. The door will have a window and there’ll often be extra windows either side. But privacy can still be found easily with the addition of curtains to pull across.
And then there are the full Amtrak bedrooms. These will be located in a separate sleeping car and come with your very own attendant. There are usually a couple of choices of bedroom depending on your route. The normal bedroom and the family bedroom – both are quite similar. The family room is meant to offer a little more space but i couldn’t tell the difference.
what perks do i get with an amtrak bedroom?
Well, you’ll get space. Lots of space. And a bed (or 3 if you’re travelling solo). Plus the bonus of your own bathroom and a shower. I like to affectionately call it the “tower” – toilet shower. Because it’s basically like a really small wet room with the shower hanging over the toilet. But if you have a particular aversion to public bathrooms as i do, you cannot underestimate the importance of having an ensuite!
Where do i eat when riding amtrak?
There are many different Amtrak trains and routes that run 24/7. So you’ll find a number of overnight trains between various destinations.
If you’re riding the Chicago – New Orleans route, then you’ll be leaving Chicago around 8pm in the evening. Once you’ve boarded and settled in, they’ll give a call over the intercom inviting sleeper car guests to the dining car for dinner. The dining car will usually be quite close to your room if not next door. It is possible to make reservations in advance but that won’t always be necessary. If you’re on your own, you’ll probably find yourself seated at a table with other guests. This is a great way to mingle with your fellow train passengers but you can always stick to your room if you’re not keen on the idea!
Let’s be fair. You’re not going to find 5 star fine-dining here. But you will find a reasonable menu of reasonable quality food. If you’ve booked a room or roomette, you’ll get meals included which is a nice bonus. Otherwise, in my opinion, it’s a little pricey but you can always bring your own pre-prepared food or snacks if you don’t want to risk it.
AMtrak seats become Amtrak beds
After dinner, you’ll return to your Amtrak bedroom and your sleeper car attendant will have made up your bed for you.
What was previously a double/triple seat has now become a small double. If there’s more than one of you staying in the room, there’s another bed that folds out above the main one. You’ll get blankets and a couple of pillows. Like the food, you won’t find this the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept on. But it certainly beats trying to sleep upright overnight.
can you actually sleep on the train?!
Good question! This really depends on how easy you find it to sleep generally. As a rule, i’m quite a light sleeper and i did struggle a bit. This was also partly down to general over-excitement at being on holiday and riding the train! The noise is fairly consistent so you do become used to it. Likewise with the rocking. I stayed in the upper berth upstairs so i felt the movement even more. It’s not dissimilar to being on a boat.
There will be fairly regular stops on most routes. On this particular route, after i finally fell asleep somewhere in Mississippi, i woke again when the train arrived in Memphis, Tennessee. This is a major stop so lots of people getting on and off – and a call for breakfast not long after.
if your journey is 6 hours+, go for the amtrak bedroom
Or possibly even less. If you can afford to, definitely opt for the Amtrak bedroom or roomette. If your journey is only a couple of hours, a regular seat will be absolutely fine – and cheap. Despite the fact that i didn’t sleep too well, riding the train in the USA is one of the best experiences i’ve had while travelling solo!