Top 21 Questions About Rooms On Amtrak Trains

by Kev
Roomette Views

Top 21 Questions About Rooms On Amtrak Trains

Thinking of booking rooms or accommodations for an Amtrak Adventure but not for sure if they are right for you? I hope this article will help you out. This article covers the top question I get asked about rooms on Amtrak.

After traveling around the United States via Amtrak and I found a room on the train is my happy place. I enjoy the privacy, being able to sleep horizontally, and showering in the morning.


Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper Care on the Silver Meteor

Terms you should know

  • Accommodation: For this article, accommodations are any room in a sleeper car
  • Assessable Room: This room is for those with limited mobility and a helper
  • Bedroom: A bigger room with a sofa, chair, sink, and bathroom/shower combo
  • Car Attendant: Amtrak employee whose job is to assist you while you travel in a sleeper car. Car Attendant replaces the term porter.
  • Family Room: These rooms, only on Superliner Trains, are designed for two adults and two small humans.
  • Roomette: A small room that is comfortable for one and cozy for two. These rooms have two chairs that fold into a bed and an upper pulldown bed
  • Sleeper Car: A car containing roomettes, bedroom,  accessible and family room
  • Superliner: Two-level trains that are on all long-distance routes that do not go to New York Penn Station.
  • Viewliner:  Single-level long-distance trains set, only found on east coast routs.
Amtrak Superliner Train

Amtrak Superliner Train

1) What’re the advantages of booking accommodations on Amtrak?

  • Privacy: Rooms have a sliding door with a window, but if you want to block out the world, close the drapes.
  • Sleep Horizontally: At night, the lower seat becomes a bed, and a pull-down upper bunk is available if there are two in your party.
  • Shower: There is a shower for everyone to use, but bedrooms have a one in the room.
  • Use of lounges: with a sleeper ticket, you can use these spaces if the station you are leaving from has one.

2) How do you book a room on Amtrak?

  • Over the phone by calling Amtrak 1-800-USA- Rail
    • Agents can help modify existing trips
    • Answer questions and can also work to find rooms together
  • Staffed station
    • Station attendants can also work to find accommodations together
    • If you are new to train travel, a trip to the station is an excellent opportunity to get to know the station, parking, and what is around before your first trip
  • Amtrak App or Website
    • An easy way to book your adventure anywhere and at any time.

After booking your trip, Amtrak emails your tickets, that can be scanned from your phone or printed at some stations or from home.

3) Are the displayed room prices per person or for the pair (if booking for two)?

The price you see on the screen is the total price. Ticket prices include your rail fare (what you pay to ride the train) and fee to reserve the room. If two people are on your ticket, both pay rail fairs, but there is only one room fee.

4) How do discounts work when booking on Amtrak?

If one or both people qualify for a discount, it only applies to the rail fare and not off the room price.

For example:

Let’s say rooms are $200 and rail fare is $100:

A single person would be $300, and two people are $400. If a solo traveler qualified for an Amtrak discount, the price is now $290, because the reductions come off the rail fare and not off of the room price.

For information on saving money on Amtrak check out this page.

5) When do I know what room I have?

As soon as your payment is processed, Amtrak emails you a ticket like below, but if you buy them at a station, it will look different but have the same information. The information includes your sleeper car number, accommodation number, and equipment type.

Most trains have more than one sleeper, so each sleeper has a four-digit number. The first two digits represent the route number, and the second two are the consist or location number.

For example, sleeper 3000 is on the eastbound Capitol Limited bound for Washington, D.C. The car number you need should be close to where you enter your sleeper.

Here is an example from one of my last trips to Charleston, S.C. (part of the ticket I redated for my privacy)

Amtrak TIcket

This ticket shows what type of equipment I will be on, the car number and my room number.

6) What comes with your Amtrak room?

  • Meals (But for the Palmetto and Silver Star Routes)
  • Coffee service
    • Coffee and juice in the morning
  • Shower
  • Turndown service
  • A place to hang-up clothing (either a small closet or wall hook)
  • Comfortable chairs with a fold-out table, some rooms have a sofa
  • Large windows to watch the country go by
  • Use of lounge cars and dining car or sleeper-lounge
    • Sleeper lounges are only on eastern trains
  • Lighting options such as night light and reading lamps on the wall
  • An outlet

7) Would I share a room with strangers?

No, you share a room with the person who’s on your ticket.

8) How big are accommodations on the train?

The rooms are small and cozy, like a camper.

A roomette around 3’6″ by 6′ 6″ (the Viewliner roomette is a little bigger). I am around 6’2″ 190 pounds and fit comfortably in the room. Bedrooms are around 6’6″ by 7’6,” but part of that space is taken up by the bath and shower room.

Superliner Bed

Superliner Bed made up for the night.

9) Beds: Are they comfortable, and how are they made?

For me the beds comfortable, but your mileage can vary,

Train have bunk beds, the lower bed is a mattress on lays top of flattened seats, and the upper bunk pulls down. If two people are sharing a room, someone will need to climb to the top bed. Roomettes have steps to get up there, while bedrooms have ladders.

10) Is it hard to sleep on the train?

I tend to sleep well on the train, but sometimes I need a little help, such as melatonin or sleep aid. The motion of the train relaxing me as I sleep, but sometimes I wake up if the train stops because I miss the movement.

I wish Amtrak had bigger pillows because I am a side sleeper. To help with this problem, I pack a blowup pillow plus a small blanket in case I get chilled at night.

Superliner door

The door between Superliner Sleepers

11) How do I get around the train once aboard?

Trains are linear, meaning to go from one section to another your journey includes walking through other cars.  On some trains, it can be a hike from the sleeper to the dining car.

To go between cars, push either the upper or lower (foot) buttons to open the door to a small vestibule. The doors will slide open for you and close behind you.

If you are on a Superliner, the upper level contains the walkways to go to the next car. On Viewliners the vestibule allows you to go between cars or get off the train as instructed by Amtrak employees.

Texas Eagle

My Sleeping car on the Texas Eagle. We are out enjoying a fresh air break.

12) Can I hop on and off of the train during my trip?

There are select stops where you can get off and get fresh air. Most stops are quick for boarding and un-boarding. If the train arrives early, Amtrak often allows passengers to stretch. Smoke stops are usually crew changes and refueling stops.

If you do get off the train, don’t wander too far from it.  When it is time for the train to leave, the conductors alert the crew and passengers. The engineer blows the horn (two quick toots), and it’s time to board. If you do not make it on the train, the train WILL LEAVE WITHOUT YOU!

13) What are my food options on the train?

Trains traveling west of the Mississippi the choice are the Dining Car (the meals come with your sleeper car ticket), the cafe car, and whatever you bring aboard. For the other trains, you get a pre-packaged meal in the sleeper lounge, plus the cafe car as well.

Amtrak California Zephyr

A view of Amtrak’s California Zephyr from my roomette

14) Can I have a drink on the train?

You sure can, I often do! If you are on an eastern long-distance train, Amtrak gives you your first one free (staring October 1st, 2019)!

Amtrak sells drinks in the cafe and dining cars, or you can bring your own. IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN, YOU CAN ONLY CONSUME IT IN YOUR ROOM. If you get out of hand, the next stop is your stop even if it is not your destination, and could include local and federal fines.

15) How many bathrooms are in a sleeper car?

All bedrooms have a private restroom.

Superliner trains have one restroom up stares for and two to three more on the lower level.

Viewliners do not have public restrooms in the cars, but every accommodation has a toilet. The toilet in the roomettes is in the room. If two people are in the roomette, one will have to leave while the other “goes.”

16) Are there showers for sleeper passengers?

Amtrak Shower

A Viewliner Shower for sleeper car passengers

Yes, there are showers in Amtrak Sleeper! It’s fun taking a shower at 79 mph. Bedrooms have a small room that houses the toilet and shower area. Roomettes and other accommodations share one shower room that includes a dressing area.

17) What does Amtrak provide for showers?

Amtrak provides washcloths, towels, and soap for your shower, but not shampoo.

A soap like Dr. Brohhners works well for travelers, for it works well to clean you and your clothing.

18) Can I smoke on the train and or transport marijuana (if it is legal for a state you are traveling through)?

All Amtrak trains are non-smoking, including e-cigarets and vapes. If caught smoking on the train, the next stop will be your stop (even if it is not your destination) and include will have federal fines.

There are “smoke breaks,” but they are not guaranteed. If you are a smoker, it would be wise to find something to curb your habit.

As of now, you cannot transport marijuana on Amtrak trains even if it legal in the state you come or going to visit.

19) Can my pet travel with me?

No, Amtrak does not allow pets on trains that travel longer than seven hours. Click here for Amtrak’s policy on service animals. IF YOU HAVE A WORK ANIMAL, CHECK THE POLICY BEFORE BOOKING YOUR TRIP.

View from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette

View from an Amtrak Viewliner roomette

20) Do I tip the car attendant?

Tipping is not necessary but a great way to reward excellent service. I have tipped great car attendants and do not tip for unsatisfactory service. The average tip is around $10 per day, but if that is not possible, a heartfelt thank-you works well whatever you can afford.

21) Can I contact Amtrak for compliment or complaint?

Constructive criticism is helpful, and praise of an employee is even better. To contact Amtrak for these with these comments, click here.

Kev’s top tips

Getting ready for the night:

Once your room is made up for the night, there is not much room left. What you can do is either get dressed before your room is made up for the night or as your attendant is getting set up for the night you can use a bathroom or shower room to change,

What else you need to know:

At fresh air stops, take advantage of them, take a step of the train, get a breath of fresh air, stretch, for it breaks up the trip.

Do not plan on WI-fi, and even your cell phone will not have service from time to time.

Train manners

Viewliner Hallway

Looking down the hallway of a Viewliner Sleeper car.

Be respectful of others. Talking to fellow passengers is a fun way to meet new train buddy, but not everyone wants to hear your conversation, keep your voice down.

When going walking to other parts of the train, remember there are other riders. If the lounge car is busy, it’s kind of rude to claim a whole table to yourself. With that said, if you are a night owl, and there is no one around feels free to take up the entire area.

Walkways are tight quarters, and you may get bumped into, or have to let others pass by so you can get through. It is a great time to practice your manners and say hi to your fellow riders.

Gear to improve your stray in an Amtrak Accommodation

From my experience, these are the essentials I pack when I have a sleeper.

  • Tablet (iPad mini for me),
    • Subscription apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime will allow you to download select shows that you can watch without wi-fi
  • Smartphone (I use an iPhone X)
    • Map apps are cool for seeing where you are at
    • Great for listing to music and podcast
  • Other Electronic accessories
    • Headphones
      • Bluetooth or corded, make sure they are comfortable
    • Extension cord
      • One with a few outlets works best depending on your needs because there is often just one outlet in the room.
    • A backup battery
      • Just in case. I have used one to charge my phone overnight because it was easier.
    • Chargers and cords
      • Don’t pack that spare cord that mostly works either, one that always works
  • Comfort items
    • Snacks are a good idea
    • Amtrak’s Comfort Kit, available in some stations and cafe car
      • The kit comes in a bag and contains: a small blanket, eye mask, neck pillow, and earplugs
      • You could always make your own
    • Blow-up pillow
    • A water bottle
    • Wet wipes
      • They work to keep you fresh and cleaning up around you
    • Sleep aids
    • Pain relief and a small first aid kit (not train-related, we are all getting older, and we need these things)
    • Shampoo or a multi-use soap like Dr. B’s
    • PJ’s or something to sleep in (just in case)
If I missed something, let me know in the comments below or message me.

Safe Travels!

Travesl with Kev

Kev is enjoying a beverage in a Superliner Roomette


If you enjoy this article, join the mailing list,  so you know when new ones are published. That link also lets you know how to get ahold of me.

For more information about taking your own Amtrak adventure, check out this page to get started!

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