Amtrak Superliner Roomette: What You Need To Know

by Kev
Superliner Bed

My first Amtrak Superliner roomette was room number 14 on the 421 Texas Eagle from Chicago to Los Angeles. Before I set out on this trip, like you, I researched information on these rooms. The Amtrak site gave me some information, but I wanted to know more. I tried an Amtrak forum with mixed results. I hope that this page will answer your questions.

Amtrak Superliner sleepers are a fun way to travel the rails in comfort while enjoying the scenery. Superliner Sleeping Cars contain roomettes, bedrooms, assessable for those with special needs, and family rooms. Sleeper Cars are compact but comfortable, similar to giant RV’s, but on the rails. If you are interested in knowing when articles on the other rooms become available, sign up for the email list.

Roomettes are small private rooms in an Amtrak Superliner Sleeping Car. When you book a roomette, it is reserved only for you and your travel companion (if you have one). You will not share a room with someone you do not know.

Amtrak Trains That Use Superliner Equipment

Sunset Limited in El Paso, TX
Amtrak’s train 2/422 Sunset Limited/ Texas Eagle in El Paso, TX.

The following trains have Amtrak’s signature Superliner Sleeper Cars: Auto Train, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, and the Sunset Limited. All of these trains share the same equipment.

All the other long-distance trains use the single-level Viewliner equipment. The reason for the two equipment styles is simple: the tunnels leading to New York Penn Station. While the Superliner equipment holds more people, they do not fit through the New York tunnels.

Interactive 360 Views Of An Amtrak Superliner Roomettes

These interactive photos are a neat and handy way to discover what the roomettes look like at all different angles. The links below contain interactive “360 photos” (these photos are not mine). A quick note: depending on when the car was built or rebuilt, there can be differences in the interiors.

Additionally, Amtrak no longer makes beds like in the photo. A few years ago, Amtrak took a survey to find people now prefer the blanket wrapped in plastic. New bedding and towels are coming soon, starting with the Auto Train.

Amtrak Superliner Roomette: Size

Roomettes are Amtrak’s smallest accommodations. These rooms are 6.5′ by 3.5′ and serve two different purposes. During the day, two chairs face each other with a fold-out table in-between. At night the two chairs become the lower berth or bed ( 2.3′ by 6.5′), and the second berth comes down from above (2′ by 6.2′). The upper berth does not have windows, and steps are needed to get up there.

Sleeper Car Layout

Superliner Roomettes are on both floors of the car. One through ten are on the upper level, and eleven to fourteen are on the lower. The car attendant has room number one. Roomette two is closest to the upper-level bathroom (that could be handy for some). Eleven to fourteen are on the lower level with thirteen and fourteen next to the family room.

There are three types of Superliner Sleeper Cars, Standard Sleeper, Delux (only on the Auto Train), and Transdorm. Most people will find themself in a standard sleeper with fourteen roomettes, one of which is used by the car attendant. Roomettes numbered 1-10 are located upstairs, with room one being the attendant’s room with 10-14 on the lower level.

Standard Sleeper Car

Superliner Sleeper
The layout of a Superliner Sleeper Car

Transdorm

These cars only have roomettes.

Trans Dorm
Transdorm sleepers are just roomettes and mainly used for onboard staff.

Deluxe Bedroom

Deluxe Bedroom cars only appear on the Auto Train.

Amtrak deluxe sleeper
Amtrak Deluxe Sleepers.

Amtrak Superliner Rommetes Outlet and Lighting

Suoerliner Roomette switch
The newer lighting controls in Amtrak Superliner Roomette

These railcars were designed and built before our mass use of electronics, so be advised there is only one wall outlet in the room. A simple extension cord will solve this problem for most people; this allows you to charge more than one item at a time.

Lights in the room include ceiling lights, a nightlight, plus reading lights. Amtrak is switching many of these lights over to more efficient LED lights. There are currently two different switches used; as the cars get upgraded, Amtrak is changing to touch controls (like in the photo).

Travel tip: the upper bunk has a reading light that works well for mood lighting through the tunnels of the Rockies if you are aboard the Califonia Zephyr. This light also works well for when you head to dinner because your room will have a little light when you get back.

Amtrak Superliner Roomette: Windows and Doors

Roomettes have a large window to watch the country roll by on your journey, and also have interior windows facing the hallway and in the door. All windows have drapes to keep the light out or for privacy.

The room door is only lockable from the inside. Before leaving your room, hide your valuables.  I have never had an issue, but I don’t leave my valuables out when I am not in the roomette.

Amtrak Superliner Sleeper Roomette: Storage

Superliner Roomette storage
Storage is a premium in a Superliner Roomette, but there are areas to places your belongings L: Lower storage rack C: closet and wall hooks R: Step where I keep my bag.
Superliner roomette hook
If your Superliner Roomette does nit have a closet and with hock like this. Amtrak supplies hangers.

Whereas there is not much room in a roomette, some storage space is available. When you walk into a roomette on one side of the door, you will see a step (the right photo above); you can slide your bag to the wall, and the headrest should keep it from moving (I have never had it fall). The opposite side is either a small closet or a hook and hangers (canter photo above). There is some storage under the seats, but there is no access to that space when they come together.

For additional space, there is a rack downstairs. If, for some reason, you have too much baggage and traveling alone, talk to your car attendant about lowering the upper bunk and store your luggage up there. If you do this, you will lose headspace.

Checked baggage service is available between some stations, but not all, so check before leaving. If your first station does not have checked service, but your layover station does, you can check bags at that station.

For example, you are going from Sturtevant, WI, an unstaffed station, to Omaha. NE, with a layover in Chicago. You can carry on your bags on the Hiawatha and check them in Chicago, providing you can do so 30 minutes or so before departure.

Amtrak Superliner Roomette Amenities

Besides the sleeping areas and little storage, there are more to these small rooms.

Each room has a fold-out table between the two chairs, and behind that is the safety card and often the Amtrak magazine, The National.

Amtrak Meal
Amtrak Signature Stake meal

Rooms come with bottled water, fresh towels, blankets, sheets, and pillows. In the morning, coffee and juice service is available at the coffee station on the car’s upper level by the stairs. There is a shower on the lower level for all to use as well.

Your room tickets include meals in the dining car during your trip. Trains running west of the Mississippi have traditional dining. Trains running east of the Mississippi have flexible dining and include one free alcoholic drink. Check out this article for more information on dining cars.

Due to the pandemic, Amtrak temporarily uses their flex dining on all trains but for Auto Train. This change could happen until December 2020.

There is a car attendant to help you along the way. The attendants will put your bed up or down, help with luggage when able, and help maintain the sleeper car. If you need help, such as having meals brought to your room, let your car attendant know ahead of time. Remember, the attendant is there to help the whole car, and it may take some time before they can get to you.

Most Superliner trains do not have Wifi. It is best to plan on not having Wifi. If you do have it, it cellular and not set up for streaming movies and shows.

Getting Around A Superliner Train

Getting around a Superliner Train is easy if you remember two things. First, to walk from one car to another, you need to be on the upper level. Trains are linear, so you may walk through a few cars to get where you want to go. And the other point is, you need to go downstairs to get on or off the train.

Can I Request A Room For The Best View?

Amtrak Superliner Train
Amtrak Superliner Train

This question comes up a lot on forums. A ticket agent cannot guarantee which way a room faces because sleeper cars run in either direction. Since they run in either direction, Amtrak put sleeper cars together in whatever order they come into the yard.

The direction your room faces is the luck of the draw, possibly the onboard staff might be able to move you, but this is not guaranteed. For a  different view, try the Sightseer Lounge or for passengers on the City of New Orleans and Auto Train, try the Sleeper Lounge.

Booking A Superliner Roomette

Amtrak Roomette
One side of an Amtrak Superliner Roomette

There are several ways to book a roomette, including staffed stations, Amtrak’s app or website, over the phone, or through Amtrak Vacations if you want to work with a travel agent.

Booking on your own is simple, and booking multiple rooms for groups is possible, although roomettes are randomly assigned.

After making your reservations, Amtrak sends an email with your receipt and ticket. The ticket will show your room assignment. This information is also available in the app if you booked with your Amtrak Guest Rewards Number.

Reasons to call Amtrak or visit a staffed station:

  • If you are booking multiple rooms near each other
  • You want a specific roomette or don’t like the assigned location of the roomette.
    • For example, you have a lower level room, and you want an upstairs room of visa versa.

When possible, Amtrak will try to fulfill these requests, but it is not always possible. It is best to book as soon as you are able.

How Much Do Roomettes Cost?

One of the most asked questions, but not easy to answer because there are too many variables. Variables include the destination and starting point. Other factors include when you book the trip, the fuller the train, the higher the cost. The number of people in your party affects the price as well.

For tips on saving money, check out my page on the topic. The best way to find out how much a roomette will cost is to enter the start and finish points into Amtrak’s website and see what they say. Sites like Amsnag can help you find cheaper rates by comparing different dates in one spreadsheet.

Amtrak Superliner Roomette: Packing List 

There are a few things I pack to make my trip more enjoyable.

  • Electronics (typically there is no internet on the train)
    • Extension cord
    • Headphones
    • Chargers and cables
    • A tablet with downloaded entertainment can help buy time at night or if there is a delay.
      • Apps such as Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, or other streaming services allow you to download movies ahead time to watch them without the internet.
  • Snacks and drinks
    • I usually use a small foldable bag that easily packs after I consumed my snacks.
    • I buy snacks for one way and replenish at my destination for the way back.
    • Many big stations such as Chicago and LA have shops that sell snacks, but you will pay more.
    • A refillable water bottle is a handy way to stay hydrated and lower your travel footprint.
    •  At the time of writing, you can bring your alcohol and consume it in your room. If you get out of control, you could be removed at the next stop, regardless of your destination.
  • Sleeping and misc
    • Eyeshades if you are super sensitive to light at night
    • Earplugs if you need it quiet
    • Sleep aides

Superliner Roomette: Car Etiquette

Basic manners apply, but a few things I want to go over.

  • Inside voices are essential; the walls are thin, so be mindful of your neighbors.
  • If you don’t use headphones, keep your electronics at a low volume.
  • Treat your car attendant with respect, there is only one for the whole car, and they try to help everyone the best that they can
    • If you have excellent service feel free to tip; $5 to $10 is a standard per day and given at the end.
  • Clean up after yourself in common areas, for the betterment of your fellow passengers

My Experience With Roomettes

Amtrak Superliner Sleeper
The entrance to an Amtrak Superliner Sleeper Car

Roomettes are my happy place! I have enjoyed thousands of miles in these little rooms with happiness. Occasionally I didn’t get the best car attendant, but it was the exception to the rule for me. When I can, I try and get a superliner roomette because of personal space, food, shower, and being to sleep horizontally. 

My favorite part of having a roomette is being able to stretch out, watch the scenery go by, and listing to music without headphones (at a low volume). Sometimes I will “watch” videos while rolling along, but often it is on just for background noise, or I watch the parts I like.

With a sleeper, once you are on board, your basic needs are covered. Capital Limited, City of New Orleans, and the Auto Train offer free non-alcoholic beverages in the Sleeper Car Lounge as part of the new dining program.  On the other trains, non-alcoholic drinks come with meals, but if you want something extra while not at a meal, you can purchase them from the cafe car at the passenger’s expense.

You may also want to check out 21 Questions on Amtrak Sleepers.

Safe Travels!

Kev

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