Have you ever wondered what's it's like to travel in a luxurious sleeper car on-board Amtrak's long distance trains? Read on for details, photos, and tips.
I preach the benefits and joys of train travel to anyone that listens, and I truly believe that train travel is so underutilized by Americans. Not enough people know about the many options that Amtrak offers to long distance travelers, including their amazing sleeper car options. Having traveled many times in both an economical "roomette" and the more luxurious "bedroom", I've gathered everything I've learned (and lots of photos) to share with you. I'll be providing details and photos for the "roomette" in a separate post.
In addition to the options listed above, Amtrak also offers a "family bedroom" and an "accessible bedroom". Floor plans and details for both of these are available on the Amtrak website here. For this post, let's take a look at my favorite sleeper car aboard superliners, the "bedroom". If you're not familiar with train sleeper compartments, you may be a little surprised at the small size when you first step aboard, but you'll quickly be impressed at how efficiently the cozy space is designed.
The daytime set up features a roomy sofa that faces an armchair and in-suite bathroom. The bathroom space has a wet shower and toilet combo, nothing fancy but just what you need for a train trip. Outside of the bathroom, there is a perfectly compact sink, with counter space and mirror. However, the best feature of this cozy room is the huge picture window that spans the length and allows you to gaze at the passing landscape, either from the sofa or the armchair.
Although the space may be compact, it has a surprising amount of storage space. There is a luggage rack above the armchair for standard size suitcases and even has a tiny "closet" with hangers to store your coats or hanging garment bag. I've been able to comfortably fit two winter coats and my purse into the closet and you can probably fit in a bit more as long as the items are narrow.
The daytime set up also features a mini fold out table in between the sofa and armchair. It is small but has just enough surface space to work on, play games, or eat meals. I've been able to work while rolling along by spreading out my tools on the table. The pictures below are a good depiction of the daytime set up for the bedroom. I snapped them throughout my journey to show what the room looks like when it's "lived in" for a few hours.
As you can see above, the space may be compact but it is used quite efficiently. The same applies for the "nighttime" set up. When you are ready to turn in for the night, the large sofa easily converts into a comfortably large bed complete with fresh linens, fluffy pillows, and a signature Amtrak blanket. The bed itself is surprisingly comfortable - there is a mattress placed on top of the folded down sofa so it feels like an actual bed. This is another area where train travel beats flying hands down. Rather than just reclining in a tight chair, you can get a pleasant night's sleep in private.
If you are traveling with a companion, there is also a top bunk that folds down and features a ladder for easy access. The top bunk is not the most comfortable but it gets the job done. Your sleeper car attendant will kindly set up the beds for you but I've always opted to do this for myself as it is quite easy to assemble.
When you are ready to turn off the room's lights for the night, there is the great option of a dimly lit blue light that serves as the "night light". There is one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom. I usually opt to leave the bedroom dark and simply turn on the nightlight in the bathroom in case I need to get up in the middle of the night. Below are photos of the night time set up featuring that comfy bed.
The next morning, when you arrive at your destination, you will be thanking yourself for choosing comfortable train travel over a red-eye flight. You'll arrive fed, well rested, and ready to take on the adventures of the day.
This is part two in a series about my travels aboard Amtrak. I'll share a full post about the "roomette" sleeper accommodations in my next article.