Amtrak sleeper car accommodations are one of the best ways to see the United States. This guide is written to help you understand the differences in the types of rooms, and to help you get the best deal on a room that is perfect for your trip.
- 1 What Is Included In Amtrak Sleeper Car Accommodations
- 2 Viewliner Vs. Superliner
- 3 Roomette
- 4 Bedroom
- 5 Family Bedroom
- 6 Accessible Bedroom
- 7 Bedroom Suite
- 8 Booking An Amtrak Sleeper Car
- 9 Amtrak Sleeper Car Tips
What Is Included In Amtrak Sleeper Car Accommodations
When riding on Amtrak in a sleeper car, breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the dining car. Depending on your route, you’ll either be served from the flexible dining menu or the more impressive traditional dining menu. To see which menu they’ll be serving on a route you are interested in, click the details on the booking screen.
Non alcoholic drinks are also included for your entire ride. 1 alcoholic drink per person is included per ride. If your ride originates at a station with a Metropolitan Lounge, you’ll enjoy access to that lounge on the day of your trip. The best lounges are in New York City and Chicago.
You’ll be assigned a room attendant, who will take care of helping you with any questions, bring you water and drinks, and switch your room from the day to night arrangement and back.
Viewliner Vs. Superliner
There are two types of sleeper cars in the Amtrak system, Superliner and Viewliner. It is important to know which type of car you’ll be in if you want to know what to expect as they differ quite a bit in size and amenities. Viewliner trains are mostly found on the east coast as they are all trains that go to New York City.
Viewliner trains are single level while Superliner trains are double decker. Therefore Viewliner rooms are much taller as the Superliner rooms need to be shorter to accommodate two levels. You’ll generally also find more storage space in a Viewliner train for this reason.
On A Superliner train, family bedrooms and accessible rooms are always on the lower level. Roomettes can be on the upper or lower level, and bedrooms are always on the upper level. The view is better from a roomette on the upper level, and it also has easier access to the dining car and observation car. Lower level rooms are closer to the shower and are easier to get off and on the train. If you want to check where your room is, calling customer service can be helpful.
As seen in the picture below, family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms on a superliner are the doors at the end of the hallway on the lower level. Roomettes are on the sides and there are stairs that lead up to the bedrooms and upper roomettes.
Stairs to the upper level of the Superliner. There are no stairs on a Viewliner.
Within each type of car there are older I models and newer II models. On the Superliner trains it is difficult to tell the difference unless you are an experienced rider, but on Viewliner trains the difference is more noticeable. You’ll have no control or knowledge of which kind of car you are assigned to, I or II, until you get on board. Many trains run with both styles, and half the sleeper car passengers will be in a I and the other half in a II.
Amtrak Trains with Superliner Cars
- Auto Train
- California Zephyr
- Capitol Limited
- City of New Orleans
- Coast Starlight
- Empire Builder
- Southwest Chief
- Sunset Limited
- Texas Eagle
Amtrak Trains with Viewliner Cars
The Roomette is the smallest and cheapest way to experience a sleeper car on Amtrak. By day a roomette has two chairs that face each other. At night the two chairs convert to a bed and another bunk pulls down from the ceiling.
Roomettes are designed for 1 or 2 people. Roomettes have the most difference in them between the train types and even the I or II models of the cars. If you are going to be in a roomette, it is important to know the difference as it involves how you’ll use the bathroom.
Superliner I & II Roomettes
It is really hard to tell the difference between a Superliner I and II roomette. The main differences are an updated lighting system in the II and also in the II they’ve removed a very small closet which provides extra space. The biggest change is the bathrooms in the hallway, where the II bathrooms are actually smaller than the older I bathrooms. For that reason we prefer being in a Superliner I over the II. All Superliner Roomettes share bathrooms in the hallway with other sleeper car passengers in their car.
The upper berth in the Superliner Roomette is much shorter than a Viewliner, so make sure the person sleeping up top is comfortable with tight spaces. There is less than 30 inches of clearance from the ceiling to the bed.
To get to the top berth you’ll use a step next to one of the seats. Each seat has a reading light and controls, but only one of the seats has a power outlet.
Pictured below is a Superliner II Roomette, if it was a Superliner I there would be a slim closet where the backpack is sitting. The closet is so small that it can only be used to hang clothes, so this is a much better use of space. The only power outlet is on this side.
The only storage in a Superliner Roomette is under the seats. We can slide our very small suitcase under the seats, but it is not much bigger than a backpack. Superliners do have large storage racks on the lower level, so any bags that don’t fit can be easily stored there, or checked at the station. The picture below is a Superliner I, you’ll notice on the far right there is a very thin blue closet, where the backpack is sitting in the above picture.
You are free to eat your lunch in the dining room or in your roomette. On this day we chose to eat in our roomette. A table pulls up from the wall and folds out to provide space.
Viewliner I Roomette
The Viewliner I Roomette draws the widest range of opinion of any Amtrak room. It is the only room other than an accessible room that has a toilet in the open, and it is in an especially small space. Some people love it and some don’t. The toilet also takes up some space that is used in the II for more seating area.
Next to Allie on her right is the fold down sink and the toilet.
When the toilet is closed it acts as a step to get to the top berth.
When the lid is opened you’ll notice the toilet seat is at a slight angle.
The Viewliner I Roomette has ample storage space with a huge luggage rack overhead. It is the most storage you’ll find in an Amtrak Sleeper Car Roomette.
Both levels have controls for lights, unlike the Superliner Roomettes, where only the lower level has controls.
The upper berth has windows, controls and plenty of headroom.
Viewliner II Roomette
The Viewliner II differs from the Viewliner I in that it doesn’t have a toilet in the room. Toilets are down the hall near the showers and are shared with other sleeper car passengers. In place of the toilet is a large step, which we use to hold our bags during the day. The advantage here is that the seat is wider than a Viewliner I because the step is smaller than the toilet was.
You’ll know you are in a Viewliner II car if you see the pink/purple colors. All other Amtrak cars are blue. This is our favorite Roomette type.
The Viewliner II Roomette still has a fold down sink in the room. The water drains out the back as it is folded up.
The Viewliner II night setup is perfect. The high ceilings give plenty of space to the person on the top bunk and the beds are the widest in any of the roomettes.
Anyone under 5’10” will be able to fully sit up on the top bunk. Viewliner roomettes also offer the advantage of windows for the person on the top bunk, a feature the Superliners lack.
Again, to clarify, you can choose if you are on a Superliner or Viewliner by the route you pick, but you cannot choose if you get a I or II.
The same concepts apply to the Bedrooms on an Amtrak Sleeper Car. There are Superliner I and II as well as Viewliner I and II Bedrooms. The Superliner I and II are really hard to tell apart and the Viewliner II are quite a bit nicer and newer than the Viewliner I.
Superliner I & II Bedrooms
The Superliner Bedrooms in an Amtrak sleeper car give a classic rail experience. What we love about the Bedrooms over the roomettes is that one person can sit on the lower level and another could lay down if they’d like, without having to make up the beds.
On thing to note is that in a Bedroom you’ll be sleeping across the train instead of in the direction of travel like in a roomette. While there still isn’t tons of headroom in the top berth in a bedroom, the overall size of the room makes it feel much more spacious.
Your private bathroom has a door that closes, making it much easier to use than a bathroom out in the open.
The bathroom is also the shower, so before you take a shower take the toilet paper out. It has a cover, but it doesn’t always work well.
The private in room sink is really nice. It is a big upgrade over the sinks in the Viewliner Roomettes.
Overall, on a cross country trip on a Superliner route, this is the best you can do. If you are looking to ride a premium route like the California Zephyr and this is a bucket list trip, get the Bedroom if it is within budget.
Viewliner I Bedroom
The Viewliner I Bedroom could be described as a bigger version of the Viewliner I roomette, but with the bathroom in an enclosed space. This alone might be worth the upgrade for some people. It is not as nice and new as it’s counterpart, the Viewliner II Bedroom below, which is the best bedroom you can get.
Viewliner II Bedroom
As far as bedrooms go on an Amtrak sleeper car, this is the one you want if you are looking for just the best room. It offers the best combination of space, amenities and new furnishings. Again though, it is up to luck if you’ll get a I or II.
During the day you’ll have a couch to sit on as well as a chair, and at night it turns into a larger bed and the top berth folds down.
The toilet and shower are similar to the other private bathrooms in bedrooms.
The sink area is spacious and offers plenty of room.
The Family Bedroom Amtrak Sleeper Car is only found on Superliner trains. It is located on the lower level at the end of a hallway and has view out both sides of the train as it takes up the entire width of the train.
The Amtrak Family Bedroom is the only room that can sleep 4 people, being big enough for 2 adults and 2 children. There are 2 long bunk beds and 2 shorter bunk beds. Due to the amount of space taken up by the beds, there is no bathroom in this room. Shared bathrooms are located directly outside the door in the hall.
Family bedrooms can be cheaper than a regular bedroom, so many people ask if it is worth getting over a regular bedroom. In our opinion, if you don’t need the 4 beds, you are better off in a regular bedroom as you’ll have a bathroom, better views, and more comfortable seating as well as more floor space.
During the day the beds fold up and turn into couches, but at night the room is basically all beds!
The fold out table is small and it would be difficult to have 4 people eat there. It would be better to go up to the dining room.
We found the beds simply too big for the space, so unless you really need 4 beds, there is no reason to get this room.
Accessible Bedrooms are available on all Amtrak Sleeper Car trains. By far the best room is the Viewliner II Accessible Room. All of the others are similar in quality.
Superliner I & II Accessible Bedroom
The Accessible Bedroom on Superliner trains are all on the lower level, at the end of the hallway. They have a private toilet, but share a shower with the rest of the car.
They resemble the Roomette on one side but with a private toilet area on the other.
The doors are wider than a normal room, and there are handrails on the walls.
Viewliner II Accessible Bedroom
The Accessible Bedroom on the Viewliner II car is the biggest room you can get on an Amtrak train.
The couch folds down into a very large bed at night. There is also plenty of room in the upper berth for a second passenger. The upper level is reached via climbing a ladder in the room.
During the day, the couch is plenty big for 2 people.
The sink and toilet are in the main room in the corner.
There is a private in room shower, with a bench in the Viewliner II accessible room.
A special intercom and call button are located in the room.
If you need an accessible room, the Viewliner II Accessible Bedroom is the best one you can get. Unfortunately, there is no way to to guarantee if you are getting the I or II version until you get on the train. The Viewliner I version is smaller and not as nice.
The Bedroom Suite on Amtrak is just 2 bedrooms joined together by a connecting door. The rooms will be exactly as described above, but you’ll have 2 of them!
Booking An Amtrak Sleeper Car
Booking any of the Amtrak Sleeper Car rooms can be done in the Amtrak App, on their website or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. Rooms will not show up online if they are booked, so if you don’t see a room, pick a different date.
Amtrak Sleeper Car Tips
Prices go up for as the train fills up, so to get the best price you should book your Amtrak sleeper car as far in advance as possible. The price can often times double or triple when the date gets closer.
At the end of your trip it is customary to tip the room attendant if they have done a good job. A usual tip is $5-10 per person per night. If you’d like to tip the dining car attendant, you can do that after each meal. A normal tip is $2-3 per person per meal.