I traveled 16 hours from Portland, Oregon, to Sacramento, California, on Amtrak's Coast Starlight.
I booked a $518 roomette so I could have a private space during my first overnight train trip.
The 23-square-foot room was significantly more spacious and comfortable than I anticipated.
I booked a roomette for my 16-hour journey from Portland to Sacramento aboard the Amtrak Coast Starlight.
I recently traveled by Amtrak train for the first time on a 16-hour trip from Portland, Oregon, to Sacramento, California, on the Coast Starlight.
Because the majority of my first long-haul train ride was overnight, I booked a Superliner roomette, which was 6 feet 6 inches long and 3 feet 6 inches wide.
Here's what my experience traveling in the entry-level private accommodation was like.
My sleeping car ticket gave me access to the Amtrak lounge in the Portland train station.
There are only seven Amtrak lounge locations across the US, and Portland's Union Station is home to one of them.
Only passengers with tickets for business class, roomettes, or bedrooms had access to the lounge. And because I booked a room in the sleeping car, so did I.
When I entered the lounge, an attendant greeted me at the front desk before giving me my boarding ticket and boarding time.
Union Station was beautiful, but I was thankful that I could retreat to the Amtrak lounge.
Portland's Union Station opened in 1896, and its historic architecture was absolutely stunning. However, I was thankful that I had access to the Amtrak lounge as I waited 45 minutes to board my train.
The station was fairly busy, and the lounge provided a welcomed respite from the crowds. The temperature was also cooler inside than it was in the train station. Plus, the lounge offered a nicer bathroom and a safe space to leave my luggage.
The Amtrak website noted that Amtrak lounges offer beverages, snacks, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Coffee and small bottled water were available, but there weren't any snacks in the lounge. I was glad that I'd packed plenty of food in my bag ahead of time.
The lounge had Wi-Fi, but the signal was incredibly weak.
Sleeping car passengers had priority boarding and entered through a separate entrance.
When it was time to board the Coast Starlight, I was able to do so directly from the lounge. Thanks to priority boarding. I, along with the other sleeping car passengers, got settled quickly and easily.
My car attendant, Luis, welcomed me onto the train, took my luggage, and showed me to my roomette.
Coach passengers later boarded the train through a separate door.
Roomettes were located on the second level along a very narrow hallway.
I boarded the train from the lower level and made my way up the stairs to my room. I was surprised by the stairway and the aisle's narrowness.
There was enough room to walk through with my small bag, but it would've been difficult to fit in the space with my suitcase and another bag. Passing by other passengers down the aisle was very tricky as well.
Inside the roomette, two seats faced each other, and there was a small retractable table between them.
When I entered the roomette, I was surprised by its size. It felt roomy to me, a 5-foot-2-inch solo traveler. The space never felt cramped, and I was able to stand up quite a bit throughout my journey.
Inside, there were two comfortable seats directly across from each other, with a small foldable table in between them. Even though the table was a helpful spot to put my drinks and snacks, it was a bit too small for my laptop, which made it tricky to type on an even surface.
As an added bonus, two bottles of water and two pillows were waiting for me when I got to my room.
My cabin only had one outlet, which might've been an issue if I'd been traveling with someone else.
Next to one of the seats, there was a console that controlled the reading light and cabin temperature along with a singular outlet. Next to the other seat, there was a volume dial for the conductor's announcements, a call button for the car attendant, and a reading light.
At first, I was surprised the roomette only had one outlet, but I didn't end up needing more. I was able to charge my phone as often as I needed and didn't really use the outlet for anything else.
If I was traveling with someone else, I probably would've liked to have several more USB ports.
The roomette had a mirror, a closet, and a bit of additional storage space.
The roomette had a tiny closer that was only about 4 inches wide. I couldn't fit my bags inside, but I could've used it to hang jackets or dresses if I was traveling with larger clothing items.
There were two coat hooks in the room, so I used one to hang my purse.
I was also surprised to see a small mirror hanging on the wall.
I kept my luggage with me in my roomette the whole time.
I knew that I wouldn't have a ton of space in the roomette, so I packed everything I wanted with me on the train in a bag small enough to fit underneath an airplane seat.
I thought I'd have to store my suitcase downstairs in the luggage shelving, so I packed my carry-on-sized suitcase with clothing items I didn't need until I was off the train.
However, I was able to keep my luggage with me the entire time. During the day, I put it on my roomette's interior shelves, which doubled as steps to the top bunk. At night, it fit under the two seats once they were reconfigured into a bed.
Even though the roomette was a private accommodation, I still had to use a shared bathroom.
The larger bedrooms on the Coast Starlight had private bathrooms, sinks, and showers, but the roomettes didn't.
I had access to a shared bathroom in my car, just three doors down, along with several bathrooms and showers on the lower level.
The bathrooms were small and felt similar to an airplane restroom. Even though they were clean, I wished that I had my own private bathroom instead.
The roomette's large windows allowed me to take in the views away from the crowds.
I walked to the train's observation car to take in the sites through the large floor-to-ceiling windows. However, the train was completely full, so the car was incredibly crowded and felt overwhelming.
I was thankful to be able to retreat to my private space, with its nice big windows, and enjoy the scenery on my own. The roomette's huge windows were one of the best benefits of staying in the private accommodation.
The cost of dining car meals was included in my ticket price.
Booking a room in a sleeping car meant that my meals were included in the price of my ticket.
I boarded the Coast Starlight at 2 p.m. in Portland, and my car attendant told me I could still make it to lunch if I headed to the dining car.
I had a salad, and then went back later in the evening for a three-course dinner (it included an appetizer, main dish, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, and dessert).
There was also an option to have your meal delivered to your roomette instead of eating in the dining car.
When I was ready for bed, the two seats in my roomette folded down into a bed.
After dinner, I called my attendant and asked him to help me transform the seats in my room into a bed.
The two seats formed a lower bed, and there was also an upper bunk in the roomette, making it possible for two people to fit. Because I was traveling alone, I took the bottom bed.
He pulled down a cot from the top bunk and laid it across the adjoining seats to create a bed. It had a bottom and top sheet, and there was a warm Amtrak blanket available as well.
I brought my own blanket and small pillow after reading negative reviews about Amtrak's pillows. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how big the two pillows were. The linens were also very comfortable.
It was nice to have my own pillow and blanket, but I could've traveled without them.
The roomette door locked from the inside, so I felt safe when I slept.
The roomette didn't have a lock on the outside of the door. So, I took my phone and wallet with me as I wandered the train during the day, but some travelers brought their own padlocks to lock their doors from the outside.
At night, I closed the sliding door to my roomette and the curtains, which were thick and dark blue. Velcro held them together, which gave me plenty of privacy.
Luckily, there was a latch on the inside of the door so I could lock the roomette from the inside and feel safe at night.
When my room was all ready, I watched a few episodes of a TV show and went to sleep.
I knew I wouldn't have WiFi on the train, so I downloaded a few TV shows and movies to my Netflix account prior to leaving my house.
I didn't watch anything during the day, but I turned on one of my favorite shows when I was cozied up in bed and almost ready to sleep.
The bed was pretty comfortable, but I did have a hard time sleeping in the roomette.
I woke up several times because the feeling of the moving train bothered me a lot more when I was horizontal versus when I sat. The ride was incredibly bumpy, and lying down in bed made it feel like the train was moving much faster.
Nevertheless, I was still able to get a little bit of rest.
Having a private space on an otherwise crowded train made the higher price of the roomette well worth it.
Having the privacy of a small room instead of sitting in coach or business class made all the difference in making me feel comfortable and secure. I was thankful that I didn't have to sit next to or be in the same car as other travelers.
I wish I had my own bathroom, but the shared restrooms were conveniently located and clean. And even though the train was full, I never had to wait in line to use one.
My sleeping car attendant, Luis, made the journey very pleasant and answered any questions I had along the way. He even checked on me to make sure I was awake and ready in the morning so I didn't miss my stop in Sacramento at 6:20 a.m.
Overall, I found the roomette to be more spacious than I thought it would be. The private space and service I got by booking a roomette made the higher price absolutely worth it.
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