I paid $500 extra to upgrade my room on a 30-hour Amtrak ride, and I thought the additional 20 square feet was worth every penny

side by side photos show amtrak bedroom and roomette selfies
The author stayed in an Amtrak roomette on her way to Miami and a bedroom on her way to New York.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I spent 60 hours on overnight Amtrak trains traveling from New York City to Miami and back.

  • I stayed in a $500 roomette about the size of a twin-size bed and a $1,000 bedroom the size of a king-size bed.

  • While 20 square feet may not sound like a lot, to me, the extra space in the bedroom — not to mention the private bathroom — was priceless.

I traveled from NYC to Miami and back on Amtrak trains last year. The train rides took about 30 hours each way, and I had a private room in a sleeper car on both journeys.

The author takes a selfie as she arrives in Miami
The author takes a selfie in front of an Amtrak sleeper car in Miami.Joey Hadden/Insider

The ticket to Miami cost about $500 for a Viewliner roomette accommodation. The ticket back to New York cost about $1,000 for a bedroom accommodation.

For full disclosure, Insider paid for the train accommodations, per our reporting standards.

On my way to Miami, I booked a roomette, an approximately 20-square-foot private cabin that cost about $500 and included two beds, a table, two chairs, and a toilet.

A view of an empty roomette across from the author's on an Amtrak.
A view of a roomette across the way.Joey Hadden/Insider

A step up from sitting in coach, where you get a seat among other passengers, a roomette is a private space with a door and blinds to cover up the windows.

According to Amtrak's website, roomettes are around 22.75 square feet, which, for reference, is a little bigger than a standard twin-size bed, Insider has reported, and they can sleep up to two adults.

I booked a bedroom for the ride home, which was double the price for twice the space, an additional chair, a shower, and an enclosed bathroom.

Inside an Amtrak bedroom with blue seats and a big window showing nature outside
A view of the bedroom accommodation.Joey Hadden/Insider

According to Amtrak's website, bedrooms are around 45.5 square feet, which, for reference, is a little bigger than a standard king-size bed, Insider has reported, and they can also sleep up to two adults.

Both rooms offered complete privacy, came with complimentary meals, and used smart storage hacks that reminded me of a tiny home.

The author takes a selfie with her food and a view of the sleeper car corridor
The author's meal and an Amtrak sleeper car.Joey Hadden/Insider

Having a private space was the most important thing to me on this long train journey, and both rooms offered that.

Both rooms also had some clever storage, like a table that pulled out between the chairs.

And I think I woke up feeling more rested on my way home in the bedroom simply because I chose the bottom bunk, where I felt less swaying and bumping from the train. You could select this option in either room.

side by side photos show the author waking up in an Amtrak bedroom and roomette
The author wakes up in a roomette and a bedroom.Joey Hadden/Insider

If you're bothered by the bumpiness of the train during the day as I was, I recommend sleeping on the bottom bunk in either accommodation.

But, while I was impressed with the roomette's use of space, having just 20 square feet of extra room to move around in the bedroom was undoubtedly a better experience for me.

The author is seen sitting in the roomette and dancing in the bedroom
The author sits in the roomette and dances in the bedroom.Joey Hadden/Insider

As someone who deals with travel anxiety, I found 30 hours on a train to be overwhelming.

But staying in a bedroom made me feel more comfortable than staying in a roomette. I thought the bedroom offered ample space to stretch out and move about, which made all the difference to me.

Frankly, I don't feel comfortable sitting for 30 hours. I could get my body moving in the bedroom by dancing around, while in the roomette, I felt too cramped to move very much.

The author dances in the bedroom and roomette
The author attempts to dance in both rooms.Joey Hadden/Insider

To pass the time, get moving, and feel more at home, I took frequent dance breaks in my bedroom where I closed the curtains and blasted music in my earbuds.

This felt freeing and satisfying, and, if I wanted to, I think I could have even done some body-weight exercises or practiced my karate moves.

It was also nice to have a big sofa where I could stretch out and put my feet up in the bedroom, whereas the roomette only had two single seats.

The author sits in both rooms
The author lounges in both rooms.Joey Hadden/Insider

Having room to lounge in the bedroom made me feel more relaxed throughout my journey.

All bedrooms have a three-mirror vanity, a shower, and, notably, a toilet behind a locking door. In some roomettes (mine included), there's a side table that swings open to reveal a toilet. Above it is a folding sink and a single mirror.

side by side photos show amtrak bedroom and roomette bathrooms
The vanity is seen in the bedroom and roomette.Joey Hadden/Insider

After staying in a roomette with a toilet for the first half of my trip to Miami, I was moved to another room without a toilet for the remainder due to the availability of roomettes when I booked my ticket. I had access to a bathroom at the end of the sleeper car.

When I was traveling home in a bedroom, I appreciated that the toilet was separated from the rest of the room by a door.

I also thought the bedroom also had a nicer vanity with three mirrors facing each other, which made it easier to wash my face in the morning.

I appreciated the private toilet in the bedroom and think this is a great amenity if you're traveling with others. With two seats and no privacy curtain around the toilet in the roomette, I was grateful to be a solo traveler.

the author sits on both toilets
The author poses on both toilets.Joey Hadden/Insider

There are only a few people I'd go number two in front of, but I prefer to be alone.

While you may feel sticker shock at the $500 price difference, the extra space was worth every penny to me and upgraded my 30-hour journey from anxiety-inducing to comfortable and homey.

The author lies on the bed looking up with the table on the left in the foreground. The curtains are closed.
The author relaxes in the bedroom.Joey Hadden/Insider

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