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Image: Phil Armstrong // Published: 9.20.20
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The Coziest, Most Fun Way To Travel Is in a Private 'Roomette' on an Amtrak Train

When traveling these days, you have to prioritize ‘protecting your bubble’–keeping your ‘quaranteam’ safe by limiting exposure and maintaining an imaginary protective bubble around everyone. A great travel option for Cincinnatians who want to do what they can to ‘protect their bubble’ is to travel via Amtrak’s roomettes.

The term ‘roomette’ dates from 1937 when the Pullman Company first constructed sleeping cars with these accommodations. The modern versions are 3.5 x 6.5 feet, enclosed, cozy (but comfortable) for two adults and well-appointed with all the necessary amenities for a journey. There are two armchairs with one somewhat wider than the other to accommodate a small toilet (on Superliner trains).

The two chairs recline and fold flat into a 2.3 x 6.5-foot bed. Next to the narrower seat is a console that includes the toilet, a sink, two electrical outlets, and a control panel. The toilet is right next to the narrower chair and there are no in-room walls or curtains (but there certainly are for the windows that face into the train’s interior aisle), so it’s important that you and your travel companion are comfortable with some level of personal intimacy.

The flip-down sink provides hot and cold running water and drains once you flip it back up into travel mode. The entire console area doubles as steps to the upper berth, which is slightly smaller than the lower one at around 2 x 6 feet. The upper berth has its own window, allows access to a luggage storage area, and has safety straps running from the bed’s edge to the ceiling to keep the sleeper from accidentally rolling out.

Meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the fare of anyone in the sleeper cars (either in roomettes or the actual rooms) as is one alcoholic beverage with lunch or dinner. The attendants take your lunch and dinner orders from a sleeper car-only menu that includes red wine braised beef, shrimp in lobster sauce, chicken marsala, pasta and meatballs, and vegan enchiladas. Lunch and dinner entrees come with a roll and butter, a small iceberg salad, and a packaged dessert. For breakfast, you walk to the dining car to place your order and then bring it back to your roomette. Seating in the dining car is currently not allowed (you must consume all food and beverages in your seat), and masks are required anytime that you aren’t eating or drinking.

Anyone who’s ever considered riding Amtrak out of Cincinnati knows there are some limitations to our local train schedule. The Cardinal line runs from Chicago to New York and only has scheduled departures in Cincinnati in the early morning hours. It heads westbound three days per week (Monday, Thursday, and Saturday) at around 1:40 AM and eastbound (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) around 3:30 AM. But don’t worry—you’ll have plenty of chance to catch up on sleep in the berth compartment of your cozy roomette.

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To see our 12-hour Amtrak voyage to Virginia, check out the gallery above. Visit Amtrak’s website to learn more about it and to schedule a trip of your own.


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