I upgraded to an Amtrak Roomette by bidding $110

Amtrak upgraded my bus ticket, so I spent 15 hours in one of Lake Shore Limited’s roomettes. JB Bergin I upgraded my coach seat to a private roomette at Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited for an additional $110. The 23 square meter room had two seats, an in-room toilet, a foldable sink and a tray table. The roomette gave me a sense of privacy, but I wouldn’t stay in one with another person. Before my 15-hour trip on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited Viewliner, I upgraded my coach seat to a private room. An attendant found me before boarding and led me to the sleeper car. Getty Images

I originally planned to travel by bus on the Amtrak Lake Shore Limited for my 15-hour trip from Cleveland, Ohio to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I boarded at 1pm and arrived at 4am the next morning

I have enjoyed traveling on this section of the train during previous trips. Bus tickets are budget-friendly, baggage allowance is generous, seats are comfortable, and the cafe sells snacks and sodas.

But on this trip I decided to upgrade my ticket. Amtrak uses a bidding process called BidUp, and my $110 bid successfully got me off the bus to a private room that was about 23 square feet.

It was like this.

Amtrak passengers can bid to upgrade their tickets, and my $110 offer earned me a Roomette. My roomette was in the Lake Shore Limited sleeper. iStock/Getty ImagesPlus

I upgraded my ticket through Amtrak’s BidUp program. Approximately 37 hours before my trip, Amtrak provided a bid price range and asked how much I would like to bid for an upgrade.

As I was traveling on the coach, I had the opportunity to bid for a seat in business class, a roomette or a bedroom.

After betting $110, the minimum bid I could place on a Roomette, I waited a few hours before receiving an email informing me that Amtrak had accepted it and upgraded my ticket.

Including the $110 I paid for the upgrade, I spent a total of $226 on my trip. If I had originally booked a Roomette instead of upgrading to one, I probably would have paid over $500.

The service in the sleeper was exceptional. The hallway leading to my room was lined with windows. JB Bergin

Before I boarded the train, an Amtrak agent asked me if I was traveling in sleeper accommodation, checked my last name to make sure I was the passenger I was looking for, and directed me to a roomette.

Service remained wonderful throughout the rest of the trip, in part because each roomette on Amtrak trains has its own sleeper attendant.

As I was settling into my room in the sleeper, the attendant assigned to my roomette came over and informed me that breakfast service was about to begin. I thanked him and closed the door so I could sit and put my luggage away.

Throughout the trip, the same clerk stopped by several times to check in, even took my food order and delivered it to my room in the evening. I appreciated his attention to detail and his courtesy.

The Roomette was the perfect size for a solo traveler as the two seats could be folded into a bed. The accommodation was approximately 23 square meters. JB Bergin

In my room, two plush seats faced each other and faced a large window through which I could watch the world go by.

I could have folded these seats into a bed or lowered the top bunk using an easy-to-use lever mechanism.

Not wanting to sleep during my trip, I put the bed up as high as it would go. I’m quite tall so I wanted to give myself more space.

There was a locker above the door big enough to fit all my luggage. Keeping my luggage in my locked roomette was one of the best parts of the upgrade. JB Bergin

The in-room storage was a major benefit as I could access my belongings at all times.

The closet space, along with the full curtains and a lock on the door, made me feel very secure and gave my roomette a sense of privacy.

It was also convenient to be able to keep my things safe and locked in my Roomette while I ate in the dining car or walked the train.

The toilet area in the room was tiny and I wouldn’t want to use it with another person in the room. The roomette also had fresh towels, soap and a large mirror. JB Bergin

The toilet in the room took a little getting used to and I wondered how it would have worked if I had had a companion in the roomette with me.

It was so small that if one of us needed to use the bathroom, we had to take turns walking around. Or we would use one of the train’s public toilets for more privacy.

The foldable sink was a good idea, but the design was far from perfect. The sink made a mess when I didn’t close it properly. JB Bergin

The sink drained when I folded it up meaning I would spill water in the room if I wasn’t careful.

The Roomette had controls that I could use to adjust the airflow, temperature, and intercom volume. There were also multiple lighting options within the Roomette. JB Bergin

I was surprised to find so many comfort controls in the Roomette.

I had a personal thermostat that controlled the temperature, a device that controlled the airflow into the room, and a nob that controlled the intercom volume. I also had ample lighting options so I could create the perfect ambiance in my roomette.

All the controls were pretty easy to use. The poster had instructions on how to lower the bed and recline my seat. JB Bergin

Fortunately, almost every piece of furniture in my roomette had a poster with instruction manuals. I referenced this while setting up the room and adjusting the comfort controls throughout the day.

The dining car had a retro feel and was only accessible to passengers staying in the sleeper car. I ate breakfast and lunch in the dining car during my trip. JB Bergin

Around 10 o’clock I went to the dining car, which was reserved for sleeping car passengers.

Since I lived in a roomette, I had a flexible meal plan. Meal and soft drinks were included in my price and I didn’t have to make a reservation before boarding the dining car to eat.

The dining car had a retro design that felt very inviting and regionally specific, with hill and stag designs etched into the glass above each pew.

My upgrade ticket included free meals. The food in the dining car, which was included in the price, was a major benefit of staying in this section. JB Bergin

The free food was great so I ordered breakfast, lunch and dinner on the train.

For breakfast I had pancakes, sausage and coffee. I came back to the dining car for lunch and ordered Atlantic salmon and shrimp.

I had even brought dinner to my roomette. I ate my third meal of the day in my roomette. JB Bergin

Later that day, my companion took my order and brought my dinner—beef stew and short ribs—to my roomette. I ate it on a convertible tray that I could use as a table or desk and store away when not in use.