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I booked private rooms on overnight trains in Europe and the US. The more expensive ride was a better deal.

Left: The author sits in a blue seat in an Amtrak roomette with a window on the left. Right: The author sits on a white bunk inside an overnight train cabin with a dark window behind her.
Business Insider's reporter traveled in private cabins on overnight trains in the US and Europe.Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • I booked a 30-hour overnight train ride in an Amtrak roomette in 2021.

  • Two years later, I booked a private cabin on a European sleeper train for an 11-hour ride.

  • Despite similar amenities, the experiences were notably different. And one had better value.

I've taken six overnight trains in the US and Europe, sometimes cheaply with shared accommodations and, in other cases, more expensive, private cabins.

I've found that the most comparable rides in each country were the Amtrak roomette and a private cabin on OBB Austrian Federal Railway's Nightjet train.

Both rides offered an enclosed space with beds, in-room sinks, and wash basins, but the experiences were completely different in many ways.

Read on to find out which is more worth the price — and why.

My overnight train rides began in October 2021 with a 30-hour trip from NYC to Miami in an Amtrak roomette.

The author exits a train in Miami after a 30-hour ride.
The author exits a train in Miami after a 30-hour ride.Joey Hadden/Insider

For $500, I traveled 1,094 miles in my own tiny hotel room.

The roomette is the train's second-tier of accommodation — one step above coach seating and one step below an Amtrak bedroom, which is twice the size for roughly double the price, in my experience.

My most recent sleeper train experience was an 11-hour ride from Venice, Italy, to Vienna.

The author exits a Nightjet train in Venice.
The author exits a Nightjet train in Venice.Joey Hadden/Insider

Two years later, I booked a private cabin on a Nightjet train traveling through Europe for the first time.

For $200, the train took me 269 miles from Italy to Austria. The private cabin is the train's top-tier accommodation — two steps above a reclining seat and one step above a shared cabin with strangers — both of which I'd experienced before.

Although the ride was $300 cheaper than my Amtrak one, it's worth noting that my US ride took me much farther than the European one.

The Amtrak roomette was an enclosed space designed for both night and day travel.

A view of a roomette from another roomette across the way
Inside an Amtrak roomette.Joey Hadden/Insider

The roughly 20-square-foot room had two seats situated across from each other and a pullout table with foldout leaves to save space. The cabin also had two wide windows, which brought in plenty of natural light throughout the day.

It was a pretty sweet workspace, in my opinion. I spent my time editing photos on my laptop and looking out the window at the passing scenery.

At night, stewards came by to transform my room for sleep. The two chairs pull out to make a bottom bunk, and a top bunk pulls down from the ceiling.

Meanwhile, the European cabin seemed to only be designed for night travel.

a plain train cabin with white walls and a white bed.
A peek inside the Nightjet train cabin in EuropeJoey Hadden/Business Insider

Since I was only on the train from about 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., it made sense to me that my Nightjet cabin didn't have all the fix-ins of the roomette.

The 30-square-foot enclosed space housed three beds — one on the bottom and two up top. It lacked a daytime setup of seats and a table, and the window was quite small. However, the room had more space to move around than the roomette, which I appreciated.

The European cabin also had an additional perk the roomette lacked — welcome gifts.

A selection of goodies including water bottles, slippers, ear plugs, and snacks on a white sheet.
Free perks of a private Nighthjet cabin.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Once in my room, I was surprised to find a goody bag filled with complimentary sleep essentials since I hadn't experienced this perk on my Amtrak ride.

Inside were wafer treats, slippers, and earplugs, as well as a sleep mask, washcloth, and pen.

Both rooms had a vanity and sink. The roomette's felt squished into a tight space.

A pull-out sink below a mirror in an Amtrak roomette cabin
The vanity and wash basin on the Amtrak train.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

On one side of the roomette, there was a mirror. Below it, a small sink pulled out.

There was no toilet in the room, so I used a shared bathroom at the end of the train car.

I appreciated that I was able to brush my teeth and wash my face from the comfort of my cabin, but I wished the sink area was larger.

Meanwhile, the European cabin had a spacious wash-up area.

Toiletries are stored in a wooden vanity with a mirror and a wash basin
Inside the vanity, there was a storage space for toiletries.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

In the Nightjet cabin, the sink and vanity were behind two doors. Inside, there were bright lights that made it easier to see my face in the mirror and storage compartments for my toiletries.

The added perk helped me keep my things organized rather than making a mess of my bag.

Like the roomette, this cabin didn't have a toilet, and I used a shared bathroom in the sleeping car.

The roomette beds were stiff, but the blankets were soft.

The author wakes up in an Amtrak roomette.
The author wakes up in an Amtrak roomette.Joey Hadden/Insider

No train bunk measures up to a real bed, in my experience. But while a little stiff, I found the Amtrak bunk comfortable enough to rest in. The blankets were thin but soft to the touch.

The European bunk was slightly more comfortable.

A white bed with a water bottle and a pamphlet on it in front of a navy blue wall
The author's bunk on the overnight train.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

With a thick, smooth comforter and a bed with a little give to it, I thought the Nightjet bunk was a bit more comfortable than the one in the roomette. And I slept slightly better.

In the morning, I got a balanced breakfast on the Amtrak train.

A breakfast tray on a beige counter top on the amtrak train
Complimentary breakfast on the Amtrak train.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

On both trains, my ticket included breakfast in the morning. It's worth noting that the Amtrak train also served complimentary lunch and dinner due to the length of the ride.

In the US, I had a big breakfast that made me feel ready for the day, including an egg sandwich, yogurt, oatmeal, a muffin, and a beverage.

My breakfast on the European train was less fulfilling.

An aerial view of the author's breakfast on a tray including yogurt, bread rolls, coffee, and condiments
Complimentary breakfast on the Nightjet train.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Breakfast was complimentary on the Nightjet train, too. But it was smaller. I got yogurt, a beverage, and two hard rolls accompanied by butter, Nutella, and jam.

I appreciated the fuel up, but it didn't give me the energy I needed for the day. I ended up getting a second breakfast at the McDonald's in the train station once I arrived.

While the European ride was cheaper, I thought the US ride had a better value.

The author takes a selfie in front of an Amtrak sleeper train
The author arrives in Miami after her ride in the Amtrak roomette.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

I ultimately found that the US trip was a better deal than the European one. The Amtrak traveled much farther, included more meals, and had a room designed for day and night travel.

At the same time, I still think the cabin in Europe was worth the price. And I'll miss the spacious room, vanity, bunk, and welcome gifts Nightjet provided on my next Amtrak ride.

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