We recently rode the Coast Starlight from LA to Portland and I have to say that we have no complaints. I was impressed on how efficiently they run these trains and to our surprise, the train arrived early to our destination.
We splurged a little bit and booked a roomette which is basically a closet sized room that fits two seats that turn into a bed and there is a bed that comes down from the ceiling. The room includes a coat hanging area, night lights, a small storage area, an AC hook up, and a fold out table. You have to use the communal bathrooms and there is one shower per car which is of good size with good water pressure. There are also larger bedrooms that sleeps more people that have a private bath and shower.
With the sleeper you get first class service. This includes a private parlor car with a bar, lounge and small dining area that is separate from the full service dining car. They also offer a complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon.
I have to give our car attendant Rene credit for doing a great job of taking car of everyone including keeping hot coffee on hand, clean bathrooms, and assisting in making up and down the rooms and most importantly the complimentary champagne. Also to Jose in the parlor car who also took care of us with his efficient service.
Food and prices are about what you'd expect. If you have a sleeper, your food is included in your fare. It's good, but not great. It's better than airline food by far and you have much more of a selection. The salads were good and I went with the Amtrak Signature for dinner which was a steak dinner. Overall, it kind of reminded me of what you get at the Soup Plantation. Although my wife did order the ribs which she thought were really good.
As for the route itself, the highlights are Oxnard to San Luis Obispo which traverses along the coast. In the morning you wake up to Mt. Shasta and later in the day you travel along a large valley and along Point Lookout Lake in Oregon.
I definitely would recommend trying this at least once, it's not meant for getting you somewhere fast, but for a leisurely trip where you can just sit back and relax.
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