Train Review: Deutsche Bahn ICE, First Class Hamburg – Copenhagen
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Travelling by train is our preferred means of transport (when it makes sense in terms of time and comfort levels, that is) – and this journey, from the German media and fashion capital of Hamburg to the Danish capital city of Copenhagen, was the perfect example of a quite simply faultless train experience: fast, comfortable and even quite stylish. I will never again travel on a plane between these two cities.
German ICE (InterCity Express) trains depart Hamburg several times a day for the 4h45 minute trip to Copenhagen, via the ferry (Puttgarden – Rødby); we tried out the Deutsche Bahn flagship on this trip.
Read RASK’s honest review here.
THE LOUNGE & BOARDING
I arrived to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof at 1330, almost two hours before departure. Needless to say, you don’t need to arrive until the train departs (another advantage compared to the plane), but I needed to catch up on some work and therefore paid a visit to the DB Lounge on the first floor of the train station.
While the station was abuzz with people, the lounge provided an unexpectedly calm and pleasant haven. The staff here were very friendly – and offered to bring all kinds of food and drink to my table as I was working. I decided on a glass of sekt (and got the cheap Rotkäpchen variety – but that was my own fault, because there were many other options on tap). The bubbly, along with a filling slice of rye bread with cheese, was nice and unexpected; full marks for exceeding my expectations!
Some ten minutes before departure, at 1520, I ascended the stairs to the platform and boarded the shining white ICE train waiting at platform 8; all very easy and calm.
I found my seat, number 75, and sat down. Within a moment, the train started moving through the city centre, then the suburbs and finally across the open land.
The carriage was almost full – but here in First Class, the atmosphere was one of hushed elegance, space and comfort. The seat itself was supremely comfortable, affording plenty of room for the legs, adequate recline and nice and seemingly new dark blue leather-ish upholstery – and an in-seat power socket and audio system (some seats even offer video).
Everything appeared immaculately clean and quite new. The seats are placed in either “airline style” (i.e. with nobody facing you) or in seat pairs across from one another. Regardless of your seat choice you will be comfortable.
The driver welcomed us onboard in three languages (German, Danish and English) and before long, a female conductor came through the train to check tickets and offer newspapers and snack coupons. As a first class passenger, you’re offered free coffee, tea and some chocolate, available at the onboard bistro.
I went to the bistro to “cash in” my coupons, and promptly got both sparkling water, coffee and a huge Snickers bar – nothing fancy, but certainly not shabby either.
Some 1h30m after departure from Hamburg, the train drove onto a ferry (from Puttgarden); as passengers are not allowed onboard the train during the crossing, I checked out the shops onboard the ferry; a nice break actually.
After the 50 minute crossing, and once back on the train, it was a swift drive across Lolland and Zealand to Copenhagen – and at 2009, the driver announced our timely arrival to Copenhagen Central Station.
The train pulled into Copenhagen’s Central Station exactly on time (as to be expected from one of the world’s most respectable train operators…), and the doors opened at 2014 (precise – to the second…). As I was continuing to Copenhagen Airport on another train, a quick transfer was needed here – this was no problem at all.
This is the way to travel in Northern Europe, if you ask me; at a great fare, and a small surcharge, I travelled in absolute – supreme – comfort between two of Europe’s most exciting cities.
The train was clean, fast and comfortable, staff were pleasant – and the quick break onboard the ferry welcome.
ICE has RASK’s business from now on.
- HIGHLIGHT: The sleek design and supreme comfort of the train – as opposed to the plane
- LOWLIGHT The coffee is not exactly great – more attention should be paid to the small things
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