Stretch had a 3-day weekend, so we decided to test out the rail system and go to Berlin. The weekend before I booked our rail tickets via the Deutches Bahn webite. I played around with it a bit to see how much tickets would cost using different configurations, i.e. with or without the various BahnCards which provide discounts of 25-50%. In the end, we decided to forego the BahnCard for this trip, using it as a test trip instead. For 2 adults and 2 children in a 2nd Class compartment with reserved seating, I paid 457 euro (including the extra 5 euro for the reserved seating). I may have been able to find better deals if I'd planned a bit further in advance, but didn't think it was too bad for last minute. It was certainly far cheaper than flying and much more comfortable than driving!
I also booked us on the ICE train (fast train) that had no connections and would get us to Berlin in roughly 6 hours. The first picture shows a 2nd class car and the second picture is the area with compartments and WC (toilets) where we were seated. Each compartment had 6 seats, small table and places to hang jackets and a place to put luggage overhead. We could control the lighting and temperature inside the compartments as well. Once we got to Berlin (the Hauptbahnhof there is HUGE!), it was a matter of finding a bite to eat and then finding the local public transportation to take us out to Charlottenburg (the neighborhood where our accommodations were located). We took a U-Bahn (making only 1 connection) to Adenauerplatz and then walked a few blocks to the Hotel-Pension Bregenz.
When we checked in, one of the owners immediately gave us a map with suggestions of things to do with the kids. She marked routes for us and showed us the bus and U-Bahn routes.
Then, she showed us to our room. It was spacious, clean and had an ensuite bathroom. While the shower was a bit tight sizewise, it perfectly suited our needs. Everyone had their own bed and none of us felt cramped.
The breakfast the next day was also lovely. Each table in the breakfast room was set with blue and white china. The buffet was more than ample, offering cereals, yogurts, breads, meats, cheeses, fruit, and coffee cakes. Tea, coffee, milk, orange juice and water were also available. I was finally able to get fresh brotchen and liverwurst with fresh coffee for breakfast ... so good! If we get a chance to go back to Berlin (there was so much we didn't get to see or do!), I'd definitely stay here again!
Also, we could buy the tickets for public transportation at the hotel. A family pass for the day was 15 euro.