This is perhaps the most iconic of all hotels in The Hague. Its very location allows it to take advantage of architectural and historic cachet. It sits majestically on a corner, with a regal red awning which encourages high expectations of what might lie within. Luckily all of us can enjoy at least a little of the luxury that Hotel Des Indes offers its guests.
Hotel Des Indes has welcomed many statesmen, royalty and the great and the good from across the globe, but this striking building was once a home. Willem D.A.M. Baron van Brienen van de Groote Lindt en Dortsmunde had a mansion built in 1858. The building originally included an inner yard, stables, a barn, servant quarters, private apartments and a ballroom.
The stately home became a hotel in 1881, and a well-appointed one. The name was inspired by the then famous Hotel des Indes in Batavia, in the hope of attracting travellers from the Dutch East Indies. By 1900 all rooms were equipped with a new-fangled phone, hot and cold running water and a bath. Archduke Franz Ferdinand stayed here before his untimely death catapulted the world into the First World War. Mata Hari found fame during that conflict and also visited Hotel Des Indes.
In 1925 the hotel engaged a gigolo, but in those days the chap was just a dancer, rather than being the philandering womaniser that was later to become the job description of that profession. Josephine Baker, also a dancer and singer, stayed here. In 1931, ballet dancer Anna Pavlova arrived from Paris. She had contracted double pneumonia on the journey and died two days later. The equally talented and ill-fated Michael Jackson also stayed here.
During the Second World War both Germans and people hiding from them found refuge at the hotel. At the end of the war, American troops requisitioned the hotel. Eisenhower, Churchill and Montgomery also spent time here.
Enjoy a drink and a bite to eat at very reasonable prices
The Des Indes Lounge offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy stunning decor and calming ambiance. It’s a chance, admittedly a very classy one, to sit and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat at very reasonable prices, and to swear that you will come back soon and stay.
The Netherlands is famed for its gin. It’s the source of the expression ‘Dutch Courage’. So what could be better than a dramatic-looking glass of crystal-clear Zuidam Dutch Courage, with a garnish of liquorice (Spanish wood) and Lemon. It’s a must-try cocktail here, and one could call it historic research!
But we were here for a light evening meal in the most opulent of surroundings. My guest ordered Beef Carpaccio: thin slices of raw beef dressed with lemon, with a generous garnish of Parmesan cheese and rocket salad. It was a beautifully presented plate of cool fresh meat with plenty of flavour. This was a sizeable starter.
My dish was equally substantial and decadent. Smoked salmon with hearty Potato Salad gave a nod to this nation that truly loves seafood. Not complicated, but correct and delicious.
My companion’s main course was Acquerello aged rice Risotto. Once again, a simple dish but a risotto must have perfectly cooked rice, a creamy texture and delicate flavour. It was pronounced delicious by a happy diner.
Grilled Sirloin with Hollandaise sauce was my finale. It was as good a cut of meat as I have tasted in even a bespoke steak restaurant. The beef was succulent and glistening with juices – a well-seasoned dish. A few vegetables and a side of fries was all this needed.
Hotel Des Indes is grand, that’s true, but it is also accessible. It’s a Hague institution and well worth a visit. It’s a few doors down from Escher in the Palace (read my review here) so a perfect watering hole, and one with a great deal of charm.
Hotel Des Indes
Lange Voorhout 54-56,
The Hague, 2514 EG,
Phone: +31 70 361 2345
Hotel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018