The Hague is indeed a ‘Royal’ city. You might even come across one of the ‘Oranges’, as they are considered perhaps the most accessible royal family in Europe. The Hague has been home to the House of Orange for more than four hundred years; first they were Stadholders and later gained the title of monarchs. Prince Maurits was the first of them to live in The Hague, in 1585, and the rest followed.
The Royal family had an entourage of nobles who also wanted to live in The Hague and these quality folks demanded fine homes, fine furnishings and the best of everything. The taste for the finer things in life is still reflected in the shops, restaurants and architecture of this masterpiece of a city. It retains the style of a very special historic town but it has a contemporary ambiance and great vibrancy.
It’s not only the Royal family that are accessible. The town is easily negotiated by the tourist via public transport. Bicycles are everywhere and they can be hired to give a truly local adventure, but the more conservative might prefer the all-weather comfort of buses and trams.
You can buy a ticket for unlimited travel on public transport for the whole day. These tickets are valid on all public transport within The Hague as well as the neighbouring towns of Delft and Zoetermeer. Tickets may only be purchased in advance, and are available from most hotels, the Tourist Information Office (VVV) and at the HTM customer service desk in the train stations. The HTM Day Ticket can be purchased as a disposable paper ticket or as a plastic OV-chipcard and then you then can choose a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day ticket.
The day ticket is easy to use. All you need to do is swipe the ticket in and out at the tram or bus door when you get on and off. The day ticket is valid from when it is first swiped until the end of service that day, so it pays to start your adventure early to take best advantage.
The Hague has some striking and historic hotels and The Kurhaus is a beautiful example. The history of the hotel dates back to 1818 when Jacob Pronk opened a bathing house. No, that’s not a swimming pool but water therapy. The wooden building had just four rooms, each fitted with a bath tub which was filled with cold or heated seawater. This spa was so successful that in 1826 it was rebuilt in stone and expanded to include the hotel element, but was eventually torn down in 1884 to make way for the building we see today.
The new hotel was built by the German architects Johann Friedrich Henkenhaf and Friedrich Ebert but suffered serious fire damage so was rebuilt between 1886 and 1887. The Kurhaus fell into disrepair and closed in 1969, but was saved from demolition by being listed as a historic building. It was completely renovated, and was reopened in 1979 by Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands.
The Kurhaus Gastbook reads like an historic ‘Who’s Who’ and contains signatures of the great and the good who have enjoyed their stay in this iconic hotel. It was signed for the first time by Dutch Queen Wilhelmina in 1893, followed by Igor Stravinsky, Herbert von Karajan, Marlène Dietrich, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, King Haakon of Norway and Henry Kissinger.
Now known as the Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel, it has 253 rooms and some of them have a sea view. The only thing separating the hotel from the wide beach is the promenade. The hotel exudes a timeless elegance which is evident even in the reception area, which sports a striking stained-glass ceiling. The architectural pièce de resistance is found just a short flight of stairs away, in the restaurant.
Even a bed and breakfast stay is memorable at this hotel. The restaurant is beautiful with painted ceilings and grand balconies. One might be distracted from the outstanding breakfast buffet and that would be a shame: graze in unhurried fashion and enjoy the classic architecture and calming ambiance.
Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel
Gevers Deynootplein 30
2586 CK The Hague
Tel +31(0)70 416 2636
Fax +31(0)70 416 2646
Reservations: +31 (0)70 416 2630
Visit Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel here
The Hotel Des Indes for dinner will continue the theme of historic-tinted luxury. It’s a celebrated building erected in 1858 and not originally as a hotel but as a city palace. It’s been a hotel since 1881 but was completely renovated by interior designer Jacques Garcia in 2006 at a cost of a staggering €35 million. That is a surprising fact, as one has the impression of entering a stylish, tasteful and unaltered time-capsule.
The original building was the dream of Willem D.A.M. Baron van Brienen van de Groote Lindt en Dortsmunde, who was chamberlain to King Willem III and member of the Provincial States of South Holland. He wanted a home in The Hague to host parties and private functions. Willem died in 1863, leaving the palace to his son Arnold who sold it to an hotelier named Paulez.
Hotel Des Indes, like The Kurhaus, has a guest book of which to boast. The signatories include, amongst others, the former Empress Eugénie of France, President Paul Kruger of Transvaal, Sheik Feisal of Saudi Arabia, Mata Hari the celebrated First World War spy, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and Josephine Baker the American entertainer who defined an age. Apparently she had a separate room for her pet monkey. Ballet dancer Anna Pavlova died in the hotel in 1931 of pneumonia, after aiding fellow passengers following a rail accident.
During The Second World War the hotel was used both by the occupying German forces and by the Jews in hiding. Long before the war started, the hotel manager Mr Rey had built a pigeon house on the roof of the hotel. The pigeon house later sheltered people in hiding. The war ended and American troops moved into the hotel; General Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Montgomery also visited.
You might not be staying at Hotel Des Indes but you can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at a surprisingly reasonable price. A 3-course dinner is €49.50, a 4-course dinner €54.50, and that includes fresh local produce transformed into memorable dishes, and seamless service. This is accessible luxury and not to be missed.
Hotel Des Indes
Lange Voorhout 54-56
The Hague 2514 EG
Phone: +31 70 361 2345
Visit Hotel Des Indes here
So you have pampered yourself with two polished and historic hotels in The Hague. But one might need a break for some delicious light food and a nice cuppa during a day of walking and wondering at this delightful city. The Organic Café Juni is the spot that fits the casual culinary bill.
Café Juni, or Café June in English, is reminiscent of old-fashioned tea-rooms. It’s warm and cosy, or perhaps more accurately warm, cosy and small, so be prepared to wait …but it will be worth it. If the weather is cool then try the ever-changing Seasonal soup with bread, and perhaps follow that with a Bagel BLT; but save room for some cakes for which Juni is so famous. Walnut Mascarpone Tart with maple syrup, Banana Cake, Carrot Cake are all served in substantial wedges – and consider some hot chocolate, which comes highly recommended by regulars.
Tuesday – Friday: 9:00am – 4:30pm
2513 BJ The Hague
Phone: 070 3608106
Visit Juni here
The Netherlands is celebrated for its cheese, tulips and its fresh seafood. Catch Restaurant specialises, as its name suggests, in fish and shellfish. It’s on the marina of Scheveningen and has stunning views of both water and boats, as a backdrop to a meal of all things piscatorial.
The restaurant is new and smart. It’s just the style of eatery enjoyed by those stepping ashore from the neighbouring yachts. The décor is impressive, with mellow wood rippling and waving, and light reflecting from the marina. The food is simple and fresh. Even breaded fillets of white fish will tempt the discerning diner with delicate flavour. For those with cash to splash there are platters of oysters, lobsters and prawns. A glass of champagne would be the ideal garnish for such a celebratory meal.
Monday – Sunday: 10:00am – 1:00am
Dr. Lelykade 43
2583 CL Scheveningen
Visit Catch here
The Hague offers so much that it makes you wonder why you haven’t visited before, but this will likely be the first of many trips – there’s still that little Indonesian restaurant to investigate, and a rather nice department store sporting the Royal insignia.
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018