Tell anyone you’re going to the Hague and the first thing that seems to pop into their heads is the International Court of Justice. I had more than one friend ask if I was going to be tried for war crimes… Ha ha. No, of course not.
Still, while it’s potentially a shame the city has such an austere reputation, it does mean you get a rather lovely surprise when you arrive: it’s terribly pretty, with some amazingly good restaurants and hotels, it’s extraordinarily easy to get around, has a vast beach and a pier full of drinking and dining spots.
Definitely head to Scheveningen (that’s the beach) hungry, because you can get everything from a pulled-pork-stuffed roll and dirty burgers to crêpes and craft beers as you make your out along the (covered) pier. There are also plenty of cosy seating arrangements around wood-burning stoves and even open fires, where you can take your drink and watch the weather roll in from the warmth and comfort of a leather sofa.
I was lucky enough to be staying at the Worldhotel Grand Winston in Rijswijk, which is on the edge of the city heading toward Delft and Rotterdam. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means you’re away from the action: the public transport system here is so good that it’s no exaggeration to say you’ll be in the middle of town less than 10 minutes after walking out the front door.
However, what it does mean is that there’s room for big bedrooms and large windows that provide a lot of natural light, and that it’s a quiet, peaceful spot to lay your head. It’s also a brilliant place to be if you’re a woman travelling on your own, because they’ve already thought of everything you might want and put it in one of their six designated Ladies’ Business Rooms. These are the bedrooms closest to the lift and they have bolt-lock doors that only you can operate from inside.
On a friendlier note, you’ll find a comfy, cosy bathrobe and slippers waiting for you, plus a full-size iron and ironing board, a Kettler Step Machine, Nespresso machine, plenty of tea and coffee supplies, lovely smelling Ritual bath products, a huge bathroom with hairdresser quality hairdryer, a bathtub that could double as a mini-swimming pool (and endless hot water to fill it), along with two shower options: rain style or hand-held. I haven’t mentioned the scales yet, but they’re very 21st-century and you can find out down to the ounce how much you weigh. Personally, I’d give them a miss after the first day – especially if you start exploring the food options…
Breakfast is served in Kessler Park, one of the three in-house eateries. This is where you’ll find the sort of choices that will have you looking forward to mornings. Of course there’s good coffee and teas, fresh juices (I counted three), heaps of different breads, rolls and pastries, cereals, cheeses, cold meats, smoked salmon, hot sausages, eggs (boiled, scrambled or made into a bespoke omlette as you watch) and there’s also a very good gluten-free range. It’s an impressive spread and hard to limit yourself, but I have a weakness and they had them here: real, American pancakes and Vermont maple syrup… (sigh…).
It might seem like I’m making a big fuss over breakfast, but really, this is an A-star offering and definitely worth getting yourself to.
There’s plenty of great shopping in the Hague. For high-end pickings, from homeware and soft furnishings to Scandi fashion labels, take yourself to Noordeinde, which turns into Hoogstraat, Of course, after all the wining and dining, you may need more than that step machine to work it off, so you might want to jog down to the 24-hour fitness suite – or take yourself off to Delft for the day.
A piece of that blue and white pottery makes a great present or ‘gelfie’ – that’s a gift you give yourself. Go on, treat yourself – it’s not a crime!
Maiden-voyage.com offer: maiden-voyage.com members will be allocated a Lady’s Business Room, click here to book.
About Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer is a transplanted New Yorker who now lives in London. She works as a freelance journalist, writing for in flight magazines, parenting magazines and various web-sites, mostly on travel, restaurants and hotels, but also lifestyle, interviews and entertainment. You can follow her travels at lizgranirershelloworld.blogspot.co.uk