The Hague Need Not Hide Behind Amsterdam

The Hague was for a long time on my wishlist. When I told a small group of my people about my upcoming city trip to The Hague, a Dutch friend vehemently advised me against it. “You’ll be bored to death,” he said. “The Hague is small and stuffy.” He’s from Amsterdam, of course. How good that I didn’t listen to him.

The Hague I am coming! Admittedly, the journey didn’t exactly put me in a cheerful mood. Flight delay with Lufthansa already from Munich. In Amsterdam, the trains were on strike, so I had to take a cab from Schiphol to The Hague. 140 euros. What a crap!

View to the king’s workplace

The location of my hotel Royal Indigo already compensated for this. Royal because it is located directly opposite the Royal Palace in the lively and cozy pedestrian street Noordeinde in the middle of the city center of The Hague. The 16th century Paleis Noordeinde has been the permanent seat of government for the Royal Family since 1831.

The Royal Indigo opened its doors in 1883, has been renovated several times. The color indigo runs like a red or rather blue thread through the modernly furnished four-star hotel. Be it the shutters on the building, bed frames, doors, furniture or the old bank safes, behind which the minibar, coffee machine and safe are hidden. A reminiscence of the Dutch National Bank that used to reside in the building. The Gold Bar in the basement used to be the vault. Today, delicious drinks are served there.

Lush floral wallpaper, exquisite decor wherever you look. Yet nothing is overloaded in the Royal Indigo. It is a place of pure comfort with a harmonious, cheerful color concept. And time and again, you encounter the look of the Dutch Queen Beatrix – as Warhol pop art, as a photo, as a wall plate.

Strolling in the pedestrian zone

When you leave the house, you are immediately in the pedestrian zone. It stretches to the right and left with pretty little stores, restaurants of all nationalities, cafes, galleries. In front of many stores you can sit and relax on sofas. Without any obligation to buy. On the square in front of the Royal Palace, chess is played with full concentration.

I was particularly taken with The Bookstor with its reading corners, workstations, and a small garden surrounded by greenery, where chess is also played – seems to be a national sport here. The coffee tastes excellent, and the cake is homemade. Of course, you can also buy selected books or browse for “pre-loved” copies in a huge pile of books.

By streetcar to the sea

The Hague is by no means small, as my Dutch friend would have me believe. With 562,416 inhabitants, it is the third largest city in the Netherlands. It is also home to the United Nations International Court of Justice, housed in the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), and the International Criminal Court.

But what really makes The Hague unbeatable is that, unlike Amsterdam, the city is located by the sea. The coastline on the North Sea stretches no less than 11 kilometers with wide sandy beaches and beautiful dune areas.

Two seaside resorts belong to the city: the lively Scheveningen with its Ferris wheel, Sea Life and beach restaurants, and the more tranquil Kijkduin with its wide, almost white sandy beach. Small, pretty beach restaurants invite you to stop in at both places. To get there, you don’t even need a car. You can get from the city center to the sea in just a few minutes by bus or streetcar. Or you can rent a bicycle and get around on the mostly wide bike paths just like most of the locals do.

Art that can only be seen in The Hague

But the city also has a lot to offer in terms of art. There is the Mauritshuis, the Art Museum The Hague, Museum Voorlinden, Escher in the Palace or the Prison Gate Museum. The Mauritshuis alone is worth the trip, because here hangs the world-famous Vermeer painting “The Girl with the Pearl Earring“.

In the Escher-Palais there are not only the artworks of the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher (1898-1972) to see, whose optical illusions surprise again and again. The highlight of the permanent exhibition is the seven-meter-long work Metamorphosis III, which is supposed to represent the connection between eternity and infinity.

A house full of optical illusions

The house itself is also a gem with its wild lamp designs by Rotterdam artist Hans van Bentem. The former royal palace was inhabited by Queen Mother Emma (1858 – 1934) until 1891 during the winter season. After Emma’s death, the building became the working palace of queens Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix. The opening of the museum took place on November 16, 2002. The restaurant in the basement, with its old wall and floor tiles, still retains much of the charm of the former stately kitchen.

There are other good reasons to visit The Hague: The city is laid-back because it’s not as overrun with tourists as Amsterdam. You can do a lot of walking, and the Hagenaars (residents of The Hague) are extremely friendly and helpful.

citytrip, The Hague

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