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The Hague - Holland

A gothic masterpiece of a city, this is where royalty rubs shoulders with revellers and Golden Age canvases compete with glittering North Sea views. Julie Alpine goes Dutch

Travel Time 1hrs 10min

Why go?

The Netherlands’ third largest city after Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Hague is the capital of the province of South Holland and home to the Supreme Court, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the working palace of the Dutch royal family and the global HQ of Shell. You won’t need an attaché case for a weekend break, though. Rich in history, art, architecture and boasting a cosmopolitan eating and drinking scene, ‘the Royal City by the Sea’ is a compact delight, with June highs of 19C allowing visitors to enjoy bustling street markets, colourful buskers and the best of both city and beach.

What to do

he Hague used to be the place where noblemen would come to hunt, its name derived from Gravenshage, or ‘the count’s hedge’, shortened in Dutch to Den Haag. After hunting down coffee and perhaps a plate of wentelteefjes (sugary French toast with jam), head to the Mauritshuis, a lavish 17th-century palace where Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring hangs alongside masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Jan Steen. Fans of Donna Tartt will enjoy seeing Fabritius’s painting The Goldfinch, made famous by the book of the same name. A stroll to the Palace Noordeinde – set amid a slew of trendy boutiques and cafés – shows just how integrated within the city Dutch royalty is. Pause at the Peace Palace vredespaleis.nl – The Hague’s most photographed building – where history buffs should catch its interactive exhibition on war and peace. For a totally different vibe – more Coney Island than House of Orange – take the 15-minute tram ride (line 1) to Scheveningen on The Hague’s North Sea coast. With its wide boulevards, food trucks, Ferris wheel and zip line, it’s a world away from the city’s monument-packed heart.

Where to stay

Scene of a riot when the Rolling Stones opened here in 1964, resulting in its immediate closure for repairs, Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus 00 31 70 416 2636, amrathkurhaus.com is today better known for its sumptuous suites, fine dining and Scheveningen sea views. Equally legendary is the ultra-chic Hotel Des Indes 00 31 70 361 2345, hoteldesindesthehague.com in the city centre, which boasts a 132-year tradition of luxury and has, over the years, welcomed everyone from Mata Hari to Josephine Baker. A good base for shopping, the elegant Parkotel Den Haag 00 31 70 362 4371, parkhoteldenhaag.nl is bang in the middle of buzzy Noordeinde and a short hop from Centraal railway station. Boutique ’t Goude Hooft’s 00 31 70 744 8830, tgoudehooft.nl eight individually designed rooms feature espresso machines, remote-control fireplaces and extra-length king-size beds. Founded in 1423, it is one of the Netherlands’ oldest hotels, and its restaurant – a people-watching dream – is a local institution.

Where to eat and drink

There’s a lot more than cheese to savour around here. Set right beside the water in the Second Inner Harbour, Catch 00 31 70 338 7609, bysimonis.nl/">catch-bysimonis.nl is run by the fourth generation of the Simonis family. What began as an eel smokehouse has grown into a mecca for fans of quality fish and seafood. Highlights include a 250g pan-fried sole fillet, served with Stellendam prawns and rémoulade. Join culture vultures in the Brasserie at the Mauritshuis 00 31 70 302 3456, mauritshuis.nl for tasty tarts, salads and desserts, themselves works of art. Opened last year, Restaurant 6&24 00 31 70 219 6848, restaurant6en24.nl is renowned for its tasting menus which feature local and foraged ingredients. Brasserie Stocks & Bonds still contains the huge vault doors from its former incarnation as a bank. Try its Dutch speciality, bitterballen, deep-fried breadcrumb-covered balls filled with beef, broth, flour and seasonings, and its perfectly poured cocktails.

Time running out?

Madurodam model town, built on a 1:25 scale, has enchanted millions since its opening in 1952. madurodam.nl

Map

Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro (EUR). Time is 1 hour ahead of GMT. Flight time from London is around 1 hour 15 minutes. The cost to carbon offset is £0.82. For more information, see climatecare.org

Getting There

Eurostar services go from London King’s Cross to Rotterdam. The Hague is 25 minutes by train from there. eurostar.com

Vueling flies from London Luton to The Hague. vueling.com

Resources

The Hague Info Store is the official tourist board and its website offers a wealth of handy information. denhaag.com

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min Temp1034811131311953
Max Temp5691116192021181497
mm222122223333

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