Saturday, November 25th 2017.

Destinations

Jonathan Ramael
THE HAGUE
City of Peace, Justice and First Class Venues

 

By Jonathan Ramael

 

Amsterdam may be the Netherlands’ most popular city and Rotterdam may have the biggest port, but Holland’s political heart beats in The Hague. This is where the government works, where decisions are made and where ambassadors reside. Its political and diplomatic importance makes it a hotspot for hotels, restaurants and conference venues. A destination worth discovering.

 

The Hague The Hague the hague

 

Day One: Promenades, Peace Palaces and Piano’s

After arriving from Antwerp by train in about 90 minutes, we went on a guided tour to get familiar with the city centre. Starting on the famous tree lined avenue called Lange Voorhout, we went straight for the Binnenhof (‘Inner Court’): a complex of historical buildings and the centre of Dutch politics. The small round tower next to the court pond on the Hotel des indesoutside is where the Prime Minister works. Give the man a little wave if you should see him. He can use it. After a walk through some of the main streets, the Italian looking indoor shopping gallery De Passage and a quick visit to the Queen’s working Palace Noordeinde, we arrived back at the Lange Voorhout. Right in time for a visit to Hotel Des Indes (www.hoteldesindes.nl), said to be the most luxurious boutique hotel in the city centre. The atmosphere is rich and traditional, but the rooms are a mix of contemporary and classical elements. Its eight meeting rooms and galleryhalls can accommodate conferences and banquets for around 80 people. The restaurant and lounge are very cozy and the kitchen – providing our lunch – is of high standard. This would be a good venue for somewhat smaller events.

Before heading to Scheveningen, The Hague’s seaside district, we visited the Peace Palace. This impressive building (the interior was put together by a variety of different nations and is more than worth the visit) is often called the seat of international law. It houses both the International Court of Justice (the principal judicial body of the UN) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Guided tours of the palace are available, and the Academy Building right next to it can be used for law & judicial congresses of up to 350 people.

In Scheveningen, we stopped by another impressive hotel venue: the Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel (www.kurhaus.nl). This big five star hotel has a long history, and is located right on the beach. It’s most known for its Kurzaal: a massive Kurhausand beautifully painted ballroom that used to be a concert hall. The Rolling Stones played one of their first European gigs here – be it for only four songs before the crowd got far too enthusiastic. The hotel has 245 spacious rooms, eight suites, 19 conference rooms of various sizes (maximum capacity: 600 people in theatre style) and a first class restaurant. It has all the means and space to organize a variety of big events.

We would spend the night in the NH The Hague Hotel (www.nh-hotels.nl) back in the city centre. This relatively new four star venue is part of Prinsenhof, a complex combining residential, business and recreational facilities in quite a special way. It has 205 rooms and can accommodate meetings for up to 400 people. Its Nhube Restaurant is especially interesting because it can be used as a library, a lounge, an internet café, a TV-room and it even has a motion capture video game, which is oh so tempting during breaks. The indoor terrace looking out over the big Prinsenhof Atrium is a nice place to relax after a meeting.

After the tour we took the brand new G-Cabs (www.g-cab.nl) (cute, green electrical cars) to Restaurant Maxime (www.restaurantmaxime.nl) in the centre. This was a small place full of character, with two fixed menus that can be the haguecombined. A very nice venue for smaller, more intimate dinners.

The evening appropriately concluded with a visit to Festival Classique (www.festivalclassique.nl),an event aiming to bring classical music closer to the general public. And looking at the crowd, they were doing a good job. For the festival’s fifth anniversary, the Five Browns came over from the US for their first concert in Holland. Three sisters and two brothers ­– all talented pianists – played for an hour on the beautifully decorated court pond. A wonderful ending to an interesting day.

 

Day Two: Beaches, Bel Air and Beautiful Paintings

After a good night’s rest and breakfast we had another appointment: The Bel Air Hotel (http://bel-air-den-haag.hotel-rn.com). This 327-room venue is being renovated as we speak. The swimming pool was already converted into a versatile event hall and the rest of the conference facilities are more than sufficient as well (maximum capacity: 325 people in theatre style). It also houses a nice club/bar on the ground level. All the musicians playing the The Hague Jazz Festival always stay in this hotel. So if you’re here at the right moment, you might get a taste of more than just the usual lounge music.

Our programme continued with a combination of art and fun. Het Gemeentemuseum (www.gemeentemuseum.nl), designed by famous architect Berlage, is home to a prize winning collection of modern art. Picasso, Kandinsky, Panamarenko, Van Gogh and of course Piet Mondriaan are all represented by some of their work. Parts of the museum can be rented for various events.

 

Harbourg Harbourg

 

After our guided tour through the museum, it was time for a bit of action. In the Harbor Golf club (www.harbourgolf.nl) nine holes await you and your incentive guests. There’s even a floating driving range in the harbor itself, where you can dinnerpractice your swing. Afterwards the hangar can be used for some well earned drinks. Good fun indeed!
Lunch was served in the Harbor Club (www.theharbourclub.nl), a stylish restaurant near the marina, famed for its seafood and steak. It has a spacious terrace and balcony, two floors of tables and enough room to house a big dinner party. Perfect for groups of between 100 and 200 people.

Goodbyes were said at the final venue of this trip: the trendy Beachclub DOEN! (www.younghoreca.nl/locaties/doen.html) logically located right on the beach. When the weather is right, you can spice up your event with some sunny beach activities. When doencombining this venue with the adjoining club owned by the same people, you can actually hold an event for more than 1.000 people.

Compared to Amsterdam, The Hague can have somewhat of a dull image among people not familiar with the city. Actually going there and discovering it for yourself changes this picture quite quickly. Because of its judicial and political importance, The Hague is a name well known around most parts of the world. This alone makes it a MICE destination worth a thought. The concentration of good conference venues, nice neighborhoods, fun incentive ideas and the wide, sandy beach, makes it even more attractive. We certainly wouldn’t mind coming back.

 

the hague

 

For more info, please contact The Hague Convention & Visitors Bureau: www.thehaguecongress.com or mail Marianne Hoogeveen: marianne@contourconsult.be.

 

The hague the hague

 

 

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