At the beginning of February I had a few days off, so I figured it was time for a little girls trip. The idea was to go on a wellness weekend close by. At first Cologne crossed our minds, but we ended up going to the Netherlands instead. And honestly why not? I always had the best times there and it’s super close to home. We wanted to do something different from Amsterdam and as South-Holland offers pretty much everything the Netherlands is so famous for, it seemed like the perfect destination for our road trip. With historic cities like The Hague, Leiden & Delft there was going to be enough to see on a cultural level. And on the other hand the beaches of Scheveningen and Noordwijk would be the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the cities. In this post we will be mainly focusing on The Hague, the capital of the South-Holland region and our home away; Van Der Valk Hotel Sassenheim.
STAY AT VAN DER VALK HOTEL SASSENHEIM
As we wanted to visit all three cities and spend some time at the beach, it was important that we searched for a hotel with a central location. After some research we came across the lovely Van Der Valk Hotel Sassenheim. The spacious guest rooms are stylishly furnished and offer all the comfort you could wish for. Unfortunately, we arrived around dinner time, (and it was dark out already), so I don’t have any pictures from the room. True I could have taken some in the morning, but at that point we already made quite a mess of the place, so it wouldn’t have been an accurate view of the room anymore! But you can always check the hotel’s website if you interested. Van Der Valk Hotel Sassenheim offers amazing food & beverage facilities. OZZO Oriental Restobar is the place to be if you love fresh sushi and oriental dishes. And that interior… so pretty! We had dinner at Restaurant Nest, where you enjoy culinary à la carte dishes and an extensive Live Cooking Buffet upon Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. The buffet looked amazing, so I decided to go for that. They work with seasonal products , so the buffet can be different each time, but despite that, I’m sure you will find many things you’ll like!
Nest is also where breakfast is served in the morning. The generous breakfast buffet is a dream come true! I was happy I was there for a couple of days, so I could try the several kinds of fresh smoothies, the cheese selection, the bread rolls that came straight from the oven and oh, don’t even get me started on those pancakes. #yummyinmytummy! I wish breakfast was like that every single day! But hey, you get it; this hotel is the bomb! Time for some action!
VISIT SCHEVENINGEN PIER
Originally the plan was to spend an entire day in The Hague, but as we had to pass by Scheveningen, we didn’t want to miss out on the chance of visiting The Netherlands most famous beach resort. And even on a cold and windy day, it’s nice day to get some fresh sea air right? Before becoming a bathing resort in the 19th century, Scheveningen was an independent fishing village. You can still see a lot Scheveningen’s grandeur as a major European seaside resort in the impressive Hotel Kurhaus. Also not to miss is the colorful Pier, which dates back to 1959. We didn’t stay long in Scheveningen, but just enough time to see that it must be super fun out there during summer. I have to come back some day to enjoy the outdoor facilities and many beach bars ( well yeah, for sure the latter 😉)!
LUNCH AT MUGS & MERMAIDS
Our next stop was The Hague. At that point it was past noon, so we decided to go for lunch at Mugs & Mermaids, a cozy little cafe where we were served deliciously colorful dishes. The interior of the spot is pretty nice too, with its blue wall, but it’s the food that will make you want to come back soon.
EXPLORE THE HAGUE’S MAIN SIGHTS
I was super excited to visit The Hague, also known as the International City of Peace and Justice. It’s here that some of the world’s worst crimes were prosecuted. And although it’s that historical importance that made me want to visit The Hague in the first place, I was happy to find out so much more than criminal courts and palaces of justice.
Upon arrival we parked the car at Q-Park Grote Markt, conveniently located in the heart of the city. It came with quite the price tag though, which is unfortunately always the case with carparks in the Netherlands. Boo! As we were there anyways, we wandered around the shopping streets near de Grote Markt and checked out the Arcade Passage, the oldest and only remaining covered shopping arcade in The Netherlands.
Opposite from the Arcade lays the Binnenhof, one of the most popular sights in The Hague. The complex dates back to the 13th century and houses the meeting place of both houses of the State’s General of The Netherlands, as well as the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Prime Minister. Given its importance, it’s kind of amazing that you can simply walk in to its central courtyard and admire it. Located in the center of Binnenhof is the exquisite Ridderzaal, or Knights’ Hall. This large Gothic hall is still used for state receptions and the opening of parliament each September.
If you pass through the Grenadierspoort, you will come across the Mauritshuis Museum, the place to be for world-class art. There you will find many iconic paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, such as Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson and Vermeer’s The Girl With the Pearl Earring. Sun was shining that day and we didn’t feel like being indoors, so we walked around Het Plein and Hofvijver instead. Strolling along the side of the Hofvijver you can appreciate just how large the Binnenhof really is, as well as spy other iconic landmarks.
Our next stop was the Paleis Noordeinde, the official residence of King Willem-Alexander. The palace is not accessible for tourists, as it is still in use, but the palace garden is free to enter for anyone who’s interested. Opposite to the castle stands the Statue of Willem of Orange.
On top of my to do list was the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), which houses several important legal organizations, including the International Court of Justice (the only one of the 6 main divisions of the United Nations to be located outside NYC). The visitors center is open daily and the entrance is free but the palace itself can only be visited on a pre-booked guided tour during the weekend. Unfortunately it was closed when we got there, but the building itself is pretty impressive too!
COCKTAIL HOUR AT HOTEL INDIGO THE HAGUE
As you know by now cocktail bars in a historic setting are kind of my thing. The Gold Bar, as the bar of Hotel Indigo The Hague is called, is located in what used to be the Dutch National’s Bank safe. And although they don’t keep the supply of treasure there anymore, the cocktails are golden! I also loved the interior of the bar. I think they did an amazing job of combining the old characteristics with the modern design.
DINNER AT LITTLE V
Located in The Hague’s Chinatown is Little V. Several friends had recommended me to check it out while I was in Rotterdam, but every time I wanted to book a table at the restaurant it was already full. When I found out that there was also a venture in The Hague, I figured I would try again and luckily this time it panned out. Everyone that’s been to Little V knows that it is a beautiful, atmospheric place to dine. The interior is not immediately Vietnamese at first glance, but when you pay attention to the details you quickly notice that Asian touch. The dishes are true pieces of art: traditional Vietnamese, but also contemporary and surprising. Here and there you notice influences from other Asian cuisines, such as the Thai and Indonesian. On the menu you will find salads, fresh spring rolls and a wide variety of meat and fish dishes. Little V also serves non-alcoholic tropical drinks that are amazing to say the least. If you have the chance to eat there, don’t hesitate to do so!