A big shout-out to Eliane Tazelaar @elifeliisabelle from the Netherlands for submitting a fun read about her home city - The Hague. Steeped in history and culture and only one hour from Amsterdam means you really don't have an excuse not to go!
When people go to the Netherlands, they mostly go for Amsterdam and stay there for the entire trip. Such a shame! The Hague is less than an hour by train from Amsterdam and it is at least as exciting. After all, The Hague has canals (with boat tours), stroopwafels and poffertjes too? The Dutch government and the European Court are settled in this beautiful city and you can be bellybutton deep in the North Sea in less than half an hour from the city centre. On top of all this, there are two(!) Royal Palaces, amazing museums and countless little cafes (with locally roasted coffee and brewed craft beers), restaurants and shops, many of which are run by lovely locals.
The Hague is booming, especially small businesses have been thriving over the past years. Having been a writer for Haagse Schatten (Hague Treasures), I have spent about a year of looking for (and finding) many treasures, hidden gems and weekend activities (because Friyay!). You can imagine it being quite difficult to pick a favourite but if I'd have to choose... I'd go for the Hofvijver area. Our main and most beautiful governmental buildings are situated here and it is just wonderful to walk around. On the other side of the pond, there's a restaurant called Instock. It's a start-up collaboration with one of the big Dutch supermarkets and its motto is to put an end to food waste. They have daily changing menus, because they’re dependent on whatever food they get from the local supermarkets if they cannot sell it. This means that you not only get to eat delicious and above all, surprising food, but you're also helping the stop-food-waste cause. Obviously, I can go on for pages about other cool things and places The Hague has to offer but I can only recommend just going and finding them yourself!
FAVOURITE BAR OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
From the City Centre, walk through Chinatown towards Hollands Spoor station. You might think you’re walking away from all restaurants and liveliness but then you’ll come across the Bierkade (Beer quay). Here, you’ll find a few local restaurants and bars hidden from the larger public. If sharing = caring is your motto in life, go to Restaurant De Kade. Not only is their food absolutely perfect and something different, they also have the best natural wine selection in The Hague! Let Juan and Sanne tickle your taste buds and you’ll be wanting to come back for more!
WHAT PLACE PROVIDES GREAT SERVICE BUT WITH INEXPENSIVE PRICES?
To be honest, every place has great prices compared to London but I'd go for De Gekke Geit. A lot cheaper than your average hotel and a lot more fun! Located next door to a square with great bars but they also have their own bar where they often host evenings with live music and karaoke sessions. Serving the best local craft beers (try de Baron from Eiber!) and liquors (try everything from Van Kleef!), this is a success recipe for a great night out.
WHAT'S THE ONE FOOD DISH YOU HAVE TO TRY?
As said in an earlier question: the daily menu at Instock. You'll try food(combo's) you'd have never thought of! For a real Dutch ‘vette bek’ (fried snack) made posh, get yourself a kroket at Het Kroketloket. I’d recommend the Beijing Duck one! Also, The Vegetarian Butcher is originally from The Hague and they do the most incredible vegetarian meat rip-offs. Not only can you buy their products at every supermarket, they have also opened a restaurant serving only vegetarian ‘meat’ dishes and it’s just too good!
WHAT'S THE NUMBER ONE TOURIST TRAP YOU'D RECOMMEND AVOIDING?
I'd recommend avoiding going to restaurants and bars at Plein. Not because they're bad or expensive (they have great food and drinks, too) but because The Hague has so much more to offer in terms of local entrepreneurs! Walk a few streets further and find the loveliest little-hidden gems where you can get local beers and food instead of a good ol' steak.