Grandeur in The Hague
The Hague is the City of International Peace and Justice and it boasts the Prime Minister’s Tower and wonderful sandy beaches, but it’s also Frans Hessing’s home town. We asked him about his favourite spots. Frans Hessing (66) has lived in The Hague all his life, so he knows the city like the back of his hand. And as a top-class baker, he knows all the best places to eat in the city.
“There’s a famous song about The Hague where the chorus goes: ‘The Hague, a beautiful city behind the dunes.’ And that’s exactly how I feel about this city. I can recommend the Gemeentemuseum, for instance, which houses the world’s biggest collection of paintings by Mondriaan. And the Peace Palace and the Mauritshuis, which was recently renovated, are definitely worth a visit too.
There are a lot of small inner courtyards in The Hague which are open to the public, and this is a typical feature of the city. The Hof van Wouw and the Hofje van Nieuwkoop near Prinsegracht are really lovely little courtyards. They’re so peaceful and all you can hear is the birds singing, even though there’s only a gate between them and the busy streets.”
A culinary walking tour
“I enjoy walking around the city, and I go on my culinary walking tour every so often. And of course I start from my own gourmet bakery Hans en Frans on Denneweg. This district is known as the Latin Quarter of The Hague.
Our speciality is the Haagse Kakker
which is a tart made with currant bread and filled with raisins, almond paste, honey and cinnamon. From there, I walk to Ed Boele’s speciality cheese shop on Fahrenheitstraat, which sells a wide range of delicious Dutch and international cheeses. So it’s no wonder that Ed’s shop has been voted the best cheese shop in the Netherlands for two years running.
My route takes me past Peter Jan van de Broek’s artisanal butcher’s shop on Reinkenstraat, and I usually end up at the Van Kleef off-licence on Lange Beestenmarkt. They have a distillery there, where customers can go on a guided tour and sample the liqueurs.”
The best markets
“But of course people can spend a wonderful day shopping in The Hague too, in the Passage, for instance, which has just had a face-lift. The shops on Piet Heinstraat and Frederik Hendriklaan are typical of The Hague as well. And I wonder if people know we have the biggest and best markets in the Netherlands? The Hague Market on Herman Kosterstraat sells all kinds of exotic products from China and Indonesia, and there’s a big jumble sale there too. I really enjoy strolling about at this market. And you shouldn’t forget to visit Wagenstraat too. This is where The Hague’s Chinatown is located, and there are lots of Chinese supermarkets, art shops and eating houses there.”
Grandeur in The Hague
“The Hague is a great city for walking. You can walk from Central Station through the Haagse Bos woods to the dunes and the sea at Scheveningen. Surfers and kite enthusiasts come from far and wide to enjoy the sea, and there’s a unique surfing village on Scheveningen boulevard, called F.A.S.T. And while you’re there, you should try a delicious fish dish at Weduwe van der Toorn, which is the oldest fish restaurant in Scheveningen. They really serve the best fish there, without any fancy stuff.
The Wiener Konditorei on Korte Poten is often known as ‘The Hague’s living room’. Real natives of The Hague go there to enjoy fresh coffee and home-made cakes. And cabinet ministers, artists and ordinary citizens rub shoulders at Bodega de Posthoorn on Lange Voorhout, which is also part of the typical grandeur of The Hague and good old-fashioned cosiness.
We’ve got a big Indonesian community here in The Hague, which means there are lots of Indonesian restaurants. Soeboer on Brouwersgracht, for instance, serves delicious Javanese food. Everyone goes there to eat, even the Prime Minister!”
Special meat dishes
What’s the best in town? Many people vote for Restaurant Corona, at Hotel Corona – Hampshire Classic. Their special meat dishes just melt in your mouth. Try the Rib Roast, the Entrecôte Double or the Classic Gourmet Burger.
There are three fabulous places located right in The Hague city centre where you can spend the night. The recently-renovated Hotel Corona – Hampshire Classic, the Hampshire Hotel – 108 Meerdervoort Den Haag and Hampshire Hotel – Babylon Den Haag all enjoy pampering their customers when they come back to the hotel after a wonderful day exploring The Hague.
If you’d like to look round The Hague, visit on of the Hampshire Hotels – Den Haag
If you’d like to find out more about Frans Hessing’s favourite spots, go to: gemeentemuseum.nl; mauritshuis.nl; vredespaleis.nl; hofvanwouw.nl; hofjevannieuwkoop.nl; bakkerijhessing.nl; kaasspeciaalzaak.nl; lagerijvandenbroek.nl; vankleefwinkel.eu; depassage.nl; pietheinstraat.nl; defred.nl; dehaagsemarkt.nl; weduwevdtoorn.nl; wienerkonditorei.nl; bodegadeposthoorn.nl; soeboer.nl