Almost within touching distance of The Binnenhof, Hotel Des Indes is perched at the end of the elegantly leafy Lange Voorhout boulevard like the wealthy family member who always gets the best seat in the house. Except perhaps, unlike certain wealthy family members, this grand dame more than justifies her position. Heads of state and a host of global celebrities have all laid their heads on her satiny pillows since her opening in 1858. Of course, with age comes legend and naturally there are more than a few of those; ballet dancer Anna Pavlova tragically took her last breath here, legendary actress and singer Josephine Baker took a separate room for her pet monkey, famous double agent Mata Hari whispered away her secrets in the hotel bar, and a group of Jewish citizens were saved from the Nazis by hiding in the attic.
But enough of the stories. You really don’t need them as one look inside will convince you of her provenance. It doesn’t take a lot to imagine the circular lobby lounge was where elegant carriages once lapped to drop off passengers, while the upstairs gallery made a perfect spot for any host to view arriving guests. It is, let’s say, the epitome of elegance and old school charm; the familiar fruits of an extensive renovation by legendary hotel interior designer Jacques Garcia. His attention to detail is well documented and I spot a perfect example; to the side of each guestroom door is a delicate wooden tulip vase with a hand-painted room number.
‘Afternoon tea at the Indes’ is a staple for well-heeled Haguers, and the sound of expensive china clinking against spoon was music to my ears as I strolled through the lounge after a morning spent gazing at Dutch masterpieces at the Mauritshuis Museum. A particularly well-timed visit given this year the Dutch are celebrating the Dutch Golden Age and the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death.
Upstairs, my junior suite was awash with plush carpet, floor to ceiling drapes and a king bed complete with high-thread linens and a mahogany-finished armoire at its foot. A nod or two to Dutch colonial but a space that more or less sits astride the divide between classic and contemporary. That said, the view from my windows down the Lange Voorhout where the rows of Linden trees said to have inspired Berlin’s famed Unter den Linden,.was the money shot for me. The bathroom, a study in marble, had everything I needed; huge shower head, fluffy towels and designer toiletries but the heated floor was a welcome surprise.
The night passed gratefully peaceful, just an occasional creak from weathered floorboards breaking my serenity. Back downstairs and the lavish breakfast buffet was doing great business. Even better, my server remembered how I like my coffee; “flat white with an extra shot again for you sir?” impressive that.
The hotel hires out bikes which as most Dutch cities are bike-friendly is a great way to get about. I took a bike and rode across to Scheveningen, The Hague’s beach resort, just 15 minutes away. It’s an easy ride through beautiful forest to the sea with miles of sandy beaches and hip beach bars. On the way back I parked up in The Hague’s old town and took in one of the traditional brown cafes for a beer and a hot snack.
In a city full of Dutch masterpieces Hotel Des Indes is in good company, and I suspect had he still be amongst the living, Rembrandt might well have been delighted to be added to the hotel’s list of celebrity guests. After all, it takes one to know one.
Tell me more about Hotel Des Indes
Hotel des Indes, Lange Voorhout 54-56, 2514 EG Den Haag, Netherlands
Rooms from €170 including breakfast.