The Hague Revealed – A Local’s Perspective (10 Questions For (2): Happy Hotelier)

Gudrun of Uptake gave this example and asked Claude of Les Explorers, Erica of Travel Blissful and me to do the same for our own cities.

The Hague: Hofvijver with Mauritshuis (left) and Houses of Parliament.

1. Give 5 adjectives that you would use to describe the “feel” of The Hague and its residents:
Historic, Stylish, Green, Multicultural City by the Sea.

2. What are your favorite neighborhoods?
Defenitely the Lange Voorhout for its stately mansions. The Denneweg and Noordeinde for their antique and fashion shops, and De Passage shopping mall, over 100 years ago built after a Milanese example.

I live on an outskirt, but love the “Statenkwartier” for its stylish mid 19th beginning 20th century architecture. Uniform in building height – so you won’t get the rain from under your skirt like around high rises – though diversified.

The Beach in whatever weather type. The weather is not always good.

3. Which cuisine do you think The Hague does best? What is the runner-up?(feel free to share your favorite restaurant(s))
I would say Fish. If I say “City by the Sea” I am actually referring to Scheveningen. Scheveningen is a part of The Hague, but the residents still consider it as their own town. It has some fine fish restaurants. My two favorites there are Seinpost and Mero

Then I would say: Indonesian food. In the Hague live many people who were born in Indonesia or had worked there and hence some of the finest indonesian food can be found in The Hague. My favorite is Keraton Damai.

There is no restaurant that serves typical Dutch food. Almost any type of food has its own restaurant (The Hague area counts over 600). For a fine Dim Sum we use to frequent Mandarin Palace.

For more European food we tend to recommend the restaurants: Calla’s (named after the flower) in a hidden small street in the Center, and restaurants Spijs (translated as Food) and Restaurant Water Proef (which has multiple meanings: Water Taste, Taste (it) at the Water front or Waterproof) at Scheveningen Harbour.

4. What is the best free thing to do?
A stroll along the Boulevard (the Beach) or in the dunes. A visit to the Westbroek Park, especially when the roses are blooming, or a picnic in the Westbroek Park, weather permitting…

A Stroll along the beach

5. What is your favorite type of entertainment?
Driving along the beach by car or by bike (I hate to walk). Having dinner in one of our favorite restaurants.

6. List the best family friendly activity:
Visit Madurodam, a miniature city featuring almost all buildings of The Netherlands that are of Interest. And don’t forget to visit the Omniversum and the Panorama Mesdag. Go to the beach, weather permitting.

7. What spot would you send a couple, looking for a romantic weekend?
Stay in one of our suites in Haagsche Suites (oops, I couldn’t leave out a bit of self promotion).

8. Describe a perfect day – one that captures what your area/city is all about. In 3 sentences or less.
Go to Madurodam early in the morning before the buses arrive. Have a picnic in the Westbroek Park and stroll along the sea and fetch one of them famous Italian Ice creams.

9. Tell us about a place that you love to go, whether it is in the guidebooks or not.
Potter along the sea coast in my own motorboat, or go to Rotterdam with same for a lunch or dinner and then back. The Rotterdam Port is always amazing!

My Motorboat
My Motorboat, yep mighty fast!

In springtime don’t forget to visit

10. What question did we not ask that we should have (and answer it, of course!)?

Why I live in The Hague?

I was born here and went to college here. I’ve lived many years elsewhere in The Netherlands, but am glad to be back.
I like the sea the dunes and the city. I always say “you should live in The Hague and party in Amsterdam”. Amsterdam airport Schiphol is only 45 minutes away by public transport and by car, as are Amsterdam and Utrecht. I can go by bike to two small cities with a rich history: Leiden or Delft. Rotterdam and Gouda only take 30 minutes by public transport or by car. I could go on: Paris is only 4 hours driving away, London 5 hours through the Chunnel and Berlin 6 hours…

The Hague is a relatively small city. Its lay out is much more spacious and green than many other cities.

Its residents are a bit reserved. The positive side is that they respect your privacy. I don’t know many cities where the queen (or princes and princesses or president) of the country can go shopping themselves rather “incognito”, only with a small security detail, without hordes of voyeurs looking and gaping on: The Hague residents do notice and see them, but tend to behave as if they don’t see them. I Like that kind of behavior.

Sun Setting over The Hague (Scheveningen) Harbor

Well I see that the Uptake Blog has gone on with this meme so I will leave it to Gudrun to dare other bloggers. In addition this has been too long on my back burner. I’ll post it anyway as another WIP as a reminder to flesh it out with links and photos.

It inspired my Iceland based blogging friend Hjortur to follow up wit a post Reykjavik: Travel Tips from a Local
Spring 2009
This post inspired me to start a series “10 Questions For:” I would have titled this one 10 Questions (0) for if I had anticipated it. Now I added it as number 2…

Last edited by GJE on May 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm

10 Questions For (1): Jennifer Knoepfle of Better Living through Travel

I would like to introduce a new 10 Questions for: category as a sort of variant of “My Interview with”, because:

  1. I’m always insatiable curious who is behind a certain blog or website. Their “About” page or category is one of the first I use to hit
  2. It is an excellent tool for community building in the Travel Bloggers scene (Don’t forget to visit the newly started Nerd’s Eye View Travel Blogger Forum | A New Travel Community. It has over 70 members by now! [Ed: It has since the post date replaced by the Ning Based TBex or Travel Blog eXchange)
  3. It is an excellent way of introducing new Travel related Bloggers on the block to my readers.

The questions are more or less modeled after my first (and thus far only) interview by Paul Johnson who was among the fellow Travel Bloggers who inspired me to go on with what I did here at Happy Hotelier. If you’re interested scroll down on my About page. The questions also cover more or less the main areas of focus of Happy Hotelier.

Thus far I have sent out only a handful of invitations, and the response was overwhelming. So the start is promising.

Here is the first edition:A new Blogger on the block who concentrates on sharing hotel and dinner tips

Jennifer Knoepfle

10 Questions for: Jennifer Knoepfle of Better Living through Travel

1) Who Are you?
My name is Jennifer Knoepfle, I am 31 and I live in Los Angeles, CA. Although I was born In Houston, TX, I have lived in California since I was ten and very much consider myself a Californian, much to my Mother’s chagrin. By day (and most nights) I work in the music business as the Director of Membership for a non-profit organization called ASCAP. I’m no travel writer by profession but certainly a loyal enthusiast, considering travel to be my most dedicated hobby.

2) What do you like about what you do?
Not surprisingly, the number one thing I love about what I do is the traveling. My job requires me to travel on a monthly basis so I am able to incorporate my passion into my everyday life.

3) What don’t You like about what you do?
I am really lucky, there really isn’t anything I don’t like about my job.

4) You’re a Blogger at Better Living through Travel, please tell us all about the blog and your aims with it.
I decided to start Better Living through Travel as a way of sharing my experiences with my friends and family. As they knew I dedicated a large portion of my life to seeking out the best hotels in any given place, they would come to me for advice and suggestions. The blog was a way for me to organize all my experiences in a way that could be accessed by other people. Lo and behold, once I started the blog, I quickly discovered that there were many people out there (not just my friends) that found my suggestions useful. I hope to use the blog as a way to share experiences and hopefully help people discover a hotel that might be really special to them. In my humble opinion, the cornerstone of any great vacation is a suburb hotel.

5) What are the 3 best destinations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
1. El Calafate, Argentina:
El Calafate is home to some of the most spectacular glaciers in the world. I am so thrilled that I was able to see them in person, as they are disappearing and someday may no longer exist.

2. Gordes in Provence, France:
I spent two weeks driving around Provence last year and it was a incredibly memorable experience. The south of France has such an amazing feel, so different than the rest of the country. The people are great, the landscape is beautiful and the food is delicious.

3.Chianti, Italy:
Any place that you can start drinking wine at mid-day is okay in my book. I loved Tuscany for several reasons, but the biggest attraction for me is the Italian obsession with the preparation of great food! I’ve never eaten as well as I did in those two weeks. In fact, there are even dishes from that trip that I still crave all the time.

6) What are the 3 best accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
1. The Home Hotel – Buenos Aires, Argentina:
I just did a post about why I love this place so much. Instead of boring you with the answer twice, you can read about it here: Home is Where My Heart is

2. The Hotel Healdsburg- Healdsburg, CA:
This hotel just has a really great vibe. The rooms are ridiculously comfortable, the beds are like marshmallows and the soaking tubs are enormous. The set-up and the decor is really inviting and relaxing and all the rooms are suites, so you really get great value for the price.

3. Borgo Argenina -Chianti, Italy:
Staying at Borgo Argenina is about as close as you can get to experiencing Tuscany in the same way as the locals do. The Innkeeper is a former fashion designer from Milan who restored an old Tuscan farmhouse into a beautiful Inn. The decor is very much in tune with the region and it feels like as if you were staying in a home rather than a hotel. The owner was more than happy to give us great suggestions on places to see and restaurants to eat. She was a great guide and I am certain my trip was a success largely due to her suggestions.

7) What are your 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
1. The Pappa e Pomodoro at Malbhorgetta in Chianti:
Quite simply, the best tomato soup I have ever had. I must have eaten it five times on my trip. You see, when I like something, I can be rather habitual about eating it.

2. The Rib Eye Steak at La Cabrera Norte in Buenos Aires, Argentina:
Argentina is a place for steak and this is among some of the finest, maybe even the best, I’ve ever had.

3. The Lentils w/ Sausage at Pura Vida in El Calafate, Argentina:
It’s been two years and I still think about this dish all the time. I’ve tried to make it at home but have never been able to duplicate this special combination of flavors. Pura Vida is a wonderful little hole where they specialize in soups and stews. It is also one of the few places that offers a great variety of vegetarian options.

8) What are your 3 worst destination/accommodation/food experiences to date and why?
Worst Accommodation:
Ojai Retreat in Ojai, California. I had never been to Ojai before and the retreat was recommended to me. It would probably be great for some people (yoga enthusiasts or people who loved absolute seclusion) but for me, it was the seclusion that scared the crap out of me. The house is isolated at the top of a hill, very dark with hardly anyone around. Also, there were giant spiders crawling everywhere!

Worst Destination:
Cancun, Mexico is like vacationing in the worst parts of Middle America. The city has become a total tourist trap and the majority of the restaurants are chains like Tony Romas, Chilis and Pizza Hut. It was very disappointing.

Worst dining Experience:
The First Class cabin of Continental Airlines. I was on a ten hour flight to Europe and I somehow managed to get the upgrade. I know it is airline food, but I thought that the food in First Class might actually taste good. I was soooo wrong, I guess airline food is just disgusting no matter what class you are in.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 tips about the city you are currently living in?
1. Rent a hybrid from Fox rentals if you come here. You will drive A LOT.
2. Take an architectural tour when you are here. Los Angeles is home to many fantastic buildings that are worth seeing.
3. In the summer, see a concert at The Hollywood Bowl. In the winter, see a concert at The Disney Concert Hall.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Nope..these were great!

Great answers Jennifer. Thanks a lot and good luck with your blog! I love what I have seen from it. Promise me not to abandon it!

Interesting you mention the Home Hotel. I mentioned it earlier and it got mentioned recently in the New Cool Hotel Rooms book of The Cool Hunter. I made a note to self to check it out whenever my travels will bring me to BA.

Finally on a personal note: You would be a great Agent at Vibe Agent 🙂 (and no I don’t get paid whatever to plug them).

Last edited by GJE on May 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Chubby Hubby

El Bulli Starter

Clearing up and posting old drafts:
I came across Chubby Hubby a long time ago, wanted to feature it and then it landed on my back burner. The photo is one of his while he reviews El Bulli. Wow do I envy him:-)

This blog started as an experiment. Then it became an addiction.

In early 2005, I found myself on the steering committee for a Writers Festival. We wanted to both engage bloggers to help publicize our festival and feature some of the more popular ones on various panels. Because many of us were unfamiliar with the world of blogs, one of our fellow committee-members suggested that we start our own blogs, in order to get a better sense of what they were all about.

It wasn’t until much later did I realize that I was the only one who took the suggestion seriously and actually started one.

I’ve always loved food. I believe it comes from growing up in a family of foodies, who not only placed importance in what we were eating but in the act of eating together. As I grew up and moved out, the friends I made were also food-lovers. As was the woman I eventually married. My darling wife S is, in many ways, a much bigger foodie than I am. Not only does she love food, she knows a helluva lot about it. She also happens to work professionally as a food writer, editor, and consultant.

It was only natural then that the subject of my first (and only) blog was food. Through this blog, I try to share the joy of eating well and eating with people you love. I never imagined that Chubby Hubby would be as well-received or as well-read as it is. I am eternally grateful to readers for their comments and for returning day after day or week after week to read about what S and I have been up to in the kitchen, where we’ve been dining, or other inanities that I or my darlin’ wife S might feel like posting.

This was on my back burner almost a year. Now trying to go ahead with the food part of this Blog as well……

The Breakfast Blog

Yummy Eggs

An interesting find:
The Breakfast Blog
in search of the best eggs in town

Why eggs?
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” – John Gunther

This is a blog about breakfast. More specifically, it’s about my ongoing search for great eggs.

Rather than just annoy a close circle of friends with my views on who does the best benedict in town, or whose scrambles rule the roost, I’ve decided to share these views with anyone silly enough to listen (or read, in this case). I figure there’s at least a handful of breakfast nuts out there who, like me, will welcome some tips on where to find the best breakfast spots in town.

So, why eggs? Why not pancakes, or toast? Why not porridge? Because eggs, for me, are the best test of a good hot brekky. They’re quick to cook, easy to compare, widely available, and, in most cases, a pleasure to eat. Although eggs will be the focus, I won’t totally ignore non-egg subject matter, like muesli, fruit salad, and the like. No point alienating the health freaks. But who’s ever craved a nice-healthy-bowl-of-muesli the morning after a big night out?

My plan is to blog my way through breakfast at two levels. First, I’ll do reviews of breakfast venues – good and bad – and rate them according to the eggs, the extras (sides, seasonings, sauces), the coffee, the rest (other food), the help, the price, and the buzz (crowd, venue, atmosphere, etc). Second, I’ll dish out my own set of gongs for “best whatever”..

I’m not a breakfast man myself. Usually I confine myself to a cigarette and a cup of cappuccino. However occasionally I fancy a nice Egg Benedict. And the ones Breakfast Blog offers us are really yummy.

Happy Hotelier is now a WSet Level 2 Intermediate Wine Conoisseur

Wset Certificate

Hot from the block: This certificate proves that I know a little bit about wine and spirits. I found I had to study a bit more in order to be able to serve our guests at Haagsche Suites better.

It also goes together with my aim to cover the categories “Food”, “Wine” and “Wining and Dining” more seriously here, rather than setting up a separate blog.

I found that it the Wset course is a decent course. It was given by a very enthusiast couple, Henriëtte Bastiaans and Jeroen Bronkhorst of Wijn studio NL who used to run a restaurant around the corner and who gave the course in a wine shop, Haags Wijnhuis, also around another corner here. So it was very practical: after the courses and wine tasting I could easily crawl back home.

About Wset

Wset stands for Wine and Spirit Education Trust Limited.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was founded in 1969 to provide high quality education and training in wines and spirits. Since then, WSET has grown into the foremost international body in the field of wines and spirits education, with a suite of sought-after qualifications. We now even have a membership body – the Institute of Wines & Spirits – for those who have passed the WSET Diploma, our top qualification.

About Level 2 Intermediate

This qualification offers broad coverage of all product categories in the field of alcoholic drinks together with basic wine tasting technique.

This qualification is accredited at Level 2 in the UK National Qualifications Framework. It is also approved as a Technical Certificate for the Advanced Level Hospitality Modern Apprenticeship.

Qualification objective:
Provide vocational training in the broad range of alcoholic beverages to underpin job skills and competencies in the customer service and sales functions of the hospitality, retail and wholesale industries.
Who it is aimed at:
• People employed in the drinks and hospitality industries with little previous knowledge of alcoholic beverages.
• Wine enthusiasts who wish to acquire in-depth knowledge of wines and spirits and want to obtain an internationally recognised wine qualification.

Entry Requirements:
Students and candidates who are under the legal minimum age for the retail purchase of alcoholic beverages in the country where the examination is being held will NOT be allowed to sample any alcoholic beverages as part of their course, but this is NOT a barrier for successfully completing the qualification. (Entry requirements may vary according to Approved Programme Provider)

How to gain the qualification:
You must successfully complete a multiple choice paper of 50 questions.

More at Qualifications

Heading for the Advanced Course by Frank Smulders (site is currently and I hope temporarily not working).