If the name Hilton Hotels conjures up images in your mind of unremarkable buildings and identikit interiors, take a look at the company's new offering in The Hague, one of the first of a new breed from the international hotel chain.
This example of what Hilton calls a "reinvigorating" process – choosing interesting buildings and creating design-led interiors with local references – opened last summer in the shell of the former Royal Dutch Telecom headquarters, which was built in the 1950s, in the Dutch capital's embassy quarter.
Inside, designer Angelika Kok reveals how she has been inspired by the local historical and geographical landscape in her choice of style. The brightly coloured, well-lit lobby of this five-star hotel is enlivened by an enormous, striking portrait of Vincent van Gogh, which on closer inspection is created from hundreds of cleverly arranged colouring pencils. In the atrium bar, a 6m sculpted sand wall gives a nod to the dunes at the nearby seaside resort of Scheveningen.
Further homages to traditional Dutch craftsmanship, albeit given a modern twist, are present in the use of Delft Blue tiles and lace patterns dating from the 17th century on glass panels, both of which feature in the main restaurant.
The hotel's 195 rooms are large and comfortable with 24-hour room service, LCD televisions, MP3 players and Wi-Fi. The relaxing decor uses rich orange and brown tones with curved armchairs and foot stalls in lively patterned fabrics. Spacious, contemporary bathrooms have attractive marble-effect tiles and light-enhancing patterned glass walls.
The food and drink
The Grand Café Pearl is framed by a huge reproduction of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer's painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, provided by the city's Mauritshuis museum, which hangs above the bar. The locally sourced and seasonal menu with a French influence and commands attention, too, with dishes such as lamb with potato purée, broad beans and a red wine jus. Expect to pay ¤43 per head for a three-course dinner without wine.
The hotel has a 24-hour fitness centre but no spa. Otherwise, get out and about because you're well positioned to make the most of a break in the Netherlands' third largest city and seat of government. The Hilton is a few minutes stroll from Noordeinde, a long, lively street lined with restaurants and boutiques, which is also home to 15 galleries and Queen Beatrix's working palace. See the original Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery (mauritshusit.nl), and the neighbouring Dutch Houses of Parliament. Notable events this year include the city's Jazz Festival (thehaguejazz.com) in June – the 2011 line-up includes Roxy Music, Simple Minds and Al Jarreau. And, from June to September, the Hague Sculpture takes place along the leafy Lange Voorhout, transforming the city into a free open-air museum for the summer months. An antiques and book market is held on this boulevard each Thursday (open Sundays, too, in summer), and it's also home to some of The Hague's grandest 18th-century townhouses. And while you're on this street, stop for afternoon tea at the opulent Hotel des Indes, which was recently renovated by the French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. The laid-back beach resort of Scheveningen is a 10-minute tram ride away from the stop around the corner from the hotel. For more ideas go to holland.com/uk.
Access for people with disabilities on the ground floor and in lifts to the three accessible guestrooms. Pets are admitted (two per room maximum at a ¤50 charge). Children welcome. (A babysitting service is available.)
Double rooms normally cost from ¤204 per night, room only. But a "Girl with a Pearl Earring" package is currently available at weekends for ¤194 per night, based on two sharing, including B&B in a double room, a three-course themed dinner in the Grand Café Pearl and tickets for two to the Mauritshuis Museum Picture Gallery.
Hilton The Hague, Zeestraat 35, The Hague, 2518 AA, Netherlands (00 31 70 710 7000; hilton.co.uk/thehague).Reuse content