'ad it with Amsterdam? OutUK's Adrian Gillan breaches the nearby Nether-parts of
Holland's historic and cultural gem, Den Haag, or in English The Hague.
Seat of the Dutch parliament and royal family - plus many an international conference and
criminal tribunal - and a mere half hour by train south west of Amsterdam: twin-centred
Den Haag, offers both a courtly historic heart plus Scheveningen a delightful "mini-Brighton"
satellite district right on the North Sea.
SIGHTS AND EATS
Grab a coffee or beer in one of the many charming cafés sprawling out onto Plein square,
before digesting a rich dose of culture at the Mauritshuis, an
amazing art collection in a palatial location - oozing with Dutch masters of the Golden
Age, most notably Rembrandt and Vermeer. Featuring gems like the latter's Girl with the
Pearl Earring ("Holland's Mona Lisa"), the Mauritshuis is truly "the greatest of small museums;
and the smallest of great museums".
Then - after gorging on a tummy-lining Indonesian "rice lunch" at Dutch-colonial Garoeda,
and glutting on the nearby Parliament, a wide range of royal palaces and residences and
the iconic Peace Palace - take a ten minute tram ride seawards to the "Brightonesque"
Scheveningen area, complete with grand old wave-facing hotels, promenades, pier and beach.
After clearing the head with a stiff sea breeze, have another drink or bite at Binnen -
a swish, funky contemporary eatery, right on the water, complete with glitter balls
and licking, leaping flames.
The Netherlands' second largest city is also the indisputable Dutch capital of dance,
home to the world-renowned Netherlands Dance Theatre
plus countless creative venues like De Regentes,
and biannual events like the Holland Dance Festival
with its fun amateur dance parade and climax massed-ranks finale.
And don't forget to take the tram out to Delft - just a few miles south east of
The Hague - with its canals, New Church (Netherlands' second tallest, after Utrecht's),
Pisa-esque leaning Old Church, town hall and square - plus lots of local links to Vermeer,
including his birthplace and the site where he painted his Girl with the Pearl Earring.
Take a guided tour of the 1653-founded Royal Delft Porcelain Factory
to learn how the blue-and-white icons are made, plus to bargain-hunt in the shop.
To stay, the Hague Carlton Ambassador is a luxurious, centrally-located hotel in
a leafy area, well-placed for scene, sites and - via said tram - sand.
The International Gay Rights Monument The Hague is the second Gay Rights Monument to be created in The Netherlands - the other being in Westermarkt in Amsterdam.
This monument commemorates all lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender, queer and intersex people in the world who have been or are being persecuted or oppressed
because of their orientation or gender identity, past and present. The artwork was unveiled in 1993. The shape and colour of the steel monument symbolise
a self-conscious gay life. The blue stands for awareness, green is the colour of society, the knots
symbolise the conflicts and the pink reaching up stands for liberation. The base has an inscription by the Dutch poet and classicist Ida Gerhardt:
"Where friendship is out in the open like sunlight, we are blessed with unmeasurable happiness".
May 4th is the Dutch annual national commemoration of the Second World War. An annual ceremony has been held at the monument since 1993. In collaboration
with the COC Haaglanden association and supported by gay and lesbian choirs and a guard of honor from the Dutch police and fire brigade, speeches are
given by prominent persons from the LGBT community and special guests from Dutch and international society. The audience attending each year
has increased significantly.
Photo: Foundation International Homomonument The Hague
The Hague's gay life is small but beautiful, hubbed around central Café De Landman,
one of the town's oldest LGBT venues - packed to the rafters at weekends, with very
friendly staff and interesting artefacts, like a message of thanks from Bill Clinton,
no less; and around nearby Café De Vink, a warm, ambient bar, a short walk west of
Café de Landman.
Café 't Achterom like to bill themselves as the straight friendly LGBT bar in the center of The Hague. The place where everybody is welcome!
COC Café on the other hand has been in action for 75 years serving queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender people in the
Haaglanden region. Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday they serve great food including snacks, dinner and
dessert for 7 euro's. You can also buy hot drinks for an euro, beer starting from 1,50 euro and wine 2,50 euro.
For something heavier, check out leather-dominated cruise bar, The Boss, just south
of centre. And to dance, Hague's main gay club, Strass, is a short five minute
stroll north of Café de Landman, boasting two bars and a heaving little dance floor,
which writhes into the wee small hours.
27 Club is a nightclub where everyone is welcome. Gays and heteros party amongst nice bar staff and owner. It's open every Thurs,
Fri and Sat until the wee hours and serves well priced drinks.
To "take airs", try the Zwarte Pad beach area in Scheveningen, by day; or, day or night, the Scheveningse
Bos forest, near the Madurodam tram stop.
The Beach at Scheveningen
Maze in the Herengracht is an adult entertainment store that holds events like Slip on Party, Naked Days, Mystery Monday and One meets One nights.
They always show the hottest movies and have two large rooms with comfortable leather sofas, one with straight movies and one
with gay movies. In their erotic maze, a different movie is shown in every cabin: including gay, bi and straight, so there something
to suit every taste! Many cabins also have peepholes, to make your viewing experience just that little bit hotter.
Coconuts is the other adult entertainment store, found in the Boekhorststraat. It's a smaller location, with rooms, mainly gay, but nice and busy,
especially during lunch time and there's plenty of opportunities to enjoy the company of the other men visiting there.
Most of the major airlines including EasyJet, BA and KLM fly
direct to nearby Amsterdam Schiphol from no fewer than 14 UK airports,
for anything from £30 to £100 including taxes. For general info check out
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
27 Club (Achterom 8; T: 06 48104541)
Binnen (Strandweg 29-31; T: +31 (0) 70 354 2095)
Café De Landman (Denneweg 48; T: +31 (0) 70 346 7727; Website)
Café De Vink (Schoolstraat 28; T: +31 (0) 70 365 0357; Website)
Café 't Achterom (Achterom 22A; T: 06 48104541; facebook)
COC Café (Scheveningseveer 7; T: 070 365 9090; Website)
Coconuts (Boekhorststraat 72A; T: 070 364 4694)
Garoeda (Kneuterdijk 18; T: +31 (0) 70 3465319; Website)
Hague Carlton Ambassador (Sophialaan 2; T: +31 (0) 70 363 0363; Website)
International Gay Rights Monument The Hague (Laan van Reagan en Gorbatsjov; Website)
Maze (Herengracht 50A; T: 070 345 0510; Website)
The Boss (Rijswijkseweg 536; Website)
Revised March 2023