A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a business trip to The Hague. The hotel we stayed in for 2 nights was called the ParkHotel situated on Molenstraat, a very old part of the city with ancient streets, coffee bars, restaurants and easy access to the centre of The Hague.
We flew from Warsaw to Schipol, Amsterdam where we caught a train to Den Haag. The airport is about 45 minutes away; the train journey cost 10 Euros (single) and took 35 minutes. This was because the train we caught was direct, indirect trains take about 10 minutes longer.
On the afternoon we arrived the weather was very pleasant so we decided to walk rather than take a taxi, it took about twenty minutes. We could see the hotel sign as we entered the street so we didn't have any problems finding its location. The hotel is adjacent to the sweeping gardens of the Palace Noordeinde, slap bang in the historical centre and within easy walking distance of The Binnenhof (Parliament Buildings). I was very happy with the location and eager to put down our bags and go out with the camera.
As you enter through the main doors you will see the reception area to the right and to the left is the bar and lounge area. The reception area is spacious with a quarter circle reception desk. Two people were on duty when we arrived, both were polite and professional. We were eager to go to our room but for some reason one of the receptionists wanted to take us on a tour to show us the facilities. We are quite independent, don't like a lot of fussing and at this point weren't bothered about seeing the facilities. I know the girl was only being helpful but we could have done without the tour. I did notice that there weren't any newspapers only a stand displaying city maps. I thought there would have been more leaflets and brochures about what to see and do in The Hague.
Having checked in and had a look at the facilities we then went to up in the lift to our room. There are two lifts and a very wacky staircase that reminded me of Escher's drawings.
My first impression of the room was that it was pokey and badly lit. Two single beds had been pushed together to make it look like a double bed and in front of the foot of the bed was a desk so not a lot of room for maneuvering. The furniture looked like typical flat pack furniture in a dark teak colour. Bed linen including the duvet was white with a silky patterned throw over situated at the bottom of the bed in autumnal colours. This matched the full length curtains. On the bed were several cushions and pillows and at either side of the headboard were two reading lamps. The only other lights in the room were situated in the ceiling, two small spotlights. One didn't work so we asked to have it replaced and the job was done immediately but it didn't make a lot of difference, the room had a dark and depressing feeling. I don't think the olive green interior wall helped either or the canopy of old trees belonging to the palace gardens which blocked out the sun's rays.
Behind the net curtains there was a balcony which overlooked the palace gardens and the palace. This was a very nice view but the balcony itself was stark, had one wicker chair, concrete floor with patches of rust leading into the patio doors. This had been caused by standing water and was an eye sore. It was one of the worst balconies I have ever seen, really tacky.
There was a flat screen TV attached to the wall which had 25 channels including BBC World, BBC News 24 and CNN. We had a telephone, a fridge with nothing in it, ironing board and iron. The tea, coffee facilities were poor consisting of a kettle, two cups and saucers, two tea bags, powdered crème. My husband was disappointed because there wasn't any real milk or even sterilised milk. He dislikes tea made with crème. There wasn't any mineral water in the room either so this didn't go down well. You know how dry hotel rooms can get and I think if a hotel is giving itself a four star badge there should at least be a couple bottles of water available to guests.
The en-suite bathroom was compact and big enough for the morning's ablutions. The shower was hot enough and had a very large shower head, like a giant sunflower. The water pressure was low so having a shower wasn't the best experience. One thing I did notice was that the hotel advertised their environmental policies supporting recycling and saving water etc. That's all fine and well except the wash basin was huge and very shallow and for my husband to have a wet shave which he always does he had to use a lot of water which escaped as the plug seal was broken. In the end he had to shave with the tap running. Toiletries were non-existent apart from containers attached to the wall of which there were two containing shower gel and body lotion. Both of these were very nearly empty. Towels were white and not very soft.
I did notice a sign on the door saying that if anyone smoked in this room there would be a fine of 75 Euros to pay at reception. We don't smoke so didn't have to worry about that.
Dining room; there wasn't one. This must be the first hotel I have stayed in that didn't have a dining room. There was a menu card in the room from which you could choose a meal and then phone to the kitchen to order your food. You could either eat in your room or in the lounge attached to the bar. On the first night we noticed that a special meal was advertised at reception consisting of smoked salmon, giant prawns and a salad. This came with a small plate of brown bread and butter and a glass of white wine. As we weren't too crazy about the dishes on offer on the menu in our room we ordered the special and ate it in our room. The price was 16.50 Euros plus a service charge of 3.50 Euros. I thought this was a bit steep as the portion of smoked salmon was only a slither sat on top of potato salad, two giant prawns which were pretty tasteless and a very small salad made up of lettuce, onion, cucumber and tomato. We couldn't find any condiments either so I was a bit disappointed.
On the second night we chose the Dutch Dinner from the menu, a piece of steak served with potatoes and vegetables. This wasn't very appetising at all; the steak was dry and tough as old boots, with a dollop of mustard sauce on the top that had congealed, the potatoes were those chunky types, not salted and no accompanying salt or vinegar or any sort of dressing and to top it all, the broccoli was freezing. The price for this was 17.50 Euros plus the service charge. I thought the service charge was a bit high and really, the meals were overpriced because there was hardly anything on the plate. There is a breakfast room but we didn't take breakfast in the hotel so I can't comment on the food or atmosphere.
Finally, the room the hotel advertises as the Business Centre; a glass kiosk with a PC and a printer. All guests can use this room free of charge. It's hardly a Business Centre but if you forget to bring your laptop then it comes in handy.
We stayed for two nights in the ParkHotel and the price was 350Euros including the meals described above. I think it was overpriced for what it was especially when I compare it to the hotel we stayed in when we were in Shanghai which was also a 4 star but so luxurious by comparison.
The ParkHotel claims to be a unique hotel. I really don't agree with this statement. Yes, the location is wonderful, close to the attractions I have mentioned above as well as Escher in the Palace, the Peace Palace and Scheveningen Harbour & Boulevard. You don't have to walk far to find a shop, café, restaurant or supermarket. Transport connections are good. These are the positives. The negatives are that the hotel is dark and gloomy even though it has a super staircase, there are hardly any paintings in the public areas which give the whole building an institutional feel to it. There isn't a dining room which is something I missed. The food was expensive, tiny portions, lacking in imagination, cold and not appetising at all. Not enough information on hand although I have to say that the reception staff were helpful on a couple of occasions and put my husband in the right direction when he wanted to find the building where he was delivering the training course.
I am going to award the ParkHotel 3 stars as I think that's all it is worth. It's a pretty average hotel, nothing special.