As I used up almost all of my paid leave visiting the States this summer, I’m trying to squeeze in mini-holidays over the weekends so I can still explore Europe and travel with friends. Last weekend, The Duke Hotel kindly invited me for an overnight in Den Bosch. And so on Friday night after work, I packed my overnight bag, grabbed the boyfriend (I still feel weird saying that!) and hopped on a train down to den Bosch to enjoy a short city break in Holland. The formal name for den Bosch is ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which translates into The Duke’s Forest in English. The name is often abbreviated to Den Bosch, which simply means The Forest. And so we took a train down to The Forest, where we saw many birds, dragons, and beautiful buildings (but oddly not a whole lot of forest!)
We arrived at Den Bosch after a short 55 minute ride on the train (a breeze compared to our nightmare journey back). The Duke Hotel is located right in the city center, and a quick 10 minute walk from the train station. The dramatic sky threatened to rain, but thankfully we stayed dry on our majestic walk to the hotel.
Why was the walk so majestic? Because on the way, we passed dragons, swarms of blackbirds, and moody clouds, as if Den Bosch were in fact a fictitious novel. The Duke Hotel was equally storybook worthy, with dollhouse-like views of the quaint city center. We were on the 3rd floor, in room 10, otherwise known as The Duke Suite. The room was huge (62 m2 to be exact) complete with a Duke-size bed, Illy espresso machine, mega-size bathroom (with a huge soaking tub and a large walk-in rain shower), organic cosmetics, two TVs with Netflix (!!!), a well-stocked SMEG fridge. . . . . . . and last but certainly not least, amazing views of the city. We immediately hooked our tele music up to the beautiful Marshall speaker (a sexy bluetooth device that makes my Sonos look like a beat up station waggon) and popped some bubbly. The room itself was gorgeous, with beautiful brass features, luxurious and soft bedding, ornate carpets, and sleek furnishings. Despite wanting to crawl into the fluffy duvet and never leave, we hung out in the living room, listened to tunes, and enjoyed some champagne.After gazing down at the street’s activity for an hour or two, we decided it was time for dinner, just as the sun set (which was not visible at all due to the clouds!)As mentioned earlier, it was a dramatic evening weather-wise, and while we seated ourselves under a hot canopy on the street, rain beat down around us. We chose to dine at Restaurant In den Zevenden Hemel (Restaurant in Seventh Heaven), which wasn’t a premeditated decision – rather, Zevenden Hemel was the only restaurant still serving a fairly decent food menu in Den Bosch at 10.30 in the evening. We both ordered the lobster soup to start, which was a thin consume, served in tall wine glasses (my Maine-gal personal was disappointed for two point five seconds at the lack of a thick chowder and homey crock). As the dinner menu was no longer being served, we went for the most filling ‘borrel’ menu item, which was the chef’s appetizer platter (which came with a little bit of everything). We consumed this in under 10 minutes flat before promptly ordering a sashimi platter as well. Both were delicious – my favorite were the spanish meatballs, served in a spicy tomato sauce. We drank wine in the warm evening rain until the restaurant kicked us out. Luckily, the hotel was a short 5-second walk away. Once inside, we noticed that we had both dressed in accordance with the color scheme in the hallway (an epic end to the evening, I would say). The next day, we had a lazy morning in the hotel, enjoying hot coffee and the view as it absolutely downpoured outside.
We made a quick stop in the cafe for breakfast, before checking out around noon.Before we left den Bosch, we knew we had to swing by St. John’s Cathedral, which is one of Holland’s most notable gothic cathedrals. We toured around the property under the white sky, before finding a small, indiscrete pub, where we consumed way too many bossche bols (check them out here, not to be missed if you go to Den Bosch!)Unfortunately for us, our mini-holiday fell on the same weekend as a terrible wind storm. Tucked away in our hotel, and then casually traveling on a train, we had no idea the weather outside was so severe. However, outside, trees were blowing down all over Holland, and by the time we reached Utrecht, there were too many trees on the track to continue all the way back to Amsterdam. And so we hung out in Utrecht for 3 hours, before being re-routed half way around Holland, all in an attempt to make the 30-minute trek back to Amsterdam from Utrecht Centraal. When we got back to the city, all of the trams were down, cabs were booked, and trees and branches were scattered all over the city! And so although our journey back was somewhat elongated (by 6 hours!!) it was a great day to be tucked inside, doing nothing, relaxing in a hotel, on a train, and in a random pub in Utrecht with this cute guy –Overall, our stay at The Duke Hotel was great. The facilities were brand new, the staff were super friendly, and the hotel was fabulously located, right in the center of town. If you’re interested in a night at The Duke Hotel, you can find their website here. They’re quite reasonably priced (starting around €100 for a ‘basic’ room, which is quite luxurious, with Netflix, a walk in shower, a bomb espresso machine, and a heavenly bed) and their breakfast is also worth a taste. Thanks again to The Duke Hotel for inviting us – the great views, fluffy bed, and deep soaking tub will not soon be forgotten!!