Kasteel De Wittenburg was built in 1899 by the aristocrat Helenus Marinus Speelman, a descendent of Cornelis Speelman, a 17th-century governor of the Dutch East Indies – modern-day Indonesia.
Designed as a country retreat, this stately home has been run since the 1960s by the De Wittenburg Society as an international meeting centre, and has welcomed countless captains of industry, ministers, and foreign dignitaries.
Each of the ten stylish guestrooms has an atmosphere of its own, an excellent bathroom and a view of the surrounding estate. The basement houses the contemporary French and Asian restaurant Sophie, named after Speelman’s wife, Sophie Adriënne baroness Sloet van Oldruitenborgh.
The couple travelled widely as you can still see from the exquisite Chinese vases they brought home as souvenirs. The celebrated Museum Voorlinden is a stone’s throw away, as is the beach, and it’s only a 15-minute drive to the centre of The Hague.
Restaurant Sophie is named after the castle’s first occupant, Sophie Adriënne Baroness Sloet van Oldruitenborgh, who travelled the world with her aristocratic husband. The dishes created by chef Roy van Geel are inspired by their exotic adventures, and French cuisine is complemented by Asian spices and cooking techniques. The restaurant is in the basement, which was once the wine cellar and larder. The Asian influences are also reflected in the interior. The watercolour-like wall decorations are reminiscent of the Far East, and the carved wooden panels create the impression of an antique Chinese room divider.
Monday and Tuesday closed.
Wednesday to Sunday opened for lunch from 12.00 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.
The gardens at De Wittenburg do justice to the grandeur of the castle, in English landscape style but with a formal garden on the forecourt. In fine weather, lunch and dinner are served overlooking the pond.
For a day of culture and entertainment, you don’t have to travel far. It’s just a half-hour cycle ride to the centre of The Hague, with Noordeinde Palace – the King’s ‘working palace’ – and the Binnenhof, the Dutch parliament buildings. There are also outstanding museums, such as the Mauritshuis, with its world-renowned collection of paintings by Dutch Masters – including Vermeer’s famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ – as well as the Panorama Mesdag and Gemeentemuseum. The Hague is also a great city for shops and boutiques. Closer to De Wittenburg, Museum Voorlinden is not to be missed. The beach is easy to reach by bike or by car, or even on foot, if you fancy a refreshing walk through the dunes. The Royal Hague Golf & Country Club, one of the most attractive and challenging courses in the Netherlands, is close by.