A day in… Leiden

Leiden is a compact, historic city with a superb location: it is nestled right between Amsterdam, The Hague and Schiphol Airport. The Dutch beach and the world renowned tulip area are a beautiful bike ride away. Compared to the other Dutch cities Leiden may be a small convention city, but that is also part of its irresistable charm. Where else in the world do you find 13 museums, hotels and meeting venues within walking distance? Oh and have I mentioned the 28km/17mi of canals criss-crossing through the impressive city centre?

Leiden Witte Singel Sterrewacht Hortus Botanicus air photo

Witte Singel, Observatory and Hortus Botanicus in Leiden

Facts

Leiden has the highest concentration of museums in the Netherlands
Leiden is home to the Netherlands’ oldest university
Leiden has 28km/17mi of canals in the historic city centre
Leiden’s famous inhabitants include Rembrandt (born in Leiden), Einstein, Jan Steen and Armin van Buren
Population: 340,000 (greater Leiden area) / 25,000 students / 105 nationalities

Getting there

Leiden’s excellent location makes it very accessible for visitors. Schiphol Airport is only 15 minutes away and Rotterdam The Hague airport 25 minutes. Leiden’s Central Station is located in the city centre and a major transportation hub in Holland, making Leiden easily accessible from anywhere in the country.  In case you arrive in Leiden by car you have to know that the historic city centre is virtually car-free. But not to worry, there are various ‘Park & Ride’ facilities just outside the city centre with free shuttle buses operating daily. Special arrangements can also be made for larger groups of visitors.

Meeting and business venues

I can tell you right now that you will have a pretty hard time to select a venue for your meeting or convention in Leiden. Why? Because they are all equally impressive. Surround yourself in ancient history, meet at a modernised industrial factory, go back in time and stay at a castle, rent out an airplane hangar with a rotating stage, … See what I mean?

New

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is currently preparing its facilities to house a very special guest starting this fall: Europe’s first T-Rex skeleton. Modern (research) meets history doesn’t get better than this! But Naturalis isn’t the only venue (re-)opening in Leiden. Museum Lakenhal, home to many master pieces, will re-open its expanded and modernised doors in 2018. And De Meelfabriek (The Flour Factory), a former industrial building being transformed into an innovative, multi-purpose location, is set to be completed by the end of 2017.

Classic

Since Leiden is a historic city many of the meeting venues are housed in monumental or historic buildings. So a classic feel with the most up-to-date meeting facilities is something that most venues offer naturally. Let me give you a few examples. The Pieterskerk is a gothic-church-turned-monumental-event-venue that can host up to 2000 guests. If you are looking for classic yet modern the Nieuwe Energie (New Energie) might be the right venue for you. Or surround yourself with the beautfy of one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world: Hortus botanicus Leiden.

Pieterskerk Leiden

Pieterskerk Leiden

Hidden secrets

It almost feels like every location in Leiden is a hidden secret, but there are a few that might not be on your radar right away. For example, the Theatre Hangar in Katwijk, just outside of Leiden, which is a transformed airplane hangar with a rotating stage. And if you want to travel back in time Castle Oud-Poelgeest might be an excellent venue for your event. Head over to my hidden secrets page to find out more.

After your meeting

Leiden is an exceptional city to explore by foot. Wander along the canals, visit one of the 13 museums (including 4 National Museums) or indulge yourself in one of the restaurants and experience Dutch ‘gezelligheid’. Don’t blame me though if you don’t want to leave again!

Museums

Just to name a few:

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden – National Museum of Antiquities
Corpus – travel throught the human body
Museum Het Leids Wevershuis – one of the last remaining “weavers’ homes” and Leiden’s smallest museum
Sieboldhuis – Siebold’s former house is now the first official Japan centre in the Netherlands

Leiden CORPUS

Leiden CORPUS

Shopping areas

All over Leiden’s city centre you will find interesting specialty shops to spend your money in. Just stroll through the medieval cobblestone streets where you will find anything from home-made chocolate, jewellery, second hand clothing, antique book shops, art galleries, high-end stores and more. For a special view go to La Place Restaurant on the top floor of the V&D department store.

And if you happen to find yourself in Leiden on a Wednesday or Saturday you can’t miss out on visiting The Leiden Market, which expands along the Nieuwe Rijn, Botermarkt and Vismarkt right in Leiden’s city centre. It’s the place to get your Dutch cheese and sealed Dutch herring to take home – among many other things!

Restaurants

Leiden is home to people from 105 nationalities so no wonder that you will also find cuisine from all over the world here. Looking for the best place for Dutch pancakes? Go to the Beestenmarkt area. If you would like to mingle among Leiden’s locals go to one of the cafes near the Hoogland Kerk.

Do you want to be suprised by food and historical buildings alike? Then you might want to visit these restaurants and cafes:
De Waag, a weighing house dating back to 1657
Olivier, located in a former hospital
Het Prentenkabinet, built as a commandery in the 15th century
Stadscafe van der Werff, a former gentlemen’s club
Visbrasserie de Poort, located in one of the remainign city gates
Cafe de Bonte Koe, once meant to be a butchery

By the way, if weather permits, most restaurants and cafes create outdoor terraces.

Sights

Leiden is a sight by itself. Nonetheless, here are a few points of interest you might want to add to your not-to-miss list:

Muurgedichten (Poems on the Walls) – take a walking tour to discover some of the poems on the walls of Leiden’s buildings
Sterrenwacht – observe the stars at Leiden Observatory
De Burcht – climb up Leiden’s fort for a great view of the city
Hofjesroute – visit Leiden’s courtyards
Boating on the canals – not technically a point of interest in itself, but taking you along some of the aforementioned ones and offering you a beautiful view of Leiden from the water

Leiden canals

Leiden canals

A day in Leiden

Leiden may be a compact city, but you definitely need more than a day to discover everything it has to offer. My tip: just add a couple of days prior to or after your meeting to get most out of your stay in historic Leiden. You won’t regret it. That much I can promise.

Dutch meeting and hotel venues that will open in 2015

Holland is a popular destination for leisure and business reasons. With the increasing demand new venues start to open their doors. I’ve made a list of venues, hotels, conference destinations that are planned for this year.

hotel

Amsterdam
Motel ONE
W Amsterdam
Element hotel
Steigenberger hotel
Hyatt Regency Amsterdam
Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
INK Hotel
Atlas ArenA Amsterdam
Mercure Hotel Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station
Corendon Vitality Hotel Amsterdam
Amtrium

Rotterdam
Hotel WINGS Rotterdam Airport

Groningen
Apollo hotel & resort

Eindhoven
Intercity Hotel Eindhoven

Leiden
Van der Valk Hotel Sassenheim Leiden

List: New venues that opened in 2014

In 2014 a lot of venues, hotels and conference centres opened their doors. I’ve made a complete list for you. You’re welcome!

opening venue

Amsterdam
Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport (read more)
Waldorf Astoria (read more)
Holiday Inn Amsterdam Arena Towers (read more)
Brooklyn Hotel Amsterdam (read more)
Max Brown Hotel (read more)
Volkshotel Amsterdam (read more)
ijVENUES (read more)

Rotterdam
Nhow Rotterdam (read more)
Ibis hotel Rotterdam (read more)

Noordwijk
Vesper beach hotel (read more)

Utrecht
TivoliVredenburg (read more)
Star Lodge Hotel Utrecht

Den Haag
Suite Novotel Den Haag City Centre (read more)

Leiden
Event & convention centre Leiden (Holiday inn) (read more)

Looking for special meeting venues? Check Holland’s 10 finest industrial venues

Over the past hundred years or so, Holland has developed from a manufacturing society into a service society. Literally hundreds of beautiful buildings are left as a reminder of a once thriving industrial economy. This rich heritage has now been given a second life, as many of these architectural marvels are converted into meeting and event spaces. Immediately upon entering, you will feel privileged to be a part of this rich history, even if it is only for a little while.

Of course I recognize that each meetings’ preferences are different, and therefore I share my fine and out-of-the-ordinary selection of industrial venues in Holland.

10. De overkant – Amsterdam

Opposite Amsterdam Central Station, across the IJ river, a new event venue is one of the city’s new creative hotspots. De Overkant (‘The Other Side’) is a former Stork machine factory. In a central location of  this complex lies the Kromhout Hall, a raw, light, grand, impressive, authentic, industrial, versatile event venue on the bank of the IJ in Amsterdam North. With a 20-meter-high glass ceiling, steel structures, cranes and total length of 150 meters, the hall gives a unique look and feel to each event, small or large, modern or authentic.
www.deoverkant.com

9. Veerensmederij – Amersfoort

The Veerensmederij dates back to 1904, when the Dutch Iron Railway company opened its central workshop in Amersfoort. The springs of the bogeys for the train wagons were forged here. During an extensive renovation process, many characteristic parts were restored, creating a spectacular setting for meeting and events.
www.7am.nl/amersfoort.nl

8. Nieuwe energie – Leiden

New Energy is located in the monumental spinning mill of the former textile factory Clos & Leembruggen. The characteristic building boasts a large production hall with long facades and large windows, surrounded by several side rooms and a monumental entrance. After being used by an energy provider for the past years, the building was recently transformed into an inspiring conference venue. The three state-of-the-art meeting rooms have retained their authentic character and can accommodate up to 150 people.
www.nieuweenergieleiden.nl

7. Ruim Utrecht

Located in Utrecht’s former inner harbor, servicing the fruit and vegetable auction, these three former sand and gravel hoppers were completely refurbished. An inspirational and creative setting for small meetings.
www.ruimteutrecht.nl

6. Tollensfabriek – Rotterdam

The Tollensfabriek is an old Dutch paint factory, built in 1933. The architectural style is known as ‘New Dutch Realism’. The great open space with its high ceilings and raw industrial look was a great canvas to transform 250m² of this building. It can now be rented for inspiring meetings for up to 60 people. The open space is an example of the flexible new realistic way of working. Within one large industrially designed space, there are five areas for traditional or informal meetings and workshops.
www.tollensfabriek.nl

5. DeFabrique – Maarssen

Shortly after WWI, the Ulbe Twijnstra oil mill was built in centrally located Maarssen, to supply linseed oil for the manufacturing of paint, soap and margarine. In 1996 the plant was closed and a local couple rejuvenated it as an event location under the name of DeFabrique. They took great pride in maintaining the historical and industrial character of the building as much as possible. DeFabrique is now a successful, well-equipped venue for meetings and events from 50 to 3,500 people.
www.defabrique.nl

4. Museum Shipyard ‘t Kromhout – Amsterdam

The historic ‘t Kromhout shipyard is robust and industrial, surrounded by old ships. The venue exudes the maritime history of Amsterdam, and was fortunately saved from demolition in 1975. It currently is a unique meeting and event venue, taking you back to the old days of traditional craftsmanship.
www.stadsherstel.nl

3. Van Nelle Ontwerpfabriek – Rotterdam

The former Van Nelle coffee, tea and tobacco factory is considered the most prominent building in the architectural ‘New Dutch Realism’ movement.
The building is European Cultural Heritage, and now houses companies engaged in communication, design, architecture and media. Twelve small and large rooms are available for corporate events, fairs, meetings and conferences. The spectacular views from the tearoom will impress visitor.
www.vnof.nl

2. The Industrials (Fokker terminal, Norfolk, Remise, Ketelhuis, RAC Hallen), The Hague

Five beautiful and unique venues in The Hague joined forces, making it easy for bookers to get information and make reservations. The Fokker Terminal, the former Anthony Fokker school, is most suitable for meetings as it offers fifteen break outs (former classrooms), situated around the former aircraft terminal. In De Remise, a former tram depot, now home to the Hague Public Transport Museum, your groups can meet in de historical trams and buses or the hall itself. The Caballero Factory is a former cigarette factory, and a business center for innovative, creative and cultural enterprises, with its  meeting areas, business rooms, and a living room and lounge are.
www.theindustrials.nl

1.Radio Kootwijk- Apeldoorn

Only recently a true gem has become available to the meeting market. Radio Kootwijk is the former radio telegraph transmitter, which connected Holland by phone to the Dutch East Indies since 1923, and other parts of the world later on. The silence and space around the station was necessary for undisturbed connections, but also resulted in free development of nature.
After the transmitter finally went off the air in 1998, the dromedary-shaped building stood empty for many years. In recent years, it was restored to its former glory and now it is an exceptionally beautiful and inspiring venue for exclusive meetings and conferences in a stunning environment.
www.hierradiokootwijk.nl