Its buzzing bazaars awash in a multitude of colours and lanes redolent with the whiff of lip-smacking north-Indian fare, are a year-round affair. But as January packs its bags, Amritsar is known to embark on a particularly special winter flush that lasts till March-end. The weather is just about right during this period—not December-cold, and summer's still far away.
The brisk mornings are perfect for setting off on heritage tours while the nip post sundown is counteracted benignly by the Harmandir Sahib, which at that hour, shimmers with a cinder-like glow that leaks into its sarovar, acquires its most striking form yet. With more information on COVID-19 safety increasingly available to travellers along with hopefully a safer travel routine, even a hot tourist favourite like Amritsar is a great pick for a short holiday. And if you're game, we rounded up the best of what the city has to offer—for every possible budget.
Located a five-minute drive away from Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, the luxurious Welcomhotel Amritsar, formerly the Sandhanwalia Haveli, is designed to match the city’s spiritual and historical ethos. It offers 101 rooms with mod-cons, morning-to-midnight dining, a chic bar, spa, gym and top-notch banqueting facilities. Headed to Harmandir Sahib? Ask for the hotel’s complimentary shuttle service.
COVID-19 Safety Measure: Hand sanitisers installed, frequent disinfection of tableware, common surfaces and rooms between stays, app for room service and others
Prices: Upwards of Rs 6,000
6km east of Golden Temple, in Ranjit Nagar, is Hyatt Regency Amritsar, an ultra-modern property with 248 well-appointed city- or pool-facing rooms with amenities such as kitchenettes or work desks for those looking at staycations or workations. Heritage walks, religious tours and village tours available.
COVID-19 Safety Measures: Disinfection in accordance with guidelines, contactless check-in/out, physically sanitised dining
Prices: Starting Rs 4,000
Further of Phase 2, accessible via Circular Road, Taj Swarna, situated close to the Living God Church at Basant Avenue, is another popular choice among those looking for premium stays.
COVID-19 Safety Measures: Disinfection between stays, use of cleaning agents effective against coronavirus, screens between guests and staff wherever required
Prices: Rs 5,750 onwards (standard); Rs 8,474 onwards (packages)
Golden Sarovar Portico, located on Ranjit Avenue near the District Shopping Complex, offers 50 rooms across four categories at competitive rates—the hotel is currently also offering perks/discounts on booking through their website.
COVID-19 Safety Measures: Hand sanitisers installed, frequent cleaning in place, enhanced safety protocols introduced
Prices: On request
Known to offer one of the best luxury experiences in Amritsar, Ramada by Wyndham Amritsar has 144 rooms and is located in the central Walled City. To make up for the fact that the rooms don't offer any views to speak of, Golden Temple is at a walking distance.
COVID-19 Safety Measures: Safety guidelines followed, frequent disinfection
Prices: Rs 5,500 onwards
View this post on Instagram
Amritsar has a reliable enough reserve of places to stay if you aren’t looking at premium stays but aren’t exactly backpackers either. Pinaz Royale on MM Malviya Road is 3km away from the Golden Temple and offers 14 AC rooms with facilities such as free Wi-Fi, clean bathrooms and some great local fare at its all-day restaurant. (rooms at Rs 1,250 and Rs 2,000; city tour on a chargeable basis).
Hotel Makhan Residency, the local favourite, stands on Majithia Road next to Madaan Hospital on Makhan Chowk (4 Ms, that’s the way to remember it). Notwithstanding the fact that the hotel has quite a few celebrities, you can back yourself to get a room from the 28 available here. There is a banquet hall for events, and an in-house diner that serves several local delicacies (don’t miss the fried fish and the butter chicken). If you aren’t one to fuss much about premium service at all times, Hotel Infa (very close to the Partition Museum) is a great choice as well.
The Golden Tulip Amritsar (Model Town) is a 10-minute-drive from the Golden Temple and less than 5 minutes from the Gobind Garh Fort. Right next door is Lemon Tree Hotel Amritsar, another option for those looking to overshoot their budget a bit. Located a 5-minute walk away from the Golden Temple and within sniffing distance of Jallianwala Bagh and Durgiana Temple is Cozzet Stay Amritsar, offering 39 rooms and an in-house restaurant (rooms upwards of Rs 1,500 and thereabouts).
Those looking to get views of the pretty Golden Temple from well-appointed rooms could opt for the similarly priced Hotel CJ International (30 rooms), located a 5-minute walk away from the gilded gurudwara.
Wanna set aside the money you save to fatten up on some nice lassi and dal-fry as and when you please? MG Residency (25 rooms) in Shastri Market is super-affordable and located within striking distance of Amritsar’s famed Ahuja Milk Bhandaar and Kesar Da Dhaba (+917837782869). Nutz Backpackers is a 15-minute walk away from the Golden Temple and is a great choice for student travellers or those looking for an affordable workation (free WiFi and fax available) and even conducts heritage walking tours at an additional charge (+919988862442).
A mere three-minute walk from the Harmandir Sahib, Hotel Mercury Inn (+918558820852) offers no-frills but nicely-cleaned, well-sanitised rooms with great views of the star attraction. The famous Backpacker’s Nest (09888920490) is located in Hall Bazaar (ahoy, those who want to go shopping at the first opportunity) and the more recent Madpackers, closer to the Golden Temple, is perfect for digital nomads and shoestring backpackers, and offers hostel-style living across five accommodation categories (+918800265725).
We were surprised to find the wealth of homestays the resplendent city has on offer. From Sharma’s BnB (great for couples; walking distance from Golden Temple; expect to pay Rs 800-1,100) at Galiara Corner, The Bougainvillea on Rattan Chand Road (boutique homestay cosseted in abundant greenery and aesthetics offering 7 well-supplied rooms; prices upwards of Rs 2,500; city tours available), to Captain’s Blessed Home and Care in Dayanand Nagar/Civil Lines (7 rooms; home-cooked food; expect to pay Rs 1,300-1,500) and Auro Grace (kitchenettes in all rooms; prices available on request) on Lawrence Road, there is no dearth of accommodation options with a personal touch.