Almost a decade of living in Delhi and I can positively say that the thought of visiting the Golden Temple had crossed my mind at least once a year. Repeatedly failing to do so was another thing. So when I got the opportunity to visit Amritsar (finally) I was in my touristy best—against my own self-imposed rule "Be a traveller, not a tourist". My personal reason for wanting to visit the temple had nothing to do with religion, it was the curiosity to actually see with my own eyes the selfless acts of the Sikh community. When you read about a community selflessly come in aid of whoever in need, regardless of any religious beliefs or geographical boundaries, you want to meet them. It was during the temple visit that I came to know of how everything in the temple complex was taken care of by volunteers. From those in charge of shoes to those running around with tool-kit fixing ceiling fans to the ones taking care of the langar, everything was taken care of by volunteers. And I had been waiting to see this in person.
Speaking of selfless acts, my guided tour of the Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, was also made possible by Hyatt Regency Amritsar. To all its guests, the hotel generously provides shuttle bus service to the Golden Temple, free of cost and twice a day.
My stay at Hyatt Regency Amritsar can be best described as a marriage of culture and creature comforts. And speaking of comfort, Hyatt Regency Amritsar did justice to the word 'comfortable'. I stayed at one of their 52 Club Rooms.
The hotel is located in the heart of Amritsar, a mere half and hour drive from the airport. After the recent rebranding of the Hyatt Amritsar to Hyatt Regency Amritsar by Hyatt Hotels, the hotel became the 11th Regency property in India. Hyatt Regency Amritsar, with a total of 248 well-appointed rooms that also includes 10 suites (seven Regency suites, two Regency Executive Suites and one Amritsari Suite) and 52 Club Rooms. My Club Room came with complimentary evening cocktails, private check-in and checkout and a complimentary breakfast.
Each room came with a view of either the pool or the city and the adjoining Amritsar Mall. Mine overlooked the pool. The Club Room was perfect for a solo traveller or for those travelling in pair. Now, Amritsar is one of those cities in India that sees most number of NRIs, and most of the time travelling with family. Hyatt Regency Amritsar keeping all these in mind, has 29 interconnected rooms for families travelling with children or elderly parents or even large group of friends.
Everything is big in Amritsar, be it culture, selfless acts or food. And speaking of food, every meal I had in the hotel's restaurant Punjab Province, was full of flavour...and drama. The restaurant, under the expert guidance of Chef Shiiv Parvesh, serves authentic Amritsari food—the food from the streets and lanes of Amritsar. My years of eating chole kulcha in Delhi seemed like a lie when I had my first bite of Amritsari chole kulcha, the authentic one. Laden with local spices and a lot of love (read kulcha stuffed with minced meat), my first authentic Amritsari meal also constituted that tall glass of lassi we all know about, Amritsari fish and more than five or six types of both veg and non-veg items.
Over the years, I have learnt that, it is important to pick a hotel that serves good food. Walking around town looking for good food when one is hungry is not my idea of a holiday. No such problem at Hyatt Regency Amritsar though because here every meal is carefully planned and prepared keeping the cuture in mind. No wonder the restaurant sees many regulars. One item did stand out among so many—mirchi ki sabji—Chef Parvesh's attempt at reviving the old recipe and a sucessful one at that. A local favourite, mirchi ki sabji was a dish made entirely of spicy green chilies and curd.
Punjab Province is tastefully designed where you can definitely see the contemporary touches, but what strikes most to whose who are actually looking is how every chair, every arched bay windows, every lamp fills you up with nostalgia. The entire space has a colonial charm to it. The restaurant can seat upto 163 guests indoors and has an outdoor seating area for 36. No doubt, Punjab Province is one of the biggest five star restaurants in Amritsar.
Punjabis love their scotch and hence the aptly named watering hole Scotch Haus. Here they serve only the best and premium scotch and single malts, scotch-based cocktails and delicious bar bites.
There is something for everyone here at Hyatt Regency Amritsar. For private functions, the versatile 100-seater space The White Box is the perfect choice; Istana the banquet hall, perfect for big events like weddings and corporate conferences; or come for meetings and the hotel's boardrooms serve as perfect option for upto 12 people with best of audio-visual equipments.
My last day in the city, I decided to pamper myself at the hotel's spa. That was a good choice. Call it occupational hazard but when you often travel for work and mostly work consist of outdoor activities, you do work up quite a tan. It was a long shot but I wanted to get that fixed and opted for a whole body anti-tanning scrub. The lovely masseuse Jenny sounded positive as she applied sandalwood and apricot scrub but I knew it was more of a wishful thinking. But from the spa I emerged relaxed nonetheless.
Where: Hyatt Regency Amritsar; MBM Farms, Grand Trunk Rd, Adjoining Alpha One, Rajinder Nagar, City Centre, Amritsar
Accommodation: 248 well-appointed rooms that includes 10 suites (seven Regency suites, two Regency Executive Suites and one Amritsari Suite) and 52 Club Rooms.
Tariff: From ₹6,450 for double occupancy
Contact: 0183 525 1234; www.hyatt.com