Towards the end of December 2021, Shipra and I made a last-minute plan to go to Amritsar, and we had my parents join in. I have only one favourite hotel in Chandigarh, even though it does not belong to my usual chain. I’ve stayed at the Hyatt Amritsar (erstwhile Ista) and found the rooms to be too small. I once happened to head to the Holiday Inn Amritsar Ranjit Avenue under a points break promotion and found the hotel good enough to return even after IHG discontinued the promotion.
The trip had different motivations for everyone involved. For me, I primarily wanted to head back to this fantastic city for some more of their great food while my parents wanted to visit the Golden Temple. Given the whole stay came together pretty last minute, and during the holiday season (the last week of December), I found the hotel rates to be steep for a 4-star hotel at about INR 7000 plus taxes per room night.
So, we dug into my stash of points and found some IHG Rewards points. IHG Rewards has gone dynamic recently, so this hotel was initially quoted at 14,333 points per night (14K points for two nights and 15K points for one night). The same hotel would go at 10,000 points per night back in the day.
However, closer to the arrival date, the rates had gone down to 12,000 IHG Rewards points per night. So, I rebooked the hotel and saved ourselves some points in the process.
The Holiday Inn Amritsar is in Ranjit Avenue, predominantly a business-cum-residential enclave in Amritsar, about 3 kilometres away from the Golden Temple. The area is surrounded by all sorts of offices that offer visa and admission services for courses abroad and has a tonne of eateries as well. The hotel is about 20-25 minutes of a drive away from the Amritsar airport and seems to be a favourite for airlines to put up their crew. This time around, I noticed a Best Western Hotel in the vicinity as well, something I might be inclined to try on another trip.
We arrived at the hotel at about 11 PM and had our rooms ready for us on arrival. As a Platinum Elite with IHG, I was told we were upgraded from the Standard Rooms that we had booked to Premium Rooms, which was a nice touch.
Our identity documents were scanned, and we were handed keycards to the rooms. One thing which was very much a disconnect from the regular world was that the hotel only would issue one keycard, which meant you could either insert it in the key jack at the door to power the room or keep it in your wallet. Our requests for more than one keycard for the room during our stay were denied repeatedly.
Holiday Inn Amritsar Premium Rooms
The Holiday Inn has two room categories before getting into the suites: the standard and premium rooms. The Standard rooms are 30 sq. m while the premium rooms are 36 sq. m. in area. The difference essentially ends there, and there is an oversized couch in the Premium Room, while there is only a reading chair in the standard rooms. That is what I could make out is the difference between the two rooms.
Here is a look at the Premium Rooms at Holiday Inn Amritsar.
The room had a very comfortable bed. Maybe even too comfortable, because my mom could not get much sleep the first night of our stay. The hotel only supplied a blanket for keeping people warm in the December cold, rather than a quilt that should have been par for the course in the season.
There was a wide enough area with a work desk and a couch showing its age. However, under the Covid-19 protocols, the hotel still has not restored stationary in the room, which I think was getting a bit too old for the contagion of the virus as well now.
Apart from the charging ports, the work desk had some connectivity options. USB and HDMI ports are the two I could remember.
The daybed/couch had seen better days and needed new upholstery.
The minibar was empty, which has become the norm at most hotels in India.
Above the minibar, the tea and coffee were laid out along with the water bottles. The hotel would provide as many water bottles as needed at all times of the day.
The bathroom was a standard-issue, with nothing that stood out really. The toilet amenities offered were from Biotique, and the hotel had a shower chamber apart from the lavatory built-in.
The hotel had some drilling noise going through the fourth floor on the first night, at least in the early morning hours. It could have also been the air conditioning duct, but this noise was only noticed in both the rooms the first night and never happened again during our stay. I presume this was something to do with some event on-premises or perhaps preparations for the upcoming new year celebrations at the hotel.
Holiday Inn Amritsar Dining
With Amritsar being famous for all sorts of food, we did not partake in the dining options at the hotel this time around. Breakfast at Holiday Inn hotels is passable, and right outside, many local shops can treat you with specialities such as Kulchas that Amritsar is known for, at a tenth of the price. However, for those who wanted to eat at the hotel, their restaurant, Ziva, was open for all meals.
There was also a lounge that could offer alcohol. I’ve used it in the past stay but not this time around.
The hotel also had another dinner restaurant called Bell-A-Sia. However, we saw it closed at all times of the day.
We enquired about breakfast and were told it was INR 699 per head (plus taxes). It sounded a bit high, given at the time of booking the room, IHG offered the same proposition at INR 500 (inclusive of taxes) for two guests. For Platinum Elites, after the 30% discount on dining, that would have become INR 490 (plus taxes) per head, but Amritsar is not a city you go to eat inside your hotel room at.
If you are in the vicinity, you should try out Kulcha Land, which has been one of my favourite Kulcha joints in the city for a long time. It is right across the road from Holiday Inn. I know other people have other opinions about the best places to eat Kulchas in Amritsar, and I tried a few, but I’d go back here in a jiffy.
Holiday Inn Amritsar Services
The travel and hospitality industry is largely made of the people who can make a trip or ruin it. We were hardly in the room on this trip, but compared to earlier times at the hotel, I noticed the hotel was not bringing their A-game out this time around. Housekeeping had multiple lapses, over and over again, where they’d usually forget putting towels or drinking water in the room. I’m not sure how such basics can be overlooked, especially when they happened repeatedly.
Mask hygiene was not enforced at the hotel, and it was par for the course to expect guests to walk around without their masks. Also, the only handrub station I remember seeing was inside the elevators, and no other public area.
However, the hotel did have some good staff as well. For instance, we needed some printouts one day, and the cyber cafe across the road had shut, so the reception kindly printed those for us without any charges. The same check-in agent kindly allowed us to stay in the room till about 4 PM on the day of check out (since our flight was at 10 in the night).
On another note, the hotel was disconnected from the world of loyalty otherwise. I enquired about the check-in amenity that I should have been offered as a Platinum Elite, but the staff did not understand what I was talking about and thought I was talking about the toiletries. Other IHG hotels offer points or F&B amenities to elite guests.
The Holiday Inn Amritsar Ranjit Avenue is a solid four-star proposition. The location and the rooms work very well. However, the hotel could do more to put everyone through a round of training since the hospitality was rusty at best in the Covid-19 era. I’ve seen better hospitality at the same hotel back in the day. At 12000 points a night, I got over INR 0.5 per point value as well, which was a great use of points over cash in this case.
Have you stayed at the Holiday Inn Amritsar Ranjit Avenue? What has been your experience at this hotel been?
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