Tucked away on a quiet laneway and surrounded by lofty centuries’ old trees, vibrant flowers and climbing vines, the Ranjit’s Svaasa is an enchanting romantic heritage hotel in the beautiful city of Amitsar, located in the northwest of India. Built 250 years ago as a royal guest house and passed down the generations of the noble Mehra family, they now welcome a small number of international and domestic guests into their magical haveli. Two or three nights at this unique destination spa and hotel provides a refreshing moment of calm and rejuvenation in this exciting, yet hectic country.
The splendid mansion was constructed with Nanak Shahi Bricks by Rai Bahadur Rattan Chand Mehra O.B.E., the descendant of Raja Singh Kalyan Singh, a prominent denizen of the Amitsar. The home is like a time capsule of another era, decorated in vintage black and white photos, family portraits and heirlooms as well as local antiques and tasteful furniture. These features, coupled with the attentive, though discreet team — including members of the Mehra family who manage the hotel — give the feeling of being truly being welcomed into the haveli as friends. I instantly felt at ease when I arrived in the evening, greeted with a refreshing drink and the warm smile of Mr. Abhimanyu Mehra. After spending a few days in the rugged mountains, this was more than appreciated!
The heritage boutique spa’s rooms have been designed to be like a home away from home. There are three categories of rooms, all of which are luxurious appointed, feature the same lovely decor as through the common areas and are both spacious and cozy. The basic luxury rooms are for single or double occupancy and open onto their own courtyard or private terraces. The suites range in size and all include comfortable sitting rooms and alcoves, niches in walls to create depth and texture, some of these have been recently refurbished with a special attention to creating and even warmer feel. The crème de la crème of rooms is the Presidential Suite, a two bedrooms and two baths penthouse measuring over 1200 square feet. Set apart from the other rooms, it overlooks the lovely Sun Deck Lawn and has a variety of additional luxury amenities including a personalized butler service.
Guests can enjoy a quiet break or beverage in one of the hidden seating nooks, the various patios and the rooftop terrace, draped in fragrant frangipanis, lazy palms leaves and flowering kochias. This zen ambiance is carried over into the restaurant of the hotel serving healthy regional dishes using predominantly organic ingredients and available at very reasonable prices, considering the quality (I adored the spiced paratha bread with yogurt pictured below). In addition to their menu dishes, the Svaasa has added a new selection of Royal Family Recipes, special dishes which require 24 hours advance notice due to their complex preparation.
If you need to work out some strain from traveling, the hotel’s relaxing spa is the place to go (pictured above, bottom). The home’s cowsheds and the horse stables have been carefully converted into an oasis of wellbeing. Their spa professionals can be book for an array of treatments, like excellent revitalizing foot massage with essential oils I had, returning the spry to my step for more sightseeing.
Speaking of the latter, the hotel also has a fabulous collection of carefully curated experiences which they can arrange for guests. Over the years the Mehra’s have seen a shift in travelers’ profile, both international and national, who have expressed a growing interest in experiencing authentic cultural, historic and gastronomic activities. As such, they have added more unique hands-on and local activities to their existing offerings. I was extremely pleased to be able to visit the Golden Temple in the evening with Tarsem, a long term employee of the hotel. A Sikh himself, he was able to provide me with far more insight than I would even have been able to obtain from merely reading my guidebook (more on the experience here). I even got to participate myself, by helping make some chapatis (I feel for anyone who actually who ended up with my poorly rolled out ones!).
Their experiences repertoire also includes a very enticing market tour and cooking class led by a member of the Mehra family and a visit a local Punjabi village to take part in their daily life. Their most recent addition is the new Punjabi Mehndi Rasam Experience specifically created for single female travelers (but can also work for small and large groups). The popularity of these authentic experiences has gotten around and the hotel can also arrange these for outside guests, something I can highly recommend.
Lastly, you may like to peruse the hotel’s great boutique containing a handpicked selection of gifts for which part of the proceeds go to an NGO that helps rebuild the lives of Tihar Jail inmates and street children. These items include hand-rolled incense, handmade soaps, pure Pashmina designer stoles, hand-carved wooden frames and decorations.
My experience in Amritsar would never have been so enriching and magical had I not stayed at the Ranjit’s Svaasa. It made me love Amritsar and yearn for a return visit soon! It’s well worth the splurge. Summer rates for a Rai Bahadur Luxury Room start at Rs. 5000 and in winter start at Rs. 7000 while suites range from Rs. 6500 to 12500 in summer to Rs. 8500 to Rs. 16000 in winter, which includes a delicious buffet breakfast of Indian and Western dishes. You can reach the hotel at+91-9872626618 or find further information on their website here.
I was a guest of the Ranjit’s Svaasa, however, all of the opinions expressed above are my own.