Review by Elizabeth Hoyle
Why you’ll love Ranjit’s SVAASA
This charming family-friendly hotel has been created from the 250-year-old ancestral haveli of the Svassa family who once used the property as their guesthouse. Today it’s a very pretty boutique hotel offering high-end service and the perfect escape after the hustle and bustle of Amritsar’s busy streets.
Ranjit’s houses just 18 rooms, all decorated with colonial-era furniture, rich fabrics and sumptuous textiles (be prepared for lots of cushions and throws!). Antiques, artwork and family photographs decorate the walls and personal touches such as the organic towels and dressing gowns, and handmade natural bathroom products make this hotel stand out from its local competitors.
It’s ideally positioned, just 15 minutes from the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh, and easy to retreat to when you need a break from sightseeing. It offers several restaurants and lounges to choose from, fresh organic food and a plenty of pampering options thanks to its very good spa.
Why the kids will love Ranjit’s SVAASA
This is very much a city break hotel and while Ranjit’s SVAASÁ welcomes children of all ages, there is not very much space for children (particularly little kids) to run around. As such, it is best suited to big kids and teens who are happy to flop in a chair and read a book or play an iPad when not touring Amritsar’s streets.
That said, the staff here are fantastic with kids and nothing is too much trouble. If you would like activities organised – from sightseeing at the Golden Temple or shopping in the bazaar – then this can all be arranged and guides provided, which can help when navigating Amritsar with little globetotters.
Perhaps our only negative about Ranjit’s is that there is a lovely, extremely tempting grassed area next to the hotel that is actually owned by the Svaasa family but is currently on lease to the Government. If the hotel reclaimed this green patch of lawn – and in doing so provide space for kids to play – then Ranjit’s would be an excellent boutique hideaway for families with kids of all ages.
There are 18 bedrooms divided across four categories. All have been individually decorated and designed and there is no shortage of colour, textiles and personal artefacts that lend the rooms a very homely feel.
Luxury Rooms There are eight Raj Bahadar Luxury Rooms. Spread across the ground and first floor these rooms are available for single, double or triple occupancy. The rooms all come with the signature SVAASÁ Tea Tray with an electric kettle, an electronic safe, a hair dryer and natural bath and shower amenities along with the eco-friendly SVAASÁ jute slippers.
SVAASÁ Suites There are six SVAASÁ Suites, four located on the second floor and two on the first floor. These rooms come with the following amenities; complimentary welcome basket with SVAASÁ goodies, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar with complimentary beverages, organic bath towels and dressing gowns, hair dryer and handmade natural toiletries, eco-friendly jute slippers, electronic safe, flat screen TV.
Ratnavali Suites The three Ratnavali Suites are positioned in the back courtyard, one on the ground floor and two on the first floor. Amravati comes with a separate sitting area as well as two bathrooms. Dev Chand enjoys a grand four-poster bed, an enormous bathroom with free-standing bathtub and a spacious dressing area. Located on the first floor overlooking the courtyard, Mohan Chand has a separate sitting area and a small study area by the window. These suites enjoy the same amenities as the SVAASÁ suites.
Presidential Suites There are just two Presidential Suites. Rattan Chand is located on the first floor and measures over 1200 sq ft. It enjoys a private lounge and two generously sized bedrooms. Similar in size and layout is Kesar Devi Presidential Suite. These rooms enjoy the same amenities as the other suites.
Best rooms for families: The Luxury Rooms can all accommodate a baby cot and an extra bed. However if you’re travelling with older children or have more than one child then the SVAASÁ Suites are a good option. Raja Singh, Prakash Singh and Khushal Chand all have two queen beds.
If you are travelling with toddlers or little kids unsteady on their feet then it’s best to choose a room on the ground floor and avoid the staircases and verandas. Raj Bahadar (luxury room) and Ratnavali Suite are on the ground floor and are inter-connecting. The Presidential Suites both have two bedrooms and can comfortably sleep four. The suites are inter-connecting.
Ranjit’s SVAASÁ focuses on healthy, wholesome and organic food and receives very good feedback from guests. There are several dining spaces although you can literally choose anywhere in the haveli to eat and your meal will be brought to you.
The Dining by the Garden restaurant seats thirty with an outdoor area for when the weather co-operates. This spot is popular for its buffet breakfasts and dinners as well as Ranjit’s traditional thali dinners. There is also the flower-filled Sun Deck Patio for al fresco dining. The Herbs Café Verandah is convivial lounge for enjoying a quick bite or high tea. Aab – the Roof Top Dhaba is a magical space dotted with charpais and manjas where Punjabi delicacies are served. This area is open for special occasions only.
Breakfast: The breakfast buffet is served in the Dining by the Garden restaurant and includes cereal, toast and eggs cooked to order as well as Indian breakfast. The only downside is that they don’t serve freshly brewed tea but offer Twinning packets instead, which doesn’t fit with the hotels general ambience.
Lunch & Dinner: Ranjit’s prides itself on its fresh, healthy and mostly organic fare. They have a vegetable garden that provides much of its produce and from which the kitchen creates wonderful soups including spinach, pumpkin and tomato and basil. There’s a live tandoor where stuffed kluchas and tandoori rotis are cooked as well as tikkas and kebabs. Deserts include bread pudding, baked cinnamon apple with ice cream and brown rice kheer (rice pudding). Dinner is a set menu of Punjabi food and is delicious.
For Kids: There is a kids’ menu with child-friendly dishes on offer including pizzas, grilled cheese toast, sweet and savoury toasted sandwiches and banana lassis.
Afternoon tea is served in the Herbs Café Verandah.
Activities for Parents:
Enjoy the mini-spa that Ranjit’s has created offering some divine therapies using fresh, natural and organic combinations. The Narial Tel Lepanam (coconut oil scrub) and Jadi Buti Potti (a herbal massage) both come recommended.
Visit the Golden Temple at dawn, at dusk or during the day and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful and historically charged Sikh temple. Remember to cover your heads before you enter.
Take a trip to the Jallianwala Bagh public gardens located near the Golden Temple and witness where the massacre of hundreds of civilians took place on 13 April 1919.
Ask the hotel for recommended vendors and head out into Amritsar to sample some of the local street food.
Head to India House and marvel at the array of carpets, linens and furniture stocked here before choosing a silk or woollen carpet to take home with you.
Activities for Kids:
Visit the Wagah border for the evening changing of the guards ceremony that takes place at sunset and watch the two nations lower their flags in perfect unison. Don’t forget to take your passports with you! The hotel can arrange a car and driver.
Visit the Golden Temple and witness the incredible community kitchen at work. Anyone can eat here for free (including you!) and on weekdays some 80,000 people come for lunch. On weekends almost twice as many people visit!
Head to the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama within the grounds of the Ram Bagh Park. Here, you’ll find a larger-than-life panorama dedicated to the founder of the Sikh Empire Ranjit Singh otherwise known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. The panorama shows various battle scenes and comes complete with thundering sound effects.
Enjoy a tonga ride (horse and carriage) or ask the hotel to arrange a farm visit for you.
Air-conditioning, babysitting, common rooms, cots, doctor on call, the nearest hospital is less than 1km away, two extra beds permitted per room, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ menu available, no highchairs, no swimming pool, laundry, shops, spa, wheelchair access, WiFi.
When to go:
The best time to visit is from October to March when the days are pleasant and sunny. December to February can be very cold with nighttime temperatures dropping to below zero. The days start to get warmer from March onwards and by May the mercury reaches 40C and beyond. The monsoon rains arrive at the end of June and last through to August. The festival of Basant is held in January/February when hundreds of colourful kites take to the sky to welcome spring.
Location & Travel:
There are regular daily flights in and out of the Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, to numerous Indian cities. Domestic airlines servicing Amritsar include Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Air India. Ranjit’s SVAASÁ is 10km from the airport and the hotel can arrange airport transfers for an additional charge.
Amritsar Junction Railway Station is just 2 km from Ranjit’s SVAASÁ. There is a twice-daily Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Amritsar and a daily Amritsar-Howrah Mail run links the city with Lucknow.
Amritsar is 477 km from Delhi, approximately 200 km from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, 239 km from Chandigarh and 107 km from Pathankot. Ranjit’s SVAASÁ can help organise car and driver hire for exploring Amritsar and for travelling to the Wagah border.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Hoyle
1) You’ll need your passport when visiting the Wagah border, don’t forget to bring it with you!
2) It’s worth bringing a headscarf for when you visit the Golden Temple as all men and women must cover their heads. Baseball caps are not permitted and scarves are for sale outside the temple if you do forget yours.
3) If you’re traveling with young infants then it’s worth bringing all baby supplies with you. A baby carrier / backpack is ideal as the areas are not always pushchair friendly.