The number of luxury hotels that can truly say their environment and marketing appeal is enhanced by something outside can honestly be counted on one hand – or perhaps two hands, admits the gal. The list includes, in alphabetical order, Amangiri, looking out through all-window walls at Utah’s colourless desert: Amarvilas’ Robert Burns Suite, #527, where you feel you can touch the Taj Mahal; Park Hyatt Sydney’s Opera House-facing rooms; in Paris, The Peninsula Paris and Shangri-La Paris rooms that are closest to the Eiffel Tower; Shangri-La London at The Shard’s river-facing rooms looking far down at the Tower of London, and so on.
Now there is another luxury hotel to add to this exclusive list. Taj Swarna Amritsar is only there because of the Golden Temple – see the temple’s inner sanctum, above. Without that magnet for some 65,000 visitors, Sikhs and others, every day there simply would be no need for this ultra-friendly 157-room hotel. About 98% of guests, who stay on average two nights, visit the Temple, and the whole experience is that you actually want to come back for more. Amritsar on its outskirts is a typical Indian city, some 1.4 million people, stop-start traffic, ancient bicycles carrying people, or entire household chattels on the move. Streets are English-named, Circular Road, Grand Trunk Road, or Indian, Batala and so on. But in the centre, Sikh-dom, it is stress-free, meticulously-clean, and silent except for the omnipresent live music, xylophone and sitar and the like, that is relayed to the populace around. Within the central area, shoes and socks are not allowed – you walk through several sanitised footbaths, but the marble flooring is jolly cold. And you must cover your head, perhaps with one of the orange kerchiefs provided by the hundreds in bins by the entrance. After going through the inner temple sanctum, and watching a senior Sikh shwishing a horse’s main brush over a red velvet and gold carpet that has the Holy Book underneath, you feel, like all the other 64,999 visitors today, a different person. And you want to definitely want to come back to Amritsar, and tell others to do the same. NOW SEE A VIDEO OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE