The rest of India faded into the background as we entered through the doors. The flowery scent of incense greeted us, pulling us into the calm wood interior.

Checking in was made extra special as the manager was summoned to greet us personally…you see, we had emailed ahead to let the manager know that we were staying at his luxury, five-star hotel to celebrate both of our birthdays (end of November/beginning of December) and to mark the six month point of our trip (already?). He greeted us warmly, told us how pleased he was that we would share this celebration with them and had two attendants usher us to our room.

istaamritsar-thumb-5480104 The room was beautiful!! Wood floors, real furniture, a soft (!) bed with real linens (no holes or stains), soft music playing, windows that looked out onto the pool below and a pillow menu…yes, a menu of pillows to suit every sleep style! And the bathroom!! Sheer heaven! All tiled and spotless with a huge, wonderful shower sporting endless hot water, pretty smelling soaps and lotions, and big fluffy towels to dry off with.

istaamritsarwelcome-thumb-6111384 But the crowning glory was the young man they sent with a chilled bottle of champagne to accompany the chocolate birthday cake set on the table….oh my god, it was sooooo good!!

cheersistaamritsar-thumb-5730030 We didn’t leave the room all afternoon, spending all our time cleaning and preening and lounging and enjoying every amenity the room had to offer. We finally emerged, scrubbed clean and smelling like I don’t think we have since we left home, to make our way to the lounge where another kind young man made me a tasty, long awaited gin and tonic.

Dinner was excellent (goat curry with rice and chapati) and, just as we were finishing up, the manager appeared again to ask if we would like a special meal prepared for the following evening. Seriously, a special menu…just for us? How could we say no?

istaamritsarbreakfast-thumb-1797014 We slept like angels that night. In the morning we had tea in bed, ordered breakfast to our room and lounged some more until we left to visit the Golden Temple. We returned to lounge around poolsideloungeristaamritsar-thumb-6791106 the pool for the afternoon. The pool boy took time to show us all around the pool area and then left us to lounge on the way-too-comfy lounge bed poolside. Seriously….a pool boy!

specialmenuistaamritsar-thumb-4536780 Dinner was amazing. All the staff greeted us as we arrived at the restaurant and were ushered to our own special dining room where our private waiter introduced himself  and the manager and chef stopped by to say hello…seriously, private waiter!! There was a printed menu for us – fish tikka, basil grilled paneer, mutton withchefandserveristaamritsar-thumb-3348769curry, chole masala, gulab jamun with ice cream…just to name a few. The meal was amazing – we left absolutely stuffed and more than thankful – when the bill came all that was listed was the bottle of wine we had enjoyed…the chef had prepared the meal as a gift to us!

relaxingmorningistaamritsar-thumb-1801016 We finished off the chocolate cake for breakfast the next morning and lounged around the room for as long as possible…checking out at the last possible moment, not wanting to leave our temporary slice of heaven.

As a parting gift, the hotel had a car and driver drop us off at our next destination…a ‘normal’ backpacker hotel in the city center. The driver must have gotten quite a chuckle when he saw the hotel that he was dropping us at…but it was back to reality for us.