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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Budget Hotel City Castle, Amritsar

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There're many budget hotels in Amritsar for under Rs 1000 a day. Refer listings on Stayzilla.com [Read Stayzilla budget hotel booking experience], but I was planning arrive at Amritsar early morning, about 7 AM and hence was looking for hotels that offer 24 hour check in-check out. (Such a scheme counts 24 hour from check in time as 1 day, compared to other hotels where a day is counted from 12 noon to 11Am and if we arrive early or check out late, we are expected to pay for another day) There were very few budget hotels in Amritsar that offered 24 hour check in check out.

I'd originally booked at Hotel Sitara Nivas, which was listed to offer 24 hour check in-check out, but they refused to entertain 24 hour check in/check out policy citing peak season. Then I booked at Hotel city castle- the next best hotel recommended by Stayzilla chat executive that offered 24 hour billing, thinking it is Ok to pay few hundred more as I can check in at 7AM and don't have to pay another day's rent.

I booked 2 rooms in this hotel for a night via a budget hotel booking website Stayzilla.com. Then i realized that this hotel had many bad reviews on tripadvisor. I asked Stayzilla support team for a second opinion, citing online complaints. Stayzilla staff took some time, but reverted as below, after checking with hotel management and recent customer feedbacks.

"We apologize, that we are getting back a day late. Its only because we wanted to be double sure of the Hotel City Castle's services as the tripadvisor reviews were not positive. Based on the reviews of our previous customers, we have identified that its a budget property but provides all basic amenities. For a short duration they did lack in housekeeping and room service aspects which we believe have now been rectified. You can expect to check-in to mid-size rooms with very basic amenities but definitely a more courteous staff.

As per our conversation with the MD Mr.Mr. Prabhjot we confirmed on the corrective measures that they took post the feedbacks. They have assured us that their front office staff has been changed and service levels have improved on both cleanliness and courtesy aspects since then. Their recent customers have left satisfactory feedbacks with them."


With this assurance, I decided to proceed with my booking at Hotel city Castle.

But thanks to pathetic roads in Uttar Pradesh (and Google maps decision to recommend shortest route regardless of road conditions), I could reach Amritsar only by 10.30 AM on the check in day. All that planning for 24 hour check in hotel was rendered useless- I could have booked any normal hotel.

On the day of check in Stayzilla staff called me to find out my ETA and briefed the hotel accordingly.

I was told this hotel is just 500 meters from Golden temple. Hence I set Golden temple as the destination in google maps and set out to reach the hotel. But as we neared golden temple, we were told that vehicles are not allowed inside and I need to park the car elsewhere and take cycle rickshaws. This frustrated me as I wasn't told about this. Couple of phone calls later, I realized that car can be driven till the hotel, just that hotel is not really close to golden temple, it is closer to bus stand and in reality, about city castle hotel is about 1.8 kms from the golden temple in Amritsar.

Few minutes and few phone calls later, we arrived at our hotel. When we arrived, AC was already On and so was the geyser- this meant room was cool and hot water was ready for bathing- no wasted time- good gesture.

Rooms were basic. One roof had a full size refrigerator, other didn't. Bathroom was very spacious and had a small balcony as well. There wasn't enough space to put an extra bed.

Hotel has no lift. We were given rooms on 1st floor and we could manage. But if you have elderly people and if you get room on 2nd floor, expect trouble.

Breakfast was supposed to be complementary, but we were charged for that- some 300 Rs for 5 plates of parathas (10 nos). But in one of the room 3 of us slept on the bed meant for 2, we weren't charged extra (we'd asked for extra bed, but the room didn't have adequate space to put one more bed). So I thought it is even and didn't bother much.

Breakfast, Dinner, tea and some water bottles for 5 people costed about Rs 1100 extra while checking out.

Good things about city Castle hotel, Amritsar:
1.City Castle Hotel is slightly away from the main bus stand, hence crowd, noise etc is less, compared to other budget hotels located right opposite the Amritsar bus stand
2.Everything was ready on our arrival- ac/geyser switched on, rooms cleaned etc. No disappointments
3. For the price we paid (Rs 1260 per room per night), we don't have any complaints. It was just worth the money. If you're expecting star hotel like facilities and treatment, don't book this hotel.
5. If you can walk 500 meters, all facilitates are around- bus stand, dhabas, auto/taxi, cinema etc
6. Bathroom was very spacious (though room was not)
7. Small balcony was good to have, from where I could keep an eye on the car.
8. Staff were fairly courteous, much better than some of the negative reviews on tripadvisor.

Not so good things about Hotel City Castle, Amritsar:
1. No lift. If you have elderly people, they have to climb the stairs
2. No dedicated parking- we parked on the road side infront of the hotel. Nothing happened and traffic on the road was less, so it is not a concern. (Most of the budget hotels won't have dedicated parking)
3. Rooms are not very spacious. Of course for the money we paid we couldn't have ask for a palace. It was fine for overnight stay, but if you have kids or planning to stay long term, you might prefer rooms which are bigger.
4. On phone, I was told hotel is 500 meters from Golden temple. In reality, it is 1.8kms from golden temple. Walking to temple from hotel is not possible in afternoon.
5. If you look at the hotel from the side, you'll see that the exterior walls are not yet cemented. Bricks are left exposed. Of course when you see it from front you won't realize this.
6. Once they'd switched off AC centrally- after trying to switch it on for several minutes, we called house keeping, they switched it on

Verdict: There're many budget hotels in Amritsar. If you like any of them book there. City castle is fine, gives you bare minimum service and facilities just worth the amount paid.

Unfortunately I don't have good photos of this hotel. Had taken some pics from mobile camera, which now I realize are blurred. Balcony's pic is the only one that was decent and worth sharing.

Hotel City Castle Amritsar official website

This hotel is now de-
listed from stayzilla. I don't know why.

7 comments :

Aparna Anurag said...

good review!!

Mahesh Divya said...

helpful for fellow traveler.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Aparna Anurag and Mahesh Divya

Nitesh Sharma said...

Amritsar is a one of the hot spot tourist destination in North India.Tourist from all over the world visit here to see this heritage city. So thanks for sharing info about a good hotel

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

A nice review and informative for those who want to visit the place...thanks for sharing... :-)

Rajiv Jain said...

Nice information you have shared. Soon I will be visiting to Amritsar for Golden temple and definitely try for this hotel. Anybody here can tell best best food junction in Amritsar.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Rajiv Jain:

Thanks. Not much idea about food junction.

Maniparna: You're welcome

Nitesh: Thanks.

Note that this is a budget hotel with basic facilities. There could be other similar/better hotels you might wish to try