I recently got a blog post request from my sweet cousin Amanda, who has a pup of her own. She asked for tips on finding hotels that accept dogs and how to have a successful hotel stay with your dog. I've gotten questions along these lines for awhile now, so I figured it would be a great time to write a post. As always, if you have other questions, feel free to Contact me!
In my experience, it's totally possible to have a great stay in a hotel with a dog. Some of the places we've stayed (or have upcoming reservations to stay) with dogs in California are the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs (staying this December), and a certain resort that shall not be named because it's a surprise for Grace's birthday in two weeks--blog post to follow. Out of California, we've also loved the Opus Hotel in Vancouver, Bell II Lodge in rural British Columbia, and the Coast High Country Inn in Whitehorse, Yukon. I'd say we've generally stayed in more vacation rentals/camping or glamping setups than hotels, but hotels are a great option for many reasons, and I hope to give you some tips that will make it easier to stay there with your fur baby.
The first thing I will say about finding dog-friendly hotels is just to not automatically assume that hotels don't take dogs. I'm always really (pleasantly) surprised at all of the hotels that will accept them, including high end places like the Four Season and the Ritz-Carlton. Not that I'm often staying in places like that, but I notice in my research that they allow pups! Toward the other end of the spectrum, Best Westerns are awesome for doggy road trips. They are super pet friendly across the board (and affordable), and we had some very comfortable stays in Best Westerns during our Alaska trip with Willie.
And, keep an open mind for anything in-between. Bed & Breakfasts (I mean traditional Bed & Breakfasts, not necessarily Airbnbs) are sometimes great for dogs.
Now you might be thinking, how can you find out if a hotel takes dogs? I have found that you can almost always tell online--but it can't hurt to call if you have questions. Here are some tips for locating dog friendly places:
- I like to search TripAdvisor for my preferred location, dates, and click their pet-friendly filter. It will show you on a map (much like an Airbnb search) all of the available hotels for your dates and that accept pets. If you're flexible on the exact location (say you want to take a road trip within 3 hours but are open to different destinations), you can drag and move the map on TripAdvisor and more hotels with your parameters will pop up! I do recommend double checking on the hotel's website, however, because sometimes TripAdvisor is inaccurate or out of date on whether hotels are dog friendly. Another tip here is to search within TripAdvisor reviews (there's a search bar at the top of the reviews) for the word "dog." This will bring up all the reviews of people who have mentioned dogs, and it's often really helpful to find out what it's like to bring a dog there.
- Another nice aggregating website is Bring Fido. You can search specifically for pet-friendly hotels and activities, and the site has reviews geared toward people who are bringing dogs on their trips.
- On hotel websites themselves, it can actually be tricky to find out whether they are dog friendly. I think a lot of hotels don't like to advertise loudly that they accept dogs, because they don't want to deter people who aren't traveling with a pet or don't like dogs. In my experience, you can usually find it under the amenities tab or the FAQ section, if they have one. If all else fails, try googling the name of the hotel + "pet friendly." This will often bring you to a dog-related landing page on the hotel's website that can't be found through internal site navigation. And of course, you can always call the hotel directly.
- One thing to be aware of is breed and size restrictions. Sadly, there are some awesome-looking properties that won't accept dogs over 25 pounds or so, or they don't accept pit bulls/rottweilers/dobermans/etc. I understand, and it's their business and their prerogative--but thankfully, many other places are open to well-behaved dogs of all shapes and sizes.
- Finally, be sure to actually book a pet friendly room. If you see that a hotel takes dogs, you often can't just book any room in the hotel and have your dog with you. Hotels generally have specific (and limited in number) pet-friendly rooms, so either select "Dog Friendly" when booking online, or if you don't see that option, call directly to book. There is usually a pet fee, so be aware of that too. The steepest I've seen is $150 at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa; often it's more like $25-50 extra. Usually if you're paying closer to $100 or more, the fee includes some sort of toy, commemorative water bowl you get to take home, etc.
Once you have your pet-friendly hotel reservation, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your stay is restful. Below are a few things I've learned throughout the years of bringing dogs to hotels:
- Know your dog and what his or her comforts are. If you usually crate your dog, bring the crate to the hotel, too. When you book your room, it's probably worth checking whether you will be allowed to leave your dog unattended in the room. In my experience, most will allow this, but they'll often want to know that the dog is unattended and have you leave a phone number with the front desk in case the dog is barking. With that in mind, if you have a major barker, a hotel might not be the best option for you. If you do want to stay at a hotel, consider a property that offers detached cabins or villas so that you don't receive complaints from neighboring rooms.
- We have left Willie and Casper in hotel rooms by themselves, but never for long--usually just while we go to dinner. If we're out exploring, we prefer to just bring our dog with us. It's probably a good idea to leave your pet alone for a lot less time than you normally might at home. Remember that it's a new and potentially confusing experience and place for them. Also, depending on the quality of the hotel, the concierge might be able to recommend pet-friendly activities in town with your dog. If you're bringing a dog, I think it's the most fun to include him or her in everything! The one exception tends to be meals if you have to go out to eat and your only option is sitting indoors. Grace and I often like to treat ourselves to room service for this reason--more time with sweet Willie :)
- Be sure to pack their regular food and feed them at normal times. Dog friendly hotels will often have treat stations in the lobby (we saw this recently at the Hilton San Francisco Bayfront where we stayed for a wedding, and it was super cute and thoughtful), but be careful about introducing a lot of strange foods in a new place. Some hotels even have doggy room service menus, but I personally would avoid it--your dog will be happier with his or her normal food, even if it seems like a novelty to order something special. Having an upset stomach in a hotel seems like a recipe for disaster for a pup.
- Lastly, consider (or call to ask about) the layout of the hotel when booking. Keep in mind your dog's special needs, if any. For example, with Casper, going through a crowded lobby would be stressful, especially if there were other dogs around. So hotels like the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, which are casita-style and have separate entrances for each room, were far preferable for him. Willie doesn't mind a lobby; in fact he loves getting all the attention from strangers he usually receives when people see a dog in a hotel. One nice thing we've noticed about Best Westerns is that the dog-friendly rooms open directly onto a grassy space through the back door--such a smart idea. If you're nervous about getting your dog through a crowded lobby, make sure to ask about the setup. We've stayed in hotels where the dog friendly rooms were on the 10th floor through a winding lobby and huge elevator bay. Not ideal, but good to know about in advance.
I hope this overview about staying with dogs in hotels has been helpful! If your dog is quiet and well-behaved, staying in a hotel can be a really fun experience. My two biggest takeaways for this post are to keep an open mind about what hotels and properties might accept pets, and bring as much of your dog's comfort items as possible (beds, toys, favorite treats) so that they know they are in a safe and comfortable place.
Happy travels! If you have any favorite pet friendly hotels, I'd love to hear about them and maybe visit them one day!