Opting to travel with your dog can present myriad challenges from long flights to unfamiliar surroundings, but choosing a place to stay should be easy. Just look for the “dog-friendly hotel” indicator on the website, right? Actually, a number of places advertise themselves as pet-friendly hotels but their finer print tells another story. There’s a big difference between an inn that “allows” dogs versus one that “caters” to them.
Here are a few things to sniff out before booking a dog-friendly hotel.
Look at the stated policy
Once you determine the hotel does accept pets, take a closer look at its stated policy online. Is there a dog weight limit? The more accommodating, the larger the dog they’ll accept. Are guests limited to one pet per room, or can you bring both pooches?
Look at the fees. Most places will charge some sort of pet fee, but the more fees, the more likely this is a case of “allows” dogs, rather than caters to them. Is the pet deposit refundable (if Fido doesn’t shred the comforter or sprinkle the baseboards), or non-refundable? Is there a daily fee as well? A cleaning fee too?
Do some recon
Call the front desk and chat them up about the idea of bringing your dog along. Do they seem flustered or do they point out the nearby hiking trail where you and your pooch might enjoy stomping around that weekend? If their response is one of confusion or even interrogation (What kind of dog? How big? A barker?), then you might want to pass.
Do they have pet accommodations?
Some hotels go out of their way to offer special pet amenities such as a plush dog bed, engraved bowl, or even a goodie bag. They might hand out treats at the front desk. Take this as a good sign, but don’t let it overshadow non-friendly policies like steep daily fees or severe limitations on pets’ movements (see No. 5).
Find out where dogs are allowed
Find out where dogs are allowed at the hotel. This is the ultimate test of how dog-friendly your hotel might actually be. Many “pet-friendly” places don’t allow dogs to remain in a hotel room unattended by their owner even if crated. If you have dinner plans, this might not work well for you. Other establishments might ban pets from most communal areas in the hotel (pools, restaurants), but offer a dedicated outdoor dog run area for relief breaks. Be sure to ask just where your pooch can roam before booking a room.
Ensure a great trip for both you and your pet by following our Ultimate Pet Travel Checklist. Be sure to keep his ID tag firmly attached at all times in case of escapes, and get up to date on all necessary vaccinations. (Some hotels will require proof of the latter, but it also safeguards your pet against other dogs he might encounter during your travels.) You might also want to research nearby dog-friendly restaurants, parks, and doggy daycares just in case. Above all, embrace the adventure of being somewhere new that you and your dog can explore together.