Families with dogs need to figure out what to do with them before getaways. For regional vacations, we’d rather bring ours with us — it’s more fun to travel with him!
In the last few years, more hotels have become pet-friendly, even very upscale brands like the Four Seasons allow dogs in some locations. I love that some boutique chains like Kimpton Hotels — the Sky Hotel, Hotel Monaco Seattle, Hotel Palomar Washington DC, and the Lorien Hotel and Spa are on all CB — pets (like kids) are an integral part of their service offering with an extensive list of pooch-focused amenities.
This is great news, however, buyer beware — we’ve found that pet-friendly means very different things at properties and it’s important to understand real details before deciding to include pets in your holiday.
Pet fees vary widely and can add significantly to the trip expense. I’ve seen one-time fees of $150 and other cases where guests are charged $75 per night — either way, this is an unpleasant surprise when not calculated into the trip budget. Of course, we like the hotels where there are no pet fees at all and there are many, like Kimpton Hotels, where that is the case.
It’s important to understand where dogs are allowed on property. If pets are allowed in your room but nowhere else, it is likely you will become trapped and not be able to access property amenities — particularly if the hotel has a rule that pets are not allowed in the room alone. Our dog is happy in the car for a few hours, but this is not an option in extreme hot or cold weather; as a consequence, we’ve found ourselves in situations where we can’t go to the pool or restaurant because we have to stay with the dog in the room … not good! Some hotels have referrals for pet-sitters, although this can be very expensive — I was quoted $18 an hour during a recent stay.
We’ve paid $150 extra to have our dog with us. In that case, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that after paying what seems like a huge fee to have our dog with us, there wasn’t even a dog bed available, meaning nowhere for him to sleep comfortably in a room with all-wood floors. Dog treats and bowls are a nice touch, but if a property is going to charge for the dog like a person, then they should at least provide a place for them to sleep.
I guess the bottom line for me is that pet-friendly doesn’t meant that a property is really optimized for dogs or that they really want them there for that matter. In those cases, it’s easier and less expensive to leave a dog at home. Someone needs to create a Ciao Bambino-type guide for pets …