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January 18, 2016

How to Book the Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Room

Increasingly, I see articles (like this one from The New York Times) discuss the rapid growth of pet-friendly hotels. As someone who travels extensively with their dogs, I’m happy to see hospitality groups realize us adventurers-with-dogs are a growing and loyal breed But invariably, all the articles I read
Increasingly, I see articles (like this one from The New York Times) discuss the rapid growth of pet-friendly hotels.dog friendly hotel, pet friendly hotel, dog friendly travel tips

As someone who travels extensively with their dogs, I’m happy to see hospitality groups realize us adventurers-with-dogs are a growing and loyal breed

But invariably, all the articles I read neglect the most important question. With the growing pet-friendly hotel options, how do you decide which hotel to pick?

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Trust us, this is not a decision you want to gamble on

All “pet-friendly” hotels are not created equal. “Pet-friendly” is a catch all phrase which can mean anything from “We will barely tolerate your pet while charging you a mortgage payment for staying here” to “OMG I love your dog…and I guess you can stay here too.”

How to sort the wheat from the chaff? Here’s what I’ve learned are the best steps to ensure you pick the right dog-friendly hotel for your trip.

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First, look yourself in the mirror and ask what your needs are for the trip

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If you want high-end, top of the line service, great. Most luxury hotels are happy to serve (and charge you for) extensive pet-friendly amenities

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Just need a place to crash? Many major motel/hotel chains offer pet-friendly rooms. Be sure to double-check what the pet-fees are. Avoid places that charge daily pet-fees. If possible, book at La Quinta or other chains which charge no pet fee

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Do the math! We loved staying at Kimpton brand hotels. No pet fee, no pet-size restriction and dogs were loved, rather than tolerated. The nightly room rate was slightly above other major chains, but since there were no pet fees we often came out ahead on the bill

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Look off the beaten path. Some of our best stays were at small B&B joints who welcomed both Eko and me like old friends. With the proliferation of smaller/independent operators, don’t forget to open your search up beyond the traditional options

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Trust no one! I’ve been burned by third-party/review sites on more than one occasion. Always call ahead to verify the hotel is everything it claims to be online. If you’re expecting bowls and a (properly sized) bed, you’ll want those details confirmed before you arrive

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Be the best guest! I really appreciate all the hotels along the way that have gone the extra mile to make me and the pups welcome. In return, I make sure we’re quiet and respectful during our stay. Every dog-guest is an ambassador, and hopefully by being great guests we can encourage more hotels to open their doors to pets

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Because travel adventures with your dog are awesome! 

For others who have traveled with pets, please chime in with any tips or guidelines you’ve found helpful along the way.

I know bringing your dog to a hotel may seem nerve-racking or expensive. But in truth traveling with your pets is often cheaper, and almost always more fun!

Comments for How to Book the Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Room

  1. I agree with you… often means “dog friendly” that your dog is allowed… there is no fenced area or a place we can use for a walk… If I win the lottery (or if my parents read this comment) I will go to Adlon/Berlin where Easy can order ‘a la carte and where he gets his own bowl and bed … but it maybe is just a dream …:o)

  2. Victoria says:

    great advice – i haven’t traveled w/my pups yet but if i do i will make sure to check out your suggestions

  3. dashlilly says:

    Such a great post! We found a wonderful cabin in Durango, CO this Thanksgiving — so wonderful that when we checked in the proprietor said “please keep the dogs off the furniture. If they have to be on the furniture, will you use the sheets I have provided to cover the furniture?” Talk about a dog lover!! When we walked in the cabin, there was a dog bed, a frisbee, treats and the extra sheets and towels! We had a fabulous time! It makes a difference.

  4. KDKH says:

    Way out west, here (compared to you in the Midwest), we enjoyed traveling with a camper. It was easy to find pet-friendly campgrounds and our mastiffs were too much for many hotels. But when our car broke down, La Quinta came to the rescue. Two mastiffs, a miniature poodle, a cat, and a cage full of sugar gliders, no problem! Bless their hearts! And the didn’t bat An eye when I took a plate of boiled eggs upstairs from the breakfast buffet for the dog’s breakfast when their food was in the vehicle in the shop and no stores in sight.

  5. Finding good hotels that will take any size dog and more than one or two is our biggest challenge, but we have found some that will take us on.

  6. We don’t travel too much with the pups…or without them either, but we do always check for local hiking/running trails. Make sure they are close by so you can stick the the exercise program.

  7. coastingnz says:

    Coincidentally just came across this little posting on Facebook:
    “Dogs are welcome in this hotel, we never had a dog that smoked in bed and set the blankets on fire. We never had a dog that stole our towels and played the TV too loud or had a noisy fight with his traveling companion. We never had a dog that got drunk and broke up the furniture….. so if your dog can vouch for you – you’re welcome too. From Management”
    Classic timing for your blog 🙂

  8. Motel 6 or campgrounds. They are everywhere and cheap. It can also be a bit of fun to talk beforehand about what the quality of the room will be. Sometimes good, sometimes definitely not. The TravelingDogs have been to 49 states, 40 US capitols and across Canada. We always find a place for all of us.

  9. I’m with you…relying on so-called online reviews is more than just foolish, many are just compensation scams and don’t really provide unbiased reviews at all. And yes, I confess I am a cynic about so-called all online reviews. 😉

  10. Carrie says:

    We have taken a few road trips down to Florida with our dog and have found some very accomodating hotels. Aloft, Drury and Embassy Suites are some we have stayed at. What I look for is a grassy area for potty breaks, room service or restaurant in the hotel due to our dogs separation anxiety, she can’t be left alone and this makes things much easier for us. Also a laundry room because you never know when you are going to need it. I don’t need dog beds or bowls, although it is nice, our dog sleeps in the bed with us (spoiled, I know) I find trip advisor helpful in doing research and looking at travelers photos to make our decisions and it has been spot on.

  11. Max Davies and Kali says:

    Hi Will,
    Traveling with one small dog is never a problem but larger pups can sometimes be difficult and it boils down to the ‘dogginess’ of the local management. At a Red Roof in near Milan, OH the receptionist told me that only one dog, less than knee high, was allowed despite their website advertising ‘Pet Friendly’. When asked if two dogs were allowed she said ‘No, county ordinances prohibit more than one dog in the rooms”. A quick call to the county offices found no such ordinances so this was a blatant lie. Maybe the receptionist had been told to say that by management but it is still a lie. So check with local management before committing.
    Traveling to lure coursing trials is always done on the cheap and in my case with four Ridgebacks, one of which has only three legs, stairs are out. I tend to stay at Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn but some of these can get quite rowdy on Saturday night, especially the Motel 6 in Springfield, OH. So beware. The upscale hotels will be less ‘rowdy’ simply because of the fees.
    When making reservations I make sure to inform the receptionist that I have a pet (they often have ‘pet rooms’ they assign to pet owners so this is a reasonable thing to do), but I never tell them how many pets I have. I also bring clean sheets to spread over the beds before the dogs are let loose so the bread-spreads are saved from muddy paws and dog hair. Whenever I go out to eat the dogs go into their crates in my van so they are rarely left unattended in the rooms for long periods.
    And one other thing I have found; not everybody likes dogs. When walking with your dogs some people you meet in the halls will turn around and quickly walk the other way, others will hug the other wall until you are past. Sad, but this is their problem, not yours. You must keep your dogs on a *very* short leash when this occurs. With Kali this is difficult because she wants to visit with everybody but she can’t in cases like this. Sometimes you and the dogs may want to turn around and back up until you find a larger space for people to pass. Just be sensitive. This is no different than anytime you and your pups are out in public.
    Loved the photo of Eko in a hammock. How many times did you have to put him in there before he was able to sit like that without his legs going through the holes?
    Keep warm
    Max and Pack

  12. Chris from Boise says:

    Will – your tips are great, especially the last one about being a good guest.

    We had one ‘interesting’ motel stay when our reactive border collie Habi just couldn’t settle in, and spent much of the night barking (or thinking about barking, which is just as nerve-wracking) at the dog noises in the next room over. Therefore our normally happy-go-lucky BC Obi got huffily suspicious too. That was a grim night. Much as I try to be relaxed and cheerful even when things are bumpy, when the dogs were still worked up at 11 pm I got tense and frustrated, which spiraled everybody’s anxiety. Sigh. We threw in the towel about 1 a.m, loaded everything back in the car, and headed on down the road.

    Usually all goes well if we use everything in our bag of tricks the first couple of hours in the room (smoked pig ears as we unload the car, sniffy walks to get familiar with the area, maybe a Xanax pill, TV on quietly as white noise, mental exercise (hiding kibbles throughout the room), several potty breaks. She’s actually a pretty good traveler now, so we did a fabulous 2-week motel/friend’s couch/camping road trip last fall in which both dogs were absolutely spectacular. (Whew!)

    I can only dream of having easy travelers like yours! And a menagerie like KDKH’s!

  13. Kismet says:

    The peeps and dogs always go on their trips-I get bird sitted at the bird store. We’ve never had a problem at La Quinta. Well there was that time in Moab, Utah when some idiot in another room did something to set off the smoke alarms at 4:30 in the morning. There’s always an area for dogs outside complete with a poo bag dispenser. Oh-free breakfasts also. Eight paws up. I wish I could add claws and wings but I was at the bird store

  14. Such great advice and thank you for giving us your thoughts. I like laquinta’s too.

  15. Hi Will..I love all of your tips AND your pics!! It is very true how different “pet-friendly” can be in various places! I actually just started doing a “Travel Tuesday” to share places that are exceptionally pet friendly for those wanting to travel with pets! So fun so far!!

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