Woohoo!!! Vacation time is exciting. Although, it can be stressful preparing for your vacation with your dog. If you’re traveling to different locations you might be thinking about a dog-friendly hotel. It can be a great option. But what do you look for in a great pet-friendly hotel? What do you avoid? What’s lurking that you haven’t thought about? Today, let’s dig in and discover how to book a great dog friendly hotel. Your dog is definitely going to love this one!
*Updated: May 24, 2023
Budget Tip: While there may be some expenses with a pet fee when you book your hotel or rental, if you're like me, there's peace of mind knowing my dog is with me. I don't have to worry about him on vacation. Additionally, for me, I'm not spending money on kennel fees or expending energy on stressing about how, my dog, Henry he's doing while I'm trying to relax on vacation. So, for these reasons, even if my pet fee isn't waived, it's a good thing for me to have Henry with me on vacation. Never understate the power of peace of mind when calculating your budget. There's value in relieving stress and that's a budget winner in my book!
NOTE: If you have a service dog or pet, then hotels are required as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to allow your dog to accompany you regardless of their pet policy.
What does it mean if a hotel says they are pet-friendly?
It simply means that you are allowed to bring your dog with you as prescribed in their pet policy. However, there may be restrictions, fees, and the amenities provided for your dog or pet can vary widely. More on this as we proceed.
The Covid-19 pandemic boosted an already growing trend of dog owners traveling with their pooches, and hotels are stepping up with lenient policies and extra amenities to entice guests who don’t want to part with their canines. ~ Travel Weekly
Is there a difference between pet-friendly and pet-tolerant hotels?
Yes. A pet or dog-friendly hotel will generally be more welcoming with amenities, property access, and often the fees accessed. Whereas, a dog tolerant hotel is much more restrictive in where you can take your pet on hotel property, what you can do with your dog, and the fees tend to be steeper.
Are pet-friendly hotels clean?
This is a fair question. After all, pet and dog parents will be staying in the guest room you use. The good news is the pet-friendly room should be clean. In fact, in order to attract patrons back to their facilities recently, many hotels including Marriott, Hilton, and IGH brands have instituted much stricter cleaning policies.
However, when you make your reservation, ask about how rooms are cleaned. Also, if you ever check in and are not satisfied with the cleanliness of your guest room, simply go back to check-in and ask for a different pet friendly room. If there’s an open dog-friendly room, most facilities will easily accommodate you with a new room. I’ve done this many times over the years without issue when I’ve checked in and discovered my hotel room smelt like a 1000 cigarettes. For me, that’s not acceptable.
Are there rules or pet policies associated with a dog-friendly hotel?
There can be different rules even within the same hotel chain. Confusing, huh? You’ll want to verify when you make your reservations about the pet policies at your specific hotel. Some dog policies that are common include:
Number of pets allowed
Some hotels will only allow one pet per guest room. Always verify this before checking in especially if you plan to travel with multiple dogs or pets.
Pets alone in guest rooms
Some hotels will allow pets to be left in rooms unattended if crated. Other hotels have strict no pets left unattended anywhere on the hotel property. And some hotels are in the middle. Whichever policy your hotel prescribes to, make sure you leave your cell # with the front desk if you should leave your pet in your room. This will give the hotel some assurance in case there is an issue with barking or noise while you are out. Additionally, if you can’t leave your dog or pet alone in your hotel room it may hamper your ability to vacation in this area since you won’t be able to explore museums, shops, or restaurants.
Also, remember hotel walls tend to be thin. Be kind to the other hotel guests both when you’re in your room and when your pet is alone. Sometimes leaving the TV or radio playing will help. Or you may need to crate your dog or even consider giving your pup medication to reduce anxiety.
Pets are restricted by size, breed, or species
Many dog-friendly hotels will only take small dogs. While other pet-friendly hotels, will limit the pets they welcome to a certain size and exclude some breeds. However, some hotels, like Kimpton Hotel, welcome all types of pets, sizes, and breeds. If you plan to travel with a dog and a cat, then you need to plan ahead.
You will want to know about any pet fee(s) before checking into your hotel to avoid any surprises. As noted earlier, pet fees can vary even within the same hotel chain. It’s always best to verify ahead of time. Often there is a damage deposit and cleaning fee. You’ll want to confirm if the deposit is refundable if no damage occurs. Some hotels waive all pet fees. More on this later.
Pet-friendly areas on the property
Some hotels will allow you to take your dog to patios, pool areas, shops, lobbies, walking areas, restaurants, dog parks, and play areas on hotel property without issue. However, other dog-friendly hotels are more restrictive on where they allow you to take your dog within and on the property. Some hotels will not even allow your dog in the lobby. If the hotel is very restrictive, you’ll need to look for additional areas to walk your dog and for nighttime potty breaks, such as a nearby dog park.
Check about the hotel’s documentation for your pet’s stay. Some will simply require a copy of your pet’s vaccine records. Other hotels will also require proof from your vet that your pet is healthy and flea free.
Confirm the hotel pet policy
I always recommend confirming pet policy over the phone rather than relying solely on what is stated online. As stated several times, pet policies can vary widely throughout a chain and can change without notice. I know, it can spin your head faster than your dog’s tail looking at his favorite treat. But with that said, it’s best to verify the specific site location’s policy ahead of time and then notify the front desk at check-in that your dog is with you. This will avoid any unnecessary frustrations on your part due to hotel pet policy changes.
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Do dog-friendly hotels offer any special amenities for their pet guests?
Yes, most do and this is where some hotel chains have gotten really creative and fun. Some even have created special positions to make sure each pet guest is treated like a VIP (very important pet). That could be a fun job if you’re looking. 😉
Here are just the basic amenities you’ll want to think about for your dog:
- Grassy or exercise area
- Dog park
- Walking path or nearby walking area
- Welcomed in large parts of the property
- Pets can be left alone in guest rooms for short periods of time
- Available pet or dog supplies for anything you might forget
Most dog-friendly hotels will also provide:
- Dog blanket
- Comfy dog beds
- Dog crates in various sizes
- Fancy water in bowls
- Dog bowls for food
What plush pet-friendly hotel amenities are available?
Now, here’s where the red carpet is really rolled out by the hotel staff for the VIPS. You may wish to trade places with your dog when you read some of these.
- Top-notch doggie food (yes there are chefs just to make the pet food)
- Dog events, like pet-friendly restaurants with “yappy hour” in the evening
- High-end (often made on-site) dog treats
- Refilling water regularly (like a butler for doggie water)
- Dog trainers
- Gardens made for pets and dogs on property or nearby
- Full dog spas, for dog grooming, bathing, and massaging
- Pet sitters
- Dog walkers
- Daycare for dogs with dog TV
- Dog pools
- List of dog-friendly things to do in the area
Remember to always bring as many of your own dog supplies and stay with dog’s daily routine as much as possible. This will help reduce your dog’s travel anxiety.
Is it safe to leave your dog in your hotel room alone?
As long as you have done your diligence, given the front desk your cell #, and your dog doesn’t have any health issues (which need constant attention), then your dog should be fine in your hotel room. Take the same precautions as you would when you leave your hotel room without your dog or pet. If your dog tends to have anxiety, make sure you take measures to reduce his anxiety. This may include crating, leaving the TV or radio playing, or giving your dog an anxiety-reducing medication.
Are there any hotels that let pets stay free?
Yes, there are at least six great hotels that have a free pet policy. However, again check with your specific hotel to make sure they are offering the pets stay free pet policy since individual properties can vary in policies.
- Red Roof Inn and Red Roof PLUS+ – allows up to an 80-pound dog or cat to stay free (by the way, that’s a very big cat!)
- The Red Collection (part of the Red Roof Inn family) – allows up to a 40-pound dog or cat to stay free (again, that’s a pretty big kitty!)
- Kimpton Hotels – free for all types of pets, this includes furry, feathery, and scaly pets. Plus, there’s a Director of Pet Relations on staff at some hotels to ensure your best buddy has a great stay. There’s also a wide range of amenities offered for the VIPs.
- Element Hotels by Westin – dogs only are allowed under this pet policy. However, Element Hotels do permit up to a 40-pound dog. Although, you’ll want to confirm this when booking that there is no pet fee. Element Hotels also provides a “signature dog bed, food, water bowls, clean-up supplies, and more.”
- Aloft Hotels – states that their pet policy is restricted to dogs up to 40 pounds. However, these medium to small dogs stays for free with a complimentary “special bed, bowl, and a doggie bag of delicious treats and toys.”
- Virgin Hotels – their pet policy is very open and states that pets stay free with no size or breed restrictions. At Virgin Hotels your best traveling buddy will receive a comfy dog bed, food and water dishes, yummy treats, and a Virgin Hotels bandana.
Is there any discount I can get with these pet-friendly hotels?
Yes! I always say it never hurts to run through the alphabet of discounts. Then ask what if any discounts they offer. I’m often amazed at what some places will offer as a discount that I actually have in my wallet. You’ll can try these:
- Multiple night discounts
- Weeknight discounts
- Military discounts
- Veteran discount
- State employee discount
- Federal employee discount
- University alumni discount
- Sorority or fraternity discount
- Referral discount
- Other discounts (this is where you ask what other discounts they offer)
Can you sneak a dog or pet into a hotel and avoid the pet fee?
Well, yes to be honest you probably can sneak your dog or pet into a hotel and avoid a pet fee. However, I wouldn’t recommend it. Even at a pet-friendly hotel, if you were to get caught the penalty could be steep. For example, these could be some of the ramifications of sneaking your pet into a hotel with or without a pet policy.
You could be kicked out of the hotel, even in the middle of the night.
At check out, you might be accessed extra fees such as:
- Extra cleanup (yep, this exists)
Plus, you could be held liable for damages caused to the hotel or property. And if your pup were to bite any guest or staff that’s a whole other set of issues that you wouldn’t want to cross for you or your pet. When in doubt, especially when it comes to your beloved dog, follow the rules.
Where can I find a pet-friendly hotel?
I always like to ask family, friends, and co-workers for recommendations. Even vets, groomers, dog walkers, and daycare for dogs often have terrific suggestions.
I also like to go to BringFido to do research.
One of the great things about this site is you can filter by your pet’s needs. For example, if you’re bringing two dogs or a dog and cat it will provide those hotels. It will also provide rentals, including Airbnbs that are pet friendly. It’s really a great place to start or a second place to go after your recommendations.
Then call those that have made your list and ensure that what is listed on their site still holds true. Sometimes pet policy changes will be made, but updates to websites are slow to get done.
Pets are often an added member of the family, and I think it is hard for people to leave them behind on occasion. ~ general manager Sofia Vandaele, The InterContinental New York Barclay
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Summary of easy tips for booking a great dog friendly hotel
I know it seems overwhelming to find the perfect dog-friendly hotel for you and your pup. The key is to not rely solely on what’s listed online. Instead, call the hotel or rental you’re interested in and ask questions, take notes, and get names. Recently the field of pet-friendly hotels, rentals, and the amenities they offer can be amazing! I know I was shocked at some of the amenities that are offered, such as a dog spa, “yappy hour”, or even concierge dog water service. With some of these amenities, your dog will be pampered as a Very Important Pet on vacation.