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The Truth About Pet-Friendly Hotels

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By Carol Bryant

 

If you’ve ever taken a trip with your dog and checked into a hotel that claims to be “pet friendly,” there are a few things to keep in mind that might not be advertised.

  

As a pet traveler of 20 years, I have encountered mostly amazing experiences at pet friendly hotels and bed and breakfasts, but occasionally one falls through the cracks. Pet friendly does not mean red carpet in all cases, so keep these pointers in mind the next time you book a room for you and Fido:

  

  • Fees are usually imposed on travelers who are staying with pets. Always ask ahead if there are fees involved, how much, and if there is a fee for each pet or a one-time deal. Often, hotels will hold a security deposit and then refund it or not charge your credit card prior to checking out.  
  • Pet friendly has its pets allowed limits. You can bring three kids, just not three dogs, as an example. Ask first how many dogs are allowed. Nothing ruins a trip or vacation than hearing, “sorry ma’am, but three dogs are not welcome here, only two.”  
  • Ask about their pet policy and what exactly it entails. Most pet-friendly establishments have a policy in writing and will ask you to sign it upon check in. Read the fine print carefully and if it isn’t, ask where you can find whatever they have as it pertains to rules of pets staying there.  
  • Breed restrictions may apply, so ask ahead. I am hearing more about this but I’ve yet to encounter it. I personally would not stay somewhere that had a problem with my “breed” of dog. Better to be safe than sorry, so question the policy before making a reservation.  
  • You can be asked to leave if your dog barks and is disturbing other guests. I understand this. I never leave my dog alone in the room. If a fire occurred, who is worrying about the dog in room 204 and if he gets out safely? Chances are, no one. Some hotels have a concierge service or can recommend a pet sitter/dog walker if you want to leave Fido behind while sightseeing.  
  • Pets may not be allowed on beds, couches, furniture in general. My dog is allowed on all of this at home, so I travel with sheets and lay them across everything when I travel. I am sure at some point, whether child or adult, sockless feet have jumped on the same bed/the same furniture in the hotel, but pet travelers get the warning. I respect it and my dog’s paws never touch the fabric.

  

Have you ever encountered any issues when traveling with your pet? Chime in. We’re listening.

 

Comments  8

Leave Comment
  • Traveling with pets
    08/02/2013 03:56pm

    Hey Carol, I don't do much actual traveling with my pets. I'm not sure the cat would like it and I would not want to travel with just one of the three dogs. Still, I think your advice is spot on and especially like that you recommend folks bring their own sheets or blankets to lie across the hotel furniture and/or bed. That makes a lot of sense!

  • 08/13/2013 03:07pm

    Thanks, Yvonne. My roads are traveled with a dog and more than anything else, I remember when an establishment makes me and my dog feel welcome.

  • Size does matter
    09/03/2014 10:12am

    I travel with a 140lb Great Dane, and probably 75% of hotels that are "pet friendly" have a weight maximum of 25 or 30lbs. In some cases when I really need to find a place to stay I will email the hotel and ask if that is a firm rule, describing my dog and including his training as a pet therapy animal to show how well-behaved he is. Often the hotel manager will make an exception. I do this via email so I have a written record of the special permission with me when I arrive, in case the manager is not on duty.

  • Pet-Tolerated Hotels
    09/03/2014 12:17pm

    This article is excellent. We've been traveling with our extremely well-behaved border collie mix for 14 years and have found there are actually very few sincerely "pet-friendly" hotel chains. When you read the policies of brands like Hyatt, Marriott, Hotel Indigo, and even some Starwood hotels, who profess to being pet-friendly, you'll see they impose ridiculous fees for his service. When I question the hotels why they charge anywhere from $25-$100/night for allowing a pet, they claim, "To cover the extra expense of cleaning the room." That's complete BS. I've watched them clean rooms that had a pet and ones that didn't, and there is no difference, whatsoever. Same equipment, same cleaning procedures…no difference, no extra cost to them. In truth, what these hotels are doing is trying to discourage you from bringing a pet. And making an extra few bucks off your pooch. Hardly pet-friendly.

    So, who is truly 100% pet-friendly? Number One, and simply the most people and pet-friendly brand in the US is Kimpton Hotels. They love pets, they cater to pets, they don't charge a penny for pets. If you are an animal-lover, give your business to Kimpton first. (Their hotels are also absolutely wonderful.) Others that are generally pet-friendly include, La Quinta, Red Roof, aLoft, some Holiday Inn Express, most Westins, some Four Points, some Sheratons, and I'm sure there are others I've missed.

    Always check the fine print before assuming you can bring your pet for free. It can get ugly when you check in and the front office manager surprises you with, "There's a $100 charge for your dog."

  • Road trip, Road trip, YAY
    09/03/2014 01:35pm

    We are fortunate in that our guys are great travelers, love cars and new places.
    When I travel with out 3 large (19 pounds, 16 pounds and 14 pounds) cats we always try to find a LaQuinta. They do NOT charge an extra fee and the new ones or the recently refurbished ones have always been spotlessly clean, to the point my FurBrats don't seem to realize that any other animals have ever slept there before them, I think the desk staff are hired because of their pet friendly attitude. They have always asked if we need any special accommodations...easy access to outside, water bowls, etc.
    The rooms have all had platform beds and furniture that sits snug to the floor with no hidey-holes. And the bathroom vanities have all been raised, making it convenient to place a litter box.
    It is advisable to call ahead, because, although the chain is pet friendly, I have be told that some city's health laws do not allow for animal guests.

  • (sigh)!
    09/03/2014 02:47pm

    As usual, another site that equate "pets" with dogs only. We had to travel cross-country with three cats, so cats should have been included in this article. Pretty much done with PetMD.

    Pets = dogs ...NOT!

  • B & B in PA
    09/03/2014 08:35pm

    I found a super pet friendly B & B outside of Pittsburgh PA. They were so accomadating for us. We were on the lower level, mere feet from the door to go "outside", we were allowed to let the boys wander around our level, unleashed, if they were the only ones there at the time. My guys were allowed to sit on a sofa with us and watch TV and we were not charged any extra fees. They even had "cookies" for them. They treated my boys like guests. Now that is pet friendly!!!

  • Traveling with pets
    09/04/2014 07:22pm

    When we move is the only time we stay in hotels with our pets. We found out that Motel 6 is great with pets, & they don't have a deposit. We always post NO service. We clean the room, fold up all the bedding & towels, & leave a tip for the maids who clean the room behind us. We do this to be a good customer, as we travel with 2 service dogs (115 lb & 10 lb), & 11 cats. The last time we stayed there we were there for a week.
    The maids, repairmen, & office persons always come by to say hi to any who are sitting in the window. We can't afford to stay in any of the high end fru-fru places, so I can't compare any of them.


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