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What Pet Friendly Hotels Don’t Want You to Know

I’ve traveled the country with dogs for over 20 years, so I can honestly say I have slept in some not so swift rooms and some that have been oh-so-divine.

Pet friendly, however, is not always what it’s cracked up to be, and if you’ve had a less-than-stellar experience at a supposed “pet friendly” establishment, you are nodding in agreement.  

How many of you, when calling a hotel or facility to ask if they are pet friendly ask something like this: “Hi. Can you tell me if you allow pets?”

How many of you ask, “Hello, are you pet welcoming?”

What’s the difference?

Details, details, details. Here's what pet-friendly hotels aren't saying or keeping under wraps.

Deep Cleaning Deduced

So what is it that really happens when housekeeping “deep cleans” a room that has been occupied by pets?  Apparently, there is a process that takes into consideration the hair, dander, and saliva that dogs leave behind. More advanced methods include carpet shampoo, a more thorough cleaning of the room, and a heavier-than-usual sweep versus traditional housekeeping methods.

How do I know this? I have stayed at dozens upon dozens of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals and I ask the manager/owner of the facility. I often wonder why all hotel rooms are not cleaned as thoroughly and why it takes a dog in a room to merit a “deep thorough cleaning.”

If the pet fee is reasonable, I generally do not mind shelling over $25 to $50 for my well-behaved dog who is never left alone in the room. Once the $100 and up fee comes into play, I tend to get a bit perturbed. I’ve stayed in non-pet friendly rooms where you really do not want to use a black light to show stains. Catch my drift?

Size Matters

Weight limits drive me a bit insane. I’ve yet to ask someone to put my Cocker Spaniel on a scale at the front desk, but we’ve exceeded the 25 pound limit a few times. Policies vary, but as anyone who travels with a dog knows, weight limits are enforced. This excludes a LOT of dogs. If anyone in the hotel industry reads this, try and ask your manager if you can get this rule lifted. You’d see a nice boon in the economy if more “bigger” dog moms and dads could bring their Greyhounds, Labradors, and over 50-pound dogs on vacation. I know throngs of them and they take their dogs on vacations. Any breed and any size of dog can be destructive; just like kids. Please don’t discriminate.

Pet Tolerant or Pet Welcoming

Some hotels masquerade as pet friendly, when in essence, they are far from it.

Pet Tolerant: Allowing a dog the privilege to stay but without many amenities. I checked into a hotel once that said there were pet amenities. The carpet-less room was their featured amenity for pets. I never forgot that and I am still writing about it.

Pet Welcoming: My dog is treated like the family member he or she is. How so? Things like an in-room massage, spa robe, chic designer bowls, toys, towels, natural organic treats, Fido bed fold-down, offer of pet sitting, list of dog-friendly events or activities, access to al fresco restaurant seating and/or doggie menus, provided doggie bowls. I never forget when businesses extend themselves to my dog. I return time and again.

Hotel staff that knows my dog’s name, leaves a biscuit on the pillow, and offers clean up bags: These are little but memorable perks. One such inn that ranks high on the “knows my dog” list is Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I return time and again with my dog because of perks, cleanliness, no size limit, and even an in-room pet massage and pet menu service.

How Pet Parents Can Protect Themselves

Here are 9 questions to ask before booking a room. In addition to saving yourself any unwelcomed disappointment, you’ll know whether or not the place gets your seal of “pet welcoming” approval first:

1 No matter what a website states, call ahead and ask if the hotel welcomes guests with dogs. Policies change with lighting speed and websites are not always updated and current.

2 Find out if there is a weight limit in place. Why bother traveling with your Mastiff if anything Beagle sized and under is allowed.

3 Ask about pet fees and be specific: How much, is it per night, is it per pet, and is the fee refundable upon checkout?

4 If the hotel is willing to divulge the information, ask what the pet fee covers. It is your right as a paying guest to know what a “deep or thorough cleaning” entails.

5 Find out what makes the facility “pet friendly” and any amenities, perks, and/or additional features included in the price.

6 Are there specifically designated pet friendly rooms? Can you stay on the first floor or do you have the option of staying on another floor/area of the hotel?

7 Are there specific areas/nearby dog-friendly park(s) for my dog? Ample grounds upon which to walk with Rover is always a bonus, especially at midnight when nature calls and the dog answers.

8 If you are considering a rental property, inquire if it will be checked for fleas and ticks prior to your arrival.

9 Is there any restriction on breed?

Look around on your next trip, then glance down to that loving companion by your side and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Traveling with Fido takes a little planning, but be the human your pooch thinks you are and travel with these tips in mind.

More and more hotels, bed and breakfasts and businesses are becoming Fido welcoming and rolling out the red carpet to dogs. Even the mats so many of us place in front of our homes beckon “Welcome.” We want visitors to our home to instantly feel a friendly ambience long before entering. The same goes with the mindset of people spending their hard earned dollars at hotels that welcome dogs. We want to feel welcome.

As I end this article, the words of a hotel in Maine that I stayed at (with my dog) resonate:

Dogs are welcome in this hotel. We’ve never had a dog that smoked in bed and set fire to the blankets. We’ve never had a dog who stole the towels, played the TV too loud or had a fight with his traveling companion. We’ve never had a dog who got drunk and broke up the furniture. So, if your dog can vouch for you, you’re welcome, too!



Carol Bryant

Carol Bryant

"A dog lover of the highest order,” is how Gayle King introduced Carol Bryant when she and her Cocker Spaniel appeared on Oprah Radio’s Gayle King show to dish dogs. She is founder of her own canine-centric magazine-style dog blog, Fidose of Reality,

Read Carol Bryant's Full Bio