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Pet Friendly Hotels

Article Author: J.Gregorich

Helpful Tips for Finding a Dog Friendly Hotel J.Gregorich

The Bumpy Road to Finding a Pet Friendly Hotel

When it comes to traveling with your pet, there is good news and not so good news...well, there's downright bad news too, but we'll get to that later. The good news is that corporations that run the major hotel chains have heard our voices. With over 43 million American homes owning dogs, and better than 37 million with cats, we are a voice to be reckoned with. Most popular hotel chains in America have active pet policies in place, and proclaim themselves "pet-friendly".

Now for the not so good news, in spite of the pet friendly moniker, and the blanket pet acceptance policies in those hotels, many chains leave it up to the individual hotel to make the final decision. Just because one "Holiday Inn" allows pets, does not mean they all necessarily do. You still have to do your homework, and ask about the hotel's pet policy before you make your reservations.

To being with, let's make a list of all the major hotel chains that have a pet-friendly policy in place:

  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
    • Clarion
    • Candlewood Suites
    • Comfort Inn & Suites
    • Sleep Inn
    • Rodeway Inn
    • Quality Inn
    • MainStay Suites
    • EconoLodge
    • Ascend Collection
  • Marriott
    • Marriott Hotels & Resorts
    • Courtyard Marriott
    • Towne Place Suites
    • Spring Hill Suites
    • Residence Inn
    • Fairfield Inn
    • Renaissance Hotels & Resorts
  • Extended Stay Hotels
    • Extended Stay
    • Suburban Extended Stay
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
    • InterContinental Hotels and Resorts
    • Holiday Inn
    • Holiday Inn Express
    • Crowne Plaza
    • Staybridge Suites
    • Candlewood Hotels
  • Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  • La Quinta Inns & Suites
  • Motel 6
    • Studio 6
  • Novotel Hotels
  • Red Roof Inn

That's quite a list. It would seem like a simple matter to find a hotel with great accommodations that will allow you to bring your pet along on your trip. However, the road to a happy family vacation with your pet gets a little bumpier as your travel down it in the quest for what is, and isn't allowed.

Premium Price for Pet Policies

Be cautious when making reservations at a hotel that accepts pets without first asking what that policy stipulates as far as fees. There will usually be an added charge for bringing your dog or cat with you, and sometimes that fee is staggering. Pet friendly fees range from an additional $10 to as much as $150, and that can be per pet, and either per night or for the entire stay.

Individual Policies

I would like to tell you that there are hotel chains that enforce the pet friendly concept in all of their hotels, but that just isn't so. Even the Choice Hotel chain that includes 9 popular brand name hotels claims universal love for pet travelers, and says they are happy to have your pet come along, but does not enforce that policy. A quick look at one individual Choice Hotel's webpage adamantly proclaims "no pets allowed". Furthermore, it can be very difficult to find the information you want just by looking online. Even if you check the individual hotel's webpage, it may not say anything at all about pets, or a pet policy, even when the chain policy is "pet friendly".

Below is a description of the pet policies of the major hotel chains. This is as close to an accurate description of the overall chain policy as you can get since each one allows such latitude of policy. When you are planning your pet accompanied vacation, please, check each hotel website, or call the hotel directly to inquire about its pet policy, because any of these rules are subject to change.

  • Choice Hotel: As it shows above, Choice Hotel brands proclaim a great love for pet travelers. However, their bland statement is the only information they provide, and many of their hotels do not follow it at all.
  • InterContinental Hotels: The most identifiable brands in the IC line are the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. These and other brand names in the InterContinental family that allow pets require a signed pet policy plus a $50 to $150 dollar refundable damage deposit, and a $25 per stay additional charge. Some individual hotels in the chain also limit the size to 50 pounds and under for dogs, or a limit on the number of pets you can bring along. InterContinental Hotels enforce restrictions regarding leaving dogs unattended in the rooms as well.
  • Best Western: Each Best Western hotel has its own version of the pet friendly policy. While they all allow pets, some allow them in all rooms, others have "pet friendly rooms" and reservation are limited to those rooms for travelers with pets.
  • Marriott Hotels: The hotels in the Marriott chain that allow pets require a $75 non refundable cleaning fee, and a waiver. Some have weight restrictions and leash requirements.
  • La Quinta Inn and Suites: Most of their hotels allow pets to stay with their owners, but each individual hotel has the final say in its decision to host pets, and what the fees will be.
  • Motel 6: The Motel 6 chain, including Studio 6, gets the prize for the most conflicting wording every in their pet policy. while they allow pets at all of their locations, which is a rarity, and they insist pets stay free, the word free is even in bold, the add in parenthesis that there is a $10 per day fee, up to a maximum of $50 total for the extent of the visit. Confusion is not the only difficulty with the Motel 6 pet policy. The policy also states that, of course, only pets who are well-behaved and not a danger health or aggression wise to fellow patrons are welcome, which makes sense, but it also states that the determination of eligibility is up to the manager, and breeds prohibited by state law are disqualified. There is a strict leash requirement and pets cannot be left unattended and lose in the room.
  • Novotel Hotels: Most of the hotels in the Novotel chain welcome pets, although some limit size to less than 30 pounds, and there may be a surcharge per pet.
  • Red Roof Inn: Allows one pet per room where state law allows. Pets must be in a carrier or on a leash when you are in public areas, and never left unattended in the room.

It should be stated here that all of the above information pertains to pets, and not service animals. All hotels allow service animals access to the facilities and rooms. It is against federal law to prohibit a service animal from accompanying its master.

The Best of the Best

The most impressive pet friendly hotel chain by far is the Kimpton Hotel chain. When they say pet friendly, they actually mean it: head to tail. Their self-labeled "hos-PET-ality program" includes the most extensive pet services I've found. The services include:

  • Pet Packages: When you arrive at a Kimpton Hotel with your pet you are greeted with special dog bowls, pet food, chew toys, and above all else, a pet friendly attitude. Kimpton Hotels even offers dog walking services for you. Hotels employ a "Director of Pet Relations", and many even have a "Pet Ambassador" to serve as your pet's own concierge and see to their every need.
  • "Guppy Love" Companion Program: If this doesn't say pet friendly customer loyalty, I'm not sure what does. If you have to travel without your beloved pet, whether it is for business, or you just don't feel comfortable with your pet's travel abilities, Kimpton Hotels will provide you with a goldfish to keep you company in your room.
  • No additional fees: Perhaps one of the biggest perks of all is that there are no additional room fees for allowing your pet to stay with you.

Down Home Charm

Bed & Breakfasts became extremely popular in the 80s and 90s as a way to travel and still enjoy a "homey" feel. That also meant bringing the family pet, and most B&Bs welcomed them with open arms. Because bed and breakfast style hotels are rarely chain owned, each one has its own individual policy on pets, and what fees or restrictions may accompany that policy. Always call ahead to find out what your B&B of choice allows in regards to pet guests.

Size Matters

In the case of pet friendly hotels, size really does matter, but not in the way you might expect. Bigger is not always better. Because the little family owned, or small chain is in heavy competition with super-chains that seem to occupy every corner, they are often much more accommodating to their pet owning customers. Great variations still exist though, so always ask about pet policies, restrictions and fees when calling for a reservation.

The Bad News

On to the more difficult news: If you are looking forward to that fabulous spa retreat at the beautiful lakeside resort, or a stay at a luxurious 5 star hotel, don't count on them letting you bring your pet along for the pampering. On the upside: it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between a 5 star hotel, a resort spa and your regular, everyday average hotel. With hotels adding fitness rooms, massage and spa treatments along with extra pool amenities such as steam rooms, and whirlpools, you can get the fancy spa treatment while still having your pet accompany you on the trip.

Do's and Don'ts of Traveling with your Pet

Be kind and be reasonable in assessing your pet's behavior. One of the reasons it is so difficult to find hotels that will you to bring your pet along with you during your stay is that so many people leave their animals to run free when they aren't in the room, and/or their pets aren't housebroken or litter trained. A pet can do a lot of damage in a very short period of time, especially when left along in a strange place.

Always bring a suitable dog crate for your cat or dog. When you are going to be away for any length of time- use it. It helps to train your pet ahead of time to accept, and even enjoy the safety and comfort of their crate. When you are in the room with your pet, always keep an eye on them. Even a well-trained pet can have an accident, or be destructive when they are in a stressful situation such as a busy hotel. Sounds from outside the room can be alarming to a protective dog, or frightening to a timid dog or cat. If your dog barks at every sound he hears, it will be very disturbing to other visitors, especially in the middle of the night. Packing extra special treats not only helps your pet enjoy the trip, but can help keep them occupied so they bark less

Bring your pet's food and water form home for them to drink. It doesn't matter if its a 5 star resort, or a mom and pop country inn, and it doesn't matter what the local water quality is, it can be upsetting to your dog or cat. They may even refuse to drink it at all, and that can be dangerous for your pet.

Offer lots of praise and treats for good behavior, and give your dog lots of exercise so they are more apt to be tired and want to just chill when they're in the room

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