What Makes a Hotel Truly Pet-Friendly

Many travelers seek out pet-friendly hotels—a dog-friendly hotel or cat-friendly hotel—in order to accommodate a valued, furry family member. Between 37 and 47 percent of Americans own a dog, according to the American Pet Product Association, and between 30 and 37 percent own a cat. The association recently reported that pet care spending in 2018 reached a record-breaking high of $72.56 billion compared to $69.51 billion in 2017, an increase of over 4 percent.

When these devoted pet-owners travel, you'll often see them at the pet-friendly chains strolling through the lobby with their dogs or cats. However, all accommodations touting that they are "pet-friendly," may not meet your and your pet's expectations.

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A True Pet Friendly Hotel

Cute dog at Delano Las Vegas Hotel
©MGM Resorts International

In order to determine if a hotel's pet-friendly policy is honestly friendly and welcoming, there are some key things to look for: 

  • Reasonable Pet Fees: The hotel or motel does not levy an inflated "one-time housekeeping fee," sometimes as high as $250, on pet-owning guests. A one-time cleaning fee of $25, for example, is acceptable.
  • Affordable Daily Pet Fees: A sincerely pet-friendly hotel does not charge an outlandish "daily pet fee," which can be $100+ per diem, and sometimes added to the housekeeping fee. $10 - $25 per day is more the norm, but some truly pet-friendly chains charge nothing extra.
  • Minimal Restrictions: A sincerely pet-friendly hotel does not apply restrictive conditions on your pet or on you. You'll often encounter a rule that states you cannot leave your pet alone in your room and must hire and pay for the hotel's pet-sitter. Another demand, this more the norm, is that you must keep your pet in a crate when alone in the room.
  • Location of Rooms: A truly pet-friendly hotel does not segregate you from the non-pet guests or house you in a sub-standard room or section. (At one Florida Keys resort, the pet-friendly accommodations are four blocks from the main hotel).
  • Cat-friendly: Truly pet-friendly hotels don't turn a cold shoulder on cats, and permit only dogs. In reality, people travel with a variety of pets—house rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs, and more, and when they stop for the night the pets go with them to their room.

Some of the best pet-friendly properties have their own pets on site and often these pets play a part in offering a warm welcome to pet owners that starts with having the animal's picture and welcome note on the hotel website.

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Finding a Pet-Friendly Hotel

Siamese cats at pet-friendly hotel Le Square Phillips in Montreal
©Karen Tina Harrison

If you do some research before you book accommodations, you and your pets will share a better vacation. Strategies include:

Seek Pet-Friendly Brands: Seek out a tried-and-true pet-friendly hotel brand that has made a strategic commitment to true pet-friendliness. Several hotel brands (and more are making the commitment) welcome pets with "open paws" which translates to no housekeeping charge, a low per-diem pet fee ($25 or under), minimal restrictions, and dog relief areas and pick-up bags. These chains are particularly welcoming, primarily to dogs:

  • Westin Hotels: Expect a critter-sized Westin Heavenly Bed
  • Loews Hotels: Get a goodie bag for your pooch.
  • Kimpton Hotels and sister brands Monaco and Palomar Hotels: Expect zero restrictions or fees for pets and look forward to amenities like dedicated concierges and lobby treats.
  • La Quinta: Owned by Wyndham, the La Quinta chain used to be consistently pet-friendly with no extra charges. However, currently, because each motel is individually-owned, you may find policy variations that make it wise to call ahead and inquire.

Surf the Web: Check out various online directories (and mobile apps) which offer leads to pet-friendly accommodations. Some are merely sites for pet ads, but others deliver real, researched information. Try these sites:

  • Bring Fido: This site offers 24/7 phone consultation, a searchable database with 250,000 places to stay, play, and eat with your dog, and no added booking fees.
  • Pets Welcome: This site leads you to pet-friendly hotels for "your dog, cat or other favorite furry, feathered or finned friend." You can search the database and match the type, size, and the number of pets you have with only those lodgings that will welcome them.
  • Trip Advisor: Pet-friendly hotels and accommodations are listed when you enter "pet-friendly" and the location.
  • Air BnB: Air BnB has a checkbox for "allows pets" when you search for accommodations. They recommend that you review the "House Rules section" of the listing description and contact the host before you book to find out if there are any specific restrictions.

Call the Hotel: Investigate the pet policy by calling the hotel. No matter what you glean from a hotel's website or an online directory, you should get the facts about a hotel's pet-friendly policy by calling the hotel directly. Ask about their per-diem charges for housekeeping, pet-in-room restrictions, and location of pet rooms. 

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Pet Policies at Selected North American Hotels

Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe is very per-friendly
©Heritage Hotels & Resorts

When doing reviews of hotels and resorts, travel writers pointed out the pet-friendly (and not-so-friendly) aspects of these hotels:
• Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore: The Four Seasons provides pet-friendly accommodations in a historic city and accepts dogs and cats up to 25 pounds with no additional fees.
The Dupont Circle Hotel in D.C.: The hotel allows one pet up to 30 pounds for an additional fee of $100 per stay. Both dogs and cats are permitted but you are cautioned not to leave your pet alone in your room. Dog beds are available upon request.
• Turnberry Isle Miami: This resort charges a pet fee of $25 per stay, plus a cleaning fee of $100 and allows pets who weigh 25 pounds or less.
• Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, California: The Fairmont welcomes pets and requests that the pets be on a leash when in common areas and is not left unattended in the room.
• Wickaninnish Inn on Vancouver Island: The Inn accepts one pet weighing up to 50 pounds for an additional fee of $40 per night.

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