What exactly does “pet friendly hotel” mean?
Whether it’s been a year since your last vacation or you just got back, it’s never too early to start planning your next adventure with your pupper-doggo sidekick. And finding a pet friendly hotel can certainly be a challenge. I offer you two suggestions to help simplify your search. But first, let’s cover some basics.
So “pet friendly hotel” can mean something different for everyone. But simply put, it means the hotel will allow your pet to stay with you in your guest room. Offerings and limitations vary widely. For example, at some hotels, the pet fee costs more than the guest room. At others, it’s free. Each individual hotel, even within the same pet friendly hotel chain, can have different policies, fees and limitations. Websites are not always up-to-date therefore, I recommend calling to confirm the hotel pet policy before booking.
If you’re unsure of what to ask, you can start with these questions.
- Pet fee – refundable, per night, per pet?
- Damage deposit – refundable?
- Pet limit – per room, per guest?
- Breed restriction?
- Size or weight limit?
- Can pets be left unattended in the room?
- Pet care available?
- Pet friendly amenities – pet bed, food and water bowl?
- Outside the room where is your dog allowed (or not allowed)?
- Dog parks nearby? Membership or fee required?
And to be clear, service animals are not considered pets and should not be bound to the hotel pet policy, with some exceptions. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses like hotels to make any necessary accommodations for guests with disabilities and their service animals. It states that “entities that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities.”
There are a few exceptions, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for service animals. Their FAQs about service animals may also be helpful.
Do hotels make exceptions?
Is there a hotel you really want to book, but the website indicates they can’t accommodate you because of size, number, or some other factor? Call them. Tell them what you need. For example, does the website say the limit is two pets per room and you’re traveling alone with three Chihuahuas? Three Great Danes do not equal three Chihuahuas. They may make an exception.
Did they say no and you desperately want to stay there? Please don’t sneak your Chihuahuas into what will likely be a pet-free room. If discovered, the hotel could lock you out of your room, charge a fine, and/or kick you (and your cute little Chihuahuas) out of the hotel. Aside from breaking the rules, consider this. If the next guests in the room become ill because they are allergic to dogs, the hotel suffers the consequences and the guests’ stay is interrupted. Not cool.
Whether you have specific travel plans or you’re living your best life as an adventure-seeker (i.e., you’re flying by the seat of your pants with neither a map nor confirmation number in site), traveling with your pet requires access to reliable resources. Two websites can jump-start your planning or save you when only a glimmer of daylight remains.
Firstly, there’s ScrapeHero, one of the leading data scraping companies in the world. They offer “custom data gathering and data analysis solutions to customers ranging from startups to Fortune 50 companies.” And lucky for us, we have access to their article about the largest hotel chains in the U.S.
According to their research, the five largest hotel chains are Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Hyatt and together, they offer 21,997 hotels in the U.S. alone. Each chain offers a number of pet friendly properties and a range of options suitable for any budget and taste. With a number this big, odds are you’ll find a hotel that’s perfect for you and your travel companion.
Upgraded Points (UP) is a site dedicated to helping travelers like you and me optimize the value of points and miles and enjoy the resulting upgrades and rewards. It’s a tremendous resource whether you’re planning your trip or just trying to rack up reward points on your credit cards. They offer travel guides and resources, tips on how to earn and use points, and so much more. Without a doubt, for business or personal use, this resource is a must.
Their site includes articles about pet friendly properties by brand, and four of the top five are included. They offer a review of the policies, deposits, size allowances, and so much more, at a glance. Although UP is a great resources, I still recommend calling your hotel-of-choice to confirm the pet friendly details before booking. Surprises can be fun, but not when it comes to hotel stays.
Now here comes the good part. Let’s check out the top five hotel chains!
#5 – Hyatt Hotel
Hyatt has 743 properties in their hotel chain, making it the 5th largest hotel chain in the U.S. Don’t be fooled by what you might consider a small chain compared to the top four hotels. Upgraded Points notes that they have “quite an impressive footprint of pet friendly hotels to add to your map.” Check out these unique options in the Hyatt hotel chain.
Alila Hotels & Resorts has only one property in the U.S. at the moment, and that is the Ventana Big Sur in California. Just off scenic Highway 1 in northern California, this resort is nestled on a 243-acre property and showcases the magnificent outdoors with hikes, yoga, meditation, tai chi and picnics.
Sustainable Tourism is an important aspect of their business and mission. Their green initiatives include recycling of waste water and on-property housing for more than 40 employees to help reduce carbon footprint. Guests receive complimentary amenities like reusable water bottles and hiking and picnic equipment.
This dog friendly hotel will welcome your dog (and the pet owner) with open arms. Visit their Dogs at Ventana page and see Ela’s Recommendations brochure (Ela is the resident Sheepadoodle) for all the ways you can make this trip the best ever for your travel companion.
Can you stay there with points? Yes, you can! Learn how with this UP article.
Hyatt Centric hotels are centrally located in their destination city. You’re encouraged to get out and explore the city and eat and drink local. At the South Beach Miami property, you and your travel companion can enjoy the Wooftop Dog Park. The hotel provides complimentary dog toys, water and clean-up bags. Check out this video and picture you and your furry friend on the Wooftop.
#4 – IHG
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the 4th largest hotel chain in the U.S. with 4,037 properties. Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels total over 70% of this brand. The pet policy and pet fee can vary by property, so if you haven’t decided on a destination yet, you can use the pet friendly search tool to explore your options. If you want an at-a-glance view, check out this UP article. Check out these unique options in the IHG hotel chain.
Kimpton Hotel, an impressive pet friendly hotel chain, takes welcoming our pets to a whole new level. Their Pet Friendly Hotel page invites us to bring our furry, feathery or scaly family members. They have canine Directors of Pet Relations, whose job includes greeting guests and testing amenities. Pet amenities include a dog bed, water bowl, mat and complimentary food. There is no pet fee or deposit and no limit on the size, weight or number of pets. Pretty impressive. Might the Kimpton Hotel be the gold standard for a pet friendly hotel? Wait, first check out Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a “travel club for hotel lovers,” recently partnered with IHG and opened the doors “to hundreds of very unique boutique hotels around the world,” according to UP. You can follow this link to find a pet friendly hotel in the Mr. & Mrs. Smith brand. Pet amenities can include a dog bed, special menus, toys and walking options.
At their South Beach property, The Betsy Hotel, they not only welcome dogs of all sizes, they pamper them. They offer recommendations for places in Miami to explore with your dog. And after a day of fun, you and your furry friend can treat yourselves to a couple’s massage. So the Kimpton Hotel is pretty impressive, but might the couple’s massage be the thing that makes The Betsy the gold standard? Both seem delightful, don’t they? We should move on, but before we do, I should also note that half of the $150 one-time pet fee goes to Miami-Dade Animal Rescue and the SPCA in Zimbabwe, the childhood home of one of The Betsy’s owners.
#3 – Hilton Group
Coming in at #3 is Hilton Group with 5,308 hotels in the U.S. Hampton Inn alone represents 43% of this chain. If you know your destination, use the search tool on their website. When the results appear, select “Pets allowed” in the filter tool. If you’re leaving it up to chance and heading down the open road, check out this helpful UP article. You’ll find a list of pet friendly properties and the pet policy and specific details for each individual hotel. Check out these unique options in the Hilton hotel chain.
Canopy by Hilton is a hotel brand that may be one of the most pet friendly, according to UP. It might also be a contender for the pet owner. Your stay includes a welcome gift, nightly tastings, free breakfast, bikes on loan, and filtered water stations. A notable amenity is the Transfer Lounge. Whether you’re arriving before check-in or leaving the area after check-out, you’ll have access to lockers, showers and changing facilities. Nice touch!
Dogs can look forward to their own welcome gift, thanks to the hotel’s “Paws in the Neighborhood” program. At check-in, they’ll receive gifts by BARK and guides to on-site dog gatherings and off-site dog friendly areas. Pet friendly amenities include a bed, mat and food and water bowl. Follow this link to book your stay.
Waldorf Astoria Park City is located in Canyons Village, Utah, where you’ll find no shortage of outdoor activities. Their Dog Friendly Amenities page promises to deliver “world-class service to your friendly companion as well as their human.” Complimentary pet friendly amenities include a dog bed and homemade treats engraved with your dog’s name. The Director of Pet Relations is ready to serve and will make every effort to ensure your travel companion is cared for as well as you are.
Across the street is Willow Creek Dog Park, a 2.4-acre enclosed dog park where your dog can play off-leash. It’s complete with a pond, 1/3-mile soft-surface trail, 24,000 square feet of “fetch” space, agility course, and shade shelters for you, the pet owner. The dog park is on the Willow Creek property, a 17.5 acre developed park where you and your dog can play and walk on-leash.
#2 – Marriott
The 2nd largest hotel chain in the U.S. is Marriott with 5,540 hotels.
But, let’s pause for a moment and focus on three very important words: the Heavenly® Bed. Yes, the Marriott hotel chain is home to the Heavenly® Bed. No, this is not an ad. They’re just really comfortable beds, and in my humble opinion, an important factor for weary travelers, two- and four-legged alike! But, wait, this article is about traveling with your dog…
Marriott is serious about its commitment to being a pet friendly hotel. Their Pet Friendly Hotel page is dedicated to everything you want (and need) to know about traveling with your pet. It even offers pet travel tips and ideas. With over 1,500 pet friendly properties to choose from and a simple search tool, finding a property for you and your travel companion is a breeze! What’s more? Their “experienced staff can also direct you to the nearest pet supply store, dog friendly shops and parks.”
As with most if not all hotel chains, some properties do not allow pets. Check out the UP article for an at-a-glance list of hotels, a brief overview of each individual hotel and the hotel pet policy. Check out these unique options in the Marriott hotel chain.
Aloft Hotels can catch first-time guests by surprise. It takes a moment to appreciate these tech-forward properties. My first Aloft room had a great view, free (and fast) wifi, rainfall showerhead, and carpet-less floors. What? No carpet? Then the germ-a-phobe in me awoke: the floors can be properly cleaned between guests. Genius. Why don’t all hotel rooms offer this? Moving on… Visit this page to find pet friendly properties. Their ARF® (or Animals Are Fun) pet program pampers your travel companion with an Aloft-branded pet bed, bowl and complimentary treats and toys.
Element by Westin properties reimagine short and extended stays hotels. They offer spacious rooms and unique amenities like access to cooking class videos, complimentary use of bicycles (including helmets and digital bike maps), and all-natural saline pools. They encourage you to visit local farms and prepare your farm-fresh meal in your well-appointed, in-room kitchen. There’s a strong emphasis on maintaining a balanced lifestyle, physical and mental wellness, and sustainability.
Their Love that Dog program offers your companion their signature dog bed, food and water bowls, clean-up supplies and more. And when it’s time to rest, you’ll have sweet dreams in your … you know it … say it with me… your Heavenly® Bed. It’s all very zen.
Moxy Hotels is an Instagram-worthy hotel brand, according to Upgraded Points. They are designed to be fun, not average, and focused on millennials and Gen Z travelers. Think: Aloft meets youth hostel. Check-in is at the bar where you pick up your room key and a complimentary cocktail. The “bumping background music” volume goes up as the sun goes down. Rooms are described as “small but smart” and “minimalist yet multifunctional.”
Amenities include co-working working lounges that transition into meeting studios, flat-screen HDTV’s with YouTube and Netflix casting capability, and communal ironing rooms. But does anyone iron anymore, especially those under 40? Not judging. Just asking. Moxy loves dogs – of any size, large or small. From their website: “they’re welcome to roam around any Moxy hotel any day of the week.”
#1 – Wyndham
With 6,367 hotels, Wyndham is the largest hotel chain in the U.S. In fact, their website touts “chances are you’re about 10 minutes from a Hotel by Wyndham.” And more than 4,500 are pet friendly locations.
Wyndham and Rover have joined forces to offer Wyndham guests the added benefit of peace of mind. If your dog is traveling with you, you can hire Rover services during your stay. If your dog stays home, Rover can connect you with a dog sitter or assist with other services. Dog boarding, house sitting, dog walking, doggy day care, drop-in visits, grooming – whatever you need, Rover is ready to help.
If you know your destination, go to wyndhamhotels.com and enter your travel dates and location. Then, refine your results by selecting “Pets Allowed” under Amenities. On your phone, use the Filter option. If you’re throwing caution to the wind and setting out on an adventure, use this link. It’s that simple!
Upgraded Points has not yet published a list of pet friendly properties by Wyndham. Maybe they’ll hear my silent plea and publish one soon? In the meantime, you can check out these search results on their site for tips for getting the most out of your points on your next stay to a Wyndham property.
Now that you’ve picked your hotel, you’ll want to be sure your dog is ready to travel. Rules, regulations, and safety recommendations change from time to time and from state to state. It’s important to be in the know for the health and safety of your dog. The best way to do this is to contact your vet. These FAQs for traveling with your pet, provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association, are also helpful.
And… you’re off!
I do hope introducing you to Upgraded Points and ScrapeHero is helpful. But before I go, there’s one more hero I’d like you to meet: SpotHero. Download their app for a quick and easy way to find parking in many cities across the U.S. This app has saved me many times in cities like Dallas, Chicago and New Orleans during their high seasons where parking was not only impossible to find but also astronomically priced. So whether you’re traveling or need a parking spot in a busy part of your hometown, use the app. You’ll thank me.