If you’re thinking about traveling to a hotel with your pet then chances are you have already started looking for hotels where pets are allowed. Something you may not realize is that there are different levels to these type of properties.
Some of these hotels could be classified as truly pet friendly (or pet positive) while others merely accept or tolerate pets.
It may not seem like a significant difference but whenever you dive into the differences between these type of properties, you realize that your experience with your pet could be dramatically different based on the type of hotel you choose.
Below, I will highlight the differences between a pet friendly hotel and a hotel that only tolerates pets. You’ll see what you might be missing out on and hopefully will have a better idea of what to look for when shopping around for your next hotel stay with your pet.
What’s the difference between a pet friendly hotel and a hotel that just accepts pets?
The major difference between a hotel that is pet friendly and a hotel that just accepts pets is the approach they take to catering to pets such as dogs.
A pet friendly hotel will be more welcoming and provide more amenities for your pet while an “accepts pets” property may take a more minimal approach to catering to your furry friend.
I’ll provide examples that I’ve encountered below as we have traveled with our pup to dozens of hotels over the past few years.
Pet friendly Hotels
A pet friendly hotel chooses to go out of their way to make you and your pet more welcomed and comfortable. They do this in several ways.
For one, the staff may be trained to be more welcoming to you and your pet whenever you arrive, to the point of even welcoming your pet by name.
You won’t feel like you are “bothering” people when you walk in the lobby with your dog.
Instead, you may be greeted with a smile and showered with compliments on how adorable your dog is.
And it may not just be the front desk who shows interest in your animal — you’ll also find other personnel like the valet or housekeeping who also appreciate your doggo.
Pet friendly hotels are known to offer special amenities. For example, they may have a special dog bowl, dog bed, toys, and bandanna that they provide you with. Doggy treats usually abound.
To make things clear for housekeeping they may give you a hanging door handle placard to place on your door so that housekeeping knows there is a pet hanging out inside. Dog friendly hotels may take it a step further and put your dog’s name on the placard, just to add a little special touch.
Sometimes they have a special designated (well-kept) area for your pet to relieve themselves. And nearby you can also find dispensers with poop bags to clean up after your dog’s bathroom sessions.
Another way that dog friendly hotels stand out is that they may not limit you to the most basic rooms or stick you to a room separated from the main hotel.
For example, you might still be able to get a good upgrade or get put in a high level room even with your pet. Pet friendly hotels also may keep up with the pet rooms better so that they don’t become run down and have strong odors.
If you are really lucky a pet friendly hotel might even have a service where they will help take care of your dog.
That could be keeping an eye on them while you are away or even getting professionals to help take your dog for a walk. This is not common but it is offered by some hotels.
These type of properties may even have a “dog concierge” that will help you find pet friendly restaurants, groomers, local vets, etc.
Hotels like the Fairmont even have something called Canine Ambassadors. These are dogs that greet guests and other pets when they arrive at the hotel. Sometimes guests can even hang out with the dogs on trails and around the hotel!
All of these amenities make your stay a little bit easier and don’t make you feel like you are a nuisance or intruding when you bring your animal around.
Pet friendly hotels will usually charge a pet fee which is also used to cover some of the amenities they offer. But it is possible to find a pet friendly hotel that does not charge a fee! That is the ultimate type of pet friendly hotel!
There are some brands that are known for being more pet friendly overall and these include brands like:
- Kimpton Inn
- Drury Inn and Suites
While some Westin properties may not accept pets, we’ve had good experiences bringing our pup with us on a handful of different Westin stays. I’d consider them to be a pretty pet friendly brand.
Hotels that just accept pets
Hotels that merely accept pets sometimes don’t offer you any type of amenity or special welcome bag. The only pet related exchange you have is whenever you check in and fill out your form for your pet and pay the pet fee.
At these properties, you also might get put into select rooms that don’t have great views, don’t smell the greatest, etc. And if you were hoping for an upgrade, you can forget about it.
I’ve stayed at some hotels that do offer doggy treats or some type of simple doggy bag with a treat or two inside so they at least provide you with something. But outside of that they really don’t do anything to cater to your pet and so they still don’t feel very pet friendly.
Sometimes at these properties you get the feeling that the staff doesn’t really care to have pets around. You get minimal interactions and acknowledgment and you don’t generally feel like your pet is as welcomed as you would like.
It’s also possible that if your dog acts up a little bit, the hotel may have less tolerance towards your pet and be quicker to apply some type of nuisance fee.
These hotels also may apply pet fees that make it extra hard on pet owners.
For example, their rates may be double or triple what you would normally expect to pay or they charge you a per night fee that adds up very quickly. With the pricing, you get the feeling that it’s more of a deterrent to keep pets away than to help accommodate them.
These type of hotels may also have low weight limits which can make it hard for you to bring your dog along if you have a medium or large sized dog. For example, they may limit dogs to under 25 pounds. Another limitation could be on the number of pets you have which usually is one or two.
Compare that to the most pet friendly hotels who may have no limits on the number of pets and also no weight limits.
How to know if your hotel is pet friendly or not
It’s easy to filter for a hotel that allows pets such as dogs when utilizing a search feature.
But unless you book a brand such as Kimpton that is well-known for catering to pets, you may not always know if your hotel is going to be pet friendly.
That’s because some brands don’t have universal (corporate) policies on pets.
One of the best ways to find out is to simply search through reviews of that hotel for the words “pet” and “pet friendly” or “dog” and “dog friendly” and you can see what other people are saying about the treatment of their pets.
If you’re not able to find anything useful in the reviews then you can call up the property and ask them what type of amenities they offer for pets.
If they don’t have anything then chances are they are not a pet friendly hotel.
But if they offer things like beds, treats, toys, and especially if they have designated pet areas or extra services, there is a high chance that that property is pet friendly and your pet will be welcomed with open arms.
The other thing you can look at is the restrictions. If you’re facing a lot of weight and size restrictions along with higher pet fees that hotel may not be very pet friendly.
It’s nice bringing your pet to a pet friendly hotel because you don’t feel like your pet is a nuisance and it feels good to have the staff welcome your pet along with yourself.
It’s also great to have extra treats and dog bowls or poop bags for your dog just in case you don’t have them or find yourself in a bind.
So anytime you plan on bringing your dog to a hotel it’s worth spending a little bit of extra time to verify if the hotel is pet friendly.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.