Dear Car Talk Pet Experts:
I'm taking my dog on a long road trip soon, and I need to find some dog-friendly hotels along my route. Are there any chains you can recommend? (Or would advise me to avoid?)
Gladys M. Greenville, NC
Melissa: The first thing you'll want to do is make sure your dog is hotel-ready. We've got some advice on that topic right here. You want to make sure your dog's behaviour doesn't get you blacklisted from the Ritz.
Dr. Sip: The second thing you should to do is call ahead and find out what you're getting into. I can’t help but mention the time my husband and I took our dogs with us to western Massachusetts for a wedding and stayed at a B&B that promoted itself as super dog friendly. Only one room was for dogs, and it had its own entrance/exit to make things easier for all guests.
Melissa: Sounds ideal!
Dr. Sip: Doesn’t it? Well, what we didn’t know was the owner of the B&B liked to leave food out for the skunks who visited at night . . . right outside that separate entrance. I will leave our unhappy after dark surprise to your imagination. Suffice it to say that last night in the room was...uh...not an easy one.
Melissa: As much as I want to, I just simply cannot compete with that!
Dr. Sip: My friend, Niki, often travels for business with her beloved pet guinea pig, Stuart. Well, she’s there on business. I gather Stuart is on vacation. She always lets the establishment know in advance who her companion is and how he will be kept during the visit. Niki reports that she has had great experiences at the Marriott Residences.
Melissa: I just love the image of Stuart showing up in his little carrier, putting in his advance order of leafy greens for room service, and retiring with a good book...to chew on.
Dr. Sip: I bet he’s a fan of Walt Whitman.
Melissa: I brought my dog Sadie to Maine for a vacation and we ended up needing an emergency hotel with a toddler, two adults, and a Border Collie. The Country Inn at Camden/Rockport was able to find one room that would accommodate all of us. It was so lovely until Sadie started barking at 2 a.m. at all the inebriated partygoers stumbling past our door, presumably to find their rooms. I didn’t have her crate, but they did give me a PacknPlay for our two-year-old daughter. She ended up sleeping with us, and the dog was “crated” in the PacknPlay! Thank DOGNESS for crate training! She hushed right up!
Dr. Sip: My all-time favorite chain of upscale petfriendly establishments is the Kimpton Hotels. These are boutique hotels found in many major cities in the U.S., and best I can tell ALL are pet-friendly. At the few I have stayed in over the years, they had a sign at people level welcoming whatever conference or wedding party might be staying there, and a sign down low with a water bowl next to it, welcoming “Spike” or “Princess Juliette” or whatever companion might be reading from a lower level. Some locations even have a Director of Pet Relations for additional pet services.
Melissa: Kimpton even says on its website, “if they can fit through the hotel doors, they’re welcome.” Is that for real? You’re going to tell me they have hosted penguins or something.
Dr. Sip: They have hosted penguins or something. I got in touch with Kimpton’s PR firm, and they have hosted owls, potbellied pigs, sloths, a bearded dragon, a baby elephant, a squirrel monkey, an alpaca, a kangaroo, ducks, rabbits. Okay, some of those they said weren’t pets (associated with zoos or National Geographic), but still. Just sayin’. They’re not kidding.
Melissa: I’m…uh…wow. Baby elephant? I hope it was crate trained...
Dr. Sip: Dogs are their most common non-human visitors. But they also cater to cats and even provide bowls, food, treats, beds, toys, and information on pet-friendly services near their hotels.
Melissa: And what about when the humans need to leave Molly the Golden Retriever for part of the day?
Dr. Sip: They’ll help you set up a dog walker or pet sitting service. Kimpton tells me that founder, Bill Kimpton, always had his dog by his side and noticed the great calming effect letting travelers keep their pets with them had on human stress and general comfort. So he just made pet-friendly services part of the boutique hotel culture.
Melissa: Of course, there are more and more pet-welcoming hotels, motels and B&Bs these days, given that our furry (or feathery or scaly) friends have become family members. My disc dog friends are always raving about Red Roof Inn as they are everywhere and pets stay free! That said, it’s always best to check because even if there is a global policy for a particular chain, local ordinances might not allow you to take Sparky...or Dumbo. Even Red Roof has three locations that due to local ordinances will not allow you to bring your pets, according to USA Today.
Dr. Sip: So while they would like to leave the bowl out for you, some just can’t. Always check first, and always call ahead.
Melissa: Especially if you’re bringing your pet puma.
If you have a question for Dr. Sip and Melissa, write them at Car Talk Plaza. The weirder, the better. More about Melissa (who wrote 'Considerations for the City Dog' and Dr. Sip (who is a practicing veterinarian in Berkeley, CA) can be found here.