With the sun bringing some heat at long last, blossom emerging and lambs gambolling in the fields, spring is the perfect time for a staycation. But what about your favourite pet? It seems a shame to leave them at home or check them in with the dog sitter while you’re off exploring the British Isles, doesn’t it?
The good news is that more and more hotels allow guests to bring dogs with them. Some of them even go out of their way to make dogs feel right at home. Here are some of Spectator Life’s favourite mini-breaks for the top dog in your family.
Bovey Castle, Devon
Down in the depths of Devon, the dramatic Bovey Castle has all the makings of the perfect luxury weekend break for outdoorsy types. More of a stately home than a hotel, Bovey lies right on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, making it perfect for keen hikers and ramblers. The hotel itself has its own 18-hole golf course and tennis courts, plus a daily falconry display on the terrace (and a parrot called Beaky in the study). You can even feed the ferrets and collect the chickens’ eggs before breakfast.
The best thing about Bovey is that your dog can come too: muddy boots and muddy dogs are equally welcome. If you fancy popping off for a round of golf, you can leave your dog at reception where they’ll be doted on by staff. On arrival, they’ll receive their own welcome pack, and in the summer months your dog can eat outside with you on the terrace.
The Four Seasons Hampshire
Planning a stay at the Four Seasons’ country retreat in Hampshire, I fully expected to have to book Puffin in to her regular doggy daycare for the night. How wrong I was. Dogs are more than welcome here – in fact, their resident black lab Oliver is even on hand to greet them on arrival. A dog bed, bowls, and food and water are in the room ready and waiting, but the real fun is to be had outdoors. The hotel is set in 500 acres of Hampshire countryside, so there’s plenty to explore on a lovely long walk. Dogs aren’t allowed in the hotel’s dining areas, but not to worry: you can book in a dog sitter to look after your mutt while you eat. As I trotted downstairs to eat in the Wild Carrot restaurant in the basement, I looked out of the hotel’s main entrance to see Puffin happily chasing her ball with her evening dog sitter. I’m quite sure she’d have been happy to stay forever.
Dog-friendly hotels aren’t just for the country cousins; mutts are also welcome in more urban establishments. At the Rosewood in High Holborn, you’ll welcomed by golden retriever Pearl. Pearl is, in fact, a published author, as you’ll discover on arrival when you receive her own guide to London, which will help your sniff your way around town. Her favourite dog friendly restaurants, pubs, parks and cafes are all listed in the guide, as well as some of London’s top doggy shops, from trendy Hero + Wolf for an east-African inspired collar, to Barbour for the more conservative pooch. Celebrity dog-groomer Jamie Griffin is on hand to offer grooming and spa treatments, while dog sitting, walking and training can also be organised through the hotel’s concierge.
The Jack Russell Inn, Faccombe, Hampshire
It almost goes without saying that a hotel called The Jack Russell Inn would accept dogs. Each of the hotel’s 11 bedrooms are named after a breed of dog, with the Great Dane being the largest, down to the Chihuahua and the Jack Russell. Situated in the North Downs, there are plenty of walks to be had, as long or as short as you like. For your pooch, there’s a bed, bowls, two friends going by the names Betty and Barney – and even a doggy beer on tap in the bar. Dogs are welcome in the restaurant, too, so there’s no need to worry about leaving them on their own.
The Goodwood Estate, West Sussex
It would be hard to ever get bored at Goodwood. Motorsports and horse racing are the estate’s two biggest pulls, but the estate also has two golf courses, a flying school, a spa and a working farm. At The Goodwood Hotel, dogs are more than welcome, with a cosy bed and treats on hand. They’re allowed in the new Farmer, Butcher, Chef restaurant, which specialises in estate reared and grown produce. But even more exciting things are on hand at The Kennels, which the main clubhouse for all of Goodwood’s members. Here, a special doggy membership is available, which comes with a personalised bowl with your dog’s name on it, and doggy ice cream on tap.
The Caledonian Sleeper
Strictly speaking, The Caledonian Sleeper isn’t a hotel. But humans sleep on it and dogs can too, so I reckon it counts. In fact, it’s probably my dog Puffin’s favourite place to stay – because she knows what fun is to be had at the other end. The train journey from London up to the highlands of Scotland isn’t an all-singing all-dancing trip: dogs get nothing special except permission to share your cabin, for a supplementary cost of £30 (to cover cleaning costs). Not to worry; Regents Park is just a ten-minute walk from London Euston, for a nice pre-train stroll. At the other end, the Scottish Highlands are the perfect playground for the well-travelled hound.