From grooming sessions to their own designated beds, more and more luxury boltholes are making dogs just as welcome as their owners. There are a surprising amount of unique offerings across the UK aimed at our four-legged friends.
Long gone are the days when dog-friendly hotels meant a measly bowl of water left outside the front door. The UK travel industry is matching our reputation for being a nation of dog lovers with many luxury properties offering a reimagined focus on pets. As well as a warm welcome, owners can now find a range of innovative packages so that their pooches are uber-pampered during their stay.
In the heart of the New Forest, for instance, the Grade II-listed Burley Manor (burleymanor.com) welcomes dogs with their own dog mat, a bag of healthy treats (sourced from Paws Deli Kitchen in Lymington) and special bowls to eat and drink from. While you tuck into Mediterranean sharing dishes in the dining room (the mushroom arancini are a must), pets can lounge in your bedroom. Book one of the garden suites – which welcomes up to three small dogs – and you can walk straight out on to the eight acres of grounds. After a day exploring the walking routes through the New Forest, or one of the dog-friendly beaches (such as Calshot), your pooch can join you for a nightcap in the bar or drawing room.
Found in West Sussex, within sniffing distance of the South Downs National Park, The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa (hshotels.co.uk) is the perfect place to stretch canine and human legs. The hotel’s Muddy Paws package means dogs are greeted with ‘The Spread Eagle Welcome Kit’, which includes pigs ear treats, a dog bowl, mat and a ‘Ruff and Tumble’ drying coat to take home with you. One of England’s oldest coaching inns, the hotel dates back to 1430 and boasts a range of characterful features, such as asecret passage, reputedly used by fleeing smugglers, a wig closet, that may be the last one left in a hotel in England, and a suite, said to have welcomed the Queen. Guests – beast and man – can book in for a pampering session, be it at the spa or with local master groomer Lesley Mills.
Meanwhile, the Sandy Paws package at Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa (hshotels.co.uk), also in West Sussex, is inspired by the glorious 30 acres of stunning private parklandsurrounding the hotel. Making every hound happy is a gift of aball thrower, tennis ball and even a dog torch for evening walks. Talking of which, for bracing strolls along the nearby Climping Beach, make sure you order one of the hotel’s picnic hampers, which comes complete with a bottle of locally-made Tinwood sparkling wine. Perfect for lapping up once you get thirsty.
Recently reopened after a revamp, The Village Pub (thevillagepub.co.uk), found in the Cotswold village of Barnsley, offers a quintessential countryside escape. But with just six rooms, make sure you book in advance. While you’ll be won over by the roll-top baths, four-poster beds and charming décor, your pet will no doubt be impressed by their own dog beds, treats and bowls. With a focus on seasonal menus showcasing local produce, food is at the heart of the property. Luckily, you can both walk off any over-indulging by rambling across some of the West Country’s finest rural spots found on the doorstep.
For those wanting a classic British seaside break, Norfolk’s wide unspoilt coastline is just the thing for gulping down refreshing salt-air during windswept walks. Close to Holkham National Nature Reserve and the dog-friendly Holkam Beach (frequently voted as best beach in the UK) is The Victoria (holkham.co.uk). Found at the gateway to Holkham Hall Estate, one of the UK’s finest stately homes, the classic inn dates back to 1838 with a storied past. Pets are welcome in the super-stylish rooms in the main building (complete with their own bed to sleep on), and there’s also secure outdoor kennels which allows residents, who might not want to have their dog in the room, to feel safe their dogs are well looked after. Make sure you pop into Holkham’s Beach Café for your pooch to experience the free in-house Wag ‘n’ Wash service, while you take in the ocean views.
Further north, in Edinburgh, the Royal Mile Hotel (radissoncollection.com) is going all out when it comes to doggy relaxation. The Radisson Collection Hotel has just introduced Doga, or yoga classes for pooches (ideal for them to perfect the Downward-Facing Dog) and provides dog bowl, bed, toy and Harry’s Treats’ gourmet snacks in the boutique-styled rooms.
From a Cornish country idyll, such as Rosehendra, to Hambury House, a thatched cottage in Dorset, Blue Chip Holidays (bluechipholidays.co.uk) offers dog-owners a range of premium properties – with gardens – to rent for luxury home-from-homes. On arrival, guests receive a ‘puppy’ hamper with treats for all, and all homescome equipped with all the essentials you’d need for a pooch-perfect holiday, including lead, bowls, a mat, a bed with blankets and towels.
Finally, for sophisticated canines, wanting an urban break, they should bound into ME London by Melia on the Strand (melondonhotel.com). The hip hotel offers dog guests their own ‘Aura Host’, who will tailor their stay and organise any spa treatments, gifts or walking that they should require. Little guests are treated to a line-up of luxuries including chef-prepared food, mini bathrobes, towels and shampoo.
For the ultimate pampering, the host can even arrange personal shopping for its canine guests to ensure they are kitted out in the latest luxury fashions, including Louis Vuitton’s leashes and Paul’s Smith’s dog collars. Who said you can’t teach a dog new tricks?
*This article is also published in the July 2018 issue of Canary Wharf Magazine