Three writers check their dogs into the new luxurious canine hotels
The Five-star Fidos: Silk sheets. Butlers. And blow-drys. Not for you – for your dog! Three writers check their pooches into the new breed of crazily luxurious canine hotels
- There is an increasing number of hotels designed specifically to look after pets
- Plenty of high-end hotels also now accommodate both pets and their owners
- Here, three writers and their beloved dogs visit some of the best in the UK…
Our pets are our most loyal, trusted friends, devotedly following us from room to room, on to the sofa and sometimes even to bed.
Many of us took in dogs recently to help us survive the lockdowns, needing both the physical company and solace a loving pet can provide. Indeed, the UK dog population has increased by 10 per cent during the pandemic, to an estimated 12 million, with 33 per cent of households now owning one.
Which presents us with a conundrum now that the world is opening up again, we’re going back to work and even — if we’re lucky — on holiday: what should we do with our canine companions when we aren’t at home?
After they’ve seen us through so much, leaving them in a kennel for days seems ungrateful, even churlish.
Luckily, however, just as dog ownership has soared, so too has the availability of luxury care for pups. An increasing number of chic hotels designed specifically to look after pets means we can enjoy our holidays, or settle back into office life, without worrying that our dogs are spending their days staring out of soulless crates, pining for our return.
And for those desperate for a break with their pooch, plenty of high-end hotels now accommodate you both, offering special dog dinners, spa treatments and monogrammed accessories to boot.
Here, three writers and their newly liberated dogs visit some of the best . . .
STEAK DINNERS, SPA DAYS — AND MUD-FREE PAWDICURES
Herbie, 18 months, is Antonia Hoyle’s Labrador. He checked in to The Hamptons Boutique Pet Hotel, in Solihull, West Midlands (overnight boarding from £55, thehamptonspethotel.co.uk).
Herbie, 18 months, is Antonia Hoyle’s Labrador. He checked in to The Hamptons Boutique Pet Hotel, in Solihull, West Midlands (pictured)
‘We’re buzzed discreetly through cast iron black gates and on to a winding drive that leads to a white, wooden-panelled hotel,’ recalled Antonia (pictured with her dog, left)
We’re buzzed discreetly through cast iron black gates and on to a winding drive that leads to a white, wooden-panelled hotel.
Welcomed by staff in gold-embossed uniforms, I marvel at the chandeliers, as my partner sprawls himself on a turquoise velvet chaise longue and sighs contentedly.
Already, this has the hallmarks of an indulgent holiday — for him, not me, however, because Herbie, my Labrador, is the guest. As a human, I’m merely his chauffeur — although frankly, it’s so flash here at The Hamptons Boutique Pet Hotel, I’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
‘We have many people trying to book themselves in, too,’ says glamorous owner Emma Moss, who is in the hotel spa when we arrive, shaving pom-poms into the legs of fellow guest Fergus, a toy poodle who is having a £50 ‘lion cut’.
Fashion prints in crystal frames line the walls and a statement mirrored sideboard with the Chanel logo sits in the corridor.
All ten dog bedrooms have their own televisions and underfloor heating, while the beds are made up with pillows and velour throws.
Room service is de rigueur, but there are dog herbal tea bags in the bedside drawer, should Herbie feel like making his own refreshments.
‘Some people say I’m completely bonkers,’ admits Emma, a married mother of four who, in 2019, converted a stable block on her 110-acre farm near the village of Hampton to create the luxury accommodation.
A demob-happy Herbie heads to the Emerald Suite, which has a golden bed — children’s sizes are installed as ‘the dogs love them and they have waterproof mattresses’ —and a picture with the slogan, ‘Too glam to give a damn’.
He’s not, but his fellow guests — among them immaculately coiffed cockapoos and cocker spaniels — do indeed seem the Kardashians of the canine world.
Little wonder, perhaps, given that a stay of five nights or more qualifies guests to a complementary treatment at the fragrant, spacious dog spa — be it a £30 full-body massage or £20 facial scrub.
Excited, Herbie runs off to play in the indoor garden — an adjoining, all-weather barn with artificial grass that won’t muddy £18 ‘pawdicures’ — before settling into the day-care room to watch the women’s Olympic cycling medal ceremony.
The hotel has its own chef to rustle up personalised biscuits for afternoon teas and dog popcorn for film nights (Beverly Hills Chihuahua is a favourite, apparently).
Pan-fried steak with snuffle beer sauce is available for £12.95, but some guests are vegan.
‘They have mango for treats,’ says Emma, whose staff of five walk dogs several times a day while encouraging play in the one-acre garden, where Herbie enjoys a swim in the pond.
At £55 a night — which is more than the price of some Premier Inns — this is the sort of place wealthy dog owners drop off their little darlings in Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.
Emma’s hotel is proving so popular in the post-lockdown world that she’s considering admitting cats, ‘and we’ve had quite a few enquiries about guinea pigs and rabbits’.
While I wonder how much Herbie actually appreciated the silver vases and sequinned cushions, he’s certainly enjoyed being spoilt — and I swear I hear a sigh as he says goodbye to his new Pomeranian friend, still lounging on a black, diamante-studded sofa.
ULTIMUTT MINI-BREAK WITH TREATS APLENTY
Kate Spicer and her three-year-old Podenco Ibicenco, Boof, checked in to The Treehouse Hotel in London for its special Ulti-Mutt Staycation with Lily’s Kitchen package (from £299, treehousehotels.com)
Kate Spicer and her three-year-old Podenco Ibicenco, Boof, checked in to The Treehouse Hotel in London for its special Ulti-Mutt Staycation with Lily’s Kitchen package (pictured)
‘Until a few months ago, Boof had never been in a town, let alone here, in the heart of Central London, mere feet from Oxford Circus,’ admitted Kate (pictured with her pet)
Boof and I have had a few adventures, not least driving from her Ibiza home to lockdown Britain when I collected her last December. Those roadtrip hotel stays left me traumatised as she tried repeatedly to escape — and sometimes succeeded.
BEST DOGGIE ESCAPES
l LOVE UR DOG — Merseyside (from £25 a night, loveurdog.co.uk)
Check your pooch into this five-star spa retreat, complete with options for a massage, manicure, and a wash and blow-dry. Dogs can luxuriate in full-size beds with Egyptian cotton or silk sheets, while enjoying mood lighting, a surround sound stereo, HD TVs, and under-floor heating. A webcam service is available, too.
l CANINE COUNTRY CLUB — Devon (from £36 per night, caninecountryclub.co.uk)
Another five-star hotel, with 15 luxury suites you can decorate with your dog’s favourite belongings to make it feel like home. Woodland, beach and meadow walks are rewarded with delicious Lily’s Kitchen and James Wellbeloved meals, or a trip to the salon. You can also book them in for a ‘fun swim’ at the Hydrotherapy Suite.
l COUNTRY DOG HOTEL & SPA — Somerset (from £50 per night, countrydoghotel.co.uk)
A stunning, 18-room Georgian farmhouse, situated in 880 acres of farmland in the Quantock hills. Fun social events include outdoor cinema nights with ‘pupcorn’, and live guitar performances of dog-friendly tunes. The VIP service (seven-day stay minimum) gets you access to a chauffeur collection and drop off, via a Land Rover fitted with dog seatbelts.
l BARNEY & ROSIE’S — Buckinghamshire (from £50 per night, barneyandrosies.co.uk)
This log cabin accommodation has CCTV inside for safety, and is close to riverside, woodland and meadow walks. The owners organise ‘bootcamp’ runs and obstacle courses, plus there’s fun to be had in a sand pit and swimming pools. You can video-call your dogs regularly, and if there’s a birthday they’ll get a ‘pawty’ with dog-friendly cakes.
l HUMPHREY & BO — Dorset (£50, humphreyandbo.com)
Set in a Grade II-listed farmhouse, this country club is surrounded by 11 acres of fields, woodland, streams and meadows. Your dog will head on three to four off-lead walks a day, plus enjoy play sessions, such as an agility course of tunnels, Frisbee, tug, football and catch.
AND DON’T FORGET YOUR MOG-CATION!
l LONGCROFT LUXURY CAT HOTEL — nationwide (from £18 per night, longcroftcathotel.co.uk)
Cat lovers can check their pets into this five-star hotel, with a VIP service that includes individually decorated suites. Fully heated bedrooms with wrought iron beds and soft pillows are separated from a themed garden play area. Dinner is served on bone china, from an ‘A la Cat’ menu, while the mini-bar is stocked with creamy milk.
So despite the marketing bumpf that promises a relaxing break with my beast, I was nervous about testing the Ulti-Mutt Staycation, a new package from hip, sustainable Treehouse Hotels. And the fact the hotel’s reception is not on the ground floor (it’s up on the 15th), didn’t reassure me. My wild island girl has mellowed a little, but not much, and she’s never been in a lift before.
Until a few months ago, Boof had never been in a town, let alone here, in the heart of Central London, mere feet from Oxford Circus.
‘Uh-oh’ turned into ‘wow’ as she walked into the hotel, her tail switching wildly between wagging delight and that lower, neutral, curious tail that can (and does) wipe everything off the table. She popped in the lift and by floor six had decided it was best to sit nicely next to me. I was late, in a flap, and slightly dreading being in a hotel room with the whackier of my two dogs. But the staff were immediately calm and kind, and took us straight to the room.
The door opened on a small suite with a fantastic view of the skyline to the east of the City. Very nice for me, I thought, but does a dog really want to be in a hotel room? It’s not a treat, it’s just a rather small and strange square footage with no garden (otherwise known as the ensuite dog bathroom).
Well, I was wrong there too. Boof leapt with delight straight on to my massive bed and started playfully wrestling with a cuddly sloth left there for her. Then, she did a quick sweep of the room and found her bed, which she sniffed and disregarded.
It was a bed for an ant — I think I might have missed one of the confirmation forms where you fill out your dog’s size. Every toy, however, was played with.
To be honest, this was enough for me. I didn’t need the dog-walking service on offer as I don’t let her go out without me. (I have had one too many dramas with dogs running away, sorry.)
But as dogs are only allowed in the hotel restaurants before 6pm and I wanted to go for a late dinner, I asked the super Marylebone Walkers to dog-sit for me — I was impressed that you could make use of them on an hourly basis, literally 24/7.
Leaving a dog alone in a hotel room while I go out has been one of the previous causes of a dog escape, so if this service hadn’t been on offer it would have been room service or nowt for me.
I came back to find a very happy dog tucking in to the beef and chicken snacks.
Boof wasn’t wild on the fancy Lily’s Kitchen food, she’s more of a green tripe kind of girl, but I do understand that bringing this rank-smelling doggy delicacy into a hotel for humans is a canine-friendly bridge too far.
The most charming moment, which she repeated throughout our stay, was when she stood on her hind legs to get a fine, long and lingering look at the view.
Rejecting the ant bed, she slept with me on my giant one while I watched the trashy TV shows I never get to put on at home.
Turns out a dog enjoys a cheeky night in a hotel with much the same gusto as a human.
IT’S A DOG’S LIFE — IN A LUXE SUIT WITH BARBOUR ACCESSORIES
Janet Ellis and her three-year-old Italian Spinone, Angela, checked in to the Rosewood Hotel in London for its special Canine Package in the Manor House Suite (prices on enquiry, rosewoodhotels.com)
Janet Ellis and her three-year-old Italian Spinone, Angela, checked in to the Rosewood Hotel in London for its special Canine Package in the Manor House Suite (pictured)
Pampered: Janet Ellis’s pooch Angela with dog groomer-to-the-stars Jamie Griffen
When some people say they love dogs, they mean: ‘Show me some pictures of your cute puppy. Just the pictures, mind — we don’t need to meet.’ However, when Rosewood says it loves dogs, it means it loves dogs. Which in turn means you and your beloved pet are in for a treat.
I admit I was nervous. I came ready to issue all my usual apologies — ‘I’m sorry, she’s so big/friendly/messy’ — on Angela’s behalf. The beautiful, imposing facade of the hotel in Holborn, London, was daunting too. Tucked away in a courtyard, I must have walked past the entrance plenty of times without realising the grandeur beyond. It looked far too luxe for the likes of us.
But as soon as we arrived, the staff greeted Angela, and me, by name and with genuine pleasure. The concierge, dropping to his knees in the lobby, petted Angela in exactly the right way — trust me, there is a right way and the dog can tell at once. I could see her relax, and with that, my worries faded away.
From that moment on, it was glorious. The staff were attentive but laid-back, and I was like a kid in a sweet shop, exploring our suite (yes, we had a suite) with its personal butler service.
Beautifully decorated, with those expert touches that confirm the staff have stayed in a fair few hotels themselves and know what’s needed, it was at once sumptuous and comfortable. The beautiful dog bed was Barbour, as well as the collar and lead (for use during the stay).
Just as we were admiring yet more lovely details — the mat embroidered with Angela’s name, my initials on my pillowcase and a special Blue Peter-themed cake to mark my time presenting the show, to name but three — Jamie Griffen arrived.
Dog groomer to the stars (including an X-Factor judge, a Harry Potter star and a Bond girl), Jamie is as kind as he is professional.
It’s so reassuring to watch your beloved pet being thoroughly tidied and primped, while they’re thinking it’s all part of a lovely game with a friend. I had a divine massage, too, while Angela was cared for in our room.
Later, I ate dinner at the Holborn Dining Room — Angela came too and slept under the table. Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London’s largest public square, is two minutes from the hotel and was the perfect spot to walk Angela. The juxtaposition of the busy metropolis beyond the peaceful and calm interior of the hotel is a delight.
I live in London, but our stay gave us both time to explore and enjoy being in our city.
The owner-and-pet experience at Rosewood is therapeutic and uplifting. We both slept like tops and our good moods lasted well beyond our breakfast for two (Angela devoured a Lily’s Kitchen chicken and turkey tin, as well as homemade biscuits from the Rosewood kitchen).
As Angela would say, they didn’t put a paw wrong.
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