My three favourite things in life (aside from all the things you are meant to say) are travel, food and my dogs! This weekend I was fortunate enough to combine all of these on a trip to Lymington, a small town on the edge of the New Forest.
We (6 adults and 2 dogs) stayed in a dog friendly hotel called Stanwell House, right in the heart of the town.
This got me wondering about dog friendly hotels in general, namely how challenging it must be to provide great service, not just to ‘human’ guests, but to those of the canine kind too.
Stanwell House certainly made my two ‘canines’ feel at home right away with the lovely greeting they were given by the staff at reception. I guess the key part of ‘dog friendly’ is the word ‘friendly’ and this was absolutely my first impression of the hotel staff as they stroked and cooed at my two furry boys whilst assigning us to our rooms.
The welcoming feeling continued as we moved into our room to discover some dog treats and a blanket laid out with an accompanying note:
This was a lovely, unexpected surprise and in fact more satisfying to receive than the pack of shortbread biscuits laid out for myself and the hubby, knowing the hotel had cared enough to consider that a happy dog means a happy owner.
I have stayed in ‘dog friendly’ places before where, although dogs were technically allowed, this wasn’t really publicised. This resulted in us feeling like we were doing something wrong during our stay whenever other guests saw our dogs.
Let’s face it – even the most well behaved dog will bark, smell, knock things over, chew stuff, slobber, whine, growl, pee on things – you name it…these are the things that dog lovers let go over their heads. So a ‘dog friendly’ hotel has a big challenge on their hands – striking the right balance between making guests with dogs (and the dogs themselves) feel at home whilst keeping their other guests – those who couldn’t care less about dogs or those (I hate to say it) who detest dogs just as happy.
Stanwell House got this balance spot on. There were no traces of ‘doggy smells’, the hotel was immaculately clean with lots of doors to access the garden areas and there was even a separate eating area for those with dogs which, importantly, didn’t feel cut off from the rest of the dining area.
It’s a lot of fun travelling with your dogs, but my family and I often find it tough to locate half decent accommodation where having a dog on display in a hotel doesn’t offend other guests and make the hotel staff feel uncomfortable. I’d like to hope more of the places who claim to be ‘dog friendly’ follow the example of Stanwell House. Rocco (below) certainly slept very peacefully:
And if you’re wondering about my other love – the food – this was absolutely exceptional. It was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. These pictures don’t do it justice:
Hotel website: http://www.stanwellhousehotel.co.uk