Our guide to the best dog-friendly hotels in the UK

Jane pictured with her two sons and pet dog Pip 

The last time we went on holiday, our little dog, Pip, was left behind. Not alone — she was at home happily snuggled up on the sofa with au-pair Nikola.

But we missed her, terribly. Our sons, aged six and eight, usually the best of friends, bickered and fought. We all felt off-key and over the long, hot fortnight, pestered poor Nikola — first for photos of eight-month-old Pip (a Jack Russell/Plummer terrier cross), then videos of her chewing tennis balls and chasing pigeons. One day, after too many glasses of holiday rose, we actually tried to FaceTime her (I know, I know…) and felt very silly.

So when I heard about PetsPyjamas — a travel concierge service for people who want to holiday with their pets — instead of thinking, ‘what a ridiculous idea, it’s just a bloody dog’, I called them immediately and discovered they could fix up pretty much anything.

Fancy a coastal cottage where your pooch can gallop across golden sands? They can sort it. City break? No problem. The Lanesborough hotel in London’s Knightsbridge even has a butler to walk your dog while you shop.

How about really pushing the boat out at £445-a-night Cliveden House, in Berkshire — backdrop to the Sixties Profumo scandal? Absolutely! Cliveden even has a canine concierge, a dog that personally welcomes visiting hounds. Pets can also select gourmet meals from the chef’s canine menu. No wonder model David Gandy and his rescue dog, Dora, are such PetsPyjamas fans.

For us, they suggested the Feversham Arms Hotel in Helmsley, North Yorkshire — a stylish mix of old stone, modern glass, walls festooned with works from local artists and, frankly, with its outdoor heated pool and award-winning spa, not really the sort of place you’d expect to bring your dog.

But they clearly love animals because every time we appear, the beaming staff greet Pip by name. Her welcome pack in our poolside family suite outshone ours — two bowls, a rug with a natty bone design, a selection of tasty treats and a furry mallard duck toy.

Even better, because PetsPyjamas’ 12 canine reviewers (yes, really) have personally reviewed every hotel, B&B or cottage, and there is screeds of information about what to do in the area.

So we know Helmsley (pronounced ’Elmsley), a pretty market town in Ryedale on the edge of the Vale of Pickering, is dog heaven.

It has its own (dog-friendly) medieval stone castle to visit, complete with beautiful gardens, a fantastic butcher who dispenses bones, an award-winning deli, about a thousand tea shops, a slew of antiques shops (none dog-friendly) and the wonderfully higgledy-piggledy Black Swan — the Feversham’s sister hotel, right on the market square, which also welcomes dogs.

The ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 and seized by Henry VIII in 1538 during his dissolution of the monasteries, can be reached by a seven-mile circular walk.

Feversham Arms Hotel in Helmsley is a stylish mix of old stone, modern glass, walls festooned with works from local artists, an outdoor heated pool and award-winning spa

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Feversham Arms Hotel, Helmsley, North Yorkshire, from £140 per night, two dogs welcome. The Black Swan at Helmsley, from £145 per night, two dogs welcome. Book at PetsPyjamas.com. Includes complimentary access to 24/7 PawSquad Vet Line for the duration of your stay.

Rising from a wooded vale, the scale is astonishing — sweeping arches and great halls the size of football pitches — and the audio guide, in the surprisingly perky voice of a supposedly long-dead Cistercian monk, is the only one ever to have held my boys’ interest: ‘Wow! D’you think he’s a zombie monk?’

We spend a couple of hours pottering about and rolling down grassy banks until, fuelled by an unusual pairing of Coca-Cola and fistfuls of the peppery wild garlic that grows in lush green carpets in the woods, we head back so the boys can jump into the Feversham’s steaming outdoor pool and I can slide off to the sleek spa.

In some hotels, the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds for one, PetsPyjamas will arrange a spa treatment for your dog alongside you. I love Pip, but had to draw the line somewhere.

She had breakfast with us — dogs at the Feversham get their own place setting in the tartan bar with a starched white napkin, plus bone-shaped biscuits. At dinner, we left her conked out on our suite’s under-heated floor and opted for the light-filled, dog-free restaurant where the food was sublime and the boys weirdly well-behaved.

For our next outing, we boarded the lovingly buffed and polished North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam train at Pickering.

What a delight, eating 99 ice creams as we puff deep into the moors, through bracken and pink gorse, with birds of prey circling ahead and Pip barking like a mad thing at adders. Holidaying with your dog is a surprising joy. Not least, because it’s a bit like having a baby all over again (but without the plastic paraphernalia) and you somehow end up chatting to, well, everyone.

It was at the end of another perfect day, over pints of cider and vast cheese and corned beef baps (Pip, too) in the garden of the brilliant Birch Hall Inn in Beck Hole, that we meet the Nicholls family from the Wirral. They have left their Doberman, Clive, at home with a dog sitter.

‘It’s the first holiday in eight years we’ve had without him,’ say dad Keith, a tattooed electrician whose eyes brim as he whips out his phone to share lots of photos of Clive.

Gosh, and how’s it going? ‘We’re missing him so badly we’re going home early!’ the whole family chorus. ‘We can’t wait to see his silly face again.’

Of course they can’t. If only they’d heard of PetsPyjamas then Clive would be here too, happily wolfing corned beef baps with Pip.

Here are 10 other fab finds for Fido… 

WALKS ON THE WILD SIDE

With its own five acres, and 368 square miles of Dartmoor’s valleys and tors on the doorstep, Prince Hall, Yelverton in Devon, is perfect for energetic hounds. Doggie welcome packs include organic fresh meat, which can be eaten in one of nine comfortable rooms overlooking the West Dart river. Guides are available for bird watching and wildlife walks. The countryside here inspired Conan Doyle to write The Hound Of The Baskervilles.

Details: B&B (same for all) doubles from £120 (princehall.co.uk, 01822 890403). No charge for up to two dogs.

HOME FROM HOME

Golden retriever Roxy is meet-and-greeter at award-winning Trigony House Hotel and Garden Spa in Thornhill

Golden retriever Roxy is meet-and-greeter at award-winning Trigony House Hotel and Garden Spa in Thornhill

Golden retriever Roxy is meet-and-greeter at award-winning Trigony House Hotel and Garden Spa in Thornhill, Dumfries, set in four acres of woods and gardens. Enjoy homemade snacks (both of you), open fires and a walking guide before you drool over local produce in menus that include wheat-free and vegan options. The dining room’s off limits (one guest dressed their dog in a tuxedo for dinner at the bar instead). There’s reiki energy therapy for dogs, to help physical or emotional problems, falconry and fishing.

Details: Doubles from £125 b&b (trigonyhotel.co.uk, 01848 331211). Dogs £9.50 a night.

PAMPER & PAWSECCO

After walking along the Ribble Valley back to The Lawrence Hotel in Padiham, Lancashire, you and Fido can expect in-room puppicures, pedicures and pawsecco in matching bathrobes before you head for dinner at The Courtyard Room restaurant. Resident sprocker spaniel Hetti and dog monitors in bedrooms will keep your hound happy meanwhile. The National Trust’s Gawthorpe Hall is nearby.

Details: Doubles from £75 b&b (thelawrencehotel.co.uk, 07366 983956). Dogs £5 a night.

WEDDING BELLES

Northumberland’s 18th-century Newton Hall specialises in weddings with dogs

Northumberland’s 18th-century Newton Hall specialises in weddings with dogs

Aside from romantic rooms, glorious grounds and nearby beaches, Northumberland’s 18th-century Newton Hall specialises in weddings with dogs; not just a puppy as ring bearer, they’ll host your pet’s own nuptials. Humans can enjoy broomstick training at Alnwick Castle (aka Hogwarts), or bird watching on the Farne islands.

Details: Doubles from £130 b&b (newton-hall.com, 01665 576239). Dogs £15 a night. 

SCILLIES’ SOLITUDE

Tiny Bryher (population 80) with its white sandy beaches has just one hotel, Hell Bay. So dog friendly, it once had the same number of dogs as humans staying, and guests can exercise the owner’s labrador and spaniel. At low tide, walk to Tresco for the Abbey Gardens.

Details: Doubles from £145 b&b (hellbay.co.uk, 01720 422947). Dogs £15 a night.

BEACH BOUNDING

You’re a mile from the beach at Bang B&B, traditional rooms ‘bang in’ the middle of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. After hearty breakfast for both, enjoy a bracing beach walk; Holkham and Brancaster one way, Blakeney Point and West Runton the other. RSPB Titchwell (leads on) is nearby.

Details: Doubles from £105 b&b (banginwells.co.uk, 01328 712149). Dogs £5 a night.

HAUTE CUISINE

The Nare hotel overlooking Cornwall’s Carne beach on the Roseland Peninsula offers a la carte for all guests, including dogs

The Nare hotel overlooking Cornwall’s Carne beach on the Roseland Peninsula offers a la carte for all guests, including dogs

The Nare hotel overlooking Cornwall’s Carne beach on the Roseland Peninsula offers a la carte for all guests, including dogs.

Explore the South West Coastal path, Veryan village and its thatched round houses or take a spin in a hired Morgan (complete with picnic hamper).

Details: Doubles from £222 b&b (narehotel.co.uk, 01872 501111). Dogs from £16 a night, free in kennels.

WOODLAND WALKS

Westonbirt arboretum’s on the doorstep of the Hare and Hounds hotel in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. This listed building, its garden and grounds is in the Cotswolds (ie: peak antique shops). Showers, kit and a menu for dogs, a library and a cream tea for you. If your pet’s naughty, threaten a Highgrove House visit (no dogs).

Details: Doubles from £125 b&b (cotswold-inns-hotels.co.uk, 01666 881000). One dog £20 a night, additional dogs £10.

A-LIST LUXURY

A pre-arrival consultation with the pet concierge at five-star Egerton House Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge ensures an indulgent stay

A pre-arrival consultation with the pet concierge at five-star Egerton House Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge ensures an indulgent stay

A pre-arrival consultation with the pet concierge at five-star Egerton House Hotel in London’s Knightsbridge ensures an indulgent stay. Cast iron dog bed, mineral water and teddy bears? Absolutely. You both can enjoy afternoon tea for two; a cake stand with cream scones and pastries for you, meatloaf and ice cream for Fido. Shopping awaits.

Details: Doubles from £300 b&b (egertonhousehotel.com, 0207 589 2412). Dogs go free.

FORESTS & FESTIVALS

Thatched Cottage at Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest offers doggy dinners and pubs for your supper

Thatched Cottage at Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest offers doggy dinners and pubs for your supper

After a Bark Ranger guided walk with a dog behaviour specialist, sailing or visiting the annual dog festival (dogstival.co.uk), you’ll need the cosy respite and gin bar of Thatched Cottage at Brockenhurst in Hampshire’s New Forest. 

There are welcome packs, doggy dinners and pubs for your supper.

Details: Doubles from £119 (thatched-cottage.co.uk, 01590 622005). Dogs £10.


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