So you read our previous post and now your dog lights up every time you mention the car. You both are just waiting to hit the hekking road. There’s just that one small bit about finding a Hotel for Dogs! We wish we could say that it’s as simple as typing “pet friendly hotels in India” in Google or turning on the pet-friendly filter in Airbnb. While all that, and several other means would show results, the amount of pseudo-ism in those results can be outright disheartening! Over our years of planning pawcations at TailTrails we’ve encountered everything from places with ridiculous “terms and conditions” to hosts who suddenly get struck by “unavoidable emergency”. And if you have more than one dog, and if one of them happens to be an Indie, well, you might as well have COVID19! But there’s always a bone at the end of every dig. We’ve always managed to find some absolutely pawsome places to roll around and met some of the most amazing hoomans who have gone out of the way to make sure our dogs wag their tails in delight. In this second part of our Road Tripping series we share with you our way of locating the best places to stay with your dog and list out some fabulous places we have stayed at!
We’ve come to realize that it is very easy to feel drained and completely out of hope when you try to find the perfect place for you and your dog to stay on your road trip. As you start your search it would appear that from the biggest hospitality brands in the country to the humblest homestay, everyone what’s your dog frolicking around their properties. The joy ends pretty much there. As you start calling these places to make a booking you’ll come to know of the pseudo-ness of most of them. As more and more places humbly turn you down, it might seem better to just spend time at home. We had that. That’s exactly when we realized that the key is to screen better even before making the call. Here’s how we go about it:
- We prefer generic searches using Google or Tripadvisor. They are way more honest than the specialized hotel search websites.
- Completely steer clear of the big well known brands. These places have Pet Policies that are outright disrespectful to your dog. While a whole list of hotel areas being out to bounds to your dog is common, you will find ridiculous stuff like weight restriction of 7 kgs!
- The best place to start is highly rated local properties and the first thing to check is the mention dogs in the customer reviews. Check if the place gets a regular traffic of people with dogs. Remember, seeing always is believing. Hunt out if customers are sharing pics of their dogs at the property.
- If the reviews seem promising, the next step is read from the horse’s stable, a.k.a. the property’s website. We consider a mention of pet-friendliness on the property’s homepage in big bold fonts (not hidden in a footer) to be a sign that the place is serious about being pet friendly. The best thing would be if the website mentions that they have their own pets on the property. Finally check if the website’s gallery has some pics of dogs on the property. A website proudly announcing pet friendliness rather than calling it an amenity is what you want to see!
- The last stuff to do is reaffirm that the property walks the talk. Here comes social media to help. Head over to the property’s social media pages and see how they talk about dogs there. Are they marketing their pet friendliness? Are they putting out special offers about coming over with pets? More importantly, check comments people put on pet friendly campaign posts. Check out the FB Page of The Road’s End, Coorg. You’ll find the perfect example of what a place that truly cares about it’s furry guests says and what their customers reminisce back!
Make The Call
Now that you have separated the cream from the milk (that has probably split), it’s time to call the properties for confirmation. Here again the strategy to be most effective and least flustered is to have your list of eliminating questions ready and not beat around the bush if the answer of the business to any question in the sequence seems not direct. Here’s our list and in that order:
- Confirm if the property really does allow dogs. This would be most required for businesses that don’t have their own website.
- If you have more than one dog, make sure the property allows more than one dog per room or at a time. Some businesses might have difficulty here. That doesn’t mean they are pseudos, it’s just that their rooms might not be big enough or they may not have had experience with more than a dog. It’s fair enough and best not to pester.
- Where would the dogs stay on the property? For us this is the most important question. Some properties need the dogs to stay in a separate designated area and cannot come to their human’s room. Now it totally depends on you and how your arrangement is at home. Our dogs stay and sleep with us. So we can’t go to a place that have a separate place for the dogs. But, if your dogs have their own space at home, the same might work for you during the pawcation too. In this case though we suggest ask the property to send some pics of the dog accommodation. You need to know what you are committing to.
- Are there any restrictions on the movement of the dogs or are there areas that are out of bounds for the dogs? Some restrictions are acceptable. After all not everyone is a dog person and it’s never bad to respect the space of other guests. So if the property says dogs are not allowed in the restaurant, that’s fine! But saying dogs can’t play in the grounds is not. Then you are clearly a pseudo!
- Can the dogs stay in the room alone? Well, it’s a pawcation and you’d think why would they stay alone at all! But trust us, there will be times when you will have to leave them alone. There would be times when you’d want to head out for dinner. Or just want to check out the mall. There’s no reason to feel guilty about it. On every family vacation the grown ups get to have their own time while the kids sleep or play in the room. A pawcation is no different. So make sure your accommodation is ok to let you leave your dog alone in the room.
- What kind of arrangements can the property make for food for your dog? This would matter a lot if your dog eats fresh cooked meals atleast once a day. If you’ve liked the property so far and they can’t get food for your dog, it might be worth discussing what else can be done. Full service accommodations would not have much problems. How much trouble could boiled chicken be. For a bare bones B-n-B or a vegetarian place it could be a challenge.
- Where would your dog do her stuff? The poo-poo pee-pee stuff! Does the property have a designated spot where you can take your dog and then clean up, or do you need to go out and do “khule-mein-souch”? Either works, as long as you know.
- Does the property have their own dogs? Generally this is great! There is no bigger affirmation of pet friendliness than a property having it’s own dogs. But it does create a slight complexity. We all know dogs have their packs and territories. The space of the property you will be staying in is the territory of the dogs that live their. They’ll not be hunky dory about your dog swaging in. So you’ll have to work out with the property owner or manager how that whole dynamics will work. But a property with dogs is the best property you can find.
- Are there any additional charges for hosting your dog? While a property without charges will have all our respect, we understand why a charge may be needed. A place where a dog has stayed needs a little more than thorough cleaning. Dog hair can be a tough nut. So it’s ok to if an accommodation charges a reasonably extra amount for hosting your dog, just make sure you ask what the charge covers.
Those are our fundamental 9 sacred questions. Other than that depending on the kind of experience we want to have, we have some addon questions. Like for our beach pawcations we check if the property is on the beach, and if not, how far the beach is? For trekking experiences we like places that are in the midst of a bit of wilderness. For times when we want to completely relax with a book under a tree, we check if the property has a large open but gated space where our dogs can chase squirrels while we gun through the reading list. But first come the sacred 9! Once you have all these answered you are all set to make the reservation, block the room and get a confirmation. Make sure your confirmation explicitly calls out that you are coming with your dog and list out the exact number of guests – Dogs and Hoomans!
Now the part you were waiting for the most – our recommendations. We’ve always been happy with all the places that we have stayed with our dogs. And it’s not easy to please us. We are a party of 3 dogs and 2 hoomans with very unique personalities and temperaments. So a place that can deal with Abbie’s daintiness, Auro’s goofiness and Genie’s puppyhood has earned it’s Dog Friendly Badge of Honour!
This is the place we keep returning to because every time it feels like we are going to visit a loving relative. Their hospitality starts way before your reach. We’ve always got a call on the day of arrival asking when we’d reach and what would the dogs want for dinner. Every time the food for the dogs is ready as we reach. This is a homestay run by a husband-wife couple who stay on the property with their 2 kids. The place is in the middle of banana plantations with mud tracks for you to go on a walk with your dog any time of the day. The rooms are wonderfully furnished with one extra large cottage that they have designated specially for guests with dogs. You can get home cooked meals for yourself and your dog. The dogs stay with you in the room and there’s no extra charge. For the hoomans the best part is that the place is 3 mins drive from the 2 of the popular architectural sites in Hampi and 15 mins to the most visited Vijaya Vittala Temple. Your dog can happily doze in the room while you do a bit of site seeing. The owners would keep an eye on him and let you know if you ever need to hurry back. We’ve never had to. Our suggestion is to never miss the early morning and evening walks on the stretch of road towards the left of the property as you exit it. You’ll find a unmarked Hampi ruin after a small bridge over a canal stretch. Don’t miss the selfies with your buddy and the ruins in the background! The hosts are not the most tech-savvy people and don’t have a website or much of social media activity. But when it comes to the real brick and mortar world, we’d check in here any day! You can book through the aggregators’ site or directly with the property. They’ll be equally good to you in either case.
Road’s End is literally at the end of a road that meanders through coffee and pepper plantations and opens up into a vast expanse of greenery with a tiny brook gurgling behind beautiful hut shaped cottages. In the midst of this misty land two uber cute furbabies wait for you. The Road’s End is home two of the friendliest dogs we know – Ginger and Skittles. Ginger is always eager to take you on mystical Ginger Trails to all his favorite spots in the surrounding areas and Skittles will never leave your cottage’s porch if you cuddle her once. They both are even featured on the property’s website and FB page. If you want your dogs to make new friends and run around free and go on digging adventures, this is the place for you. There are no restrictions on the movement of your dogs and the staff will go out of the way to accommodate their food requirements. The property has individual cottages with balconies protected by railings. The cottages are way bigger than you can imagine with the balcony as big as some hotel rooms! The balcony is the perfect spot for your dog to laze around in the afternoon after a morning full of activity. While there are several activities to do for the hoomans at the property’s clubhouse, we just like to settle into the hammock with a book while the dogs curl up in the shady sun under the bamboo hedges. And then there’s amazing Coorgi food that’s served at the hooman meal times. And when in Coorg, how can you do without that overdose of coffee. The place and the climate lend and amazing aroma and richness to the smoky cup. Once you are done lazing around, just shout out “Ginger” and stand near the gate. You’ll find a brown furball bound towards you and then will begin the Ginger Trails. No, this is not one of the offerings of the property. That’s what we call all the walks Ginger used to lead us to; all on his own self! Watch his moves and follow him. He’ll never lead you astray and never take you to any place you are not supposed to be. He’s like Gandalf, just smaller, all fur, no beard and a bit wheatish (not being racist)!
On the more touristy side, Road’s End is located roughly an hour’s drive from the Madikeri town and the Buddhist monastery town of Bylakuppe. You can do a half day tour of these places while your dogs relax in the cottages. The staff will be happy to keep an eye on them. Finally, there’s always the Nagarhole Forest Reserve just 30 mins drive from Road’s End. We are dog people for sure, but we don’t mind the big kitty from afar!
If a beach pawcation is on your mind, Montego Beach is the prefect fit for you. The property wears it’s dog friendliness on it’s sleeves and proudly calls in out on their website and FB and Insta. You can see there care for dogs every night when the strays from the beach come in to sleep at their designated spots inside the property.
Montego Bay has several wooden cottages and a colonial era refurbished villa in the middle. The villa’s porch would be the perfect place for your dogs to relax after their beach run. Every wooden cottage has it’s own little porch too. The property is right on Morjim beach which is one the few non-touristy beaches where the locals go about their life and you are not hounded by people offering foot massages and water sports. The long flat beach goes deep into the sea and you can take your buddy on a long walk right upto the point where the Chapora River meets the Arabian Sea. Once you are back and have worked up an appetite, order some fresh Rawa Fried King Fish for yourself and the special meal for your dog at the property’s sea facing restaurant. The kitchen will send out the perfectly crispy fish for you and the bowl full of rice, chicken and veges for your dog. After you are done filling up, retire on to one of the hammocks under the coconut trees with your buddy snoozing under. Once you get up the sea awaits! Beach adventures are great for dogs. There’s nothing that exercises the muscles like a brush with the waves. Montego Beach is the perfect anchor for your pawventures on the beach.
Just a word about the beach. All the properties and restaurants around the Morjim beach care for the strays. We wish more businesses had similar hearts. This is also a fishing beach. So the strays have ample food. That also means there are quite a few of them and this is their territory. Make sure your dog is always on leash and you carry a stick to warn any of the bossy local strays. These beach dogs are not overtly menacing in nature. They are just regular dogs that want to guard their territory. Once they know you and your dog and understand that with the stick in hand, you are the bigger dog , they’ll leave you alone. We have even seen some of the local pets play with the free-bird strays. But that takes time and would not happen if you are on a 5 days pawcation. So, just keep an eye out and enjoy the sand, the sun and the sea!
If your dog is a water baby and you have a thing for beautiful sunrises and mystical moon rises, you have to roll your car into Leo Wooden Resort. Situated right on the banks of the mighty Tungabhadra, this property has lineup of quaint air conditioned wooden cottages facing the river and an eating area that is practically on the river. The place is dog friendly and they call it out on their website. Every morning as the sun streams into the room, head down to the river for a splash with your buddy. Do keep in mind that this is the Tungabhadra we are talking about. It packs power and around the resort it is mighty broad. So, don’t jump in where it seems like you’ll have the most fun! Those are the kind of places where accidents happen. The good thing is that around the bank you’ll find these small crevices guarded with rocks where the water flows in but there’s hardly any force. Those are the spots your dog would enjoy the most splashing around. The rooms are basic with no TVs (thank God for that). The beds are comfortable and the bathroom is wonderful with geysers for hot water. Your dog would love the wooden flooring. If you are one of those people who likes to see the moon go up sitting on the porch with your buddy, you might never want to leave the Leo Wooden Resort.
About the food! They don’t really have a dog menu, but they can cook up a quick meal of rice, chicken and some eggs for your dog. The human menu is decent, a tad bit (a big tad) spicy though. The best part is the fish! It comes right out of the river, almost on demand! The breakfast is good enough. The aloo paratha is as good as the masala dosa!
On the whole Leo is a fairly basic place which is made exceptional by being located on the river. It’s the kind of place where you do nothing other that sitting on the bank with your dog and watch the river flow by. But never take the leash off and never let go of it. Remember that you are sitting in front a force of nature and you are accompanied by a dog who’s fundamental nature is to go nuts at the sight of water. Of course, if you dog is an Indie, there’s no worry. Indies hate drinking water, dunking is out of the question!
Phew, that was a loooooooong one. But then finding a hotel for dogs is no mean feat. We hope the stuff here helps you ease out the mission of finding the perfect place to lazy out with your buddy. As you go about the mission, you will want to give up several times. Just remember that your dog had the option of giving up every time you were unable to play with him because there was that hour long call with the client which never got any results. Had he given up all those times, he’d be a sad sad dog. Pursuit of Happyness wasn’t meant to be easy. But he never stopped showing up behind your chair with his ball dripping with drool while you were working from home. And then finally you gave in!