It’s true. Checking-in with a dog is even less complicated than
registering with a child. Unlike a curious toddler, a well-trained
pup will sit and stay when told, and unlike a pre-teen who wants
CDs and expensive souvenirs, your canine companion craves nothing
more than an “atta-boy” and a bowl of cold water.
Such reasoning, coupled with new pet-friendly hotel policies
plus laments about missing our dog from my daughter at a Boston
college and from my son living in Manhattan, sent my husband and
I down the highway. We drove from our home in Washington, D.C.
for a family rendezvous in New York City accompanied by Beau,
our 140-pound Newfoundland, who has a big heart, a playful attitude,
and, often, a mouth full of drool.
Saliva aside, big pets, unlike “pocketbook” pooches,
get turned away at city hotels, the majority of which only let
sleeping dogs lie if they weigh less than 15-25-pounds.
That’s why we overnighted at Loews Philadelphia. All 19
properties welcome four paws of any size and their “people”
pay no additional cleaning fees. As part of the Loews Loves Pets
program, Beau, at check-in, retrieved a welcome bag with bowls,
chew toys, and carob and peanut butter nibbles. I, alas, got nothing
but the room key.
Settling in, Beau munched his treats and slurped some water,
while I, hungry from passing up the roadside eateries that bar
anything that barks, fought off the temptation to try the “all
natural” canine candies—at least for 15-minutes. Then,
I bit in. Don’t bother. Dog biscuits give new meaning to
the term “bone dry,” plus they’re bitter.
Eschewing the food we packed for Beau, we crossed the street
to the Hard Rock Café. Taking their neon “Love all,
Serve all” sign at face value, we ordered burgers to go
for lunch, then browsed Anthropology, Urban Outfitters, and other
dog-friendly Center City shops.
For dinner, we grabbed a sidewalk table at Rouge, across from
grassy Rittenhouse Square. We chatted with passersby who liked
Beau’s teddy bear looks so much they scratched his tummy.
We also met the ‘regulars,” the bulldog, Labrador,
boxer and Chihuahua who frequently waddle to Rouge with their
humans for a warm hello and the biscuits the hostess keeps in
a jar near the door.
But later that night, when Beau and I walked back alone on a
quiet section of Walnut Street did I truly discover how dogs turn
strangers into friends. Even with a big dog, I remained nervous
along the several yet-to-be-gentrified blocks. Just when I wanted
Beau to step lively, he spooked, backing up into traffic. Despite
my death grip on the leash, I couldn’t pull Beau back on
the sidewalk before the light changed causing cars to barrel towards
In seconds a group of men--the hangers-out and the homeless I
worried about-- converged to help. Two stopped traffic, two monitored
the periphery in case Beau took off, while the others assisted
me in calming Beau, advising that I re-route him around the block.
I thanked them, genuinely touched by their kindness and ashamed
at my own city-bred assumptions.
Wiser, the next day we headed to the heart of the “Big
Apple:” New York’s Times Square and the W hotel, a
newly dog-friendly property that welcomes canines up to 80-pounds.
That would still leave Beau without a room at the inn, except
that the W Times Square accepts well-behaved big dogs at the discretion
of the manager. Despite the drool, we knew Beau qualified.
Even though the gift dog collar, pet bed, bowl, and ball proved
too small for a big boy like Beau, he liked the hotel with its
view of flashing Broadway lights and its tiled entranceway and
bathroom floor on which he endlessly dumped his water bowl so
that he could stretch out on the damp tile, a decidedly Newfoundland
After his walks, Beau sashayed in the W’s lobby, the Living
Room, planting sloppy dog kisses on the willing and receiving
hugs. In a city where most canines come in miniature, Beau amazed
even usually blasé New Yorkers, drawing them into conversations
He especially savored his doggy massage, available at all five
Manhattan W hotels. (Don’t laugh). Just as a good rub down
eases your aches and soothes your mind, it does the same for dogs.
Licensed animal therapist, Lisa Veyka, kneaded Beau’s spine,
worked the acupuncture points along his ears, “milked”
his thigh muscles, stroked his paws and massaged his muzzle. After
a few minutes, Beau sighed, snored, passed gas, and fell into
a deep, sweet sleep.
The only real city problem for Beau: a bad case of the gotta-find-a-tree
near Broadway blues. We walked and walked, pointing out the virtues
of trashcans and fire hydrants, but to no avail. Accustomed to
greener places, Beau held out for Central Park, a bladder-defying
13-blocks away. That is until Sunday morning. When David, my husband,
crossed the street with Beau who lifted his leg and let go, David
and the W’s doormen cheered as if Beau had scored a winning
Acclimated to concrete, crowds, and the clatter of cars, Beau’s
ready for a return visit. And so are we. My children loved seeing
him, and we enjoyed the instant friends Beau found for us.
Who Lets the Dogs in and Why
Of the 62 million people in the U.S. who own dogs, 29 million
travel with them, according to the Travel Industry Association
of America. Even more dog lovers are likely to bring along their
canine companions as savvy hotels gear up for animal guests.
To be sure your four paws trip doesn’t turn into a series
of faux pas, pick a pet-friendly property.
--Loews Loves Pets welcomes cats and dogs of any size without
adding a cleaning fee to the room rate. Pet walking and pet sitting
services are available, but extra. With the Houndly Holidays package,
a one-night stay includes an in-room pet meal, dinner for two
people in the restaurant, as well as a doggie bag of leftovers,
plus a free in-room movie. Rates from $175 from Nov. 25, 2003
to February 15, 2004. 800-23-LOEWS. Loews Philadelphia, 215-627-1200;
For dog-friendly walks, restaurants and stores in the city of
brotherly love, read Philly Dogs Have More Fun
(Camino Books) by Carol S. Armen.
--Starwood LTD, love that dog, debuted in August. Westin, Sheraton,
and W hotels court canines with deluxe pillow beds, water bowls,
and savory treats. A $25 cleaning fee is required. Although Westin
limits hospitality to critters weighing 40-pounds or less, both
the Sheraton and W properties accept dogs up to 80-pounds. The
W properties, however, welcome larger, friendly dogs at the managers’
discretion. Call ahead. W: 877-W-hotels; Westin and Sheraton:
Lisa Veyka offers pet massages at the New York Dog Spa &
Hotel, 212-243-1798, at the NYC W hotels, and she does house calls
in Manhattan and Brooklyn. www.dogspa.com
--The Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa welcomes dogs of
any size to its 40-acre property. Owners must pay an additional
$50 fee. Dogs romp on lawns and in nearby parks. Dog walkers can
be arranged. 800-228-9290 www.marriotthotels.com
--For information on more pet-friendly properties, check these