As any pet owner knows, going away on holiday can be a disaster waiting to happen if it’s not well thought out. But it needn’t be difficult. Culture Trip rounds up the destinations and places to stay in the United Kingdom that are about as pet-friendly as it gets.
The Lake District, in Cumbria, regularly tops the polls as one of Britain’s best beauty spots. This is all down to its glorious mountains, meadows and lakes, which render it a Cultural Landscape and World Heritage Site by Unesco standards. There’s no shortage of walking tracks here, and dogs will be in their element. A few favourite spots include Whinlatter Forest, Cat Bells and Grizedale Forest.
Feel like a massage after a long day’s rambling with your dog? The four-star Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, in Keswick, Derwentwater, is on hand to help with luxury treatments in its top-notch spa, which comprises a Finnish sauna and salt steam room. As you recharge, you’ll be able to leave your pooch in your room, with a bed and bowl provided by the hotel. Meanwhile, at dinner, you can dine with your pet in the side lounge, otherwise they will have to wait patiently while you eat in the restaurants or lounge bar.
The Peak District is recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty in the UK, and there are so many ways to spend your time here, from walking and hiking to rock climbing, caving and even cheese-making. Dog-friendly days out lean towards walks on routes such as the Riverside Ramble, the Valley Circuit and the Dales Walk.
The 18th-century Charles Cotton Hotel, in the village of Hartington, is a cosy village pub and hotel that retains its original look and feel with wood beams throughout. Two of the rooms here are pet-friendly, and it’s in a prime location 8mi (11km) from Dovedale National Nature Reserve. You’re also at the heart of the Peak District’s cheese production and you can taste local supplies in the hotel’s lauded bistro.
This area of outstanding natural beauty sits northwest of London and stretches across five historic counties. It includes cities and towns such as Bath, Oxford and Stroud – with all destinations united by unspoilt old-English charm. It is the Great British countryside at its best.
Just north of Gloucester, the Tewkesbury Park Hotel offers a remote luxury escape from city living. This grand hotel is set in 176 acres (71ha) of parkland so where better to base yourself where the dog can run loose in the grounds. Patio doors, a feature of the hotel’s dog-friendly rooms, lead out directly onto the grass. Your four-legged friend can’t go everywhere in the hotel of course – dogs are not particularly welcome on the 18-hole golf course, the indoor tennis courts or in the pool – however, they can join you for a pre-dinner drink at the piano bar.
Open moorlands, deep river valleys, rare wildlife – Dartmoor National Park in Devon is a beautiful corner of southwest England. Ancient woodlands and remains of Bronze Age settlements can be discovered on walks of varying difficulty, and it can be done with your pet in tow.
Soak up Dartmoor’s dramatic landscapes with a stay at this Grade II*-listed former manor housel. Set in 275 acres (111ha) of one corner of the park, the five-star Bovey Castle allows for 360-degree views of the countryside. You might get to enjoy the view, but only post walk. Back in the hotel, dogs are allowed in most of the 59 bedrooms – just check beforehand.
The South Downs run across the coastal counties of Hampshire and East and West Sussex and comprise one of the Britain’s newest National Parks, having gained recognition in 2009. These chalk hills span 260sqmi (673sqkm), and are crisscrossed with numerous trails to suit hikers and bikers of all abilities. The dog is free to roam, but do be careful where there are fields with livestock in.
Dating back to 1430, the Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa is one of England’s oldest coaching inns. As such it makes for a charming countryside hotel that’s rooted in tradition. That doesn’t mean it lacks modern touches, though. There’s a spa to unwind in, and the rooms are rather contemporary in feel. They accommodate dogs here – but, be warned, only well-behaved ones.
Snowdonia is home to the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon, which can take up to seven hours to reach the summit and back. It should be high on your agenda when you’re here, and even if you don’t want to walk to the top there are lots of shorter walks the dog will enjoy. Do bring essentials, though, such as walking gear and water – for the dog, too. Treats are handy, as is a spare short lead in case of livestock. And the same goes for a coat – bring one for the dog if he doesn’t like rain.
Not much rivals cosiness in the countryside – and in Snowdonia, no place does it better than the Groes Inn. About half a mile (0.8km) from Snowdonia National Park, this traditional British inn welcomes weary walkers and their four-legged friends to revel in the hotel’s warmth and enjoy views of the Conwy River estuary. But mind, only select rooms accommodate pets.
Head north 45mi (72km) from Glasgow, or 49mi (78km) from Edinburgh, and you’ll find Scotland’s historic county of Perthshire, where you can expect to find forests, rivers, moors and waterfalls – and plenty of peace and quiet. This wilderness could and should be experienced by the whole family, the dog included.
Continue the theme of tranquillity with a stay at the four-star Ballathie Country house Hotel, set in 900 acres (364ha) of countryside. This regal estate was first occupied in the 1880s, and its traditions persevere – such as afternoon tea in the grandiose drawing room. While dogs will have to sit out on the scones and sarnies, they are able to sit with you at breakfast and evenings on request, and you’ll find most bedrooms are more than accommodating.
Spending time outside in nature is a trip to the Scottish Borders well done – whether mountain biking, boating, horse riding or walking. The latter is favoured with a mutt in areas such as Abbey St Bathans, Abbotsford, Broughton or Chirnside.
Set in more than 4 acres (1.6ha) of gardens and the Nithsdale Valley woodlands, Trigony House Hotel is a paradise for pooches and their outdoor-loving owners. This hotel, just off the A76 in Dumfries and Galloway, is pet-friendly throughout and boasts wonderful garden spa complete with a wood-fired Swedish hot tub and Finnish sauna cabin. There are only 10 rooms here, so advance booking is essential.