It’s true, the Brits love their dogs.
In fact, 27% of United Kingdom households include a dog (or two or three) as part of their family. The 2020 and 2021 pandemic lockdowns only added to their canine love affair with online searches on "how to adopt a puppy" surging by 120% in Britain, while waiting lists for popular breeds closed because demand outstripped supply.
Now all these pet-owning families are planning their holidays in Britain and turning to resources like Dog Friendly Destinations, Dog Friendly Britain: Cool Places to Stay with Your Dog and latest guide to hit the market Dog-Friendly Weekends for inspiration for their next travel adventure with their new best friend.
Why you have to take your dog on holiday?
For many dog owners going away for a break without their doggo is such an emotional wrench it has the potential to ruin a holiday. Most wouldn’t dream of leaving their dog with anyone else, so pet-friendly accommodation is booming. And it’s not just country pubs and small hotels that are setting themselves up to cater for dogs. You’ll find remote cabins, luxury hotels, cosy gastropubs, boutique B&Bs, yurts and glamping spots across the country happy to go the extra mile to host your furry companion. As well as offering great places to stay, and to eat, many are in stunning locations to explore on long walks with your canine buddy. Can you think of a better way to vacation?
What to look out for when booking a dog-friendly stay
We asked Lottie Gross, author of Dog-Friendly Weekends for her top tips on how to spot a great place to stay with your dog. “Plenty of hotels and accommodation providers say they're dog friendly, but are actually just dog tolerant,” Lottie told Lonely Planet.
“To find a genuinely dog-friendly stay, look out for the little added extras, such as bowls and beds provided in the room, treats on arrival or even outdoor showers for post-muddy walk washes. These are signs that the accommodation has really thought about what dog owners need.
“Also, check the property's dog rules. There's nothing worse than having to spend the entire time telling your dog off if they're not allowed on the bed or sofa (or you could just bring a couple of throws to protect the furniture so you can snuggle up soundly together).
Author of Dog Friendly Britain: Cool Places to Stay with Your Dog Martin Dunford also shared: “What surprised me was the length some places go to cater for dogs and their owners, even in a city like London. One hotel in the city even holds dog film nights and dog tea parties. And the staff at all of these places have a super-friendly attitude.”
How to be a good dog-owning holidaymaker
Finding a place that welcomes you and your pooch with open arms and goes the extra mile will make your holiday with your dog a happier one. But it’s also worth noting that dog owners need to be considerate when they’re traveling too, especially in nature.
“The most important thing when traveling with your dog is to be responsible and sustainable”, explains Lottie. “That means keeping your dog on a leash when in new environments where you don't know what wildlife might be disturbed by their presence (ground-nesting birds, for example), and picking up and properly disposing of that poo. Regardless of whether it's off the path or in the middle of a farmer's field, dog poo is toxic and you should always pick it up to ensure it doesn't damage the ecology of the area.”
Things to consider when catching the train with your dog
While it’s easy to hop in a car and head off on a mini-break with your dogs, not everyone in the UK has access to a car. The good news is that holidaying with a dog is very achievable by train in Britain.
Brighton barber, Buck Rumstache, adopted his rescue pup McKenzie from Wood Green, The Animals Charity in 2019, and goes on regular getaways together. “It doesn’t cost any extra to take your dog on a train in the UK,” Buck explained, “And I have found staff are always super excited to see him, and are generally really accommodating.”
You do need to consider how far you want to travel by train with your dog before booking those train tickets. “I usually try not to travel for more than two hours on a train with McKenzie,” says Buck. “If I was going to go further afield, like say one of my favorite British destinations, Whitby, I plan a decent break somewhere along the way to take my dog for a walk and a toilet break.”
Places to stay with you dog in 2022
Luxury stay at Cliveden House, Thames Valley
Set in 376 acres of National Trust gardens and woodlands, this five-star luxury hotel has played host to movie stars and royalty over its 300-year history. It also gives four-legged guests the royal treatment with their own towel, food bowls, and a doggie bed, not to mention dog-friendly dining options at the onsite Astor Grill, and miles of woodland paths to explore. Doggie guests must be well-behaved and over a year old. And during the school holidays, they get to stay for free.
Self-catering cottages by East Ruston Cottages in Norfolk
Recommended by Lottie Gross, the cottages available through East Ruston Cottages in Norfolk (winners of the self-catering accommodation category in the Dog-Friendly Magazine awards in 2019, 2020 and 2021) are designed for dogs "with humans in mind". They offer everything a dog owner needs (including cooling coats and mats for hot weather), plus they all have enclosed gardens and let you know if the place will be suitable for different dog types. All of them are a short traveling distance to dog-friendly beaches.
Camping with your doggo across the United Kingdom
The online campers website Pitchup has listings for over 5000 campsites, glamping spots and holiday parks that can be filtered for dog-friendly options. You’ll find places to stay with your dog from farmers' fields to shepherd’s huts which welcome dogs and their owners. Listings are dotted all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and can be filtered by recommended or user ratings. So pack that tent, a sleeping bag and your camping-friendly canine companions and sleep out in the great outdoors this summer.
Unwind with yoga, a spa or a gong bath at Retreat East, Suffolk Coast
Set on the Suffolk Coast, this former dairy farm now hosts guests and their dogs in a country house or surrounding luxury barns. There’s also an onsite spa, yoga classes and sound meditation so why not book some pet-sitting and pamper yourself while you’re here. And for families with more than one pooch, there’s good news: two dogs can stay per barn. Pets are expected to be kept on lead in communal areas of course.