Angela Younger had no idea if the Marriott property at which she recently stayed allowed pets. But her question was answered soon enough when the property became a real “animal house.”
“There was barking all night, dogs fighting in the hallway and pet hair floating in the elevators,” she said. “My room had urine around the base of the toilet, a dirty tub and a nasty carpet. The room smelled like a kennel.”
Lately we’ve seen a proliferation of pets in airport terminals and on hotel properties. And with good reason. It’s expensive to kennel a pet. It can cost between $25 and $45 a night to board your pet while you’re away. That amount can add up when you’re gone for multiple days. Others are bringing service animals with them.
As a result — or maybe because they just can’t stand to be away from their fur babies for more than a day — many travelers are taking Fido and Kitty for a road trip.
This can be bad news for travelers who want a clean, quiet place to spend the night, and hotel chains, generally, don’t seem to be making it easier to find a peaceful haven for them.
Younger makes a good point about the effects of pets’ presence in human lodging. “Train the staff to clean, and tell the truth about allowing pets,” she suggests. “People with health problems are getting the short end of the stick. It’s like paying to sleep in a hotel for dogs.”
Search for the pet policies of the major hotel chains, and you will find yourself in the doghouse. Some properties are forthcoming with their pet policies, but others make you dig for the bone of information for which you’re looking.
Among the chains that make it easy to search for pet-friendly lodging are Marriott, which includes Marriott, Renaissance, and others; Starwood (recently acquired by Marriott), which includes Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, and others; and Hyatt. (Note that while many hotels are corporately owned, some are franchises, and their policies may differ from those of the corporations.)
It’s hard to find web pages or filters related to pets on other chains’ websites, so what’s a traveler to do, whether you want to stay with or avoid our furry friends? You can try a third-party site like petswelcome.comthat will lead you to a place where Man’s Best Friends can snuggle up with you (or keep you from bunking with them).
But pet policies remain a mystery — even if you’re a black belt at Google-Fu. Take, for instance, the Omni Severin in Indianapolis. I combed the hotel’s website to determine their rules about boarding pets, but I was unable to discern whether or not the hotel allows them. A quick call to the front desk, and I found out that the property does, indeed, allow pets. I asked the attendant where on the website I would have found this, and she suggested that if I had called the hotel directly I would have been able to get that information.
Isn’t it time hotels were a little more transparent about their pet policies? For now, if you want to book a hotel stay, without the barks and meows, contact the hotel directly. And, if you don’t like the answer, find another place to spend the night.