Pet Friendly Hotels....REALLY?
Sometimes we forget why we love RV travel so much. 15 years ago, we bought our first RV so that we could take our first dog Maddie with us on vacation. After we got Maddie, we found that it could be difficult to find decent hotels that were pet friendly so we decided that an RV might be the solution. Needless to say, it has been the perfect solution for us for all of these years since that first trailer. We don't stay in many hotels anymore as we prefer our camper over a hotel room. We did on occasion take a random trip with Delaney maybe 6 or 7 years ago where we would stay in hotels. Red Roof Inns became our go to hotel because they all accepted pets and there was no additional charges for your pets to stay in the room with you. And at that time, most Red Roofs were being renovated to their new decor so we found them to be a very nice and affordable lodging option when traveling with Delaney.
Just recently, we needed to book one night in a hotel with Truman and Bess so I began looking for a hotel to stay in. My first thought was a Red Roof Inn but the reviews for the one in the area we were going to were not good. Typically when I look at reviews on Tripadvisor, I look at the most recent reviews and also at over all trends with reviews. This one had not had a positive review in months and overall there were a lot more bad reviews than good ones so we ruled this hotel out as an option. We don't need fancy but we do expect cleanliness and safety at a minimum.
I then did a Tripadvisor search of "pet friendly" hotels in the area and was excited to see there were 7 other hotels that listed "pet friendly" as an amenity. The list included hotels from major brands such as Marriott, IHG (Holiday Inn) and Choice Hotels. Unfortunately our preferred brand, Hilton, did not have any properties in that area that were labeled pet friendly. We have found that most Hampton Inns are not pet friendly anymore but the higher end hotels such as Embassy Suites, Doubletree and Hilton are for a price.
So I began looking at the various options and decided to check the rates and policies at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott. The hotel looked very nice in the pictures and it had very good reviews.....plus it was a Marriott brand hotel which meant it should be nice. The room rate was $71 per night which we were ok with and I was pretty excited about staying at a hotel of this quality. Then I checked their pet policy and found that they charge $50 per PET per NIGHT but it was reduced to $35 per PET per NIGHT if you were Marriott Rewards Member (which is free to join). That meant our $71 room would become a $141 room because Truman and Bess would be staying in the room with us. That meant a $70 charge for our pets which was only $1 less than the actual room rate.
Needless to say, I did not book that hotel. I went on to the Candlewood Suites which is an IHG property and it had excellent reviews. They also had a room for $71 per night. They also boasted on their homepage their love of pets but went on to state a fee of $25 per PET per NIGHT. So that room ends up being $121 before taxes. Definitely better than Marriott but more than we really wanted to spend so I kept searching.
Next I looked up the Comfort Suites and their rate was the best yet at $66 per night. But before I got too excited, I knew I had to check out their pet policy. They charged $50 per PET per STAY. That means our 1 night stay would cost us $166!! If you were staying for more than 1 night, at least they would only charge that per stay as opposed to per night. But for a 1 nights stay, it was just way too much.
I did find that the pet policies can vary by location with some chains and even vary by brand. For instance, the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in the same area charged $25 per night but did not say anything about per pet. The Residence Inn by Marriott charged $100 per stay for pets. On a 7 night stay, that would not be so bad. On a one night stay, it double the price of their room.
So I have to wonder just how "pet friendly" these hotels actually are? When your pet fees are the same or more than your hotel room rates, I think the message they actually are sending is that they prefer you not bring your pets to their hotel. Some chains such as Red Roof Inn and Motel 6 allow pets to stay for FREE. Others such as Best Western and LaQuinta have much more modest pet fees such as $10-$20 per night and typically don't charge it per pet. Those are much more pet friendly and budget friendly. C
Now I am sure many of you are thinking that the hotels need that additional money to pay for deep cleaning of the room after a four legged guest leaves. As a former hotel general manager, I can tell you that the vast majority of hotels do NOT deep clean a room after a pet leaves unless there is a smell that a normal cleaning can't take care of. Most hotels designate "pet rooms" so that they can contain the pets in a section of the hotel. It appears that major brands want to try to capture the ever growing pet travel market and they want to increase their bottom line while doing it.
I guess the short of this story is we are really glad we don't have to stay in hotels very often since we have our RV. As I always say, when we travel we take OUR mattress, OUR sheets, OUR bathroom and OUR filth with us! And we are pet friendly without an additional charge!
Do you travel with pets and stay in hotels? If so, comment below on what hotel brands you prefer and what they typically charge as a pet fee.