Many families have added a new member to their household during the course of the last two years. During the lockdowns and while requested to keep a distance from human friends and loved ones, more and more families began to consider whether or not to invite a cat or, perhaps more likely, a dog to join the family. Children took the opportunity to put more pressure on their parents to make a long-cherished wish come true: to have a pet – especially as pets are also considered to be a 24/7 buddy alleviating the imposed lockdown isolation in a much friendlier and livelier way than a smartphone or a video game or so-called social media can do.
Now that spring is on our doorstep and even summer is in sight – possibly without any restrictions – people are starting to think about weekend breaks and summer holidays. Children refuse to entertain the idea of leaving their furry friend behind in unfamiliar kennels, therefore it is time to start searching not only for some family-friendly place but also for “dog friendly” accommodation, so the official description. Some dog owners have told me that I should look for the wording “friendly to dogs” which implies an even greater affection to four-legged guests by the hotel owners. To assist in your research let me share with you my top five dog friendly hotels in Scotland.
SCHLOSS Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course
The Scottish Borders, where Scotland starts, is a perfect pooch-getaway destination to really get the dog’s tail wagging. When a country house hotel like SCHLOSS Roxburghe is on a private estate with its own golf course and many country sports on offer, it is exactly what dog owners and their four-legged friend are looking for. When a weekend away is arranged there is no need to leave your dog behind, because it is very likely that the dog will also enjoy a change of scene.
SCHLOSS Roxburghe is a very dog friendly place to stay where they accept dogs of all sizes. A number of special rooms are dedicated to guests with dogs so that both have a comfortable stay. A dog bed, either a rug or a basket depending on the size of the dog, bowls for food and water and home-made dog biscuits are provided. Dogs are allowed in all areas of the hotel – except for the Sunlaws Restaurant. Lunch, dinner, and drinks can be relished with the furry friend in the 1745 Bar and afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the drawing room with your pet in front of an open fire.
Four-legged guests are most welcome at Knockinaam Lodge − with advance notice. The wider area of Dumfries and Galloway offers a wealth of walks for dog owners and Knockinaam’s staff are more than happy to give detailed information. For the less ambitious walkers, dogs are welcome to explore the vast garden (on a lead) and are free to roam on the beach which has direct access from the hotel.
Knockinaam Lodge is a dog-friendly hotel but with some rules, of course. Three of the bedrooms and the self-catering unit, Shingle Lodge, are assigned to guests with dogs, but only one dog per room. Bowls for water and food are provided as well as a hose at the back door and towels, if required on a wet day, but most owners bring their own dog beds and towels anyway. Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant and the lounge areas.
The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links
Many guests of the Machrie Hotel on the island of Islay consider their dog as a close member of the family. The Hotel is perfectly situated for four-legged friends to explore the wonderful scenery with miles of walks on the doorstep and, best of all, the 7-mile stretch of beach which dogs love! Guests are welcome to bring their dog into the inner courtyard and the ground floor of the hotel as well as the outside restaurant terrace, but they are not permitted in the restaurant, the bar and the snug. Guide dogs are allowed everywhere in the hotel, including the restaurant.
The Machrie provides a welcome letter for your pet, together with a dog blanket, a bowl and treats. Two small dogs or one large dog are permitted per room, but they are not allowed to jump on the beds and the chairs! Guests are requested to bring their pet’s favorite doggy toys. With an 18-hole golf course between the hotel and the beach, dogs have space for long walks, but guests should not allow their dog to use the golf course as a toilet! Poobgs are available at reception and there is a special bin.
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There is a great range of walks in the Crinan area. Guests can enjoy a gentle amble along the Canal towpath, a stroll which is undemanding and leisurely. A walk through the woods on the many marked trails is a more ambitious option. For more energetic dogs and their owners, there are hills to climb which give access to panoramic views over the Sound of Jura and the surrounding countryside.
The Crinan Hotel is situated on the waterfront at the very end of the Crinan Canal. Certain superior rooms – some with balconies which dogs enjoy because of the fresh air and the passers-by – are assigned for dog occupancy. Dogs are very welcome with their owners to enjoy breakfast and dinner, choosing from a full menu for dogs at the Seafood Bar and a drink at the General’s bar after the meal. Guests must give advance notice when bringing a dog and provide its own bedding.
The Dunstan House & Hampton House
Edinburgh is a beautiful city with lots of lovely green space. Guests can take a short 20-minute stroll to Princes Street Gardens from Dunstan House and then head back to the hotel via the Water of Leith walkway. For true adventurers on two and four legs the best view of the city is from on top of Arthur’s Seat. Dunstan and Hampton Houses in the quiet west end of Edinburgh cater for road trippers, touring visitors and staycationers eager to travel with their furry friend in tow.
Guests can choose between a Wee or a Luxury King Double in Hampton House. These dog friendly rooms are at the rear of the house and next to the garden and conservatory where dogs are welcome to join their owners for breakfast, dinner, or drinks. Dunstane House’s lawn terrace across the road will give your dog plenty of additional space to run around or you can enjoy an alfresco drink together. An in-room doggy bed, bowl and treats and a glass of paw-secco on arrival will immediately make everybody feel at home.
Some of the hotels I have described can be easily combined in an extraordinary doggie tour of Scotland. For example, guests can start with a castle-type stay at SCHLOSS Roxburghe on its own estate with lots of country sports and plenty of room to roam. Then off to Dumfries and Galloway where a myriad of walks around Knockinaam Lodge invite dogs and their owners to go on long excursions. New experiences and – from a dog’s point of view – intriguing smells will be waiting on the ferry crossing from the Kintyre peninsula to the island of Islay where the long stretch of sandy beach on the doorstep of the Machrie Hotel will guarantee nights of sound sleep for everyone!
The stay at the waterside Crinan Hotel is another highlight of this trip because the owners are dog friendly. They know the area inside out from going on their own dog walks and are very happy to recommend daytime activities for you and your dog before you settle down for the evening in this award-winning European Luxury Sea View Hotel of the Year 2018. To end the luxury round-trip of Scotland in style, the City of Edinburgh should not be by-passed when traveling with a dog. The Dunstane Houses is, for many, a favorite boutique hotel in the Scottish capital with a generous layout including Hampton House garden and Dunstane House lawn terrace – both ideal for pooches and their buddies!
Dorothy Welsh is the CEO of Luxury Scotland. Luxury Scotland offers true Scottish hospitality, culinary delights and unique experiences.
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