The ultimate guide to UK pet-friendly holidays

Jun 3, 2020

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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

The great British getaway staycation is back on — or at least it should be soon. But when thinking about that, what about those pets you have to think about at home? Veterinary charity PSDA says that 50% of U.K. adults own a pet, with dogs, cats and rabbits being the most popular.

But your multi-legged friends don’t need to stay at home, as the U.K. has a whole host of pet-friendly options from cottages, lodges with hot tubs, five-star luxury hotels and even private jets, all certified pet friendly.

Here are our top picks.

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Red Carnation Hotels

(Photo by Red Carnation Hotels)
(Photo courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels)

This family-owned animal-loving hotel group is pet friendly throughout and provides a range of services for what it calls its VIPs (Very Important Pets). Those include a selection of beds, floor mats, food and drink bowls and special menus including room service. There are 10 U.K. hotels in Guernsey, Dorset and London, many of which are located within close proximity to parks and beaches. The team can also provide pet-friendly information including grooming services and pet-friendly taxis/transfers.

Rooms start at about £125 per night. To see what the VIPs have been up to, check out the dedicated Instagram page.

Related: 7 of the best road trips around the UK

National Park getaways

Beautiful Buttermere (Photo by Marcel Kerkhof Photography)
(Photo courtesy of Marcel Kerkhof Photography)

The U.K.’s 15 National Parks are among the best places to explore with your pet, especially dogs. Staggeringly beautiful, you can enjoy these natural playgrounds with your canine as energetically or leisurely as you like.

The Lake District has beautiful places to stay and scenic routes for walking, encompassing emerald hills and deep sapphire lakes as well as dog-friendly country pubs. Dogs are sure to enjoy leisurely wanders along the shores of Lake Windermere or a dog-friendly cruise aboard boats such as the Ullswater Steamers. For history woofs Penrith Castle, Furness Abbey and Brougham Castle all welcome dogs.

PetsPyjamas

This easy-to-use website boasts more than 4,000 hotels, cottages, country houses, castles and B&Bs in the U.K. PetsPyjamas has reported a 41% increase in future bookings for trips later this year and early 2021, as we all look ahead to a well-deserved holiday. It even has a pet concierge to help you with whatever you’re looking for, including lodges with hot tubs. Soar Mill Cove Hotel & Spa in Salcombe, Devon, looks like it has the bow-wow factor where resident labradors Farley and Daisy welcome all guests with their favourite treats, walk map and dog-friendly beach recommendations.

(Photo courtesy of PrivateFly)
(Photo courtesy of PrivateFly)

Pets on private planes

If you’re feeling fancy, you can also fly around the U.K. with your pets. They won’t be earning points and miles, but the good news is that pets can travel on private charter flights with you in the aircraft cabin, rather than in the hold. Make sure your pet documentation is correct and up-to-date and you have read the government’s PETS (pet travel scheme), which allows any animal (at the discretion of the pilot) to fly internally around the U.K. without quarantine.

Entry-level private aircraft tend to be the Embraer Phenom 100 or a Cessna Citation Mustang, both seating up to four. A private return flight from London to Edinburgh for three nights, two adults and up to two pets with PrivateFly costs from £7,130, depending on dates. For a three-night trip to Guernsey, Victor can provide these aircraft for you and your pet(s) from £8,900.

Related: The best road trips from London that take 2 hours or less

(Photo by Smith & Whistle)
(Photo courtesy of Smith & Whistle)

Dog-friendly restaurants and bars in London

If you find yourself in the big smoke on a day trip, there are some really fun dog-friendly options. For coffee aficionados, Paws for Coffee is dedicated to our furry pals. Pups can choose from their very own menu with puppuccinos, doggie sausages and homemade black pudding treats before having a cat nap in one of the comfy beds. On the other side of town, Bob’s Lobster has a dedicated pet menu and the roasted fish skins with carrot, celery, quinoa and brown rice sound rather tempting.

If afternoon tea is more up your kennel, Egerton House Hotel’s tea experience includes doggy ice cream and biscuits. For drinks, Smith & Whistle next to Green Park has a “dogtail menu”, London’s very first permanent drinks list created entirely for canine consumption. The Poochie Colada blends kale, broccoli and coconut water alongside human libations.

If you love pets but don’t have one

If you’re an animal person and want a free holiday, TrustedHousesitters is basically Airbnb for pet lovers that lets you stay in different locations around the world (over 350 properties in the U.K.) in exchange for minding the animals of the homeowners. No money changes hands throughout the process and there are a variety of animal companions including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and chickens. Properties are all over the U.K., although looking after Charley the dog caught our eye as he lives in a cottage in the Suffolk village of Middleton, five minutes from Dunwich on the Heritage Coast. Membership to TrustedHousesitters costs £99 per year.

Learning holidays

One of the big travel buzzwords of 2020 is “learning holidays”. The Dog Man offers tailored activity breaks that cater to the needs of you and your canine companion aimed at achieving a greater understanding between you and your dog. The three-day break offers one-to-one expert coaching in a friendly environment against the backdrop of Staffordshire’s beautiful countryside. Prices are dependent on the dog and the owners’ needs.

If group fun is more your thing, Barking Mad Weekend organises unusual activity breaks for dogs and their owners in the beautiful Shropshire countryside, including agility and flyball trials, scent trail work, holistic therapies like reiki and even doggy murder mystery nights. Prices start at £355 for a three-night break.

(Photo courtesy of Black Horses Ltd)

What a mare!

Finally, back in the Lake District, Stable Stays is an experience in Cartmel for horse lovers of any age. You can spend time with their beautiful Friesian horses and share a self-catering stable for the night. Sleep, breathe and live Friesians with a see-through room divider so you can wake up next to each other in the morning. From the top bunk bed, you can stroke and chat to your heart’s content and feed your horse treats, which are all included. There is also a luxury grooming kit for you to use when getting to know your sleepover pal under twinkling fairy lights. Prices start at £250 per night.

Bottom line

Continue the celebrations of National Pet Month and make sure your pet comes with you on your next staycation. With so many fun options around the U.K., a dreamy holiday is one that all the family can enjoy together, pets included.

Featured photo courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels

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