If you can’t leave your ca­nine pal be­hind, here are some of the best ho­tels where dogs are very much al­lowed, writes Leonie Cor­co­ran

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

From pointy- eared hand­bag dogs to doe- eyes spaniels, you’ll see ca­nines great and small in ho­tels and restau­rants around Europe, most no­tably in France, and even in many parts of Bri­tain. In Ire­land, our furry friends are a big part of the fam­ily and there has been a pro­lif­er­a­tion of dog- sit­ting, walk­ing, groom­ing and dog­gie day­care ser­vices over the past few years. How­ever, when it comes to hol­i­days, Fido is usu­ally left at home, of­ten due to the num­ber of ho­tels re­main­ing firmly in the “no dogs al­lowed” camp.

But if the thought of leav­ing your pooch be­hind leaves you colder than an au­tumn evening, we have found a range of ho­tels around the coun­try where the four- legged guest is as wel­come as the two- legged com­pan­ion.

Lead­ing the pack with its no- non­sense dog­gie wel­come is the Salty Dog Ho­tel ( salty­dog­ban­gor. com) in Ban­gor. Owner Ken­neth Sharp says they wel­come dogs at the har­bour- side ho­tel and bistro be­cause there is “no real rea­son not to”. It’s still a rare at­ti­tude in the ho­tel busi­ness but he be­lieves “if you do your house­keep­ing and hy­giene prop­erly then there is no ex­tra work”. Dogs can stay in bed­rooms for no ex­tra charge and are wel­come in the bistro, which has mutty wel­come mats and wa­ter bowls. There are a few sim­ple rules – dogs need to kept un­der con­trol and on a short lead in the bistro. That’s it. It’s not sur­pris­ing it’s pop­u­lar spot with lo­cal dog own­ers.

There is an en­closed gar­den area, but head for any of the nearby coastal walks to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the area with your walk­ing com­pan­ion. Rooms start at £ 99 per room, with mid- week of­fers of £ 120 per room, in­clud­ing a two- course din­ner.

In Co Lim­er­ick, the Mus­tard Seed at Echo Lodge ( mus­tard­seed. ie) wel­comes dogs at no ex­tra charge. “Twenty years ago, we thought a bi­chon frise was some­thing from the ice cream menu,” says Breda O’Kelly. “Now pets and, in par­tic­u­lar small dogs, have be­come part of so many peo­ple’s lives,” she says. Two bed­rooms in the coun­try house are al­lo­cated to guests bring­ing pets, each with direct access to the outdoors. “So when your Great Dane is danc­ing for a run, you don’t need to come through the pub­lic ar­eas of the ho­tel,” says O’Kelly. Those pub­lic ar­eas – the din­ing- room and re­cep­tion rooms – are re­served for hu­mans. Pet beds and blan­kets are pro­vided but it is the en­closed gar­den – with rolling lawns – and coun­try walks that make it a delight for dog­gies. Once your pooch is pooped ( and scooped of course), en­joy fine din­ing by chef An­gel Pirev. Break­fast is not to be missed ei­ther and, ac­cord­ing to O’Kelly, “the odd sausage has been spot­ted leav­ing the din­ing room in dis­guise”. The dog- friendly Mews Apart­ments start from ¤ 85 per per­son shar­ing.

In the heart of the Wick­low coun­try­side, less than an hour from Dublin, BrookLodge ho­tel wel­comes many ca­nine guests. In fact, it’s usu­ally the two res­i­dent golden re­triev­ers – Os­car and Ge­orge – who do the wel­com­ing, ris­ing from the fire to sniff at new ar­rivals. Pet- friendly rooms are lo­cated on the ground floor and usu­ally re­served for dogs smaller in size. There are also ken­nels avail­able in the sta­ble area for larger hounds. All dogs must be “ma­ture, well- be­haved and kept on a lead”. There are walk­ing maps avail­able at re­cep­tion. If you are there when the sea­sonal monthly Sun­day mar­ket is on, take a seat out­side to en­joy live jazz and plenty of dog­gie watch­ing. BrookLodge has a Win­ter Warmer B& B pack­age, with one- hour treat­ment in the Wells Spa, from ¤ 110 pps.

A ho­tel with a cer­tain bow- wow ( sorry, we couldn’t re­sist) is Ash­ford Cas­tle ( ash­ford­cas­tle. com) in Cong, Co Mayo. All dog­gie guests are treated as VIPs ( Very Im­por­tant Pets) and are wel­comed at the me­dieval cas­tle, now part of the Red Car­na­tion Ho­tel Col­lec­tion, with a comfy bed, fluffy tow­els, food and a wa­ter bowl in your room. Our dogs favour rain­wa­ter but if your pooch is a fussy drinker, he’ll be of­fered min­eral wa­ter and a turn­down treat at bed­time. Dogs are not al­lowed in any area of the cas­tle where food or drinks are served, which rules out the cas­tle in full ( other than your room, ob­vi­ously), but ex­plor­ing the grounds with your dog at your heel does give a def­i­nite “lord of the es­tate” feel­ing.

Of course, you can use the dog- walk­ing ser­vice ei­ther, as well as dog- sit­ting and groom­ing ser­vices. There is a ¤ 40 charge per dog per night and it must be spec­i­fied when book­ing if you in­tend on bring­ing your pet. Two warn­ing notes: ex­pect your dog to ex­pe­ri­ence small- dog syn­drome when he meets the two res­i­dent Ir­ish wolfhounds – Cro­nan and Gar­van. Se­condly, you’ll need to en­sure your bank bal­ance is healthy be­fore check- in be­cause there is a ¤ 1,000 dam­age de­posit re­quired when you are stay­ing with your pooch. This is re­funded after a room- check on check out. Rooms at the cas­tle start from about ¤ 450 per night ris­ing to ¤ 2,500-¤ 3,500 for the ex­clu­sive Hide­away Cot­tage.

The Lodge at Ash­ford Cas­tle ( th­elodgeac. com), which is set in the 350- acre cas­tle es­tate over­look­ing Lough Cor­rib, also wel­comes pets with sim­i­lar poli­cies to the main cas­tle. Rooms here start at ¤ 150 and there are a num­ber of win­ter pack­ages avail­able on­line.

An­other five- star cas­tle that wel­comes dogs is the So­lis Lough Eske Cas­tle ( sol­isho­tels. com/ lough­eske­cas­tle) in Co Done­gal. Dogs – and cats – are wel­come in the Court­yard Gue­strooms and Gar­den Suites, which have direct access to the gar­den area. Pets are al­lowed any­where on the grounds – which pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity for walks and runs – but are not per­mit­ted in the main build­ing. If you pre­fer to lounge in­doors in the spa, dog- walk­ing can be ar­ranged at ¤ 20 per hour. Groom­ing and health checks can also be ar­ranged through the concierge, as well as a spe­cial pet menu. All dogs re­ceived a wel­come bed bas­ket, blan­ket, food and wa­ter tray. Rooms start from ¤ 190.

If you are seek­ing some­thing off the main­land, head for Clare Is­land Light­house( clare is­land light­house. com ). For al­most two cen­turies, the light­house watched over Achill, Westport and be­yond from its perch on the craggy cliffs. Now the listed prop­erty of­fers a bou­tique sanc­tu­ary for trav­ellers. Dogs are wel­come in the Tower House and Cliff Cor­ner – both have direct access to the light­house com­pound where dogs can run free. Out­side the walls, dogs must be kept on leads due to sheep. The light­house re- opens on May 2nd, 2018, so there’s plenty of time to get your pooch ready for the ferry. Rates are based on a

Twenty years ago, we thought a bi­chon frise was some­thing from the ice cream menu. Now pets have be­come part of so many peo­ple’s lives

So­lis Lough Eske Cas­tle in Co Done­gal wel­comes dogs, who are al­lowed any­where on the grounds – which pro­vide am­ple op­por­tu­nity for walks and runs

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