Creature comforts: 11 hotels across Canada that treat pets like VIPs

A coast-to-coast guide to properties that roll out the red carpet for furry, feathery… and even scaly pets!

A coast-to-coast guide to properties that roll out the red carpet for furry, feathery… and even scaly pets!

(Courtesy Hotel Arts)

In a time when canine influencers regularly appear on Instagram luxuriating in plush hotel beds, spotting an "emotional support animal" jetting off to a far-flung destination is pretty much par for the course.  

With the rise of "interspecies families" (yes, that's a thing), it should come as no surprise that fur babies are increasingly included in vacation plans. In fact, searches for pet-friendly hotels rose 30 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to Orbitz.

"People are treating their animals more like family members and don't want to leave them behind when they travel," says Ross Meredith, general manager at The Westin Ottawa. He adds that as pets are increasingly welcome in restaurants, stores and attractions, travellers are more likely to bring them along for the adventure.

Frank Campo, director of sales and marketing at Toronto's Kimpton Saint George, agrees. "Society is more accepting of travel with pets, which makes it easier," he explains. "Our pet policy started organically with the founder of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Bill Kimpton. He had a miniature collie named Chianti… [Bill] knew that pet companions helped alleviate the stress of travel and brought a sense of comfort to guests who wanted a reminder of home with them."

In response to the rising demand for pet-friendly accommodations, hotels across the country are getting competitive with amenities on offer to animal lovers and their furry and feathered companions. From welcome gifts and specialized concierge services to room service menus that cater specifically to carnivorous palates, there is a trend toward treating cats, dogs, birds and, occasionally, reptiles as valued guests. 

We've sniffed out some Canadian hotels that go above and beyond when it comes to providing creatures, comforts.

Cambridge Suites Hotel Halifax

Located in the heart of downtown Halifax next to Citadel Hill, Cambridge Suites welcomes cats and dogs of all sizes as well as other small animals within reason (reptiles and birds will need to stay home). Four-legged friends are free to explore the lobby and rooftop patio while on leash, and the hotel welcomes each furry guest with a treat, toy and useful information about the area (like the location of the closest fire hydrant).

The fine print: A $25 cleaning fee applies to stays of seven days or less, while stays over seven days result in a $100 charge. 

The Algonquin Resort

Scenic St. Andrews by-the-Sea in south-western New Brunswick is home to the historic Algonquin Resort, where dogs, cats and birds can relax alongside their owners in the lap of luxury. Pet beds and bowls are provided at check-in and non-human guests are welcome to roam the sprawling seaside property on-leash.

The fine print: A $35 cleaning fee applies and there is a limit of two pets per room. 

Loews Hotel Vogue

As part of its Loews Loves Pets program, staff at the stylish Loews Hotel Vogue in Montreal's Golden Square Mile go out of their way to make pets feel at home. Specialized bedding, leashes, collars, litter boxes and scoopers, as well as pet placemats, water bowls, dog treats, pet toys, scratching posts, dog-walking route maps and pet-friendly restaurant recommendations are all on offer. On top of all this, animal companions receive a special welcome letter from the general manager and there's a gourmet room service menu for cats and dogs developed by the hotel's executive chef.

The fine print: A $25 cleaning fee applies and there is a limit of two pets per room. 

The Westin Ottawa

In addition to providing signature Heavenly dog beds, water bowls and special floor mats for furry guests at no extra charge, the The Westin Ottawa demonstrates its commitment to pets with an ongoing partnership with Ottawa Dog Rescue. Since 2015, the property has provided a loving and temporary home in the lobby for abandoned, abused, or neglected dogs while they wait to find their forever homes. Hotel guests can even volunteer to walk the foster dogs during their stay!

The fine print: Pets must be under 80 pounds in order to stay.

Kimpton Saint George Hotel

"If your pet fits through the door, we'll welcome them in" is the motto across Kimpton-branded hotels and the Toronto outpost is no exception. Beds and bowls are available at the front desk and pets also receive a welcome gift bag, which includes treats and toys. There is no charge for four-legged guests, and the hotel can also arrange dog-sitting and dog-walking services.

The fine print: None. Furry, feathery and scaly family members are all equally welcome.

Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa

Located in the heart of downtown Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Temple Gardens boasts pet-friendly rooms and a special Pampered Pet package that, for $30, includes a signature food bowl, made-in-the-prairies treats, a toy, waste bags and a $5 donation to the Moose Jaw Humane Society. Wakamow Valley Park, with over 20 kilometres of pet-friendly trails, is also a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

The fine print: There is a maximum of two pets per room and each can weigh no more than 60 pounds. A nightly fee of $35 also applies.

Residence Inn Calgary Downtown/Beltline District

This new property, built on the land where the Alberta Boot Company once stood, has a flexible pet policy allowing owners to leave their furry friends in the room unattended when necessary. Dog treats are also available at the front desk for good boys.

The fine print: A fee of $25 per pet per night applies.

Hotel Arts

Just a short walk from the Saddledome in downtown Calgary, this boutique hotel offers puppy guests house-made dog treats, and their owners a map of nearby green spaces upon check-in. 

The fine print: A $30 pet fee applies.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Fur children receive five-star service at this mountain resort. Welcome amenities include beds, dishes, homemade organic treats, poop bags and sometimes even a pint-sized Fairmont robe! Nearly every member of the hotel's staff is signed up for the dog-sitting and dog-walking program, which means there will be no shortage of company for your four-legged companion. Speaking of company, the property also has a canine ambassador named Stanley, who loves making new friends and showing them the trails around his home. Guests with or without pets can sign up to walk Stanley during their stay.

The fine print: A charge of $50 per night applies, with $15 going to the Hinton SPCA and a local veterinary clinic. 

Predator Ridge

Predator Ridge, a resort in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, is home to one of the only golf courses in Canada with dog-friendly tee times. "Golf with Your Dog Sundays" kick off every Sunday after 4pm. Beyond the links, pets are also welcome in the resort's lodge and cottages as well as on outdoor patios at several of the property's eateries. 

The fine print: A fee of $35 per night applies, with $5 going to the BCSPCA.

Summit Lodge

Canine staff members Talitha and Zoe await new arrivals at this Whistler boutique hotel, which prides itself on being extremely pet-friendly. Rooms are prepped pre-arrival with bowls and treats and each non-human guest's name is noted at the front desk on a VIP pets board. The best part? Dogs of all sizes are welcome and pets stay for free!

The fine print: None.

Jen O'Brien is an award-winning editor and freelance writer based in Toronto. Follow her @thejenobrien.