The best luxury holidays for dogs (and their human companions)

Would you like to travel with your dog? Falstaff tells you everything about dog-friendly luxury hotels and the pawfect destinations in Europe.

As any dog parent knows, the best and most loyal friend in life has four paws, a cold wet nose and the most loving eyes ever seen. Dogs also play an essential part in our society: they pay taxes, some are even working – as protection, rescue, guide or therapy dogs – and are beloved family members.

Within the last ten years the population of dog households has tripled in Europe to more than 60million. The UK leads the way (12million), followed by Germany (11million), Spain (9.3million), Italy (8.7million) and France (7.5million).

Not so long ago, a dog was rarely allowed in the house, while taking them on holiday or checking into hotels accompanied by your four-legged friend was almost unthinkable.

Nowadays, however, they are part of the family pack, but where do you go on a family holiday that welcomes dogs as much as humans? A city break, the beach or mountains? We visited the very best options for each, travelling with our experienced hotel tester Milka (5) to help with the decision.

Many luxury hotels have opened their exclusive locations for furry family members. And not just that – distinct 5* hotel chains offer incredible packages for guests on four paws – and there are even distinct dog hotels offering unforgettable holidays for dogs (and their humans).

1. A dog’s dream in the Tyrolean mountains: Dog hotel Mair am Ort in Dorf Tirol, Italy

Lotte, Flash, Pamina, Jubilee and Rocket, Sunny, Spike, Bluna – some of the 38 furry guests spending their holiday at Hotel Mair am Ort during our visit. It is the first dog hotel (since 2010) in South Tyrol, fully dedicated to the wellbeing of furry visitors and their families. The hotel is located in the picturesque village of Dorf Tirol, with breathtaking panoramic views over the nearby countryside.

Owner Elisabeth Prünster (59) has a magnificent team on two and four legs (Punky, Baffa and Goldie-mix, 16), and King poodles Tipitina (7) and Skyfall (7 months), to ensure the best holiday experience for their guests.

The hotel is equipped with everything dogs and dog lovers could imagine: from dog beds, towels, bowls, food and water stations throughout to guests receiving personal name tags. There’s also PetAlpin food, welcome treats, a water bottle, hygiene products, walking and hiking maps, a weekly plan of all dog-events and, of course, cuddles upon arrival.

The impressive hotel amenities for dogs include a dog playground and agility track amidst a vineyard, dog pool, dog shower and grooming services, dog boutique, dog massages & osteopathy by canine physiotherapist Peter Mack, personal dog training and dog dinner selections.

Offers and specials for dogs include weekly programme with activities and excursions, guided dog hiking tours, outings to a Search and Rescue Training site and adventure grounds, lectures on dog training, learning behaviour and more. A special recommendation are the guided hiking tours along alpine meadows and dense forests, and the visit to the Search and Rescue dog training site in St. Martin Passeier. Here, Lydia Böhl and Helmut Hochgruber, now retired rescue dog handlers for the Red Cross, share their experience from training dogs for more than 45 years. Their calm guidance and support is a wonderful and fun experience. Photographer Karlheinz Sollbauer (55) is accompanying the training, for unforgettable holiday memories.

There were 38 dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds – from Lotte the Dachshund to Flash the Great Dane – staying at the hotel during our visit and greeted personally each day by the staff. Naturally, dogs are allowed everywhere on the premises, sharing meals with their families on the panoramic terrasse. The chefs culinary offers are a true delight for everyone. Furry guests can choose from their own a la carte menu and based on the speed Milka finished her dinners, it must be quite excellent.

Living her dream: a life and business for dogs

Hotel Mair am Ort has been family owned for generations. When taking over in 2010, Elisabeth Prünster decided to change it into something unthinkable: a dog hotel. Many locals were shocked back then, she says, the location being one of the most exquisite around. “I thought – why shouldn’t dogs and their families deserve the very best?!” She was right! In no time, her dog hotel became renowned in Italy and beyond. Guests who visit with their dogs keep coming back, most of them from Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

When asked to recount any particularly funny memories from the hotel business, Elisabeth smiles: “Once I was called urgently about a wild wolf on the premises which turned out to be a guest of ours: a wolfhound. Another time a guest on four paws went into the boutique, selecting a toy; the owner just said ‘Your dad has the money!’ so off she goes, returning with cash in her collar. But we also have had some instances of theft: sausages, treats and bones being the favourite items. Most burglars are caught red-pawed though.”

  • Dog Hotel Mair am Ort
  • Schlossweg 10; 39019 Dorf Tirol, Südtirol
  • +39 0473 923315
  • Prices start at €95pp. incl. half board
  • First dog: €17 per night; additional dogs, €12 per night; service and working dogs: free

2. City trips with dogs: London, Milan, Berlin

Major superior hotel chains have opened their premises to families with dogs. Moreover, some have exclusive dog specials to ensure a luxury experience in a class of its own for all guests.

London: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

This elegant 5* hotel in the heart of Mayfair is the place to be in Central London, and will surely impress humans and dogs with the highest of standards. A Pawsome Staycation with the beloved Pooch includes a comfy dog bed, bowls, dinner & treats upon arrival, a complimentary ‘dogtail’ at the Smith & Whistle bar, a ‘Perfect Dog’s day out in London’ itinerary, and much more.

The Smith & Whistle is one of the dog-friendliest bars in the world, and has introduced London's very first permanent drinks list created entirely for canine consumption. The range of 'Dogtails' include Bubbly Bow Wow or a Poochie Colada, with lots of tail wagging by four-legged patrons guaranteed. Human guests are treated by the bar's mixology team to a fine selection of British craft beers, hand-selected wines from English estates, and expertly crafted cocktails. This ‘Pawsome Staycation’ can be booked here.

  • Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
  • Piccadilly, W1J 7BX London, England, United Kingdom
  • Tel: +44 20-74996321
  • Prices starting at £382 (Deluxe Room including breakfast) + £25 per dog.

Berlin: the pawfect stay at the Ritz-Carlton

An exclusive dogcation is available at one of the best luxury hotels in Germany. To pamper human’s best friend, the Ritz-Carlton Berlin has come up with an extraordinary offer: The Pawfect Stay. To make dogs feel right at home at the prestigious hotel, four-legged friends will find a cosy dog bed with a matching blanket in the room, juicy dog treats, a toy and hygiene products. The neighbouring renowned Tiergarten is inviting to explore new sniffing routes and meet some playmates at the same time.

The posh Berlin hotel also offers an eConcierge for their furry visitors: a digital dog guide, with all the important addresses: vets, groomers, dog sitters and dog shops, dog-friendly cafés, roof-top bars and restaurants, the best walking routes for dogs, and recommended day trips in the area.

From a culinary point of view, patrons on paws are served the best of the best. The Pawfect Food menu offers three superb doggy dinners for healthy and exquisite indulgence such as Beef fillet strips with roasted potatoes and a side of carrots and broccoli or Steamed salmon with noodles and apple-fennel vegetables, all served with homemade dog bones made from organic oat flakes, veal liver sausage, carrot and banana.

Specials: The Pawfect Stay Package

  • One night in a Deluxe Room, Junior Suite or Deluxe Suite, incl. breakfast
  • One doggy dinner per night at the POTS Restaurant
  • Cuddly dog bed with a blanket and the cuddly lion ‘Roary’
  • Bowls and treats, wipes, sustainable dog bags and guide
  • Price (dog incl. 2 humans): starting at €460 per night

Details

  • The Ritz Carlton Berlin
  • Potsdamer Platz 3
  • 10785 Berlin, Germany
  • +49 (0) 30 33777 6300

Milan: The Sheraton Diana Majestic

Italy is known for being crazy about dogs so it is no surprise that the Sheraton Diana Majestic welcomes pets with in-room amenities like a dog bed, bowls, personalised ‘Do not disturb signs’, a dog tag with the hotel’s address, a cute welcome letter, and general advice for visiting the city with a furry companion. The historic 4-star hotel is located in the heart of Milan, with a magnificent rear garden and bar.

A great initiative worth mentioning: the dog fee for the room is completely devolved to the dog shelter Canile Rifugio di Gonnosfanadiga in Sardinia. Thus, vacationista-dogs can support their less fortunate mates.

  • The Sheraton Diana Majestic Milan
  • Viale Piave, 42; Milan  20129 Italy
  • Tel: +39 02 20581

 

3. Welcome to the beach, furry holidaymakers!

A beach might be the favourite destinations for dogs, these are our favourites in Europe:

The North: Denmark, Sweden, Finland

Without question, the Nordic countries are a dream destination for dogs. Apart from the breathtaking countryside, you’re never too far away from lakes, rivers, fjords and the sea to take a dip. Here, holiday homes are recommended for dog families, simply because these secluded locations are promising unforgettable adventures and memories.

The ideal platform to choose a holiday home is NOVASOL, able to cater for the near-25 per cent who travel with a pet; pets also stay free of charge: “When pets are allowed in the house, we don´t charge our guests for bringing them. We want our guests to feel welcome, and with pets being a natural part of the family for many, holiday homes are a great choice.”

Recommendation:

  • Novasol – Holiday Homes
  • Tel: +45 70 42 44 24
  • Offering more than 18,500 pet-friendly holiday homes across Europe.
  • Many hosts welcome up to two pets (e.g. dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or turtles).
  • The top five destinations are: Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Austria.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a very animal-friendly country, with long stretches of beaches – just how our furry companions like it. Dutch coasts include many dog beaches: Bloemendaal, Noordwijk, Scheveningen, Wassenaar and Oostvoorne, where they can roam, swim, splash and play off leash all year. On all other Dutch beaches, dogs are allowed to enjoy their holidays off-leash from mid-October to May.

Recommendation:

  • Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus The Hague
  • Gevers Deynootplein
  • 302586 Scheveningen, The Netherlands
  • Tel: +31 70 416 2636
  • Set in a monumental building with a rich history dating back to 1818.
  • Located directly on the beach and promenade of Scheveningen.
  • Price per dog: €25 per night

 

Germany: The Baltic Sea

The islands of Rügen and Usedom are famous as dog paradises on the Baltic coast. Both have multiple dog beaches, stunning white sands and are just perfect for long walks along the promenade or in the woods.

Recommendation:

  • Nymphe strandhotel & apartments
  • Strandpromenade 48
  • 18609 Ostseebad Binz/Rügen, Germany
  • Tel: +49 (0)38393 12 20 000
  • Very cute dog-loving hotel by beach, with approx. 45% of guests visiting with furry family members.
  • Dogs are welcome at the restaurant Strandlücke, offering young, creative cuisine inspired by regional products (and an impressive selection of gin).
  • Price per dog: €12 per night (incl. doggy welcome package)

4. More dog friendly hotel chains & special offers

Scandic

Dogs are welcome at all 89 Scandic hotels and the demand is rising. In 2022, over 10,000 dogs stayed at Swedish Scandic Hotels, a warm welcome included: dog snacks, a welcome card with best walk paths in the area, doggy bags and more.

Scandic Landvetter (located by Gothenburg airport) has a special offer: on New Year’s Eve it pretty much turns into a dog hotel, as fireworks are not allowed here. On this occasion dogs are allowed at the dinner event and celebrate with their family.

  • Scandic offers the largest network of hotels in the Nordic market, with a strong focus on sustainability.
  • Additional cost for pet per room: approx. €20 per night.
  • Guide dogs stay free of charge.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott might be the most welcoming luxury hotel group for dogs in the world. It is well known that New Year’s Eve, with firecrackers and much ruckus is no fun for our dearest friend. For dog parents who want to welcome the new year in a relaxed way, the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Centre is offering a ‘New Year’s Eve with Dog’ overnight package in a deluxe room with breakfast. No fireworks are allowed around the airport, and all windows are quadruple-glazed, ensuring absolute silence and peace.

  • New Year’s Eve package including a New Year’s Eve Dinner, dogs allowed
  • A beautiful forest nearby is just perfect for a New Year’s walk the next day
Katharina Svegler
Katharina Svegler
Author
Find out more
Multipolar Vilnius
Falstaff selects five distinctive hotels in the capital of Lithuania.
By Aivar Hanson
In the Middle of Nowhere
An unbelievable hotel with a few rooms and its restaurant became a benchmark for Estonian...
By Aivar Hanson