Holidays that pack a pooch

Holidays that pack a pooch: From pet-friendly menus to pup surfing classes and even luxury chauffeuring, there is every reason to take your furry friend away with you, says Tibbs Jenkins. Here is our guide to the paw-fect break

Is there anything more glorious than closing your front door and setting off on holiday, ready for days splashing in the pool and lashings of rosé? Yes, there is – doing it with your dog.

Just ask Simon Cowell, who’s been seen in Barbados with his yorkshire terriers. Or chef Gino D’Acampo, who flew his dachshund Snoop to Sardinia in April. Cats are jetting off, too: Kate Beckinsale has shared photos of her and her moggie Clive on a private jet.

Data suggests that over 3.2 million people in the UK have become pet owners since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number to 34 million. So is it any wonder we’re factoring them into our summer breaks? (And in style!)

Enter dog-a-porter.com, ‘the ultimate dog chauffeur’ and brainchild of siblings Camilla Brillembourg and Hugo Mabbott. They’ve escorted dogs all over Europe since 2017 and are now expanding to the US.

Dogs – who must have a vet-issued Animal Health Certificate (see opposite) or an EU pet passport to travel abroad – are driven by either Mercedes SUV or Land Rover modified for comfort. It’s safe (Hugo is certified in dog first aid), cosy and the trip is bespoke to your pooch’s needs – there’s no car sharing with someone else’s pet. They’ll stop at dog-friendly hotels along the way – France is full of them – and if your canine likes to sleep on the bed, no problem. Clients include celebrities and royals.

Is there anything more glorious than closing your front door and setting off on holiday, ready for days splashing in the pool and lashings of rosé? Yes, there is – doing it with your dog

Is there anything more glorious than closing your front door and setting off on holiday, ready for days splashing in the pool and lashings of rosé? Yes, there is – doing it with your dog

HOT SPOTS FOR HOUNDS  

Beadnell Towers

 Four-legged friends are more than welcome at this hotel in Northumberland ‒ and will love long walks along the spectacular coast nearby. It has seven dog-friendly rooms. Doubles from £129 a night, beadnelltowers.co.uk. 

Hare and Hounds

 As its name suggests, dogs are valued guests at this pub in Berkshire, where pups find a bed, bowl and biscuits awaiting them. Double rooms from £90 a night, dogs £20 extra; hareandhoundsnewbury.co.uk

 Hotel de Bouilhac 

Treat Fido to the trip of a lifetime at this spa hotel in the Dordogne region of Southwest France, where dogs can dine with you in the medieval banqueting hall. Double rooms from £153 a night; dogs £13 extra; hoteldebouilhac.com

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Of course, none of this comes cheap; think £2,400 for Fido to be driven in luxury to the South of France. As Camilla says: ‘You’ll find owners forking out a couple of grand to get their dog to Saint-Tropez, while they fly EasyJet.’

Makes sense, especially if they’re splashing out on any of the dog-friendly accommodation listed on luxury hotel website Mr & Mrs Smith, which now has an entire section dedicated to hotels and villas that will make man’s best friends’ ‘tails wag on arrival’.

You don’t have to travel abroad to treat your dog to a getaway. The UK has plenty to offer them, the travel industry having wised up to the fact that family doesn’t simply mean children. Last year searches for dog-friendly holiday destinations in the UK soared by 665 per cent.

Only a few weeks ago, Storm, a fun-loving springbullsta (that’s springer spaniel, bulldog and staffie mix) enjoyed a weekend at The Swan at Streatley, Berkshire (coppaclub.co.uk). After a spread of treats, she took a boat ride and behaved impeccably – until she spied some ducks and attempted to commit murder. She omitted this part of her stay from her entry in the hotel visitors’ book – or maybe her ‘pawrents’ did.

She’s not the only pooch taking advantage of the great British summer. Cas – a rescue dog, originally from Tobago – is currently frolicking on the beaches of Orkney, her owners having undertaken a two-day drive plus ferry to get there: great fun, especially with two under-fours.

Think your furry friend would enjoy beach life too? Then why not sign up for a dog-friendly surfing class with pawsonboard.co.uk in Dorset. Or if chilling is more your pet’s thing, try The George Inn, in the Cotswolds (thegeorgebarford.co.uk), where room service includes a dog menu boasting ice cream, beer (yes, really) and toys, while in the bathroom there’s luxury shampoo by Sniffe & Likkit (for your dog, obviously).

Still not sure what to book? Check out petspyjamas.com, which has over 18,000 UK doggie destinations on its books and an expert pet concierge to help you find your perfect trip.

Meanwhile, if you do have to go abroad – say, for a wedding – and can’t take Fido, there’s trustedhousesitters.com, whose membership has doubled since travel restrictions ended. For £99 a year for unlimited stays, TPS will find a sitter to live in your house in exchange for looking after your pet – sparing you the heartache of booking Fido in to the kennels.

Yet for some people even that is not enough. Friends of mine hosted their chosen sitter for the entire week prior to their getaway – taking him to the pub to meet the locals and ensuring he and their dog got on. They did. And now my friends are in Greece and just about managing to enjoy some calamari, guilt-free.

Nobody has dared raise Christmas with them for fear the sitter already has plans.

Essentials for a smooth pet-away 

Passports for cats, dogs and ferrets were introduced in Europe in 2004, allowing free movement for people and their pets across the continent. But since Brexit, British pet passports no longer count in Europe. Instead, your pet now requires an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by a UK vet (one who has completed the additional government training in AHCs) within ten days of setting off on your trip. Your dog also needs to be microchipped, have a valid rabies vaccination and be treated for tapeworm before returning to the UK. That’s roughly an extra £300 per pet, per trip.

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