“A door is what a dog is always on the wrong side of,” said Ogden Nash. But those of us who love dogs don’t seem to mind the inconveniences, even when they extend to taking your pet on holiday. The proliferation of pet-friendly bed and breakfasts, the best of which are included in our guide to dog-friendly breaks in Britain, is making travelling with your pet a much easier prospect these days. The joy of the new generation of dog-loving places is that their owners are used to your antics.
It is that tolerance that makes these places special. There is, however, a limit. An owner in France told us that her dog had been ridden like a horse by the wild children of one of our visitors. But most stories are of lasting animal friendship, poops properly scooped, armchairs avoided, the sanctity of bedrooms respected, resident pooches unmolested and cats allowed dominance… just as it should be. Here are 10 of our most dog-friendly b&bs in Britain to get you started.
Stow House, near Leyburn, Yorkshire
Past ancient stone walls and fields of lambs you reach sleepy Aysgarth and this dignified rectory. Step inside to find Shoreditch-style pizzazz. Sarah and Phil have swapped the world of London advertising for a dream house in the Dales; she does cocktails, he does breakfasts and their take on Victoriana is inspiring. Floors, banisters and sash windows have been restored, stairs carpeted in plush red, sofas covered in bright velvets. Bathrooms have the wow-factor, bedrooms are soothing, and the papier mâché hare’s head above the bar sets the tone.
There’s a big garden and walks start from the door; a stroll down the hill are the Aysgarth Falls, beloved of Ruskin, Wordsworth and Turner. Well-exercised dogs will be treated to bones from the butcher while you sup sundowners.
Double rooms from £110, including breakfast. Dogs free, max one per room (01969 663635; sawdays.co.uk/stowhouse)
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Bulleigh Barton Manor, near Newton Abbot, Devon
Tea and scones will be waiting, along with leafy views to wake up to, a pool for lazy summer days, ponds and a big colourful garden for evening runs. Liz and Mark have restored their house with care, uncovering beams and lovely bits of old wood and filling it with original art and books. Bedrooms are inviting: sink-into beds, china pieces on white window sills, a pot of garden flowers, local fudge and homemade cake. They are keen on sourcing the best local produce and their hens lay your breakfast eggs.
Dartmoor and the south coast are at your feet (or paws); return to a friendly hello from Zennor the dog and dinner by the fire. Your own dog will be welcomed with homemade biscuits, towels, blanket, pooper scoop bags, shampoo and tips on walks and dog-friendly pubs; there’s even a discount voucher for a local pet shop.
Double rooms from £86, including breakfast. Dogs £7.50, per dog per night (01803 873411; sawdays.co.uk/bulleighbarton). Not suitable for children.
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Five Acre Barn, Aldringham, Suffolk
David and Bruce’s home in the village of Aldringham is set back from the Aldeburgh road, and yet with no other neighbours visible, and surrounded by woodland and fields, it feels tranquil and secluded. They’ll greet you warmly with tea and freshly baked cake, and Lola and Ruby the dogs give a gentle welcome too.
A guest sitting room, large breakfast table and open-plan kitchen run the length of the old barn, with steps at one end leading down to an award-winning cedar-clad guest wing perfectly in keeping with its surroundings. All bedrooms are bright with vaulted ceilings, comfy chairs, ottomans for an extra guest and French windows onto a furnished deck with garden and woodland views beyond. The coast has miles of empty beaches for four-legged friends to explore, extending from nearby Slaughden as far as Southwold and beyond.
Double rooms from £105, including breakfast. Dogs free, maximum one per room (07788 424 642; sawdays.co.uk/fiveacrebarn)
Loyton Lodge, Tiverton, Devon
You get the impression the tiny lanes that wrap around this small estate act as a sort of fortification, one designed to confuse invaders and protect this patch of heaven. And heaven it is for humans and dogs alike – 280 acres of rolling hills and ancient woodland, with wild flowers, pristine rivers, strutting pheasants and the odd red deer commuting across the fields. It’s England circa 1964 with nothing but birdsong to break the peace and glorious walks that start at the front door.
As for Loyton, it’s a great little base for a night or two deep in the hills. It mixes contemporary interiors with an old-school feel – roaring fires, comfy sofas, wonderful art, even a snooker room. Breakfast is a treat – bacon and sausages from home-reared pigs, eggs from estate hens.
Double rooms from £95, including breakfast. Dogs free, maximum three dogs (01398 331051; sawdays.co.uk/loytonlodge)
The Dower House, Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
This lovely rambling farmhouse has a generous spirit, incredibly welcoming to both humans and animals. Jane and Chris and their children love welcoming new people into their home. Truffle and Teasel the dogs, Ottie the cat and Tealy the horse live here too. Expect hugely comfortable bedrooms with garden flowers, delicious breakfasts and a sitting room with books and a wood fire, perfect for post-walk weary hounds. As a sculptor and painter, Jane is passionate about portraying the movement and essence of animals and wildlife, you’ll see her sculptures out in the garden and scattered around the house. The Dorset Downs are yours to explore, Chris will lend maps for the many beautiful walks.
Double rooms from £110, including breakfast. Dogs free; enquire via Sawday’s (sawdays.co.uk/thedowerhouse)
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Burnhopeside Hall, Lanchester, Durham
This listed Georgian house on a 475-acre estate near Durham is peaceful, traditional and pristine. It’s all about the elegant sitting rooms furnished with pictures and photos, log fires and big sofas, billiards and a baby grand, and great sash windows with garden and woodland views. Breakfast? Nothing is too much trouble for owner Christine. You get eggs from the hens, bacon from the pigs (slip a slice to your dog), and honey and fruit from the walled garden. Resident springer spaniels Max and Barney love all dogs, so bring yours and stroll the magnificent lawns or cycle alongside the river. Enormous beds, luxurious linen and fresh flowers await your return.
Double rooms from £100, including breakfast. Dogs free, maximum one per room (01207 520222; sawdays.co.uk/burnhopesidehall)
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Forthay, North Nibley, Gloucestershire
Find characterful rooms looking out to fields or The Tyndale Monument in this farmhouse filled with wooden beams, wonky floors, books, flowers and lovely art; guests are in one wing and charming hosts, Deborah and Charles, live on the other side. Plan your day with books and maps in the snug by the log-burner – there are plenty of walks leaving from the door. Join the Cotswold Way (15 minutes) and climb high to gaze over the Severn Estuary. Walk to two pubs with beer gardens in under 20 minutes. Dogs will love playing in the garden and discovering treats on arrival. In the evenings you can cook on the barbecue, play croquet and toast marshmallows on the fire.
Double rooms from £90, including breakfast. Dogs £10 per dog, per night, maximum two per room (01453 549016; sawdays.co.uk/forthay)
Penbontbren, near Llandysul, Ceredigion
You’re lost in lovely hills here, yet only three miles from the sea. Not that you’re going to stray far. These gorgeous suites aren’t just wonderfully good value, they’re stocked with thoughtful comforts, too. You get crockery and cutlery, kettles and fridges. Huw and Richard encourage you to bring your own wine or to buy provisions from the farm shop. As for the suites, expect big beds, super bathrooms, sofas and armchairs in pretty sitting areas, then doors onto semi-private terraces. The new garden room is a little smaller than the others, but has a big terrace to compensate. Breakfast is served in the main house. The owners are on hand with tips for doggy days out to the hills and beaches of Cardigan.
Double rooms from £100, including breakfast. Dogs free if booked through Sawdays, maximum two small or one large (01239 810248; sawdays.co.uk/penbontbren).
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Coes Faen Lodge, Gwynedd
Effortless simplicity is the key to this spa b&b. A glass-and-rock entrance, a hallway suffused with light: this Victorian lodge on the edge of Mawddach Estuary has been stunningly, meticulously revived. Bedrooms are cocoons of sleek opulence, bathrooms are rich in slate and stone, and detailing is sublime: think mood lighting, hands-free technology and pearlescent tiles that reflect the light. Acres of walled woodland garden await and dog-friendly rooms have direct access to it. Dogs are treated to cosy beds, blankets and biscuits. There’s even an outside hot water shower and dog shampoo to come back to after a day’s exploring.
Double rooms from £195, including breakfast. Dogs £15 per stay, maximum two dogs (01341 281632; sawdays.co.uk/coesfaenlodge)
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Sheiling, Argyll & Bute
Caroline is a fine baker so an afternoon treat will be waiting – a Victoria sponge filled with George’s raspberry jam or maybe some Welsh cakes just off the griddle – with a pot of tea. Breakfast is good too, by the fireside and full of locally sourced meats and eggs, veggie options and homemade sourdough and pastries. A two-minute walk and you’re on Clachan Bridge enjoying the stunning Sound views. Busy terrier Bramble loves meeting doggy friends and can recommend plenty of other nearby walking routes to enjoy. If it’s a dreich day (dull and damp) you can stay in and enjoy the warmth of the wood-burner while you dip into an interesting book.
Double rooms from £100, including breakfast. Dogs free, maximum one per room (01852 300507; sawdays.co.uk/sheiling)
Lockdown rules now vary across the UK. Check the postcode of your destination before travelling as the local rules may differ from your own. At the time of writing, these properties were open. Always check directly with the b&b before booking or travelling.