Thursday, February 22, 2018

European pet friendly lodging I have known...


Zane on a road trip to Belgium!


Arran begging for a belly rub.

Sometimes I get inspiration for blog posts from people in local Facebook groups who have a need.  I think the many travel bloggers in the Stuttgart area each offer different things to our readers.  I don't have children, so generally speaking, I'm not the one to come to for advice on where to take your kids.  However, I do love good food, wine and beer, unique places that are off the beaten track, and, most importantly, pet friendly lodging.

We didn't used to take our dogs on our trips.  When we lived in Germany the first time, we had Flea and MacGregor, two high maintenance beagles that didn't travel well.  Flea would get car sick.  MacGregor was deathly afraid of people he didn't know.  Both of them barked incessantly.  MacGregor would also howl when we left them alone.  In those days, we'd take them to Hunde Hotel Haase, which was at the time being run by a woman named Kirsten.  Kirsten was awesome, and she took great care of our dogs.  Unfortunately, sometime in the five years between our Germany tours, Kirsten left, and took the Hunde Hotel's good reputation with her.  I started hearing some very disturbing stories about dogs who were left there.

We started using Dog Holiday for our current dogs, Zane and Arran.  Dog Holiday is great, but it's frequently booked, especially on holiday weekends.  When we want to take a dog free break, we book Zane and Arran at Dog Holiday months or even as far as a year in advance.  Since we don't know how long we'll be in Germany, that can be problematic as well.

In 2016, we decided to start taking the dogs with us on our trips.  We started with a one night experiment in Riquewihr, which is a lovely French town in Alsace, not too far from Stuttgart.  Although Zane and Arran had stayed in hotels before, we decided it was time we trained them to be good in hotels.  I booked us a deluxe room at Best Western Le Schoenenbourg.  Although the dogs weren't on their absolute best behavior, the trip was a success.  We even managed to enjoy a delicious gourmet meal in Riquewihr with our dogs in tow!  After that victory, I started looking for other pet friendly accommodations.  I've found some good ones, which I am sharing in this post.

Before I get started, I want to list my criteria for booking pet friendly accommodations.  First, I look for parking-- particularly free parking.  That's because we don't take our dogs on trains, at least not yet.  We have to have a place to park our SUV.  Next, I look for free WiFi because I'm addicted to the Internet, but also because you never know when you'll need to find an emergency vet or something.  And finally, I try to book places that don't charge pet fees.  It's not that I don't want to pay pet fees or that I don't think property owners are right to be concerned about pets staying in their rentals.  It's more because I've found that people who don't charge for pets tend to be less nervous and/or anal retentive about having them in their rentals.  I prefer to rent from people who like my dogs rather than just tolerate them.

So here goes with my list of nine pet friendly properties we've enjoyed so far.  The first link you encounter for the listings will be to the property itself, and the second will be to my first blog post about our experiences there.  That way, people who just want to book don't have to wade through my posts if they don't want to.  They are not ranked in any particular order.

 1.  Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenberg in Riquewihr, France

This will be the only hotel listed in this post.  I am mentioning Hotel Le Schoenenberg because they were exceptionally pet friendly.  When we checked into our deluxe room (the only one they had left), we found it outfitted for our dogs' arrival.  They had included pet bowls and treats for Zane and Arran and they were super understanding when my dogs started baying on the way downstairs.  My one concern about this hotel is that it's pretty pricey.  We paid just under 200 euros for one night with breakfast.  However, we were also in a suite and it was during the high season.  Also, I don't think you need more than a couple of days to see all of Riquewihr, although there is much to see in the surrounding areas.



Hotel Le Schoenenberg was very welcoming to our dogs!

2.  Chalet Montana in Barvaux, Belgium

We booked Chalet Montana in Barvaux, Belgium for Labor Day weekend 2016.  I found this house on Booking.com.  It was larger than what we needed and kind of pricey, but it has the distinction of being our very first experience renting a vacation home.  I see on Booking.com that Chalet Montana *may* charge for pets, but I don't think they charged us when we stayed there.  There are two master bedrooms with two trundle beds.  Bring your own linens.

This property is near the charming town of Durbuy and within range of towns like Rochefort, Bastogne, and Dinant.  We visited each of those towns while we were in Barvaux.  I was particularly enchanted by Dinant, which is where Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, was born.  We found the area very dog friendly and the house itself is very nice and extremely kid friendly.  Additionally, it boasts a still water hot tub (fueled by a fire that you have to build) and a sauna.  There's an adventure park in the area, as well as golfing.  We also found great beer and good restaurants nearby.


Apparently, Durbuy has a problem with human stealth shitters.  However, we never encountered human poop and, in fact, thought the area was lovely!  It smelled good, too. 

3.  Villa Moretta in Domaso, Italy

You'd rather head south for a trip to Italy?  I can't blame you for that.  We found Villa Moretta in Domaso, Italy on Booking.com and stayed there for Memorial Day weekend.  I notice that the name has changed since our stay.  In May of last year, it was called Casa Oliva di Domaso.  I don't know if that means the place has new owners, although I note that when we stayed there, there were no pet charges and now it looks like they *may* charge for pets.

The owner was doing work on an apartment on the first floor during our stay.   It looks like he's now offering two apartments, one of which is one bedroom and the other is two bedrooms.  In any case, the two room apartment was pet friendly when we stayed there and offered stunning views of Lake Como, as well as access to some great Italian food.  I will warn that this apartment requires walking up steps for access because it's situated on a hillside.  Also, there is one tiny parking space that was a challenge for Bill to fit our small SUV.  However, I have very fond memories of Domaso and would love to go back!  It's a very chilled out town, perfect for relaxing and dog walking.


View from a trail going up the hillside.


I loved the donkey!


Watching storm clouds roll in from the balcony.
    
4.  Vila Verunka in Senec, Czech Republic

We stayed at Vila Verunka in Senec, Czech Republic just last weekend.  It's a little two room house on the edge of a forest, located in a residential suburb of Plzen.  This house features pet friendly floors and a large, fenced in yard.  The owners are very nice and did not charge us extra for Zane and Arran.  Also, this accommodation was extremely inexpensive.  For three nights, we paid 288 euros.  The one caveat is that the tap water is not potable.  It's fine for washing and watering your dogs, but not for human consumption.  The owners didn't explain why, except to say that the house isn't hooked up to city water.  My guess is that they use a cistern to supply water to the house.  Drinking bottled water is no big deal for us, but I thought it best to mention it.  There's a swing set in the yard for your kids and the house is set far enough away from other properties that noise from dogs is less of a problem.

Plzen is a great place for beer lovers, as well as aviation lovers.  There is a huge, unique Air Park near the house that offers a rare chance to look at Cold War era airplanes, tanks, helicopters, and missiles.  Also, Plzen has a zoo and several museums for Cold War history buffs.  It's a city that has a special fondness for America, which is evident in its street names.


Zane was very much at home at Vila Verunka!

5.  Gîtes de la Maison Vigneronne in Ribeauvillé, France

This property is probably my favorite dog friendly property on this list.  In 2017, Bill and I stayed at Yannick's "wine house" three times!  The three links in the description lead to my series about each stay, all of which have been fun for us and the dogs.  Yannick names his apartments after different wine grapes.  So far we've stayed in Pinot Noir (one bedroom) once and Riesling (three bedrooms) twice.  Four apartments are in his wine house and the other two are located in a building on the main drag through town.  I have actually seen all but two of the apartments.  I have a feeling Yannick is counting on me to pitch them to my American friends in Germany.

I can vouch for how dog friendly Yannick's apartments are.  He doesn't charge extra for pets and welcomes ours whole-heartedly, even bringing them treats.  While we did encounter a cranky neighbor on our last visit, by and large, the people in Ribeauville are very dog friendly.  It's a super cute town with several great restaurants and shopping opportunities, as well as free parking.  It's also a great place to go wine tasting and visit other cute little towns in the vicinity.  We like Ribeauville more than Colmar and Riquewihr because it offers a nice balance between touristy and homey.  Also, it's a relatively short and pretty drive from Stuttgart.  I don't know when we'll be back to Ribeauville, but I'm happy to share the wealth with those who want to go.


Zane loves Yannick's Riesling apartment, too.

6.  Holiday Home Bonjour Clara in Alveringem, Belgium

Are you interested in being close to a beach?  Like good Belgian beer?  Have a big group?  You might want to consider Holiday Home Bonjour Clara in Alveringem.  This large old house is located in a rural area about a half an hour from the North Sea.  It takes about nine hours to get to Alveringem from Stuttgart, but you pass through a few beer towns to get to it.  Bonjour Clara has four bedrooms and is usually rented to crowds.  We paid 760 euros in cash for four nights, which we thought was very reasonable given how many people can stay there.  Besides being close to the beach, this house is within driving distance of Ghent and Bruges.  There's a dairy farm next door, where you can buy fresh milk, and the hostess, Marianne, has chickens that provide fresh eggs.  We really enjoyed this property in Belgium with its huge kitchen and swimming pond.  I wouldn't mind a return trip.


This beach is maybe thirty minutes away.


The boys in the kitchen.


Bill enjoys the pond.


7.  Hexagonal Tower for Two in Semur-en-Auxois, France

I'm adding the Hexagonal Tower for Two, although this property is probably the least pet friendly on my list.  First of all, the owner did charge us for Zane and Arran.  I think it was 20 euros or so, but I'm not absolutely certain of the exact amount.  Secondly, this house is strictly for two people.  Although it's pet friendly, it would be best if your pet was on the small side.  Why?  Because it's a tiny house.  However, it's also a very cool place to stay.  The owners are a British woman and her French husband, who is a master stone mason.  They built this cool tower a few years ago so they could host guests.  For two people, it's probably the perfect size.  For more than two people, it's a squeeze.  However, the town of Semur-en-Auxois, situated in Burgundy, is a very quaint, French town surrounded by more quaint French towns.  The area is absolutely beautiful!  If you need a break from Germany, it's a great place to be.


Look how cute the town is!


This is about the size of the downstairs room.  Note no handrail on the steps, which could be a problem if you have small kids.  My dogs were leery of it.


The tower!  For couples only!

8.  Gite de la Maison Bleue in Saint Marcelin de Cray, France

This is another one of my favorite pet friendly spots so far.  Located in Burgundy, a bit further south of Semur-en-Auxois, is Gite de la Maison Bleue, a beautiful old farmhouse in Saint Marcelin de Cray.  The owners of this property run a snail and rabbit farm and they have lots of friendly animals, including a spunky donkey named Antoine.  When Zane and Arran barked at Antoine and his friend, the Friesian horse, Antoine brayed right back at them.  It was hilarious!  Not only is this property beautiful, the owners are also very nice and accommodating, especially to our dogs, who were made very welcome.  It was no problem at all if the dogs pooped in the yard since there were pigs, llamas, alpacas, sheep, rabbits, geese, snails, and other dogs there.  I am dying to go back to this area, too, since it's in the heart of wine country and, quite honestly, offers a look at "the real France".  Cluny is a nearby town where you can shop, eat good food, and mingle with the locals.  There's also an interesting abbey open for tours.


This tower is part of the rental property and offers a great view from the top.


Antoine the donkey!


View from the balcony.


Zane and Arran are feeling at home.


Of all the pet friendly rentals we've tried so far, I think Anno 1499 in Rothenburg ob der Tauber may have impressed me the most.  This house was not only dirt cheap to rent, it had every comfort you could want.  Located on the main street into the walled city, this house had two full bathrooms, two bedrooms with double beds as well as a crib and daybed, and a full kitchen.  The owner works across the street and was super friendly and welcoming to Zane and Arran.  There were no extra charges for them.  She also showed us where we could park for free.  We had an absolutely trouble free stay at this house.  I'm probably going to be sorry I shared it!


The house!


Tower in a walled city.

So there you have it... nine places Bill and I have taken the dogs and had a good enough time that we'd book again.  Actually, I'm not sure I'd book the Hexagonal Tower again with the dogs, but I would for just Bill and me.  If your dog doesn't have to sleep with you and is pretty small, it would be okay.  For us, it wasn't quite enough space.  However, we loved the town and enjoyed our hosts.  

I hope this list is helpful for those of you who are seeking pet friendly digs while you're in Europe.  I will keep searching for new places and will probably write a sequel when I have another good sized list of pet friendly accommodations.  Happy traveling!


2 comments:

  1. Antoine the donkey is adorable.

    that staircase with no railing is visually appealing but I don't even know if I'd trust yself going up it. My brother's cat would love it.

    I don't think the u.U. is very friendly when it comes to traveling with pets. We only took our dogs on one or two trips when I was a kid. Mostly they stayed with my aunt and uncle. it's unfortunate that more places in the U.S. aren't pet friendly.

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    1. I loved that donkey. I was sorry we had to leave him. He was hysterical!

      The staircase was pretty scary. Zane didn't like it.

      You're right that the US is not very pet friendly, although there are some places that are realizing that there's a market for people who want to travel with their pets.

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