We are fond of traveling with our very handsome four year old Jack Russell Terrier, Malcolm Walter Davis. Our dapper dog has accompanied us on many road trips as well as on flights to and from Florida. Because of his convenient portability (16 pounds, height somewhere between Chihuahua and Beagle) and his calm and easy-going temperament (astonishingly, this is not a hyper Jack Russell), Malcolm is a grand travel companion as well as an effective ambassador for love, peace and canine fellowship in his associations with admiring strangers. Wherever we go with Malcolm, his presence is grounding and he always makes our lodgings feel like a home away from home.
Over the years, I have accrued a substantial list of Malcolm-tested pet friendly accommodations. For those of you who like to hit the highway with the pup, we offer two of these lodgings from my list for your consideration. Caveat - do check with the hotel first to confirm their pet friendly status. There may also be size limitations (i.e., no dogs over 25 pounds). It's particularly wise to do this with chain hotels as not all of their properties will allow Fido/Maisy/Spot/Blossom/Malcolm.
Westin Hotels - Westin Millbrae CA/San Francisco International Airport
Hubs had to catch an early morning plane out of SFO and instead of dragging ourselves out of bed at 4am to travel the 60 plus miles from our beach town to the airport, we checked into the airport vicinity's Westin Hotel in Millbrae, CA the evening before Hubs' flight.
The Hubs and I love Westins (though we're not too fond of their overwrought hipster sister, the W hotels). As a general rule, Westin Hotels are peaceful environments, impeccably maintained with outstanding service and they really do have truly fluffy, comfy Heavenly Beds. The Westin has never failed us in our business travels and they came through in a whole other realm - with their affectionate treatment of four legged guests.
When we appeared at the front desk with Malcolm, the desk clerks leaned over to coo and praise our little guy. We were not charged a pet fee and reveled in this as hotels can slam you for anywhere from $15 to $150 a day for the privilege of having your pet in the room.
Though we have Malcolm joining Hubs here on the Heavenly Bed, housekeeping dropped off his own cushy (dog) bed along with a water bowl and complimentary dog biscuits.
In the morning, Hubs caught the shuttle to the airport while Malcolm and I slept in, ordered room service breakfast and luxuriated until check-out time. It's a dog's life, baby.
1 Old Bayshore Highway
Millbrae, CA 94030 Phone (650) 692-3500...Fax (650) 872-8111...Reservations (800)695-8284
Hotel Vitale, San Francisco, CA
Two years ago, Hubs and I enjoyed a lovely staycation in our neck of the woods which includes the most magnificent city in America (yeah, I'll take you on, New York), San Francisco. The "most magnificent" is also my old stomping grounds, having attended university at San Francisco State and lived through most of my halcyon 20s youth in The City (yes, in reference to San Francisco "The City" is a proper noun). I know the town like the back of my hand. I have my secret spots, can cross parts of town on a bike without huffing up a hill, and have frequented the cafe where you can spy on the very nice but sorta shy Craig of Craigslist.
But, I do not know the hotels. San Francisco is a day trip for us and the notion of spending the night is rarely entertained. This is why the staycation was appealing to us - let's stay in The City and not drive back for a couple of days! So, we searched for a pet-friendly hotel in a good location, nowhere too chaotic like Union Square and in an area where we can walk Malcolm without him getting underfoot of a shopper or bicycle messenger.
Enter Hotel Vitale, of the Joie de Vivre hotel collection, located on the Embarcadero, a fresh, wide open part of town on the waterfront of the San Francisco Bay. This is a scenic area with views across the Bay to Oakland and Berkeley, and where the underside of the Bay Bridge looms over the wide sidewalk along the shore. Malcolm enjoyed the heady marine smells near the long shipping piers that extend into the cold bay and we enjoyed the heady foodie fragrances in the Ferry Building, home to a veritable gourmet ghetto of trendy restaurants, cheese shops, charcuteries and confectionaries.
As the hotel was a bit over our budget for this trip, I negotiated with the reservations staff to include our home county of Santa Cruz in the Locals Only rate and they graciously complied. Indeed, from that phone call to the morning we checked-out, the key word to describe the hotel's staff is gracious. They were gracious when Malcolm made an appearance in the lobby, gracious in providing their version of complimentary dog comforts - a bed, bowl and biscuit. Their service in the Americano, the outdoor restaurant on the ground floor? Not so gracious, in fact downright inattentive. But, that ended up to be okay as Malcolm, Hubs and I luxuriated on the cushy chairs of the Americano for a while, probably overstaying our welcome for non-paying customers. Hey, if the wait staff had shown up, we would have happily been paying customers.
As befitting its hipster clientele, the hotel was appointed with mid-century furnishings and decor. An notable example was the lounge where Malcolm poses here on a sleek, linear sofa. You'll also observe an oil painting behind the seating. It was not a great oil painting, in fact it was a cheezy, low rent oil painting. It probably wasn't an oil painting at all, but a fake with little daubs of plastic mimicking the texture of a real oil painting. I stared at that thing for the longest time, thinking that I was probably missing something about the zeitgeist. Perhaps cheezy is now the new classical? I walked away, deciding that no, it is not and that the painting-thing was just a fun little quirk.
There was another fun little quirk in our room - a mini-bar full of healthy snacks, a bottle of a decent Cakebread Chardonnay and an individual sized tank of oxygen, Oxia, right there between the instructions and the hourglass shaped glass. It's not that we were at altitude, being at sea level with the Bay. Nor were we in smoggy Shanghai or Mexico City. Our only guess was that a tank of oxygen was the new air. Like bottled water, your personal sized oxygen saves you from the horrors of the surrounding natural elements. Did we try it? No, we were leery. But, next time, we will and I will write up a full review.
About the room: We loved it. All three of us. Hubs had a nice chaise lounge to deck out and read his scientific periodicals, I wallowed in soft, high count cotton bed linens and pecked away on my laptop surfing the lightning fast wifi. Malcolm set up his quarters in the aforementioned pet accoutrements. Our room, a standard, was large and the low rise of the mid-century furniture pieces accented the spaciousness. We were lulled into an all encompassing sense of calm and tranquility, which is what the Vitale hopes to achieve for their guests. To which we say, well done, Hotel Vitale. We hope to return for more.
8 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone (415) 278-3700...Fax (415) 278-3730...Reservations (888) 890-8688
The reviewer, her husband and their dog were not compensated in any way for these reviews.