Dog-friendly family breaks – tried and tested

Dog-friendly family breaks – tried and tested
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Hotel: Hallmark HotelLocation: North Ferriby, just outside Hull
Contact details: Hallmark Hotel Hull, Ferriby High Road, North Ferriby, East Yorkshire, HU14 3LG

Tel: 01482 645 212

Website: hallmarkhotels.co.uk
Price: Prices from £79 per room per night BB, dogs charged at £15 supplement 

This is a surprisingly large hotel. It’s not the most attractive building to look at, but all is forgiven when you take in the views from the brasserie and terrace and some of the rooms – a wonderful panoramic of the Humber Estuary and Bridge. Adjoining the hotel is a large grassy field (ideal for jogging) where Pooch can be exercised and run around while you sit on the hotel terrace enjoy a drink.
Winner of Visit Hull & East Yorkshire's Remarkable Accommodation award 2013, the Hallmark has 95 bedrooms, a brasserie, lounge areas, meeting rooms, free Wi-Fi, free parking, and Sky Sports. There are also beauty, fitness and treatment rooms, a gym and sauna so there’s something for everyone.

Accommodation: We stayed in two twin-bedded rooms which were spacious, clean and very comfortable, and our dog slept with us in there. We brought his own bedding as he prefers that and it helps keep the hotel clean! There was free Wi-Fi, complementary tea and coffee, an ironing board and iron. The ensuite included toiletries and was spotless (I do appreciate cleanliness!). A particularly nice touch was a Welcome card, signed by the hotel team, plus a complementary bottle of house wine.
We received a warm welcome on arrival, as did our dog, and the team were friendly and efficient – impressive considering the large numbers of people using all the facilities due to the wedding being held.

Meals: We found the food tasty and well-presented and the staff eager to please, although the size of the starters was quite large, which took the edge off the main course when it arrived. This may not be a problem for some but it did mean we couldn’t squeeze in a pud!
The menu is not extensive, but we did find something for everyone to enjoy, including my fussy teenager. It was more like a pub than a restaurant; the décor is simple and plain and the tables and chairs are basic, but the atmosphere is relaxed and informal and the view over the Humber estuary was beautiful. This was one of the few places in the hotel where we couldn’t take our dog (understandably) but he was allowed in the lounge area and on the terrace.
Breakfast was very sociable affair and the staff worked hard to keep up with the demands of hungry diners. The Full English breakfast was tasty and plentiful and there was the usual continental selection for those who couldn’t face a fry-up. We enjoyed chatting with other guests, some of whom also had their dogs in tow!

What to do/where to go: Obviously you can make full use of the grounds and woods next to the hotel, so there’s no problem finding somewhere for Pooch’s morning walk and it’s very convenient for getting back to the hotel in time for breakfast. The woods have well-worn paths running through them so you won’t get lost and your dog will love it.
Within a short drive is Hull, European City of Culture for 2017, where you will find all the usual tourist attractions and shops, but for dogs, head out towards one of the many east coast beaches where dogs are welcome. We drove 25 miles to Skipsea beach where he could run free and splash in the water and we could kick back and relax with a book. And believe it or not, the sun shone so everyone was happy!
Also nearby is Hornsea and, further afield, Bridlington and Flamborough.
For a list of dog-friendly beaches, visit www.nearestbeach.co.uk/dog-friendly

Casper’s comments: This hotel provided poo bags, a dog bowl, and some tasty dog treats just for me. It had fantastic grounds for me to run around in and chase my ball. An added bonus was the woods adjacent to the hotel where I had an excellent time chasing rabbits and squirrels and exploring and sniffing out new smells. To top it all off, we went to the beach and I got to play in the sea!

 

Hotel: St Mary’s Inn B&B
Location: Near Stannington, just outside Morpeth
Contact details: St Mary’s Inn, St Mary’s Lane, St Mary’s Park, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 6BL
Tel: 01670 293293

Website: stmarysinn.co.uk
Price: Standard and Deluxe bedrooms from £80-£140 per night on a B&B basis, double occupancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A recently opened (autumn 2014) pub and b&b, this is a place with some interesting history! Formerly an old hospital (hence its name, St Mary’s) the remains of the old hospital buildings can be seen at the back of the inn and are utterly fascinating to view. Sadly in line for demolition to make way for exclusive housing, they hark back to former days and are a real talking point. The inn itself is housed in the former admin block of the hospital and is a magnificent building, richly decorated and incredibly comfortable and welcoming. 
Booking in is done at the bar (no reception as such) as this is an inn with rooms, not a hotel. The General Manager, Victor, is both charming and affable and spared time to chat and tell us about the hotel’s history.
The inn is set within a modern housing estate, which is springing up all around it, and is hoped will be the ‘local’ for the new incumbents. Beautifully restored and renovated, the staff were really friendly and relaxed, but professional too. The bar area is very impressive and the rooms that lead off from it seem to go on forever (it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside). The bar area where we ate featured a huge oak bar and a large bookcase housing local history and geography books, ideal for perusing while waiting for your meal to arrive.
There are lots of original feature and interesting artworks/sculptures in here, of particular interest are some photographs taken when the hospital closed its doors in 1996 and another taken from the same view when it reopened in 2014. The building is very striking with its impressive clock tower and arched doorway and inside its cosy rooms and spacious areas mean you can enjoy afternoon tea or a full-blown three-course meal from the tempting menu.

Accommodation: Nicely furnished with a mix of modern and classic the rooms are light and airy and individually named. The sumptuous bedrooms feature queen or king beds, individually-styled  (including one with disabled access). We stayed in Whittle Dene room, especially for those with a dog in tow. We were made to feel very welcome and Pooch was treated to a dog blanket, food and water bowls in the room, plus a doggy treat. Our room also had the luxury of a balcony – perfect for sitting out with the dog and enjoying a drink.
The ensuite was large and luxurious with large fluffy towels, complementary toiletries and a very invigorating rain shower, plus we had digital TV, magazines, complementary tea, coffee and biscuits, and mineral water. And it goes without saying that it was spotlessly clean!

Meals: We stayed on a Sunday so were treated to the Sunday roast menu which was hearty and tasty. Best of all, Pooch got to eat in the bar are area with us and indulge in his own menu…
Doggie menu: Snuffles dog beer/Seaweed popcorn/Venison & apple sausage
Our meals were delicious and well-presented and the portions were spot-on. It was nice to be able to take Pooch into the bar, rather than leave him in the room, and he thoroughly enjoyed his doggie menu – a lovely touch and one that our girls in particular enjoyed. The food is sourced locally whenever they can and some of the ingredients are homegrown. There’s a great menu for kids, too.

There’s a varied wine list and a choice of four real ales including the custom-made St Mary’s Ale from the Wylam brewery in Tyne Valley. This is a popular area for cyclists and the inn caters for those, too, with ample bike parking and regular group rides. Where better to partake in a Full English breakfast before setting off for a sojourn in the Northumbrian countryside?

Where to go/what to do: There’s not really an area for dogs to run around outside the hotel, but you can still walk him on a lead in the grounds and take in the fascinating, derelict buildings of the old hospital. We took our dog into Morpeth, only a few miles away, and visited the Chantry Bagpipe Museum, the shopping arcade and Carlisle Park before driving on a few miles to the coast to Druridge Bay Country Park.
 This wonderful park has its own beach (3 miles of it!) visitor centre, lake with watersports and plenty of parking and we enjoyed an afternoon on the beach in the sunshine, where dogs were welcome. Surrounded by woods and meadows, it’s perfect for a family day out.

Casper’s comments: I was treated like a king here and I got to join my humans for breakfast and dinner. In the evening I was treated to a doggie menu of non-alcoholic doggy beer, seaweed popcorn and a particularly tasty sausage before lying down for a snooze in the bar. The next day I got to play in sand dunes and swim in the sea. I shall definitely come here again!

Hotel: The Four Seasons Hotel
Location: St Fillans, Perthshire
Contact details: The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans, Perthshire PH6 2NF
Tel: 01764 685333

Website: www.thefourseasonshotel.co.uk
Price: Classic room £64 per person, per night, bed & breakfast

This is a lovely large, sprawling hotel perched right on the edge of Loch Earn and is simply stunning. There are 12 rooms in the main hotel, two with four-poster beds, and six chalets in the hillside behind the hotel, ideal for families. There’s a pleasant restaurant and bar which is well-run and maintained, as well as lots of cosy little rooms, many of which look out over the Loch. Our girls particularly liked the library, with its comfy sofas, chairs and lots of lamps, complete with books and DVDs to borrow and/or replace.
59 miles from Edinburgh, 55 miles from Glasgow and 30 miles from Stirling, The Four Seasons is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the big city to give you the feeling of seclusion and relaxation without feeling as if you are on the edge of the world. 

Accommodation: Twin rooms with a fabulous view of the Loch - what’s not to like?
We received a warm welcome at The Four Seasons – there was even a letter for our dog from the resident spaniels, Cham and Pagne – a humorous touch!
Our rooms were comfortably furnished with breathtaking Loch views. It was wonderful waking up to this and we were so lucky with the weather. The view is ever-changing and what you see while having breakfast is not what you see at lunch or when settling down for dinner.
Rooms have tea and coffee-making facilities, a hairdryer, TV and digital radio and a large ensuite with complementary toiletries. It was clean and comfortable and our dog was able to sleep in the room with us.
And if you fancy a day out without your pooch, the Pet Concierge service (with prior booking), is just for you. Dogs, as well as other pets, are well-catered for with a range of services from £8 per hour including…
Creature Cuisine – Dogs can choose from a specially-created menu of fun treats such as gourmet Pedigree Dog bites including the Fido Beefy Pie, Bugs Bunny and Carrots and Hogs and Heinz flavours, as well as a variety of Bakers dried dog food. Cats, bunnies and other creatures can also choose from their very own menus.
Pet walking service – A Pet Butler to give you a break and walk Pooch for you.
Pet-sitting service – so you can have a few hours’ peace to dine in the restaurant or go out and about
Pooches parlour - The Pet Butler can arrange a variety of grooming services including wash and blow dry, nail clipping and ear cleaning. Prices depend on size and breed of dog.
All services must be booked in advance.

Meals: The food here is really quite special; the menu has a vast range of tasty, local produce. They take their food and drink very seriously at The Four Seasons and evidently take great pride in it. The Meall Reamhar Restaurant is a two AA Rosette award-winning restaurant offering Scottish fresh fish, seafood and scallops, Scottish beef and lamb and locally-grown fruit and veg, The Tarken Cafe Bar has soups, meaty steaks, heavy doorstop sandwiches, wines, champagnes and whiskies. The hotel even make packed lunches for walkers going out for the day. There’s a very extensive wine list so there’s the perfect dram to suit and the wines come under three lists - Sparkling, Europe and New World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Meall Reamhar Restaurant features delights such as Ceviche of Orkney Salmon & Scallop, Fillet of Scotch Angus Limousin Beef Bordelaise, Roast Saddle of Wild Boar, Almond and Lemon Pannacotta, Columbian Coffee and homemade Petit Fours. Delicious! There’s also an evening a la carte menu, a Dessert menu, Tarken specials, Afternoon Tea menu, Lunch menu and even a Pedigree Dog menu. They also offer a Packed Lunch Menu and a Hill Walkers Picnic Bag. It’s quite literally foodie heaven! And eating while looking out over the picturesque setting of the Loch is a real treat.

What to do/where to go: Apart from a walk around St Fillans (handy for an early morning dog walk) the hotel provides an excellent list of local walks, in varying degrees of challenge. There’s also fishing, biking, hiking, or boating so literally something for everyone.
At Killin, a very scenic drive of 23 miles from the hotel, are the magnificently scenic Falls of Dochart, where the main street leads down towards the Loch at the confluence of the rivers Dochart and Lochay. We visited a disused mill which doubles as a museum of sorts, a bric-a-brac shop and an art studio. There are a few quaint little shops to browse in but the Falls are the main attraction. Accessible by clambering over large rocks (quite safe, apart from when it’s raining!), our dog was able to swim in the shallow water pools, too. Lunch was a tasty affair at the Capercaillie tearooms, where dogs were welcome (dogs were welcome in so many places round about the hotel, we were spoilt for choice).

Directly opposite the hotel, there’s an area with a jetty belonging to the hotel and a few feet out in the Loch is an unusual sculpture commissioned by the hotel owner, Andrew Low, and competed by a local craftsman, Rob Mulholland. It’s a real talking point and interestingly enough, is called ‘Still’ – a reflection of the loch no doubt. With the Scottish Highlands on its doorstop, great walks, commanding hills and unrivalled views, you can be as active or as lazy as you like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casper’s comments: This was such a peaceful, relaxed place, I almost didn’t want to go out for a walk (almost…). I went for a good walk round part of Loch Earn in the mornings and really liked going to visit the Falls of Dochart where I could swim in the clear water. Exhaused, we went back to the hotel for a well-earned snooze. Doggie heaven!