In case you hadn’t noticed (how couldn’t you have, given all the cute pictures of her), our food-filled life got a bit of a new focus at the very end of 2016 with the arrival of Brandy. I’ve never had a dog before and I’m quite prepared to admit she has changed my life in all sorts of ways and brought a helluva lot of fun and happiness (and hard work at times).
Before Brandy (BB as it shall now be known), we went where we wanted, when we wanted, picked restaurants based solely on the menus and hotels on the loveliness of the rooms and, of course, location. We also didn’t have to think twice if someone invited us to a restaurant or hotel, packing up and tootling off to explore. With Brandy came a whole new load of considerations but mainly the big question: “are you dog-friendly?”
It turns out far more places are than I’d ever known – some quite unexpectedly. Of course, I’ve become aware that when you ask if you can take your dog to a hotel, restaurant or campsite, people are often expecting a small, fluffy sidekick rather than a quizzical Rottweiler and there have been a few surprised faces, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming so many places have been.
The Gallivant, Camber Sands
I’m aware the Gallivant keeps popping up in all my lists of favourites, but it really is one of my all-time faves. Made even better by the fact it’s so welcoming to dogs. We took Brandy when she was just a few months old and were stunned that despite it being so beautifully decorated they’re happy to welcome pooches into the swish rooms. They even provide a dog bed, bowl and biscuits.
Added to that, across the road is the gorgeous Camber Sands – perfect for morning walks – and the ground floor rooms have their own little garden area which is perfect for giving them a little bit of fresh air and a sniff. When we went, there was a ‘bar’ section in the restaurant where dogs were allowed to sit, and the staff were endlessly accommodating of a puppy sprawled out having a snooze while we dined on their yummy food.
The Mash Inn, Radnage
When we found out we were camping just 10 minutes away from a pub doing wonderful things with food, we hoped and prayed it would allow dogs in. Lucky for us, while The Mash Inn doesn’t let dogs throughout the restaurant, we were set up with the perfect table in a corner in the bar area where we could savour chef Jon Parry’s creations. It meant Brandy was tucked nicely out of the way of other diners but we could still enjoy all the highlights of The Mash Inn, including being able to wander into the open kitchen to watch the team expertly cooking over coals.
The Woodstock Arms, Woodstock
The Woodstock Arms is pretty much everything we need for a lovely little night away. Good food, cosy, welcoming bar, lush rooms AND we could take Brandy with us. They were endlessly accommodating, not only of the pooch, but of the fact that we randomly decided that my mum should stay the night too, despite only planning to come for a drink, and we managed to sort her out her own room at very late notice. Woodstock itself is lovely and you can explore all the gorgeous little shops as well as impressive Blenheim Palace.
Strickland Arms, Penrith
We discovered the Strickland Arms on our way back from our January Scottish road trip and it’s certainly well up there when it comes to dog friendliness. Brandy spent an afternoon and evening making herself at home in the cosy bar while Jamie and I recovered from a week of too few showers and lots of travelling with a few drinks and a bite to eat.
Owners Anton and Pen are wonderfully welcoming and very soon you’ll feel like you’re a local yourself. There’s great walks nearby which are perfect for the pooch. We took ourselves up to Aira Force waterfalls for a long old yomp and there’s plenty more nearby, including stunning Ullswater. We’ll definitely be back!
The Cornish Arms, St Merryn
If you’ve read this blog before, you might see that it features regular jaunts to Cornwall. We’ve loved going there for years but even more so since Brandy arrived as it’s the perfect place for dogs. While you can’t take the pooches into all of Rick Stein’s place, his pub The Cornish Arms in St Merryn is dog-friendly. When we went I think pretty much every table had a four-legged friend sitting at it. And their scampi and chips was brilliant!
The Ship Inn, Rye
We stopped at Rye on the same trip we stayed at the Gallivant and spent a night at The Ship Inn. Not only was Brandy welcome throughout the pub and restaurant (and was even allowed on one of the cosy sofas for a snooze) but their rooms are dog-friendly too and she happily snored away all night, despite only being a pup at the time.
Rye itself is a lovely little town with plenty to explore, and about 15 minutes away you can get to Camber Sands for a long walk along the beach. A dog’s idea of heaven!
Mhor 84, Lochearnhead
You don’t hear many places called motels in the UK, but Mhor 84 really is. A sister establishment to the more swanky Monachyle Mhor up the road, Mhor 84 is a cosy, roadside lodge and restaurant perfect for a stop-off during a road trip like ours. There are fresh cakes on the side as you walk in, log fires, and plenty of areas you can sit with your dog.
We had a cosy evening nursing a cold with warming food like venison goulash, accompanied by some great live music, before getting an early night in our campervan which they kindly let us park in the car park. There’s plenty of walking and exploring to be done nearby but if that’s too strenuous you could just wile away a bit of time at Mhor 84’s shop which sells all sorts of unique locally-made arts and crafts.
Mill Street Pub and Kitchen, Oakham
Mill Street Pub and Kitchen will always have a special place in my heart. It was Brandy’s first ever trip away and I’ll never forget how understanding the staff were – especially after we all managed to set the entire building’s alarm off when escorting Brandy out for a night-time wee! The rooms were newly-refurbished when we visited, the food was good and the restaurant nicely divided into different rooms which made it easy to tuck ourselves away out of other people’s way.
Prawn on the Lawn, Padstow
When you first look at Prawn on the Lawn, you will naturally assume dogs aren’t allowed in. Mainly because it’s teeny tiny and why would the staff want to have to work around dogs. However, as understanding as they are that lots of visitors to Padstow have a pooch in tow, they do allow a maximum of two dogs in so if you get organised and book yourself in, you’ll be able to enjoy all of Prawn on the Lawn’s delights.
I raved enough about my original blog post on Prawn on the Lawn so I won’t do it all again, but I’m really rather glad that they allow dogs as I’d have had to miss out on a magnificent meal. A simple menu, packed with fish and seafood all written up on chalkboards. Great service. Good drinks. ‘Nuff said.
Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
In a year when we didn’t go skiing and get to indulge in the compulsory apres-ski, the Old Bridge Inn felt pretty close. Full of walkers, skiers and dogs warming up and getting some refreshment after a long day in the Cairngorms, it is the perfect place to finish off a day in the fresh air. We only planned to go for a drink then decided to try the food and boy, are we glad we did! And to top it off, they let you camp in their car park, another plus point for us campervanners.
And there we have it, some of the great dog-friendly places Mr M, Brandy and I have stayed at or dined at. There are tonnes more and more for us to explore but these are some of the highlights we’ve found in the UK. And that’s before we even talk about the ones in Europe!
What are your dog-friendly places? Tell me about them so we can check them out!
Some of the places featured in this blog were complimentary, though many we paid for in full ourselves. You will find full disclosure on each individual post.