Since rescuing a mixed-breed dog during lockdown, I don’t want to travel without my “doggie-daughter” Julie.
Aside from knowing what our average temperature is, an impact of Covid-related lockdowns has been that many of us rescued pets from closing shelters in 2020.
Now, two years post the start of the pandemic, the four-legged additions to our families have crept deeply into our hearts. The good news is that we mostly don’t have to travel locally without them as more hotels and accommodation options become pet friendly.
Blow-out deluxe stays for you all
The gorgeous and deluxe Liz McGrath Collection of hotels are all pet-friendly. At The Marine Hotel, in Hermanus, Julie savoured fine-cuisine from their Bark-o-Licious menu selecting the free-range beef burger which she wolfed down with such gusto she had to lick the area around the bowl clean of the ricocheting food particles. She munched on dinner with us while we dined at the pool terrace.
This is one of the best land-based spots for whale watching and all rooms in this historic property will deliver every luxury. Our ground-floor, blue and white themed suite with a walled balcony lead directly to the lawn and onwards to the famous Hermanus cliff walk along the coast.
Julie was chuffed to receive a hand-written welcome note, in the shape of a bone, of course, from management and loads of treats. The Marine offers in-room dining from all its restaurants at no additional cost.
Julie is no stranger to being the centre of attention so was not nonplussed when the staff at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa hotel near Camps Bay oohed and aah’ed over her. The Red Carnation Group welcomes pets at The 12 Apostles and at The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, near Durban.
Julie’s bed at the 12 Apostles was large and luxurious and we were welcome to dine with her in the Leopard Bar, on the second floor which arguably has the best view in the house from the terrace overlooking the Atlantic and the eponymous mountains.
Their pet menu, which includes purr-fect bites for cats too, was created by executive chef Christo Pretorius in conjugation with local vet, Dr Conrad Prins. Beef fillet with boiled potato wedges and gravy or chopped vegetable and chicken salad.
The Radisson Red hotel at the V&A Waterfront is so dog-friendly they have a welcome letter from Baxter, a previously resident pooch. Dogs are permitted throughout the hotel and restaurant which is a particular pleasure.
Julie loves the sights and smells of the Waterfront and even after a meal will find a discarded KFC chicken bone among the foliage with a blood-hound’s determination. There are also plenty grassy spots in the Silo Precinct where the Radisson Red is located making morning doggie ablutions a breeze.
In Wolseley, the Couples Pod at The Riverstone House offers deluxe accommodation for two and your four-legged companion. Located on the edge of a dam, this is a design-forward spot with a top-of-the-range kitchen and a private outside tub, with hot and cold water, open to the stars but private.
About 15-minutes out of Greyton, Hemelsbreed is a farm with three different accommodation options. The Witpeer is a cosy cottage that sleeps two people while there is a large farm house, Wildevy nearby.
Dogs are welcome throughout. Julie loved the run of the vast lawns in front of the cottage and was also happy in the enclosed back area with a low wall.
Faraway Estate in Villiersdorp is a glamorous double-story Georgian-style mansion which can accommodate up to 26 people. Rolling lawns, a walled swimming pool up against the mountain, walk-in fridge, glass-enclosed conservatory, billiards room, library, cellar and fireplaces in each room make this a one-of-a-kind destination. In a property so vast it is hard to keep track of where people or pets are.
The cook’s dream kitchen interconnects with the dining rooms and opens directly onto the lawns and is the hub of house. There are high-back comfy chairs in front of the ceramic fireplace and vast table in the kitchen too making this a special destination no matter the weather.
In Yzerfontein, on The Western Cape’s West coast, Atlantica, accommodating up to 16 people, is a sea-front villa that welcomes pets. With an open-plan sitting room and kitchen, this property has a plunge pool, enclosed outside braai area and large sea-facing balcony with opening overhead louvers to protect against rain or to provide shade.
This house, with its cooling mists and rugged and wild coast, is close to the harbour and Schaap Island which during high tide is cut off from the land while the Dassen Island lighthouse can easily be seen from the house. A myriad broken mussel shells are usually underfoot so this is not an ideal beach to walk on barefooted.
What to know
Like everywhere, Ts and Cs apply but, in the main, you too may be surprised at how many establishments across the price spectrum will welcome you and our new best friends.
There seems to be standard for small-sized dogs which is 8Kg or lighter but Julie is 20kg and she has been welcome everywhere too, albeit by prior arrangement. If your dog is on the larger side, you may need to bring your own dog bed.
At the top end, plush embroidered luxury pet beds are provided with smart little platforms for the water and food bowls and a special menu of chef-created meals. Some establishments will ask for a pet-cleaning fee but most won’t while others will compel you to take a balcony room with direct garden access.
Most establishments will ask that your pets do not sit on the furniture or human beds and, as very few of the establishments we visited provided fully fenced-in accommodations, your dog will need to be kept on a leash.
FLY SAA flies to Cape Town and Durban from Johannesburg daily. Hermanus, Wolseley, Greyton, Villiersdorp and Yzerfontein are all within a pleasant two-hour drive from Cape Town.