Travel: A “ruff” guide to dog-friendly Scotland

© Bridget McGroutherBridget's dog Minnie enjoys the scenery.
Bridget's dog Minnie enjoys the scenery.

Bridget McGrouther and her dog Minnie take us through some of the best dog-friendly holiday resorts in Scotland.

I know you may find it hard to believe, but there is one drawback to being a travel writer. I don’t like leaving our dog Minnie behind any time I’m headed for foreign shores – although I always look forward to an ecstatic welcome on my return!

Often the ‘pawfect’ escape for us, then, is when Minnie can come too, especially to holiday resorts where she is truly welcomed.

In my ‘ruff’ guide to some of the best dog-friendly properties in Scotland, Trigony House Hotel (trigonyhotel.co.uk) in Thornhill, near Dumfries, has to receive a special mention.

Minnie was definitely made to feel top dog here and the £9.50 per night extra charge included her very own Welcome Pack containing gourmet treats and a ‘walkies’ map for the extensive grounds and local area.

Abi exploring the Isle of Eriska. © Bridget McGrouther
Abi exploring the Isle of Eriska.

We could also have ordered a free dog bed, towel, bowls and even ‘sau-sa-ges’ (remember the talking dog on That’s Life?) for breakfast for her if she hadn’t been on a special diet. Every doggy guest is given their own passport and after four overnight visits, the fifth stay is complimentary.

What we particularly enjoyed was that Minnie could join us in the cosy bar during excellent meals at this friendly boutique hotel – much better than having to leave her in the car or our room.

A dog-sitting service also means that owners can book guilt-free time to themselves, including perhaps a chance to relax at the hotel’s new Garden Spa. A dedicated outdoor canine shower is perfect for any mucky pooches that need hosed down after muddy or sandy walks.

You’d think that luxury properties may turn up their noses at guests bringing their hounds along – but not a whiff of it. You can’t get much more upmarket than five-star Glenapp Castle (glenappcastle.com) in Ayrshire and here pre-booked dogs are welcomed in ground-floor garden rooms.

Bridget's dog Minnie. © Bridget McGrouther
Bridget’s dog Minnie.

Our suite was as spacious as my first one-bed flat in Dundee and much more luxurious with its tasteful antiques. It even had its own front door with a covered porch straight out to the 36-acre private grounds.

This was very handy for exploring, though unfortunately Minnie decided to take a paddle in the azalea pond! That’s what comes of taking her to the groomers so that she’ll look immaculate and smell perfumed…

Luckily, we had towels on hand and she dried off in the car (it was a cool evening) while we enjoyed dinner. The fine dining is so superb, that we were more than happy not to be distracted by Minnie trying to steal our napkins from under the table – her favourite party trick!

As it’s coming around to Edinburgh Festival time, dog lovers may be interested to know that the Scottish capital’s five-star G&V Royal Mile Hotel allows four-legged guests into select stylish rooms and suites.

The Pet Package costs quite a hefty £50 per dog, but includes housekeeping services with a dog bowl, bed and handmade, healthy dog treats. Each pooch even gets a toy to keep, while Princes Street Gardens and The Meadows are close at hand for walkies.

Isle of Eriska drawing room.
Isle of Eriska drawing room.

At the Isle of Eriska Hotel & Spa (www.eriska-hotel.co.uk) near Oban, dogs are free to explore the private island, with its pebbly beach. As this remote location is home to wildlife such as otters and badgers, there are definitely interesting scents for dogs.

I can highly recommend the brand new Hilltop Reserves with their self-catering facilities, stylish interiors and spectacular views. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the Michelin-starred restaurant, you can book a dog sitting service (£15 for a minimum three hours) or even pre-cooked meals delivered to the lodge.

After all, why go out when we could relax in our own private hot tub, with a bottle of bubbly on ice, admiring the sunset sinking behind the mountains and Loch Creran in a glow of crimson?

Although spoilt for choice for woodland, riverbanks and beaches to explore, extra inspiration came in the form of a free guide of unmissable dog walks from www.visitscotland.com They do say it’s a dog’s life…

Isle of Eriska Iona suite with balcony terrace.
Isle of Eriska Iona suite with balcony terrace.
Isle of Eriska hot tub.
Isle of Eriska hot tub.

 

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