Image: Pet-friendly Palmer House
Palmer House Hilton
The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago permits beasts up to 85 pounds.
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updated 12/19/2006 10:59:16 AM ET 2006-12-19T15:59:16

Alan Takagi was walking a pug/bulldog mix around a hotel in a Westwood, Calif. neighborhood on a recent afternoon. “Everyone was coming up to me and asking me about the dog, wondering what his name was,” he said. “It was a great attention-getter. Now I know why people bring their dog to the hotel.”

The hotel in question, the Westwood W, and the dog-walking was all in a day’s work for Takagi, who is part of the “Whatever/Whenever” team (a sort of “back of the house” concierge service); he was taking a guest’s pooch out for a stroll — one of the W.’s many pet-friendly perks. Other amenities include a pet toy upon check-in, custom bed and water bowl and a “special treat at turndown.” According to Takagi, “A lot of guests pick this hotel because they can bring their pets here.”

The Westwood W is not alone. Many upscale hotels are increasingly wooing patrons by offering attractions for their animal companions.

Lupe Hirt, public relations director at The Mountain Lodge Telluride in Colorado, says her hotel’s pet-friendly policies complement the area’s broader animal attraction, and that a lot of guests come to Telluride specifically to enjoy the outdoors with their pets. “Telluride embraces dogs,” she said. “There are wonderful trails nearby for them to explore, and the local public library even has a ‘Read to a Dog’ program, where you can bring your dog inside and have kids read to your pet.”

To cater to furry friends, the Mountain Lodge Telluride offers the "Elevated Pooch Package," which includes welcome snacks, Frisbee discs and an off-leash policy on lodge property.

A hotel’s location — and its proximity to parks and play areas — is one of the key features that traveler Amy Vokes looks for in a pet-friendly accommodations. Vokes, who lives in Washington, D.C., recently traveled cross-country with her partner, Laura, and their golden retriever, Levon, and became somewhat of an expert on dog-friendly lodging. They found pet weight limits at many hotels to be prohibitive for a bigger dog like Levon. Vokes says the Loews chain (which does not have weight restrictions) is her hotel of choice when traveling with their four-legged “baby,” and the Loews Santa Monica offered a particularly “fabulous” venue for dog accommodation — and recreation.

But even in settings with less-expansive possibilities for outdoor frolicking, pets can enjoy a different kind of high life. “We have a 19th-century drinking well at the front of the hotel, and the bellhops carry doggy treats,” said Marissa Anshutz, spokeswoman for the Soho Grand in New York City.

The Soho Grand’s beasts of honor tend to be dogs — celebrity canines include Jessica Simpson's Daisy and Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell — but recent guests included a cockatoo. The hotel had to draw the line at domesticated pets, though, when a crew from “March of the Penguins” tried to book rooms with their Antarctic friends in tow.

Ice-box beds may be hard to come by, but whether you’re headed to wooded expanses or bright lights and gated parks, you’ll find a wide array of hospitable quarters in our list of the U.S.’s most pet-friendly luxury hotels …

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