He doesn’t just hear you out; he listens. He isn’t just trying to impress you; he actually cares. He cuddles you, takes long walks with you, and sleeps by you. He isn’t the Prince Charming of your dreams; he’s your dog, and he will be by your side until his last breath. Having my dog, Theo, live with me is great, but the idea of him travelling with me? Even better! Each time I pack my suitcase, I wish I could pack him as well and take him along. Why leave my happy ball of fur behind? Anyone who has ever had a pet will understand the anxiety of leaving your loved one behind as you travel. If you live alone, there’s an added question of arranging for an alternative accommodation or a pet-sitter. Pet parents fret no more. Some of India’s top hotels and boutique homestays are now going out of their way to make room for your furry pal. Now, your best friend can be part of the frame for all those Instagrammable travel moments. Picture yourself lounging by an infinity pool while your pup enjoys his afternoon siesta, right by your side. So, grab that leash and pack two suitcases instead of just one in 2018.
The following nine properties from across India welcome travelling pets:
JAPALOUPPE EQUESTRIAN CENTRE, MAHARASHTRA
This stud farm is located at Shankarwadi on the Mumbai–Pune Highway, about an hour’s drive from Pune. Run by the mother-son duo of Rohan and Lorraine More, Japalouppe conducts horse-riding classes, workshops, breeding as well as annual equestrian competitions. Children and adults alike can observe and interact with the 50 horses that call this place home. They don’t stop at just horses, though. Geese, ducks, cats, bunnies, a turkey, Mini the pig and, of course, dogs complete the happy family. Your pet will have a ball with the resident animals here. You can choose between a dormitory and a cottage. Meal packages are available with an in-house cook compiling the menu. Tariff from ₹2,400 per night for a cottage and ₹1,700 for dormitories; japalouppe.com
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA
Who said luxury is just for humans? Want to unwind in a jacuzzi after a hectic week? While you pamper yourself at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, your pet can make the most of the hotel’s endless lawns (as long as he’s on his leash, weighs 7kg or less, and does not make excessive noise). Pet supplies are just a phone call away, and pet bedding is provided too. Spoil him with five-star pet food, pet beds and toys while you detox in this crazy metropolis.
Tariff from ₹10,000 per night for a superior room; fourseasons.com/Mumbai
KEWZING HOMESTAYS, SIKKIM
Combine the ruggedness of the outdoors with some homely hospitality, and you have Kewzing Homestays. The quaint hamlet of Kewzing in south Sikkim boasts of a community-based initiative developed by the Kewzing Tourism Development Committee. The programme opens the doors of locals’ homes to tourists who wish to experience Sikkimese hospitality. There’s simply no better way to be part of the quintessential Buddhist calm that fills the air in this village than to stay in one of its 30 houses. What’s more, they’re open to hosting your pet as well. Some of them have their own dogs and the neighbourhood features cats, so your four-legged friend will have ample company. Imagine eating hot momos while feeding your pooch home-cooked food, with snowclad mountains as a backdrop. Zen is now an option for both of you.
Tariff from ₹4,400 per night doubles; sikkimtourism.gov.in
DUNE ECO VILLAGE AND SPA, PUDUCHERRY
A plush 40-acre beach-facing property, Dune Eco Village and Spa is where luxury meets serenity. Their eco-friendly features (walls made of clay and thatch) make your seaside stay guilt-free. You can cycle all day, milk their resident cow, take a pottery class, play tennis, detox at the spa, and swim while your pooch befriends their dog, Suri. Give your dog a break from his monotonous city walks and take him for a stroll on the beach. You can have your Marley and Me moment and finally get those picturesque holiday photographs with your best friend by your side.
Tariff from ₹14,500 per night for AC standard room, ₹7,800 for eco bungalow; dunewellnessgroup.com
THE GATEWAY RESORT DAMDAMA LAKE GURGAON, HARYANA
Boasting a 20-acre sprawl of lush greens, Taj Gateway Damdama is a natural retreat for unwinding from urban chaos. With minimalistic interiors and gardens that spell peace, the property feels like a parallel, ethereal universe. Located just 45km from Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, the property is in the foothills of the Aravalli and just 50m from Damdama Lake, which happens to be Haryana’s largest. You can indulge in zip-lining, bike racing, camel rides and music events, while your pooch can put on his zoomies on the unending lawns.
Tariff from ₹13,500 per night for a superior resort room; gateway.tajhotels.com
THE HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, HIMACHAL PRADESH
The Himalayan Village is a retreat surrounded by deodar forests, around 6km from Kasol. The retreat boasts of open spaces that allow your canine companion to explore lots of new sights and smells. Meanwhile, you can check out activities like river crossing, nature walks, rock climbing, mountain biking, river rafting and trekking. The Parvati valley with its exquisite flora surrounds the area and makes for a picturesque holiday setting.
Tariff from ₹10,000 per night for a cottage; thehimalayanvillage.in
THE WHITE PEAKS, UTTARAKHAND
If you’re tired of the not-so-pet-friendly populace frowning upon your best friend and are exhausted of explaining the dos and don’ts of meeting your dog, this cottage-turned-homestay in Gagar, Uttarakhand, is the perfect option for you. Dog lover Aparupa empathises with all things dog-related. A pet parent could not ask for a more understanding host. With a jungle in its neighbourhood, those long walks are an added bonus. Also, the picturesque town of Nainital is just 45 minutes away.
Tariff from ₹4,000 per night for a cottage; thewhitepeaks.com
MARRIOTT SUITES PUNE, MAHARASHTRA
Looking for something between fancy and homely? Serviced apartments might be the way to go. With 199 units, the most attractive features of Marriott Suites in Pune are the luxury amenities they provide and the home-like comfort. Each suite features a full kitchen, a balcony, a washer and dryer, as well as a spacious work area. Located in the leafy neighbourhood of Koregaon Park, this pet-friendly property can be your ideal staycation in Pune, with a spa and pool to rejuvenate your weary self. Your furry friend would also appreciate the change in environment and all the new nooks and crannies he must sniff!
Tariff from ₹7,599 per night, plus ₹2,000 per pet per night. A maximum of two pets are allowed per room; marriott.com
EMERALD TRAIL, UTTARAKHAND
Even when you’re staying at a pet-friendly hotel, there are questions to be answered. For instance, how and where will you leave your baby behind when you go out exploring? Make the most of freshly prepared food, pet beds and bowls, while availing of a special pet-sitting facility at Emerald Trail. This property boasts of organic farming, rainwater harvesting, solar energy-based initiatives, and rich flora and fauna. You can leave your pooch with one of their trustworthy dog-friendly staff while you explore the estate.
Tariff from ₹6,500 per night for a deluxe room; emeraldtrail.in