Luxury bedding and hot tubs are all well and good, but when did you last check into a hotel with real creature comforts – provided by real creatures?
From herons to horses, several properties around the planet provide encounters with animals for their guests alongside the regular room service.
Here are 12 of the best hotels with their own critters in residence.
1. Kimpton Hotels (throughout the United States)
Pets are such a big part of Kimpton hotels that they’ve been given an official job title: director of pet relations.
At Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland, the director of pet relations is Dakota, a golden retriever originally from Australia. The dog makes herself at home in this eccentric 1912 building.
“Dakota once swam with dolphins and maintains her water-loving ways Stateside,” says Allison Ferré, regional PR manager at Kimpton Hotels. Now the dog rides on her owner’s paddle board or splashes in the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.
Over at the luxurious-meets-quirky Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle, dog Alex helps check guests in or runs down the carpeted hallways. Ice cubes are his favorite treat, explains Ferré – often given for a job well done.
“A little cold never bothered Alex,” Ferré says of the Russia-born dog. “He’s loving his new home and hopes for the chance to bury his nose in the snow this winter.”
As for external animals? “Our pet policy is pretty simple,” says Meredith Black, Kimpton’s communications coordinator. “If the pet can fit through the hotel doors, they’re welcome to stay.”
Each of the group’s 60 hotels provides water bowls, treats, pet beds, toys and pooper-scooper bags.
2. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland, Finland
With 400 husky dogs across three farms, 16 horses, two reindeer fences and three cats “belonging to Santa,” there are plenty of animal-spotting opportunities at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
Throw in the possibility of viewing the Northern Lights from luxurious glass-top igloos, and it’s easy to see why travelers flock to this remote destination in the dead of winter.
“The animals live in our resort all year,” says Joti Nalluri, sales and marketing manager for Kakslauttanen. “They have a busy working season from October to April. The other months, they have a summer holiday.”
Kiilopääntie 9, 99830 Saariselkä, Finland; +358 16 667100
3. Farm Sanctuary, New York
While accommodation at this upstate New York property might be a bit rustic, its animal focus is incredible.
More than 500 rescued animals roam across Farm Sanctuary’s 175-acre shelter. These include cows, pigs, turkeys and other farm animals. At certain times of the year, guests can book cabins with external bathrooms or tiny houses with full kitchenettes.
“The majority of animals in the food industry live in some angst, so to see them in a place where they finally feel safe allows us to really get to know the amazing individuals they are,” says Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director.
Complimentary tours of the animal sanctuary are provided to overnight guests, while day visitors can book tours for $10.
“Here animals are free to roam lush pastures, sleep securely in their barns, lie in the sun and just be the special beings they are,” adds Coston.
Out of respect to the animals, all food on the property is vegan.
Farm Sanctuary, 3138 Aikens Rd, Watkins Glen, New York; +1 607-583-2225
4. Manor Hill House, Worcestershire, England
Traditional countryside and winding, hedge-lined roads surround the family-owned Manor Hill House, nestled in the heart of central England’s Worcestershire County.
Upon arrival, Jack, the property’s energetic horse, greets guests.
“He’s a real flirt with the guests,” jokes Ros Hill, events and marketing manager for Manor Hill House. “He actually forms quite a bond with guests. You see them stop to say goodbye to Jack before they leave.”
This intimate property is often rented out for events. Yet its four contemporary rooms – each filled with family mementos, like photographs from the children’s university days – also suit overnight B&B guests.
“Jack isn’t available to ride,” adds Hill. But when he’s not snagging apples from the tree, he’s perfect for photos.
Manor Hill House, Swan Hill, Upton Warren, Bromsgrove B61 9HE, England; +44 1527 861200
5. Mandarin Oriental Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Between the Mandarin Oriental hotel’s champagne bar and art displays, travelers might spot something a bit different: two cheerful golden retrievers.
Named Bonnie and Tara, the two retrievers belong to general manager Philipp Knuepfer. The jolly pups typically roam the hotel’s exquisite lobby or wait in Knuepfer’s office.
Guests can ask at the front desk if Bonnie and Tara might come out and play.
“They provide a warm tail-wagging welcome for all of our guests,” says Knuepfer, pointing to the animals’ boundless energy. It’s something he enjoys sharing with all visitors.
After saying hello to the pampered pooches, travelers can unwind in Boston’s largest spa or dine at French bistro Bar Boulud.
Mandarin Oriental, 776 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts; +1 617-535-8888
6. Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya
With 12 acres of private forest, sun-dappled verandas and a luxurious Colonial-era vibe, Giraffe Manor is a high-end hotel with plenty to lure travelers. But most don’t come for the massive fireplaces, the manicured gardens or the 12 themed rooms – they come for the giraffes.
Twice a day, over breakfast and afternoon tea, the resident herd of Rothschild giraffes wanders up to the manor’s dining room. Guests are given grass pellets to share.
Around five to 10 giraffes can be expected to visit during the day (although as the animals are wild, nothing is guaranteed). Only overnight guests are allowed.
Travelers can also stop by Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre, just a five-minute walk from Giraffe Manor. This popular tourist spot allows guests to feed giraffes at certain times under close supervision.
Interaction is much more limited, but so’s the price tag. Proceeds go into conservation work.
Giraffe Manor, Gogo Falls Road, Nairobi, Kenya; +254 725 675830
7. Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
There’s no shortage of amazing tropical fish in the Maldives, but Jumeirah Vittaveli is a high-end hotel that has taken things up a level: it has “pet” herons.
The property’s team tagged several grey herons when they were born. They’ve since taken up residence on the private island.
“They are frequent visitors,” explains Tina Dotzauer, director of marketing and communications for Jumeirah Vittaveli. “And they always show up for the daily stingray feeding.”
Each of the venue’s 89 villas and suites has a private pool and direct beach or lagoon access, meaning the herons might drop by at any time.
There’s also a five-bedroom royal residence spanning 3,500 square meters of private ocean, two private pools and a private overwater bar – ideal for waiting while animal watching.
Jumeirah Vittaveli, Male, Maldives; +960 664 2020
Floating hotels in the Maldives and around the world
8. Desert Palm Dubai, UAE
Nestled on a 160-acre estate around 20 minutes from the Dubai airport, Desert Palm is all about ponies. Around 70 horses populate the property’s Spanish-inspired riding school.
Rooms face out toward polo courts while statues of horses dot the grounds. Staff in polo shirts roam between rooms decorated with polo accessories, and on-site stables means horses are only ever a short walk away.
Travelers can feed the horses or book a 45-minute riding class. For those who prefer their ponies with a side of bubbles, polo matches are staged daily during the property’s afternoon tea. Riders compete while guests sip champagne and nibble cakes from a three-tiered stand.
Desert Palm, Dubai, +971 4 323 8888
9. Moonfleet Manor, Dorset, England
Perched on a quiet spot on England’s fossil-riddled Jurassic Coast, Moonfleet Manor is a family-friendly property that offers fresh ocean air and strolls around the nearby lagoon beach.
It also comes with one dog – a cocker spaniel named Snoopy – and eight lively chickens. Goldie is the biggest, Delilah the fastest and Matilda the most inclined for a cuddle.
The roaming animals give this 18th-century building a friendly vibe.
When not chasing after chickens or snuggling Snoopy, travelers are offered Wellington boots, spades and buckets for a day on the beach. Creche facilities, a sandpit and a trampoline are handy for keeping children entertained. At night, the roaring fire is perfect for reclining with a copy of J. Meade Falkner’s classic smuggling novel “Moonfleet.”
Moonfleet Manor, Fleet Rd, Weymouth, England; +44 1305 786948
10. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, Green Mountain, Oman
Oman’s Al Hajar mountain range is known as the Grand Canyon of the Middle East, with sweeping views, deep gorges and dried river beds ideal for long hikes.
Located some 2,000 meters above sea level on the canyon of Green Mountain, the luxurious Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort has private-pool villas, a hammam spa, a fort star-gazing platform and private yoga sessions done as the sun rises over distant peaks.
It also has a single donkey, available every Friday for children to ride.
Adults can hop on the complimentary bikes to cycle around the tiny surrounding town, where chickens and goats roam freely.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, No 110, Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Nizwa 621, Oman; +968 25 218000
11. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Florida
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit like going on safari without ever leaving the States. This family-friendly property is built on 46 acres of savanna. In the lobby, a 16-foot African mask looms tall. Rooms – many decorated with Zimbabwe-built accents – face out over the pool or the animal sanctuary.
Guests can spot zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, impalas, storks and some 200 mammals and birds from the 24-hour viewing platform. For a more immersive experience, there’s a three-hour sunset safari followed by dinner.
The lodge also has an 11,000-square-foot pool with a waterslide for the kids and wine tastings for the adults.
2901 Osceola Pkwy, Orlando, Florida; +1 407-938-3000
12. Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Hook, England
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is a renovated Georgian manor house, set amid 500 acres of surrounding countryside, which comes with its own stables, horses and semi-famous dog: Oliver Beckington.
The four-legged hotel resident has appeared on the cover of a local magazine, as well as in Tatler and Vanity Fair. But when he’s not stealing the limelight, Oliver enjoys countryside walks along the canal and strolls to his favorite part of the estate.
For guests’ dogs, the hotel offers personal dog beds, dog dishes, a packet of food and fresh spring water on arrival. Dog sitting services are also available.
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Ln, Hook, England; +44 1252 853000