Off on your holiday, and wouldn’t dream of going without your beloved dog? These days you’ll be able to find pet-friendly accommodation whether you’re after a luxury B&B or a cosy cottage. Read on to discover the best dog-friendly beach holidays and find out how holiday providers are catering for their canine clientele, with local dog-friendly beaches also on your doorstep
Words Anne-Claire Heels
If you normally spend your holidays pottering through Provence or ambling through Andalusia with your four-legged friend in tow, this year Brexit might be giving you some pause (or should that be paws?) for thought. When travelling to an EU country, or even Northern Ireland now, your pet needs to be microchipped, have a valid rabies vaccination, a costly animal health certificate you must obtain from an approved vet ahead of time, and – for certain countries including holiday faves Malta and Ireland – a tapeworm treatment, and that’s before you factor in current Covid-19 conditions. (And it’s worth noting these pet requirements also apply to assistance dogs.) But don’t despair, if you want to go doggy paddling with your pooch there are loads of options right here on your doorstep.
WHERE CAN I TAKE MY DOG ON HOLIDAY IN THE UK?
The Well House, Norfolk
The Well House in Wells-next-the-Sea is a stylish town house sleeping eight in five bedrooms. A spacious 400-year-old property in the centre of this photogenic seaside town, it is close to all the local amenities and packed with character and luxurious touches. There’s also a south-facing terrace with pond, off-road parking for two cars, and one dog is welcome. The vast beaches at Holkham and Wells on the county’s north coast inspire awe on first sight (and second, and third…), and regularly feature in ‘best UK beach’ lists. They are as popular with dog-walkers as they are with beach-goers, with their atmospheric pinewoods, sand dunes and colourful beach huts. Holkham National Nature Reserve is also a crucial habitat for several species however, including shore-nesting birds, so there are proposals for zoning and certain times or areas where dogs may have to be kept on a lead. Please follow local signage and see holkham.co.uk/nature-reserve-beach/dogs
for further information.
Lobster Cottage, Northumberland
Embleton Bay is a long stretch of golden sandy beach, leading to the atmospheric, much-photographed ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Popular with families, this terrific beach is also dog-friendly all year round, and there’s plenty of room to stretch those legs. If you fancy a romantic escape in a pretty coastal village and you have more than one dog, then five-star Lost Lobster Cottage in Embleton could be just the ticket. Only 16 minutes’ walk from the beach, this cute cottage blends character with modern comfort, sleeping four, and welcoming up to four dogs as well. It boasts a wood-burning stove, a roll-top bath and a secure garden.
1 Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
Luskentyre must surely be one of the most Insta-gorgeous beaches you’ll find anywhere – definitely no filter needed. With its aquamarine water, white sands and windswept dunes, this is one you could mistake for the tropics on a good day, and even on a less good day it’s still magnificent. Your and your dog might even have it to yourselves, though you might spot dolphins, seals or even sea eagles on your walk. Just heavenly. Gaze across to that world-class beach from the verandah of 1 Luskentyre, an idyllic island escape converted from a croft house. It has a contemporary feel and sea views in abundance – it sleeps four in two king-size bedrooms, and one dog is welcome too (at a charge of £25). New for 2021 will be a hot tub in an oak-framed gazebo sited privately behind the house with fabulous views west to the dunes and the sunset.
Sandy Cilborth Beach lies immediately north of larger Llangrannog on the Ceredigion coast, loved for wonderful walking and wildlife. Cilborth can be accessed from Llangrannog at low tide or via steps. Man’s best friend can roam without restrictions at any time of the year at Cilborth, while on Llangrannog Beach itself restrictions apply from May to September. Stay at Penbontbren, an award-winning luxury B&B situated in the nearby village of Llandysul. It was converted from an 1800s farmhouse, and also offers suites in beautiful grounds close to Ceredigion’s beaches and the Wales Coast Path. Best of all, it provides some dog-friendly accommodation options, and you and your pooch will receive a warm welcome from your dog-friendly hosts.
Rosebay Cottage, Moray
The picturesque village of Findhorn on Scotland’s Moray coast has a great dog-friendly beach, and from there you can easily walk along to neighbouring Roseisle Beach – with its sand dunes and pinewoods – which also welcomes dogs. If you’re into watersports, walking and wildlife, then you’ll soon discover that the Findhorn area is truly fantastic. Sweet Rosebay Cottage sits in the village just a stone’s throw from the sea as well as local amenities, and offers comfortable accommodation for up to six people, plus a dog. It’s well suited to those with children, as a stair gate, travel cot and portable high chair are provided, and the enclosed garden will be handy with the hound too.
Gore Cotttage, Kent
If you’re more charmed by shingle than sand then this is one for you. Walmer is famed for its Henry VIII-era castle, and its pebbly shingle shore, where dogs are free to wander everywhere. The further south you head towards Kingsdown, the quieter it becomes. There are no dog restrictions on Walmer Beach, and access is straight from the road, where there is also parking. Five miles inland in Sandwich you’ll find 13th-century Gore Cottage, a characterful four-star property that sleeps five and welcomes up to four dogs. Here in the Kent countryside you’ll be well placed for local amenities and much of Kent’s varied coastline. Dogs are charged at £20 each per full or part week.
Robin Hood’s Bay was known to have been used by smugglers in times past – but these days it’s the haunt of day-trippers and dog-walkers, and open to dogs all year round. Do take care to check the tide times though, it comes in fast here and the sandy beach is quickly submerged. The village is on The Cleveland Way, and within the North York Moors National Park, so you’ll be spoiled for walkies, whichever way you go. Lovely Lenwood is a handsome sandstone cottage in the cobbled streets of this picture-postcard fishing village – and a real bonus is that it’s within walking distance of everything from welcoming pubs to independent shops to the beach itself. This eclectic five-star building has sea views from the top floor, a quaint little courtyard outside, and sleeps four in two bedrooms. Two dogs are also welcome – they are charged at £20 each per full or part week.
Cofton Holiday Park, Devon
Dawlish Warren is famed as one of Devon’s family favourites. By taking a short walk through woodland you can reach this lovely spot – there are 1.5 miles of sand and beautiful views to enjoy. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round past groyne 3; they are allowed on the beach up to groyne 3 from 1 October to 31 March only. Set just inland from Dawlish Warren Beach, Cofton Holidays has a family-friendly 80-acre park offering accommodation for every budget, from camping and caravans to cottages and luxury lodges. There’s loads to entertain the kids, great walks for dogs, it’s open all year round, and if you visit in low or mid season there is no additional charge for four-legged friends. There’s even a dog-friendly pub on site… cheers!
Harlyn Bay is considered one of the best and safest family beaches in Cornwall, and you’ll find it just to the west of busy buzzy Padstow. This wide expanse of golden sand attracts surfers, kayakers and walkers as well as families, and the good news is that dogs are welcome here too, all year round. Stay at Stylish Trelawn which sleeps 10 people in five bedrooms and boasts wonderful views over Harlyn Bay on one side, and the Cornish countryside on the other. It’s all about al fresco living at this place – from the hot tub to the enclosed garden to the terrace and balcony – though there’s also a wood burner and a media room should the weather turn inclement. Up to two dogs are welcome, at a cost of £50 per week for the first dog, then £25 per week for the second dog.
The Cary Arms, Devon
If you’re looking for the real bow-wow factor, then you’ve found it! The Cary Arms in Babbacombe offers the best of a great English pub and boutique hotel rolled into one, in a stunning coastal setting. It has direct access to a year-round dog-friendly beach, it’s on the South Devon coastal path for invigorating walks, and doggie dinners are provided in the pub. Staff are very welcoming, leaving sticks of rock on pillows, dog treats and delivering newspapers. Dogs go free.
The Gallivant, East Sussex
This beachside hideaway in Camber wins praise all over the place and it’s not hard to see why, from gourmet dining events to coastal-inspired rooms to the kind of service where nothing is too much trouble. And that includes for your dog – one well-behaved pet can stay with their owner in some of the lovely rooms here and a comfortable rug, water bowl and dog biscuits are provided. The beach is across the road and is dog-friendly all year round – the hotel only asks that you rinse your sandy seadogs before returning! £15 per dog, per night.
The Old Government House Hotel, Guernsey
The only five-star hotel on the beautiful island of Guernsey, this St Peter Port paradise offers fine dining, beautifully designed rooms and truly wonderful hospitality, all just minutes from the quayside. For your VIP there will be a warm welcome with a dog bed, food and water bowl, dog treats, toys, waste bags, pet store details, a map of nearby parks and walks, vet services and emergency details, and although dogs are not permitted in the restaurant, dog walking can be booked 24 hours in advance. Explore all this terrific island location has to offer, and your canine companion will have a ball too. You’ll be requested to book a room with a balcony and a deposit must be paid on arrival.
Karma St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly
If you want luxury in spectacular island surroundings, this is the place for you. Think white-sand beaches, glorious views and turquoise waters – and such a welcome for your four-legged friend that he might want to move in. From a welcome treat, bowl and blanket to food (Posh Crunch or Royal Dog’s Dinner!), access to all areas, and dog-sitting services if you are off to the spa or seeing seals, he’ll be made a fuss of. There are loads of great walks and dog-friendly beaches within sniffing distance of the hotel. No charge for dogs.
Eilean Shona Argyll, Scotland
This is one for those who want to get away and revel in nature. On the small unspoilt private island of Shona in Acharacle, you’ll find seven ex-crofter’s cottages, now offering self-catering accommodation. If you like to go off-grid, hear birdsong and enjoy magical views from your private outdoor seating area, you’ll be in your element here – there are no cars on the island, plentiful trails to explore (walkies!) and exhilarating activities. Dogs are welcome (limit of two) and have the freedom of the island, and dog beds are provided. There is a cleaning supplement of £50 per dog as they can get very muddy here.
The Twelve Co. Galway, Ireland
The stylish Twelve in Barna on the Wild Atlantic Way has been named Ireland’s Hotel of the Year 2018 and we reckon if dogs could vote they’d agree. There’s a welcome ‘doggie bag’ with a toy, treat and clean-up bags; a Pet Lobby with toys, water bowl, bones, leashes and towels; a spacious pet-friendly suite at no extra charge; a Pet Menu and doggie room service (the one place dogs can’t go is the restaurant); food and water bowl with fresh mineral water in your suite; a map of nearby woods and beaches; and a Pet Concierge Service with details of local dog walkers, sitters, groomers, boutiques and vets. Throw in an award-winning restaurant and a spa for two-legged customers and everyone is happy. No extra charge for dogs but a security deposit is applied.
Note: Always check local signage at beaches – guidance may vary at different times of the year – and follow the rules. Leave only paw prints and make sure to take waste away with you.