StyleTails speak to Erin Boyd, Founder of Chien Bleu – the ultimate source of dog-friendly hotels for exquisite travel experiences for both you and your canine companion.
Dog-friendly seems to be the new black, but unfortunately not all hotels live up the name. Fed up with going to so-called ‘dog-friendly’ hotels, only to discover that they didn’t quite live up to all the bark, Erin Boyd created Chien Bleu – the service she’d always wished existed.
Each of the hand-picked establishments recommended by Chien Bleu have been personally tried and tested by Erin and her two Labradors, Blue and Portland – ensuring the ultimate in creature comforts for human and hound. StyleTails finds out more…..
Chien Bleu is an invaluable service for people travelling with their dogs. How did the idea come about?
I love taking my dogs with me on weekends away, but it soon became evident that dog-friendly doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere you go. I was frustrated with booking into dog-friendly hotels, only to arrive and be made to feel very awkward about having them with us. I wished that a service like Chien Bleu existed so I finally created it.
What was so negative about the experiences?
We were often told not to come in the front door, or we were shoved in the ‘dog-friendly’ rooms which looked like they hadn’t been re-furbished for years. They just didn’t understand the needs of a dog owner and it wasn’t a very positive experience.
What does it take to receive the Chien Bleu seal of approval?
Despite all the negative experiences, we have found some really wonderful hotels that are truly welcoming to dogs. Not just a bowl of biscuits and some water, which isn’t actually that important, but they actually embrace the dogs make you feel totally at ease with having them with you.
You currently recommend about 30 hotels on Chien Bleu. Are there more dog-friendly hotels out there?
We are adding hotels all the time but the most important thing for me is that each hotel is tried and tested by the dogs and I. We’ve stayed at over a hundred but of those, only 30 have made the grade so far. We are frequently offered complimentary stays in hotels but there’s no point going along only to receive special treatment. It has to be a genuine experience.
What’s on your checklist when reviewing hotels for Chien Bleu?
- Can your dog stay in the room unattended? You want to be able to go and eat your breakfast without having your dog there staring at every mouthful or being told to put your dog in the car – which has happened to me before.
- Can you and your dog enter the hotel through the front door? There’s nothing more disappointing (and embarrassing) than getting to a pet-friendly hotel only to find a sign on the door asking people with dogs to go through the back entrance. This to me is not dog-friendly.
- Would you stay in the hotel even if you weren’t travelling with your dog? I don’t believe you have to compromise when you travel with your dog so I only recommend hotels that make the grade – with or without the dog.
- How are you treated? The hotel doesn’t have to lavish treats on the dog and provide them with a fancy orthorpaedic bed, they just have to understand the needs of a dog owner.
What are some of the things that really stand out for you at the best dog-friendly hotels?
Aside from being truly welcomed into the establishment, it is the service. Outstanding hotels know their stuff and can recommend the best walks, dog-friendly pubs and advise you on where to go with your dog in the local area.
Do you only focus on hotels in the UK?
We also review hotels in France, Switzerland and Germany, however in places like France, it’s more likely to find a dog-friendly establishment than a non dog-friendly one. We do also ensure that the hotels we recommend in Europe can can provide or recommend a local vet to have your dog prepared for their return to the UK.
The French really do love their dogs don’t they!?
Yes! We’ve been to a Michelin starred restaurant before where we were asked if we’d like a place set at the table for our dog. When we declined, we were met with looks of horror that we would leave our dog in the room!
You can view all Chien Bleu’s reviewed and recommended hotels, along with some exclusive offers at www.chienbleutravel.com and stay tuned for StyleTails & Chien Bleu’s Top 10 UK getaways to be revealed later this week.