Why, why, why do so many hotels find it difficult to to set a reasonable pet policy and clearly communicate it? We’ve stayed in six hotel chains over the past two weeks, and being ambushed by outrageous pet fees has me ready to scream! By far, our worst experience came in Nashville. Let me tell you what happened …

Ty and Buster Checking In

My family met in Nashville over the weekend to celebrate my sister’s wedding and Thanksgiving. We all booked rooms in the same pet friendly hotel (The Sheraton Nashville Downtown) several weeks ago, and before making the reservation I phoned them to confirm their pet policy. After waiting on hold twice during the call while the agent tracked down answers to my questions, this is what she told me: Pets less than 40 pounds were free, but since we have two dogs and one is over 40 pounds I should expect to pay an additional $50 for our stay. Fine.

Upon check-in we were asked to fill out a waiver with each dog’s name, breed, and weight … which we did. We then went on to discuss the possibilities of getting a room on a lower floor, upgrading to a larger room, and other logistics. No mention was made of the pet fee.

During a visit to the front desk the following day I was informed of the hotel’s pet policy: Pets under 40 pounds were free. For pets over 40 pounds, there was an additional $50 per night cleaning fee. And for guests with more than one pet, there was an additional $100 per night cleaning fee. 


If we were simply traveling with Ty, we would not have been charged ANY pet fees. But, because Buster was also with us, we would be charged an ADDITIONAL $150 per night for cleaning fees. During our four-night stay, the hotel’s policy was to collect $600 in cleaning fees! How many times could you have your entire home cleaned for $600?

I was then told that, though the staff the previous day had not mentioned it, the policy was clearly published on the website. (I finally did locate their policy, but only after clicking a small link on the hotel group’s website to get to the actual hotel’s website, and then burrowing down three layers.) But, the point is not that the policy appears in print. The point is that I was standing at the front desk, being notified of an unreasonable pet policy, with no alternate reservations … basically, I was trapped.

Why is this so hard?!

Pet friendly hotel chains from Motel 6 to Kimpton allow pets to stay with no additional charges. If they’ve found a way to do it successfully – why haven’t others followed their lead? Pet fees seem to be the latest scheme for increasing hotel revenues – and insulting me by calling this a “cleaning fee” is ridiculous. I’d love to meet the member of the housekeeping staff and find out how much more time they spend cleaning rooms where pets stay!

If you must charge a cleaning fee, how about establishing something fair and applying it to all pets? We all know that pet friendly rooms are not “deep cleaned” every day during a stay, so don’t charge people per night. And the size of the dog doesn’t materially impact the required amount of vacuuming, so get rid of the large dog charges. They leave people with larger pets feeing like they’ve been gouged. The Loews Hotel chain imposes no weight restrictions, limits pet guests to two per room, and charges a pet fee of $25 per stay – that seems reasonable to me.

Buster and Ty in Washington, DC

Implementing these policies would not only make it easy to train your staff and avoid the miscommunications that leave your guests feeling violated, it would also make it easy for pet travelers to compare total room cost and make informed decisions about their accommodations.

Finally, why not publish “pet room rates” on your website? You provide different rates for suites, club level rooms, and upgraded views – it can’t be that difficult to add a pet friendly category. No more ambushing us at the front desk!

Disclosure: Due to the inconsistent communication of their pet policy, this hotel did waive the pet fees for us – but the experience still resulted in this rant.

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  • We travel a lot. We have always stayed in 4-5 star hotels. Due to the outrageous fees we have been forced to lesser quality hotels.
    These fees are nothing but greed.
    I have never seen a housekeeper carry any extra cleaning supplies, steamers etc.
    1. Pet rooms for travelers:
    Pay the same rate for so called specially cleaned rooms. If they are specially cleaned why a pet room? Why the same room rate?
    2. Marriott, Hilton and other high end hotels charge the highest fees forcing customers to stay in less than desirable hotels. They must employ a hazmat team to run in and clean their higher priced rooms. Again why do they continue to call them pet rooms. I seriously doubt their rooms require a special kind of cleaner.
    3. Guest with allergies:
    Are their rooms set aside that have been sterilized? Do the guest eat in a special area? Service animals and support dogs may come and go anywhere.
    Are those rooms flagged at the front desk so they can be steamed cleaned before anyone else uses them? Is the dining room steam cleaned after the service animals walk in?
    4. We feel pet owners are being discriminated against. We are grossly offended!

    -Allow animals or don’t!
    -Require a refundable deposit on the credit card that you have already scanned for incidentals and have the room examined prior to checkout!
    -if there is damage charge that guest appropriately!!
    – if no problems give back the deposit and make the responsible pet owner happy and get return business.
    -eliminate pet rooms. This is offensive. Your saying those rooms are lower quality than the other rooms you charge equally for. Insinuating they are not cleaned rooms or it wouldn’t matter.
    I am contacting all hotel corporate offices. I suggest everyone reading this do the same. There is a REASONABLE answer for hotels and guests alike. Money grabbing is not it. Feel free to copy and paste any portion of this complaint.

  • So here’s the perspective from a hotel owner: )

    Pets create a TON of more work when cleaning. You have to remove every single stray hair from the floor furniture etc….it quadruples the time cleaning a room. While $600 seems very unreasonable- so does not having a cleaning fee for pets at all. We choose to not allow pets in most of our rooms because when we were 100% pet friendly we had many ruined items along with the need to professionally wash carpets. It’s hard enough to get normal cleans down during quick turn periods- never mind pet cleans.

    We now have just three pet friendly rooms (our smallest) and charge a modest pet fee of $30 flat for their entire stay. I consider our pet fee to be cheap- I completely understand why other hotels charge up to $50 nightly. That being said…we earn every dollar of that pet fee and would rather have no pets at all and let you keep your money ;-)

    • I’ll also note that many pet owners seem to think that pet fees only apply to “bad dogs. They are thinking the pet fee should only be charged to irresponsible pet owners with “destructive” dogs or dogs that urinate on the floor etc…no. That would be a damage fee.

      The pet fee simply covers the amount of extra time it takes to remove all of the hair that is woven into absolutely everything when you check out…we also have to clean carpets- just because your pup didn’t poop or pee on the carpet does not mean it still does not smell like him.

      Also sad to read the comment about the lady sneaking in her cats and dog. We don’t even allow cats– when people sneak pets in and we catch them we kick them out immediately- and we do not refund the remainder of their reservation (we are a small boutique hotel) AND we charge them an extra fee. We publish that policy (very clearly) under each of our rooms in order to keep people (like the cat lady) from trying to sneak their pets in- I hate actually having to enforce it when the truly Ballsy read it and STILL try to sneak their pets in.

      We have three dogs- totally get that it SUCKS traveling and trying to find pet friendly places to stay- also understand it from the other side of the front desk and respect pet policies. Entitlement is a crazy thing.

      • As I’ve said, I think most pet owners are fine with paying a fair fee for the additional cleaning that’s involved when they bring their pets along. There’s push back right now because some La Quinta locations are changing their policy and implementing a pet fee. Whenever there’s change, there’s going to be some upset.

        And I completely agree that sneaking pets inappropriate. We started GoPetFriendly.com almost 10 years ago specifically so people wouldn’t have to do that. There needs to be a mutual respect between people who want to travel with their pets and the businesses who provide the services we need to do that. We’re strong proponents of complying with all pet policies, and the vast majority of pet owners feel the same way. In any situation, you’ll always find some who think the rules don’t apply to them. But it’s important not to judge all pet travelers by the behaviors of a few – most of us are very appreciative of the businesses that welcome our pets.

      • Most hotels allow smoking outside but we all know the smokers hang out right by the exits so you can’t leave without having it blown in your face. That smell, too, is interwoven into their clothing, hair, blankets, etc. Do you charge smokers extra fees?

        • As management in a Wine country hotel,
          We absolutely charge smoking fees if there is even a slight smell of smoke in the rooms, with any smell of smoke or damages to any guest rooms we have to take the room out of inventory and we lose money. same thing applies to pets.

          • What counts as slight? If you’re a non smoker, and you encounter a smoker, their clothes, skin, hair all smell of cigarette smoke. This could transfer to the room even if they do not smoke in the actual room. My sense of smell is extremely sensitive–so you would be charging lots. Plus–we all know the trick to get out casual smoke smell in a room–and it’s not expensive or labor-intensive.

    • I appreciate hearing from a hotel owner – it’s always good to understand a position from the other side. And I agree with you that some fee to compensate a hotel for additional cleaning is reasonable. However, when a hotel charges more in pet fees than it costs to have a whole house cleaned, I question whether that’s reasonable.

      Your fee of a flat $30 per stay seems completely fair, and I imagine most pet owners would be fine with paying that amount to bring their pets along. However, when you say you’d rather not have pets at your hotel at all – that’s not pet friendly. It’s pet tolerant.

    • Then don’t claim to be Pet friendly you rude arrogant owner. You aren’t much of a business person to even post anything like this. You should be run out of town and out of business. May your business suffer for the rest of its days.

      • You know what- You just inspired us to not allow pets at all. Thank you Mrs Stewart. Our lives will be so much easier now that we don’t have to deal with folks who would curse our business “for the rest of our days” when we explain why we have to add a pet fee to cover the extra time spent cleaning up after them. It’s created so much stress trying to accommodate that I actually appreciate you. I’ve been on the fence and you just pushed me off it. Have a wonderful weekend! ❤️ Honestly. May you and your family be blessed for the rest of your days!

        • What a childish response. You let one person have that much power over you to be vindictive and spiteful. You need a spiritual enema!

    • And what about service animals? My dogs are more well behaved than some of the kids staying at local hotels. Also, drugs seem to be a big problem in this area, still. What are hotels doing to address this issue?

    • Bull hocky. People who own pets and do not bring them with them might have hair that transfers to furniture. I worked for a hotel for 5 years. They don’t do anything special for pets unless there’s damage (including soiled carpets). It’s just a way to make more money. But $100 per night is absolute usery!

  • So ridiculous! During our evacuation for hurricane Florence we were charged $150 for 1 night at the Residence Inn Augusta GA. Our room was cleaner when we left than when we checked in. Doubtful that ANY extra cleaning if the room was done as they claim as rooms were in short supply during hurricane evacuation. Shame on Marriott!

  • Thank you for your note, Thelma. I admit that there are inconsiderate, irresponsible pet owners out there – just as there are inconsiderate, irresponsible people everywhere. We’re doing our best to change that, but we haven’t reached everyone … yet. My suggestion is that hotels hold those irresponsible pet owners liable for damages caused by their pets – including the compensation of other guests, if necessary. That would be fair. Charging ridiculously high fees to ALL pet friendly travelers, the majority of whom cause no probelms, isn’t fair.

  • I’m sitting here reading alot of these, but here’s a story; I’m a motel manager pet friendly motel, was just informed by a guest the little dog from two rooms over last night after the front office was closed the dog ran into their room jumped on the bed before they could get him and did his business (pooped), now these guys got me this morning to show me, went to tell the dogs owner and he really acted like oh well, I know there’s alot of good owners out there but please keep all dogs on a leash or walk out with them, I love all animals just watch them everyone don’t feel like we do about animals. Our pet sign is placed at the front desk but still some guest ignore it. So now I ask what would you do. This is where extra fees would come in.

  • Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Pet Friendly Lodging