Random Ephemera

A Walk on the Swanky Side for Dogs at Houston's Hotels

At the Houston Press, we love our pets. A lot. So, we were curious about whether or not the swankiest hotels in town would also open their doors to our precious friends. In our survey, we looked at hotels that ranked high for human guests (lots of stars), and then delved deeper to find out how they would treat our four-legged companions. While we did limit this list to nine entries plus a chain, we were surprised to discover that Houston is very pet-friendly, with a whopping 149 local hotels that allow pets. That’s just another reason why we love Houston and think it’s one of the coolest places to live.

Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria 
2222 West Loop South
If you’re too busy to walk the dog during your stay, the concierge can coordinate some relief for your precious pup. There's green space out front, and the hotel asks only that pets be kept on a leash or in a carrier while in public spaces. For longer runs, they boast proximity to Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, and Danny Jackson Family Bark Park is less than a ten-minute drive from the hotel.

Owners staying on some of the upper floors will enjoy a spectacular view of The Galleria or the downtown skyline. Don’t miss the almost hidden top floor happy hour at the end of the day. The staff seems knowledgeable about the city and entertainment options, and they’re within walking distance to The Galleria.

Weight limit: Up to 40 pounds
Limit to number of animals: No more than two
Pet fee or deposit: $50 non-refundable fee
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Dogs only

Omni Houston Hotel 
4 Riverway

They do ask for a few courtesies, such as crating the animal during housekeeping or maintenance visits, and have a strict “no barking rule.” While the concierge won’t walk your dog, the lush grounds with lots of green space and a small lake will make any dog wag its tail.

Owners will enjoy proximity to shopping meccas Uptown Park and The Galleria, as well as Memorial Park for some outdoor exercise. Their breakfast buffet gets high marks, and the amazing outdoor spaces feature waterfalls and different pools.

Weight limit: Up to 25 pounds
Limit to number of animals: Limit one (can discuss with hotel for more than one)
Pet fee or deposit: $50 non-refundable cleaning fee
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Cats and dogs

The Westin
(multiple locations)
The Westin Galleria Houston
5060 West Alabama

The Westin Houston Downtown
1520 Texas

The Westin Oaks Houston at The Galleria
5011 Westheimer

The Westin Houston, Memorial City
945 Gessner

We’ll pardon their “we don’t touch the dogs” policy because, the larger the hotel network, the more liability for the hotel. But the Westin chain with its numerous locations still makes room for your pooch, providing a food bowl, dog bed and leash. The Memorial City location, with its proximity to local hospitals and doctors, offers a nice way to keep family members together during times of crisis. The downtown location is close to Discovery Green, and the others report nearby green spaces.

All the properties carry four-star ratings, and the two properties near The Galleria offer pillow top beds with down comforters and Egyptian cotton sheets – plus they’re super close to some fabulous shopping. The downtown location offers complimentary area shuttle (within three miles), which is great for Astros fans; and the Memorial City property is close to the hip and trendy CityCentre.

Weight limit: Up to 40 pounds
Limit to number of animals: Limit one
Pet fee or deposit: Rules vary by hotel; most request a deposit
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Dogs only

Hotel ICON 
220 Main

This hotel is so posh that the famous Peabody Ducks stayed here in 2005. In town for an event at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the five ducks were met at the airport and whisked to the hotel via stretch limousine. Their handler, Duck Master Daniel Fox, shared connecting suites with these famous ducks, who dined on a custom meal of chopped Romaine lettuce, grated carrots, live meal worms and Peabody duck trail mix, presented on a silver tray, no less. We know they were well behaved. Back home at Memphis’s Peabody Hotel, these ducks march to music from their rooftop Royal Duck Palace every morning for a day of frolicking in the fountain; they march back up promptly at 5 p.m. The concierge at Hotel ICON does not walk the dogs, but dog owners are just a two-minute walk from historic Market Square Park, which has separate dog runs for small and large dogs, with benches and canine drinking fountains.

Owners will enjoy all the luxuries that come with a four-star hotel, with amazing downtown views (if overlooking Congress), magnificent lobby, Art Deco touches, and shuttle service to the Theater District. The rooms are oversized with soaring, tall ceilings.

Weight limit: Up to 35 pounds
Limit to number of animals: No more than two
Pet fee or deposit: $100 non-refundable cleaning fee
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Dogs only

Hotel Indigo at The Galleria 
5160 Hidalgo

While they don’t generally walk animals for guests, this year was a challenge for those who suffered from the Memorial Day flooding. With many guests seeking refuge from their flood-damaged homes, and a number of them senior citizens, the hotel staff chipped in to help walk their animals. They’ve got a serene walking station behind the property – with a nice, grassy area surrounded by trees and bushes and a park bench. For owners wishing to take their dog on a longer walk, the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park is just down the street. We know that sometimes accidents happen, so their hardwood floors help with quick cleanups. They’re prominently featured in Ruff Guide to the United States and, if you’re lucky, you might run into the general manager’s precious dachshund Sophia, whom everybody refers to as Princess Sophia. With a week’s advance notice, your pet will receive his/her own special amenity.

This stylish boutique hotel with its original décor is a welcome departure from cookie-cutter chain hotels; expect to see big pops of color like lime green, purple and, of course, indigo. It’s walking distance from The Galleria, has complimentary wireless Internet and free on-site parking.

Weight limit: Up to 75 pounds
Limit to number of animals: No more than two
Pet fee or deposit: $75 non-refundable fee, per pet
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Cats and dogs

Hotel Granduca Houston
1080 Uptown Park

This formal hotel recognizes that not everybody loves dogs, so its clearly spelled out pet policy ensures that Fido and Spot will remain welcome guests. They provide treats and bowls for pets, as well as a pet amenity. If you need your dog walked, they can arrange for that, and the concierge has some great recommendations for local specialty stores, and shopping and entertainment for your furry friends. Owners can walk dogs along the green space on the north edge of the property, or take advantage of nearby Memorial Park. Tanglewood Dog Park and Danny Jackson Family Bark Park are each a ten-minute drive from the hotel.

The décor has all the Italian richness of Versace, complete with trompe l’oeil walls, columns and elevators. It’s got a five-star rating, and offers free wired and wireless Internet, deep soaking bathtubs and complimentary shuttle (within three miles). For an extra fee, they can arrange for babysitting and childcare, or a shuttle from and to the airport.

Weight limit: Up to 60 pounds
Limit to number of animals: No more than two
Pet fee or deposit: $15 non-refundable fee; portion of fee will be donated to Houston’s Friends For Life no-kill shelter
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Dogs and cats only

The St. Regis Houston 
1919 Briar Oaks Lane

While the concierge won't walk your dog, this property has a shady tree-lined campus, and there’s a park next door that has a huge grassy area and has become a favorite spot for neighborhood dog-walkers. Pet guests will receive a pet bed and dog bowl upon check-in.

This five-star hotel knows how to pamper the owners, too. They feature iPod docking stations, a pillow top bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, free wired high-speed Internet and WIFI, and complimentary shuttle service (within three miles). For the ultimate in decadent shopping, they’re close to The Galleria, Highland Village and Uptown Park.

Weight limit: Up to 80 pounds
Limit to number of animals: No limit
Pet fee or deposit: None
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Dogs only

Hotel ZaZa Houston 
5701 Main

Your pet will be treated like a rock star at this sexy, Museum District hotel; it’s part of their “ZaZa culture.” They strive to remember the names of guest’s pets, and keep treats handy on the front drive. Need your dog walked? The concierge will be happy to oblige. Owners will enjoy proximity to Hermann Park next door that, at this time of year, seems like a fabulous idea for a great afternoon. Should something go awry, they recommend the always-open Sunset Animal Clinic, a short ten-minute drive from the hotel.

This four-star boutique hotel is sleek and chic, and also has some quirky themed rooms. Morning coffee is conveniently available on each floor. Don’t be surprised to find a pop-up hot dog cart outside the bar; and candy, cookies and drinks at the front desk.

Weight limit: No
Limit to number of animals: No more than two
Pet fee or deposit: $150 non-refundable fee
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Yes

Hotel Derek Houston Galleria
2525 West Loop South

Their awesome Wag Lounge is where all the cool pups hang out. It’s an outdoor relief station, a dedicated green area with a cute little fire hydrant. It’s fenced in and intimate, probably only serving two to three dogs at a time, and is partially shaded depending on the time of day. If that weren’t enough, they even have a dedicated pet floor, which makes it fast and easy to “take care of business.” The hotel maintains a list of local dog sitting and dog-walking services, and they hand out a dog magazine, treats and a bandana to each pet owner. Plus, they offer a pet menu for your favorite four-legged friend. They’re also a bunch of softies when it comes to dogs. They once had a guest leave his dog on the front drive. He mentioned to another guest that he could no longer afford the pet and left crying. The Hotel Derek team took the dog in, boosted his spirits with treats and water, gave him a bandana and named him Derek. They walked him around to all the departments until a staff member fell in love with him. That Christmas, Derek was the centerpiece of his new family’s Christmas card.

Owners will sleep comfortably in their pillow top bed with down comforter and Egyptian cotton sheets. This four-star hotel offers both wired and wireless Internet access for free, complimentary shuttle service (within three miles), and a rainfall showerhead in the shower/tub.

Weight limit: Up to 65 pounds
Limit to number of animals: Combined weight limit of animals should not exceed 65 pounds
Pet fee or deposit: $100 fee per stay; portion of fee is donated to local SPCA
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Yes

The Four Seasons Hotel Houston 

1300 Lamar

This is where your precious pet is treated like a King (or Queen). Need your dog walked? The concierge can handle that. Owners just have a one-block walk to take advantage of Discovery Green’s fabulous dog run. The Four Seasons doles out pet amenities, too, like a bed, biscuit, special bowl and chew toys. Basically, your animal will be treated like a VIP. Sure, they accept both dogs and cats, but in October they valet parked a policeman’s horse and, during the Rodeo, a prize bull pulled into the hotel’s front drive and the owner asked if they would wash the bull for him. The concierge graciously escorted the bull to the nearby car wash and did just that.

For the humans, this hotel does have a five-star rating. Enjoy blackout drapes and curtains, an iPod docking station, on-site shopping and complimentary shuttle (within two miles). Don’t miss the Mondrian stained glass windows flanking the restaurant and bar, or the rooftop resort-style pool with oversized stuffed lounges.

Weight limit: No
Limit to number of animals: No
Pet fee or deposit: No
Accept cats or other domestic animals: Yes

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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney