Pet-Friendly Travel in the Bay Area
Photo: Neil Gould
San Francisco tops the list of must-visit destinations for LGBT travelers, but if you're bringing along Fluffy or Fido it can be hard to find a place to hang your hat at night. Three local hotels, though, can make sure your pet is as happy with the visit as you are.
IF YOU'RE THERE ON BUSINESS: Red Roof Inn (redroof.com)
Face it, a good chunk of visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area arrive there for business purposes, not pleasure. But if you take the pooch with you when you head to conferences, meetings or whatever else they do in nearby Silicone Valley, you'll want a business-friendly and dog-friendly hotel. Your best bet? The Red Roof Inn, near the San Francisco International Airport in Burlingame. It has the usual business-friendly offerings, including easy access to all forms of transportation, 24 hour free airport shuttle (yes, you can take your dog with you), affordable extended stays and free parking, plus it's minutes away from downtown San Francisco via BART (which is located at the airport) and only 17 miles from both SFSU University and Stanford University. But beyond that, it's the best airport area hotel for a few more reasons: it's nestled in a super quiet, spacious area of the San Francisco Peninsula, only about a block to the greenbelt along the bay shore, and you can see the great S.F. Bay from many of the rooms. A view of the water at budget prices? Yes. There's also a 24 hour restaurant on-site, Leann’s Café (the only 24 hour restaurant in the area, and they do a nice hybrid of Vietnamese and American foods). The hotel is impressive compared to the other local affordable hotels for a variety of reasons: The location was really quiet, our room had a view of the bay (which, trust me, is rare in an airport hotel), the room itself was quite nice (with a surprisingly nice wrap desk and decent amenities), the attached restaurant was good, affordable and friendly, and the hotel staff was very responsive. It topped my expectations for an airport hotel; now it's the only place I stay when I'm in town on business.
IF YOU HAVE TIME TO EXPLORE: The Half Moon Bay Inn (halfmoonbayinn.com)
The worst thing a a visitor to San Francisco can do is stay in the city at all times, largely because the surrounding areas are gorgeous, one-of-a-kind towns and destinations that make this one of the most beautiful spots in the country. But while many local visitors pop up to Napa's wine country, Calistoga's hot springs or Monterey's famed aquarium, the one stop out-of-towners shouldn't miss is Half Moon Bay. Thankfully, one of the greatest local pet-friendly hotels, Half Moon Bay Inn, is here in this quaint burg on the coast. The award-winning European-chic meets Spanish Revival boutique hotel was built in 1932 and recently renovated, so the rooms are gorgeous and full of old world charm. The inn is located in downtown Half Moon Bay (the pumpkin capital of the U.S.), wrapped around the in-house restaurant, It's Italia, an equally lush Italian eatery with a terra cotta patio with fireplace where you can dine al fresco and feel the sea air breeze in. The surrounding coastline is luscious with beaches, tide pools, parks, greenbelts and rural farmsteads, and there are numerous nature preserves, forests and the Santa Cruz mountains nearby—and much of it is dog-friendly (some of our best walks with with our pooches happened in Half Moon Bay). Just 28 miles south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay has great little shops (including the Cunha Country Grocery) and tons of dog-friendly u-pick farms, and several great restaurants where dogs can join you (including Chez Shea, Half Moon Bay Coffee Company and Sam's Chowder House). In addition to It's Italia, there's a few must-eat restaurants: Cameron's (a Brit-style pub with a barrel garden so you can dine with your dog), Sushi Main Street (leave the 4-leggeds home) and Tres Amigos, a cheap taqueria where the pooches can sit at outside benches with you.
After the outings and eating, you're back at Half Moon Bay Inn where the little touches will amaze you (like a shabby chic chandelier in the bathroom, water in hand-blown glass bottles, local organic coffee, marble baths, plush pillow-top beds and all-natural local and eco-friendly amenities. For dogs, there's dishes and an equally plush dog bed, a map of local dog trails and dog-friendly restaurants and big windows that open on to Main Street—a source of endless fascination for our little ones. If we could go back to the San Francisco Bay Area, we'd all stay here and spend a weekend in Half Moon Bay alone.
IF YOU LOVE NIGHTLIFE: Hotel Monaco (monaco-sf.com)
Kimpton is hands-down one of the best hotel chains for pets. If you bring the pooch, you'll get pet dishes, dog treats in the honor bar, special pet menus, dog massages, unique packages, furry freebies and insider information about nearby parks, dog sitting, walking and grooming services, special doggie bakeries, and pet-friendly restaurants.They even have pet concierges and their pro-pet policy extends to their own employee policies (they offer pet insurance to all employees, because fur babies are as beloved to many as actual kids). And if you don't have your own pet with you, you can have a gold fish in your room to keep you company. Hotel Monaco, one of a handful of Kimpton hotels in the San Francisco region, offers all that plus some great big city perks: a great fitness center and a perfect location in the middle of the theater district and only two blocks from Union Square. From Monaco, you can walk a few blocks east to the Financial District and south to Yerba Buena Gardens, a vibrant area that includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Moscone Convention Center. Grand Cafe is adjacent to the hotel; it's hugely popular with shoppers and theatergoers in large part because of French chef Sophiane Benaouda. And with Kimpton's Eco-Care Program, you get some green perks, too, like organic food in honor bar and discount parking if you're driving a hybrid.