As half-term approached, I was relieved to be looking forward to a quiet week at home (as quiet as a week ever is with two pre-teens and a new puppy).
All that changed at short notice, however, when we realised we were going to have to arrange a last minute night away (it’s a long story..!).
Finding hotel accommodation on a budget for a family of four is something we have become quite adept at over the years.
But with our 11-week-old Coton de Tulear puppy too?
Luckily, Mr B vaguely remembered reading something, somewhere, at some point about Travelodge being dog-friendly as well as child-friendly, so with map in hand it fell to me to check this out.
I have to say, this isn’t something Travelodge shout about.
A quick online search led me to Dartford Travelodge, which was only a few miles from where we needed to be.
But while it was easy to find a family room with a couple of additional pull-out beds, there was no mention at all on their website of guests of the canine kind. My heart sank!
A quick phone call, however, confirmed that dogs were indeed welcome.
You simply have to book them as an ‘extra’, in the way you would your breakfast or 24-hour wifi (for which there is a very annoying £3.00 charge).
There is an additional charge of £20.00 per pet (up to a maximum of two domestic pets per room) but as we were only paying £39.00 for the room anyway – even though we only booked on the morning of travel – we didn’t feel too hard done by.
As with all hotel chains, the upside – or downside depending on how you look at it – is that there are no real surprises.
One Travelodge room is very much like another, whether you are in Dartford or Darlington, right down to the signature red and blue décor.
Our family room wasn’t overly spacious but it was nevertheless clean, tidy and perfectly adequate for our family of five (how strange that still sounds!).
The king size bed, which is now a standard offer from Travelodge, was surprisingly comfortable, and although the pull-out beds were rather more functional, and the girls always complain that the single sheets are rather scratchy, they both had a perfectly good night’s sleep.
Big Girl had soon created his own little hideaway under the desk for Monty, where there was plenty of room for his travel crate, blanket and enough toys to keep him amused for a week. Despite which, it wasn’t long before he too was fast asleep and dreaming of whatever puppies dream of.
If guests with pets had stayed in the room before us, there certainly wasn’t a ‘doggy’ smell when we arrived (or, I hasten to add, when we left..!).
A big plus point for us is that it is generally possible for guests to open the windows in a Travelodge, and as we are used to living in a house where the heating is not, shall we say, over-used, we like the fact we can keep the room aired and the temperature down. Even outside the summer months, we have stayed in other hotel chains where we have baked all night.
And although the website warned that Dartford Travelodge is close to both rail and road noise, this isn’t something that troubled us, even with the windows slightly open.
The reception desk was always staffed and any problems were swiftly dealt with. (Only one of the pull-out beds had been made up when we arrived but this was swiftly rectified).
Disappointingly, dining options within walking distance of Dartford Travelodge aren’t great and consisted of a rather down-at-heel Burger King next door which wasn’t dog friendly. There are, however, more options only a short drive away.
Equally, as the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, we could have booked a grab & go breakfast box for £5.25 per adult, but we opted instead to drive to a coffee shop nearby.
All in all, on this occasion Travelodge offered us exactly what we wanted – a bed for the night at a reasonable price, in a room that could accommodate two adults, two children – and a dog.
And as we now know that all 500 Travelodge hotels across the UK are pet friendly, I am sure it won’t be the last time we choose one for a night away.
In fact, I have a feeling Monty is already planning his next trip…