Your Guide to Hotel Travel With Pets

Finding a pet-friendly hotel can seem complicated unless you know what to look for.
Sam Kemmis
By Sam Kemmis 
Edited by Kevin Berry

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Traveling with pets can seem like a daunting task. Hotel pet policies are complicated, inconsistent and full of gotcha fees. But with a bit of preparation and an understanding of how the policies work, you can avoid these costs and headaches.

Here's the basics of staying at hotels with your pets.

Video preview image

What 'pet-friendly' means (and doesn’t)

A pet-friendly hotel is generally one that allows some animals on the property under some conditions. However:

  • Many pet-friendly hotels charge an additional fee. Sometimes this is a flat per-stay fee, sometimes it varies by the number of pets or number of nights stayed.

  • Not all pet-friendly hotels allow all pets. Most allow dogs only, and many of those have size and breed restrictions.

  • Most hotels don't allow pets to be left unaccompanied.

  • Each individual hotel, even within the same brand, often has its own pet policy. Staying at one pet-friendly Marriott, for example, doesn't mean all Marriott properties are pet-friendly.

Make sure to check the specific policy for the hotel property you’re considering before clicking “book.”

How to find hotel pet policies

Generally, each hotel property has its own pet policy. There is no blanket pet policy for, say, every Holiday Inn. Every Holiday Inn location has its own policy.

These policies have become so complex, a mini-online industry has sprung up around providing clear, easy-to-understand information about specific policies. Sites such as BringFido and Petswelcome host individual pages for each hotel property with reviews from pet owners and a simple summary of the pet policy. Here’s an example from BringFido:

These sites are a great resource. The only drawback is that they are updated manually, so if a property changes its pet policy, it may not be immediately reflected. To ensure you’re getting the correct information:

  1. Use a site like BringFido or Petswelcome to check the basics.

  2. Search the name of the property plus "pet policy" to find the official policy and make sure the details match.

  3. If there is any discrepancy or confusion, call the hotel.

Go-to hotel brands for pet owners

Although individual hotel properties often have their own pet policies, some hotel chains and brands are generally more pet-friendly than others.

  • Kimpton Hotels is considered the best overall hotel chain for pets (and, well, their owners). Kimpton, which is part of IHG, allows all pets — no restrictions on size, species or number of pets. Even better is the fact that there are no pet fees. Other IHG hotels, including Holiday Inns, are pet-friendly, though many carry a fee.

  • Aloft Hotels, part of Marriott, allow dogs up to 40 pounds for free, but the number of dogs allowed varies by each hotel.

  • The number of pet-friendly Hilton hotels has grown in recent years, as more than a half-dozen Hilton brands are pet-friendly — something relatively new for the company. Approximately 80% of all Hilton hotel locations accept pets, though many charge a fee.

  • Red Roof Inn allows one pet up to 80 pounds for free.

  • Motel 6 allows up to two pets weighing 150 pounds combined for free.

Which major hotel brands have the lowest pet fees?

As traveling with pets becomes more common, more hotel brands are pitching themselves as pet-friendly while charging exorbitant pet fees, which are often buried in the fine print. To shed some light on these fees, we compared dozens of properties within seven major hotel brands to see which charged the lowest pet fees and to ultimately find the best hotels for pets.

Note that some of the other pet-friendly brands like Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn were not considered in NerdWallet's rankings because they didn't meet certain criteria to be rated, such as not enough nationwide availability or no loyalty program.

The differences between brands are striking. Choice only charges $32.50 on average per night in pet fees, while Hyatt and Marriott charge more than $100 per night, on average.

Keep in mind that these are average fees, and the actual rates vary significantly from property to property. Still, it gives travelers with pets a good understanding of which brands to target and which to avoid altogether when planning where to stay.

Staying with pets compared across hotel brands

In our most recent analysis of hotel pet policies, we ranked the major U.S. hotel chains on various factors including whether or not they allow pets at all, pet fees and consistency of pet policies across properties, among other factors.

Here's how they stacked up:

Tips and best practices during your stay

  • Inform the staff during check-in that you've brought a pet. Some properties have specific pet-friendly rooms set aside, and others have special amenities for pets.

  • Keep your dog on a leash while inside the hotel. Your dog might be well-behaved, but it could encounter another guest’s dog that isn’t, leading to barking or fighting.

  • If you must leave your pet unattended for a short time, bring a crate. Nervous pets can wreak havoc on an empty room, racking up expensive damage fees. If your dog barks when left, don’t leave it by itself for other guests’ sake. Some hotels won't let you leave your pet unattended at all — so have a plan if you're heading to a museum, show or restaurant that also won't allow pets.

  • Inform housekeeping if your pet has an accident. You could face a fee if you don’t, and most hotels have specialty cleaning supplies that can take care of the mess in a hurry.

Is staying in a hotel with a pet worth it?

Pets are part of the family, so why board them when you go on vacation? Although hotel pet policies can seem like a complex maze, they are easier to understand and navigate once you know the basics.

Use a third party website to check individual property pet policies, target brands like Kimpton and Aloft that are truly pet-friendly, and watch out for sky-high pet fees from some big-name hotels.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.