Travel

The Pets That Live in the Country’s Coziest Hotels

From dogs and cats to flamingos and mini horses, give a treat to these pets in residence during your next stay.

Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile
Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile
Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile

If you’re seeking some added cuteness during your next hotel stay, there’s no need to look further than the lobby, where it’s not uncommon to find four-legged fluff balls lounging about. Luckily for animal lovers, many hotels have not only adopted pet-friendly policies, but have taken it to the next level by keeping their very own pets who reside on the grounds. From cats and dogs that greet you at check-in, to flamingos and mini horses to admire, here are some of the furry, feathered, and friendly critters you might encounter during your next stay.

Photo courtesy of Algonquin Hotel
Photo courtesy of Algonquin Hotel
Photo courtesy of Algonquin Hotel

Hamlet VII, The Algonquin Hotel

New York, New York
Since 1902, the Algonquin Hotel has been the oldest continually operating hotel in New York City. But the historic hotel has another claim to fame-its feline in residence, Hamlet VIII. The beloved kitty’s Instagram, which has more followers than the hotel’s account, describes him as “an expert in residence, a real New Yorker.”

The orange tabby, who also goes by the nickname “Hammy,” comes from a long line of resident felines. The Algonquin Cat has been a tradition since the 1920s, when a stray wandered in and never left. Since then, all of the cats-including eight Hamlets and three Matildas-have been rescues. Before upgrading to his posh digs at the Algonquin, Hamlet was living in a feral cat colony on Long Island. His circumstances have certainly changed; during a recent renovation, the lobby was even redesigned with nooks and crannies to better accommodate Hamlet, along with his own house by the reception desk so he can keep an eye on things.

On top of that, Hammy has a Chief Cat Officer at the hotel who handles all his social media and daily needs. When he’s not busy running the hotel, Hamlet can be seen strutting the catwalk in the hotel’s annual feline fashion show. The event raises money for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, an organization which supports over 150 animal shelters and rescues in New York.

Photo courtesy of Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa

Hazel, Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa

Vero Beach, Florida
With various locations worldwide, Kimpton has always been pet-friendly. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet one of the hotel’s Directors of Pet Relations-who get paid in treats and belly rubs-during your visit. Take, for instance, Hazel, the resort dog who resides at Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa. The two-year-old golden retriever has been “working” at the hotel since 2021, where she greets guests during the evening social hour. Other duties include chasing the ball on the beach and napping. The fashionable canine has over 30 bandanas, and it’s said you’ll win her over if you give her some watermelon-it’s her favorite treat. Apparently she’s also an avid lizard chaser.

Photo courtesy of The Red Lion Inn
Photo courtesy of The Red Lion Inn
Photo courtesy of The Red Lion Inn

Jack and Jane, The Red Lion Inn

Stockbridge, Massachusetts
The Red Lion Inn has history going back over 250 years, first opening as a tavern and stagecoach stop in 1773. But if you’re planning to book a stay at the cozy inn, be prepared to share the space with its feline Lobby Ambassadors, Jack and Jane. For years, the Red Lion Inn has had a resident male cat, but more recently decided to “shake things up” and adopt both a male and female.

Enter Jack and Jane, who were born in 2022 in Troy, New York, and rescued and brought to the inn a month later. You’ll find them lounging in the lobby and hallways-though Jack, the shyer of the pair, prefers to nap on the stairwell near the lion’s head. The cats have also on occasion slipped into guest rooms for a visit (even though they’re not supposed to). Things get even more exciting around 10 pm, when the feline duo gets hit with the zoomies. The adorable cats also have their own Instagram, so you can keep tabs on their latest shenanigans.

Photo courtesy of  Salamander Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of Salamander Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of Salamander Resort & Spa

Cupcake, Salamander Resort & Spa

Middleburg, Virginia
Surrounded by rolling green countryside and wine vineyards, the Salamander Resort & Spa is a favorite among horse riders for its expansive equestrian facilities. However, there’s only one horse you need to be concerned about: Meet Cupcake, the miniature horse who resides at the resort. She’s beloved by her coworkers, who tell Thrillist, “You can’t stay at Salamander Middleburg without visiting the sweetest member of our team.”

12-year-old Cupcake makes a special appearance every Friday and Saturday in the living room from 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm, though you can also book a private visit at the Equestrian Center for an added fee. Her favorite hobbies include taking selfies with guests, eating carrots (her favorite snack) and watching sunsets. For families visiting with children, she is also known to take smaller guests for a ride through the countryside aboard the Cupcake Express cart.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa

Birds and koi fish, JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa

Palm Desert, California
First opened around 35 years ago, the sprawling JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa has nearly 70 acres of lakes-some of which are flamingo hangout spots. The bird lover’s paradise has a long history of rescuing and housing animals, which includes a newly renovated aviary with an array of feathered residents. During your stay, you can book a tour with the hotel’s Bird Chat program to learn about all the birds that call the hotel home. On a typical day, you’ll likely meet blue gold macaw Sweetie, Catalina macaw Cowboy, as well as African grey parrots Grace and Elliot, among others.

You can also make arrangements to feed the flamingos that reside in the resort lakes, or the koi fish, which were also adopted by the hotel.

Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Chicago
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Chicago
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt Chicago

Parker, Park Hyatt Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
After reopening in 2022 following extensive renovations, the Park Hyatt Chicago has also brought back everyone’s favorite staff member: Parker, the 13-year-old pug. Parker lived with a hotel employee during the renovation, and her return was much anticipated.

Adopted by the hotel in 2016 from PAWS Chicago, the one-eyed pug has become something of a local celebrity. With multiple beds throughout the lobby and treats right by the front door, you’ll find the bandana-wearing canine greeting guests as they arrive-and, of course, enjoying lots of pets. If you come during Halloween, you may even get to see her in costume.

Photo courtesy of 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

Jasper, 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa

Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Considered one of the most haunted hotels in the country, 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is a hotspot for paranormal activity-an episode of Ghost Hunters was even filmed there. But more importantly, the hotel is also known for its furry feline residents. The first recorded resident cat, an orange tabby named Morris, showed up at the hotel in 1973 and ended up staying for 21 years. Over the years, the hotel has had kitties come and go. However, the hotel’s current feline is a bushy tuxedo cat named Jasper, who showed up at the hotel in October of 2009 and has more or less decided to call the place home. According to a member of the hotel staff, he can usually be found “on the back porch in the sun, in one of the chairs and couches throughout the lobby, or on his special blanket on the concierge desk.”

While you can certainly expect to see Jasper during your visit, perhaps the hotel’s haunted reputation bodes well for a feline ghost sighting or two as well.

Photo courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Photo courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Photo courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Jack, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

Waikiki, Hawaii
A vacation at this dog-friendly hotel will certainly prove relaxing for any pups you bring along, as amenities include free lodging for dogs, puppuccinos at the on-site coffee shop, and even a play date with resident bulldog Jack. The friendly pup, who has his own Instagram profile, enjoys welcoming guests and furry friends upon check-in and making rounds at the Surfjack to ensure everyone is having fun. A model for hotel photoshoots and social media, Jack does his best to represent the hotel. On top of everything else, he also hosts his own events, like the annual Furry Friends Costume Contest on Halloween.

Photo courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa
Photo courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Alder and Brook, Alderbrook Resort & Spa

Union, Washington
This cozy resort has been a destination for guests and their pets since 1913. These days, the hotel has two of its own pets that roam the property: house cats Alder and Brook. Adopted by the resort in 2022, the kitties were trained as CFOs (Chief Feline Officers) for about a week and a half in the back office before being released into the lobby. The job description? Entertaining guests and being cute. The duo also loves finding sunny spots for naps in between hosting visitors. While Alder, the tuxedo, is a bit more reserved than his calico coworker, they both enjoy gentle pets and attention.

Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile
Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile
Photo courtesy of Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile

Various animals, Best Friends Sanctuary

Kanab, Utah
Want to cuddle with cute animals while also doing some good? This no-kill shelter has many adoptable pets that you can spend time with while volunteering as a dog walker or playing with one of the community cats. Surrounded by towering red cliffs of Angel Canyon, the Sanctuary has a few lodging options, including cozy cottages and cabins, as well as RV sites-all pet-friendly in case you want to bring your own furball along. Just a few miles down the road, the Sanctuary also has its own hotel, Best Friends Roadhouse & Mercantile, which includes two dog parks, a free grooming station, and multiple pet beds. If you don’t have a pet, you can opt to host one of the adoptable Sanctuary dogs, cats, or bunnies for a sleepover while staying at one of the above lodgings for some extra snuggles.

Photo by Natalie Bisignano, courtesy of Bobby Hotel
Photo by Natalie Bisignano, courtesy of Bobby Hotel
Photo by Natalie Bisignano, courtesy of Bobby Hotel

Zoe, Bobby Hotel

Nashville, Tennessee
When visiting this boutique hotel, be sure to say hi to Zoe-that is, if she doesn’t greet you first. In partnership with the Nashville Humane Society, the hotel houses and trains an adopted pup through its Dog-In-Residence Pet Program. Once the dog is ready, it can then be adopted through Pets for Patriots by a US veteran who lives within a 40-mile driving radius of the hotel. While Zoe is just coming on board, pup in residence Hairy is now available for adoption. In the meantime, you can find Zoe, who will be available for adoption next year, sitting comfortably on her red ottoman near the fireplace.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Michelle Harris is a former editorial assistant at Thrillist.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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