In this article, I discussed the various ways to travel to and from Algorfa. Now, as promised, I’m talking about our dog friendly journey through France, and reviewing the hotels we used. I booked our accommodation through booking.com, and planned the stops using Wanderlog. It was important to break up the driving into more or less equal tranches, and we were also keen to do most of our driving in daylight, and have a decent time to recover from the day’s driving before starting over again next morning.
We planned two stops, each about 500 km (approximately 315) miles from the previous starting point. We wanted our overnight stops to be as close as possible to the main route, so we chose Bordeaux and Zaragosa as our stop offs. On paper, we’d arrive at each hotel between 3.30 and 4.30 pm, allowing for stops to exercise Luna and Gizmo. This plan immediately went out of the window when our ferry was diverted from St Malo to Cherbourg due to storms in the English Channel. It added two hours driving time to our first stint, but at least we were able to keep our hotel reservation, so we didn’t face late cancellation charges.
What constitutes a dog friendly hotel, exactly?
Before we talk about our chosen hotels, maybe I should explain our parameters for choosing dog friendly places to stay. Yours may be slightly different, but these are the things that mattered most to us.
- Supplements for dogs. Supplements vary between €5 per night per dog and €20! Bear in mind that all the hotels actually do for this is allow you to bring the dog into the hotel, so unless your chosen hotel advertises a special doggy excercise area or other benefits, ask yourself how much you are prepared to pay, and check what your hotel is charging.
- Exercise areas close by. Luna is very particular where she does her thing – she prefers soft ground – so I like hotels with a nearby park, or even just a stretch of lawn or a small garden. Bear in mind a walk isn’t just download time, dogs like to investigate their surroundings as well. They’re probably just as bored as you are with all the travelling, so it’s nice for them to have an interesting walk once you reach your destination for the night.
- Not too close to city centres. Our dogs are not used to urban life, so the concrete jungle of a city centre and lots of people around them is likely to wind them up – especially Luna, who can be very reactive, although she’s improving all the time.
Another point of consideration was available parking close to the hotel, either free or reasonably priced. Glenys has mobility issues, and the last thing either of us need after a day’s travelling is a half mile hike from the vehicle to the hotel with two dogs and overnight bags in tow.
I chose this hotel for its location and price. Just €5 supplement per dog per night, and the hotel is just a few minutes walk from a big lake on the left bank of the Gironne River, so plenty of exercise space for the dogs. At least there would have been if it hadn’t been absolutely persisting down and blowing a gale all the time we were there! Luckily, there were several grassed areas on the hotel’s huge free car park, so Luna was able to do her stuff with no problems.
Great price – almost half the cost of the Ibis Hotel opposite, which didn’t accept dogs anyway. Friendly, helpful staff. Easy to find and just a couple of minutes from our route. Comfortable, spacious rooms and excellent included continental breakfast. Think cold meats and cheese, cereals, fruit, yogurt, pastries, bread and unlimited juice and hot drinks which set us up for the day. Easy walking distance to restaurants and shops, and there’s a tramline opposite to take you into the city centre. We didn’t do that, as we wanted to relax and didn’t want to leave the dogs alone in the room for too long. Around €90 for us, the dogs, and the huge breakfast.
No restaurant on site. The weather was too bad to go to any of the nearby restaurants, so we settled for a pizza in the room. Busy area with lots of hotels, so while you can walk around, you take your life in your hands if you have mobility issues. Would we stay there again? Absolutely – especially in good weather when we could enjoy the lake area.
Day two of our journey was much pleasanter – warmer and dryer, and after a picturesque run through the Pyrenees, we arrived at our hotel in Zaragoza at least half an hour ahead of schedule. However, we lost a lot of that trying to find the hotel. Even with Google Maps, it was challenging. I think that was down to me mostly, though. Not realising how big Zaragoza actually is, I thought that booking a hotel a couple of miles from the city centre would do the trick. Not only that, the hospital was on the same street, so lack of local knowledge let me down. In my defence, the hotel name wasn’t easy to find. It was on the glass doors, rather than the building, and there weren’t many hotels that accepted dogs in the area. If I do this journey again, I’ll be looking at the map to find the nearest small town on the route, rather than considering Zaragoza itself.
Once we found the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised with the rooms, which were of an excellent standard. There was an option to include breakfast and evening meal in our room cost, and these were taken at the typically Spanish restaurant adjoining the hotel.
Comfortable, spacious rooms and excellent breakfast and evening meal. Not far from the route, but we had a bit of difficulty finding it due to the one way system and heavy traffic. Friendly, helpful staff. Again, the tramline to travel into the city was very close to the hotel, although we didn’t use it. €10 per night per dog supplement, so not too bad. Around €110 for the night, including breakfast, dinner, room and the dogs.
The only parking available was close to the hotel but cost €20 overnight, on top of the hotel cost. While there was a park to exercise the dogs, it was a good 10 -15 minute walk to get to it, which was challenging for both of us. It was a case of walking them around the small grassed areas of the car park and the apartment complex opposite, so the first thing we did next day was find a picnic area off the motorway so they could both have a good sniff around. Would we stay there again? No, but I would recommend this hotel for anyone without dogs, or if you are more mobile than we are and can manage the walk to the park.
This is the hotel we used for our stopover on our way to the ferry at Santander in October. We first used it in April, for our spring visit to the UK, and we were so happy with it we booked again. It’s located on a poligono (business park) just off the motorway, and it’s just 6 hours travelling time from Algorfa. That leaves us with a comfortable two hour drive to Santander the following day.
Friendly staff, comfortable rooms and very keen prices. There’s a large, walled area of waste ground adjacent to the hotel which is ideal for walking the dogs safely. Plenty of interesting smells to investigate. Breakfast is included with every room, and you can choose from a tostada, ham and cheese toastie or pastries plus juice and a hot drink. The optional evening meal is just €13 including wine, and dog supplement is €5 per dog per night, and they don’t just accept dogs, they welcome them and make a fuss of them. It cost less than €90 for us, the dogs, two breakfasts and two dinners.
For us, there weren’t any, but if you want to explore Burgos city centre, this is not the best choice. If you’re happy to chill on the bar terrace with a drink, it’s fine. Would we stay again? Definitely – we wouldn’t bother looking for anything else on the Algorfa – Santander run.
Prices quoted above will vary depending on when you’re travelling. Weekends and holiday times are likely to be more expensive, and you may prefer to take meals away from the hotels. As two old ladies travelling with two dogs and doing a lot of driving, we prefer to just chill and have our meals in the hotels if possible, and we seem to get better deals that way. If you use booking.com, as we did, once you’ve booked a few hotels with them you are eligible for their discount programme which can shave a few Euros of the nightly cost.
If you travel with dogs, and can recommend dog friendly hotels on the route from the Costa Blanca to the UK, whether direct to Santander or Bilbao or through France, comment below to help your fellow travellers. I will update this feature with my own experiences in due course. I hope this helps if you are considering driving to or from Algorfa with your pets.