The Swan is situated in the picturesque Cotswold village of Bibury, right on the river Coln. It’s very much on the tourist map, but with a dog you have an excuse to explore the beautiful countryside and get away from the coach parties! The hotel was super dog-friendly and our room had a dog bed and bowl for Barnaby. We had a basic room in the main hotel which, although it was small, had a bathroom big enough for Barnaby to sleep in. The hotel requests that you feed your dog in the bathroom where there are tiles, for ease of cleaning; fair enough!
The plan was to eat in the bar area where Barnaby was allowed with us, but it was quite busy and noisy so we took Barnaby back to our room and headed to the brasserie on our own instead. This was much more relaxed and comfortable and we very much enjoyed our meal. We had breakfast with Barnaby in the bar area the following morning when it was more peaceful! You can also take dogs into the little sitting room where there is a fire. We had a coffee and read the papers there after breakfast.
The Swan is situated right on the road at a junction, which has to be navigated first when taking your dog for its loo visits! The hotel does however have a small enclosed garden just across the road, with a stream running through it; a great place to wash off muddy paws! For a longer walk the very picturesque six mile walk from Bibury to Coln St Aldwyns (see link) is great, although you’ll need to work out how to get back if you don’t want to do double the distance! There can be livestock so some lead walking may be necessary and when we were there it was quite muddy!
We were en route to Manchester so decided to stop in Birmingham to meet our nephew, who has just finished studying here. The hotel is a former eye hospital in the jewellery district of Birmingham. It’s a beautiful building with high ceilings and plenty of character. We had a superior room with a big bed and I loved the feature wall with its wallpaper of books! The bathroom was huge, with a bath and fabulous shower, big enough for Barnaby to sleep in.
The restaurant – Dogs welcome
We were surprised to find that not only was Barnaby allowed in the beautiful bar area, but he was also allowed in the restaurant. The staff went out of their way at dinner to offer him water and make a fuss of him! I had sea bass which was lovely and my husband had a cobb salad. Presentation was beautiful, especially the asparagus and duck egg starter which I rather wished I’d ordered.
If you head out of the hotel and turn left you’ll come across St Philip’s Cathedral. There is a small park here where you can exercise your dog on the lead. For a longer walk, on the recommendation of our nephew, we drove for 10 minutes to Edgbaston reservoir. It’s a 20-30 minute walk around the outside and if your dog loves swimming then this is the place to go!
Visiting the Seaside Boarding House is like stepping back to another time, yet it’s also feels modern and sophisticated. There are no TVs or kettles/coffee machines in its eight rooms, but this just adds to its charm. Instead, with a dial of your old-fashioned telephone, you can request a pot of tea that arrives almost instantly! Instead of watching the TV, you can sit at the window seat and admire the beautiful view looking out to sea. We were in room 303 which had amazing views from both the bedroom and bathroom and the comfiest bed imaginable (apparently they have Devon-made natural mattresses). The bathroom was too small for Barnaby to sleep in but he was fairly well-behaved sleeping on the floor of our room.
p.s. Apologies to my husband for missing the FA cup final (I told him later that TVs are available on request!).
Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant but they are allowed in the bar area, library and outside terrace. The great thing is that the menu is the same in any location so we ate once in the restaurant and once in the bar, where Barnaby slept peacefully under the table. The food was consistently excellent and worth a special mention were the hake with aoli and the turbot with smoked mussels. My husband said it was the best hake he’s ever eaten! I also managed to squeeze in afternoon tea with scones, jam and cream (very generous portions!) and we both had classic fish soup for lunch on the terrace, divine!
Steps down from the front garden lead you straight onto the beach which stretches from Weymouth in the east to past Lyme Regis in the west. We walked Barnaby at 7 in the mornings and had the beach to ourselves, apart from the odd fisherman and lone swimmer. The beach is closed to dogs from 1st June to the end of September but you can walk the pretty coastal paths parallel to the beach instead.
The Seaside Boarding House has a handy shower room downstairs that can be accessed through the back door. We were able to wash off Barnaby’s sandy paws before taking him upstairs.
It really felt like nothing was too much trouble for the super-friendly staff. I also loved finding a daily newspaper posted underneath our door.
This château really has the wow factor! Built over 800 years ago it feels like you are stepping back in time. It was shortly before Christmas when we visited and it was fabulously quiet; it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We made ourselves comfortable in the most enormous stone-walled bedroom and admired the huge bathroom in the turret with our very own throne!
The Restaurant – 1 Michelin Star
Dogs are not allowed in the aptly-named Restaurant 1217, which boats the largest fireplace in Europe (it’s very impressive). However, there is the Café du Château in the enclosed courtyard, just outside the restaurant, where you can eat with your pup. Barnaby was able to join us for a drink upstairs in the beautiful sitting room with its brick floor and grand fireplace, before we popped him back in our room whilst we went for dinner.
We took Barnaby for a short off-lead walk around the grounds last thing at night and first thing in the morning. It was perfectly adequate for a young pup but you’d need to venture further afield for a longer walk.
The hotel is a converted Georgian sugar house in the centre of Bristol with masses of charm. We had a standard room but it was large with a huge bathroom where Barnaby could have slept happily. I say ‘could’ because at the end of the evening he actually went home with his Grandpups so that we could have a lie in!
Dogs are not allowed in the main restaurant but they can eat in the lovely large bar area (where they were also serving afternoon tea when we arrived). The main restaurant itself is full of historic character and we thought our dinner there was great! My sister and I had miso cod which was amazing. Puddings were very generously portioned although my dad had no problem finishing the pear and apricot tart. Great breakfast as well….the diet can always start tomorrow!
For a quick morning or night-time wee for your pup there is a tiny triangular ‘park’ across the road from the hotel. It isn’t secure so you’ll need to keep them on a lead. For a fabulous long walk, drive for approximately 10 mins to Ashton Court where you can walk happily for an hour or two following trails through the woods and spotting deer. You can finish off with a coffee and cake at the converted stables cafe near the car park.
We were lucky enough to be invited here to celebrate a 60th wedding anniversary in April, which also resulted in us being upgraded to one of their suites. Result! The hotel itself is quite quirky and full of interesting objets d’art, both inside and out, collected by the owners on their travels. Stone sheep, red gorillas and purple elephants amongst other things rather freaked Barnaby out in the gardens! There was a very quaint sitting room which was stuffed with sofas and cushions and had a lovely fire. Barnaby was able to join us here for a drink and nibbles, although he was not allowed in the restaurant. All in all, we had a really lovely stay here, helped by a great night’s sleep as Barnaby was able to sleep in our very nice sitting room.
As I mentioned, no dogs are allowed in the restaurant although in the summer they would be allowed on the terrace where you dine al fresco. The celebratory meal felt very special, fois gras to start, followed by lamb arranged three ways (veggie options available) and then an amazing chocolate pudding.
I have to mention breakfast which was beautifully arranged on our table. Fresh coffee, croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, various breads, cheeses, hams, yoghurts, and cereals. We were joined by Merlin the ginger tom although I don’t think that he was supposed to be in there!
For a very straightforward walk you can just head all the way down the drive and back, not too exciting but it does the job for 20 minutes. Alternatively, for a more interesting walk, head right out of the château, past the staff car park and round following the roads into the woods. This was very pretty and we saw a very beautiful sunrise.