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Man About Town: Luxury digs for the discriminating dog

No cramped crate for this top dog. The family beagle checks into a suite at Pooch Hotel in Hollywood, where bedtime tummy rub and turn-down service is optional.

May 19, 2012|Chris Erskine
  • A little spa treatment at the Pooch Hotel in Hollywood.
A little spa treatment at the Pooch Hotel in Hollywood. (Michael Robinson Chavez )

I love my dog.

Sure, he has issues — what lover doesn't? He wheezes when he sleeps, or when he's awake. There is an unexplainable darkness to his soul that emerges when he's under extreme stress. He also has a taste for the blood in mosquito bites. (The vet thinks he might be a vampire.)

Being from L.A., our dog is prone to anxiety attacks and an almost debilitating sense of envy, particularly when coming upon younger, fitter dogs, which almost all dogs are. The last time we weighed him, he was close to 300 pounds. That's a little heavy for a beagle. He looks more like a barrel than an actual barrel. What he looks like is a furry Amish barn.

So, you can see why I'm so in love with the little goof. When he smiles, just a little bit of his tongue sticks out. At least we think that's his tongue.

We recently reached our 10-year anniversary, he and I, and he's not much for jewelry and he's too shy for lingerie, so I checked him into this new ultra-luxe Pooch Hotel for a night, smack dab in the middle of Hollywood.

You wouldn't expect much excess in Hollywood, which I've always found to be a sensible place. Kind of like Mayberry, if Mayberry were made up entirely of street people and rich dudes who blow through red lights in their 7-series sedans. Other than those minor differences, Hollywood is Mayberry. I often drop by for a cup of coffee and a warm piece of pie.

The Pooch Hotel is the brainchild of Robin Tomb, who probably belongs on the big screen herself, in that she is about 5 feet 11 and 100 pounds, none of it processed sugar. She came up with these Pooch Hotels, then Petco bought it, and now they're going to be pooping up — oops, I'm mean popping up everywhere.

Santa Monica is next on the list, and if there were ever a city destined to open a high-end hotel/day-care center for dogs, it is Santa Monica. The dogs there are better looking than the supermodels in most other countries, particularly Britain.

Anyway, these Pooch Hotels are like any other hotel but nicer. I stayed in a place in Indianapolis last year, after having spent too much on museum visits and martinis, maxing out my corporate card. I think it was a Motel 4 — just a notch or two below a Motel 6. Instead of a concierge in the lobby, there was a bail bondsmen.

This Pooch Hotel is far better than that. Indeed it is far better than about half the joints I stay in. For instance, at the Pooch Hotel your dog can get a facial ($30), or if he's a little stinky, a gland expression ($15).

There is a pool, of course, and your dog can get a rub-down ($30). There is even a turn-down service ($10) that includes a tummy rub.

Now, if the Hyatt offered a $10 turn-down service and a tummy rub, wouldn't you order that at check-in? Heck, I'd order it twice.

For the beagle, we settle on a bath ($30) and a junior suite ($60 for the night).

The more expensive choices include the Presidential Suite ($85) and the Palace Suite ($125). Those differ from the junior suite in that they are larger and include flat-screen TVs. At home, dogs are used to the sound of TVs. So they have them here as well.

The bigger rooms also have webcams with which to watch your dog when you're away. The play areas also have webcams, so even if you just get the junior suite, you can watch as your dog attempts to sniff and seduce other dogs.

"You can even have us heat up an apple and slice it. . . . It doesn't matter, we'll do it," explains Tomb of the dining policy, in which you bring whatever food you want your dog to enjoy/inhale.

Our dog's stay was first rate, and we particularly enjoyed watching him on the webcam from home as he romped with the other dogs. He did not swim, for he has — as I explained to the kids — the buoyant properties of a big block Chevy engine.

I have to say, we were a little disappointed that his suite did not include a fully stocked mini-bar.

"But knowing him, he'd blow through that in about five minutes," I tell my daughter.

"He'd just assume the Fiji water was complimentary," she says.

One day, I predict there will be mini-bars in high-end pet hotels. What a great moment that will be too — the day we finally start treating dogs with the respect they deserve.

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