Proper hotel etiquette for the peripatetic pooch
Abergwesyn, Wales — Some hotels welcome the family dog, and some do not. In Britain, where dogs are often only second only to the children in the domestic hierarchy, you encounter hotels of both persuasions: hard-line, anti-canine establishments, and easygoing, all-breeds-may-freely-mingle establishments. Occasionally you come across a hotel that tries to strike a reasonably balanced dog-philosophy.
Llwynderw Hotel at Abergwesyn in central Wales is one. This is a relaxing, away-from-it-all country hotel of the highest standards, out of sight of any other house, 1,000 feet above sea level in ``wild highlands,'' and with a stream falling steeply through a garden planted with wild cyclamen, agapanthus, and autumn crocuses. Geese honk and preen in a tiny pen. Wild birds abound in the old oaks and beeches. The superb rare red kite (a hawk) is slowly recovering from near-extinction here in its last breed ing habitat in Britain.
``Llwynderw,'' says Michael Yates, the affable proprietor, ``is a place where there's nothing to do.'' Clearly, he sees this as a considerable asset.
As for dog-visitors, Mr. Yates approaches what he calls this ``hideously divisive subject'' with unusual good humor. His notice in the hotel's ``Palm Court'' reads (in part) as follows:
``Dogs accustomed to being away from home and accompanied by well-trained owners are welcome, but they are expected to conform to certain norms. That is to say, not to come into the dining room or lounges, not to be left alone in bedrooms, and on no account to be on beds, chairs, or furniture with or without their own blankets.
``Dogs that insist on breaking this rule may also find that the hotel staff can bark. It is also requested that they do not `exercise' on the drive or in the garden, and particularly not, because of bad weather or indolence, just outside the front door. . . .
``All dogs, being on diets, are asked to bring their own food and not to eat it off the carpets or hotel china.
``For Welsh dogs unable to understand English, a translation into mid-Cambrian demotic is in preparation.''
Up in Room 11 (where I slept very comfortably, though dogless), the question of payment for dog-visitors is addressed on the back of the bathroom door:
``. . . The hair supplement they are expected to pay is a charitable mulct based on what they would have to pay if sent to an institution [kennel]. It partly covers the cost of doing the housework they neglect to do.''
Actually, the dogs are asked to pay very little compared with their owners. Human rates are 45 per person per night (about $60), including dinner and full ``English'' breakfast (50 during the high season, July 15-Sept. 30). The hotel is open from March to the end of October. The ``hair supplement'' for dogs is suggested at ``say, from 1.50 nightly, according to size. . . .''
Mr. Yates finds that his phrase ``hair supplement'' is not always immediately understood (not to mention ``mulct'').
``A dear old colonel rang the other day,'' he told me, ``to say he'd be bringing his dog Pimlico -- `goes everywhere with me, don't you know?' `Well,' I said, `I'm afraid you must warn him there's a hair supplement.' `What's that? Oh, I don't think he'd care for hare, is there something else he could have?' ''