A ROOM with a view, a four-poster bed and a full body massage on arrival. For Paula Perrin these are the ingredients for a perfect holiday — not for herself but for her two pet cats.
Tinkabell and Elsa — like a growing number of pampered pets — regularly enjoy such five-star luxury. Demand for such breaks has become so great that Perrin now plans her own holidays around availability at her cats’ favourite hotel.
Pet hotels offer rooms with underfloor heating and large television screens with swimming fish. Indoor gyms and spa treatments, including whirlpool baths for dogs and full body massages with aromatic oils and soothing music, are also popular. In the evening, animals have the option of candlelit meals served on bone china, a turndown service and a minibar with their favourite treats and drinks.
Longcroft Luxury Cat hotel, in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, where Perrin’s cats stay, opened five years ago. It now has nine branches, each with six to nine suites, and two more hotels open next month.
“It’s become so important to me to know my cats are happy and safe I book my holidays around theirs,” said Perrin, 49, an executive assistant for a payments systems firm, who lives in Knebworth, Hertfordshire.
She began using Longcroft last year after some bad experiences with standard catteries. Clients pay £23 a day for a basic room and all-day play with their cat. Larger suites cost £3 extra.
The hotel also offers an “ultimate spa day” for £45 that includes gentle undercoat removal, waterless coat massage, eye and ear cleanse, coat and skin shampooing and paw massage with “lickable” organic balm.
Angela Wall, 54, another Longcroft client, from Essendon, Hertfordshire, said: “They feed our cat Carrot fresh shrimps and prawns and I’ve even heard of one cat who was being hand-fed avocado.
“They send us photographs of him being fed or sleeping and knowing he’s happy allows us to relax.”
But some believe such luxury is harmful. Dominic Dyer, an animal welfare campaigner, said: “I am concerned that people may be humanising their animals and giving them what they think of as luxury for themselves and not really what their pet wants or needs.
“Vets also say animals should not be fed on human food but given a balanced and nutritional pet food diet.”
Those warnings have not dissuaded dog and cat owners who use the Elmtree Pet hotel, in Enfield, north London, however. Costs at Elmtree and a sister branch begin at £18 for cats and £30 for dogs.
Its 8,000 clients include members of the royal family and Kyle Walker, the Tottenham Hotspur and England defender, whose dogs, Tiny and Ike, have been visitors.
Elmtree has an outdoor wooded play area, an indoor gym and spa days at its grooming parlour, including whirlpool bathing sessions.
“The spa bath is full most of the time,” said Tom Pipkin, the hotel’s manager.
Spending on pets in Britain has soared to £4.6bn a year, according to a study by Euromonitor earlier this year. The research firm ascribes the rise to the humanisation of pets.
In 2011 a survey by Petplan found 25% of owners had bought clothing for their pets, 10% had attended a pet party and almost as many had created a Facebook page for them.
At Ings Luxury Cat hotel, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where rates start at £18 a day, each of the 12 suites has a balcony overlooking a wildlife area.
Jo Ounsley, who manages the business, also holds cat discos on Saturday evenings featuring snacks, flashing laser lights and music.
To recover, cats can have 40-minute full body massages using lavender and apple oil, and flameless candles. Cocktails, including the “pinacatlada”, which is salmon flavoured and includes juicy king prawns and caviar, are available for £4.
For Christmas, Ounsley will be offering salmon canapés followed by a selection including salmon, turkey, sirloin steak, cod fillet and duck.