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Review and giveaway: Alastair Sawday’s Dog-friendly Breaks in Britain

In 1994, Alastair Sawday began publishing guides aimed at travelers seeking “special” travel lodging experiences — meaning, as the Alastair Sawday’s site explains, places with warmth, charm, authenticity, humor and style. The Alastair Sawday’s catalog now includes several dozen guidebooks, and a very useful website, focusing on places to stay in Europe (Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain) and Morocco.

The most recent addition to the list is Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: Dog-friendly Breaks in Britain, and the company kindly sent me a copy to review. It took them awhile, though, so I bought a copy for myself — and then, of course, my review copy arrived the very next day. Now I have two copies, so I’ll be giving one away to a Dog Jaunt reader.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I need to tell you that the guide lists 165 dog-friendly places to stay, sprinkled across Britain (maps in the front of the guide help you locate lodgings by region). Each entry has a big photo of the exterior, a smaller photo of an interior (usually a guest room), a delightfully-written and evocative paragraph of text, and a collection of practical details (rates, contact info, wifi availability, whether credit cards are accepted, etc.). Each entry has a short description of what makes the property dog-friendly (aside from the basic fact that your dog can spend the night there).

The listings include inns, hotels, B&Bs, vacation rentals (“self catering”) and oddball options like yurts and gypsy caravans (called “Canopy & Stars”) — and they do indeed sound special. Also special? The brilliant idea of including, at the back of the England and Wales sections, a selection of dog-friendly pubs (why not Scotland, I wonder?); and the collection of ideas for “Days out with dogs” at the front of the guide — if you don’t already have an itinerary in mind, these quick paragraphs will start the ball rolling.

I initially thought that I’d find something to criticize in the absence of specifics about a destination’s pet policy, but even that was foiled by a paragraph in the introduction explaining that most places don’t charge a pet fee (where there is one, it’s listed). The guide does not provide information about a guest dog’s maximum weight, or the maximum number of dogs permitted a guest, but perhaps that’s because U.K. lodgings are less fussy about those issues than U.S. lodgings. In any event, you’ll have the opportunity to ask those questions when you make your reservations.

I love this guide, and I yearn to put it to use. It’s tempting enough that even someone who hadn’t considered traveling with their dog is likely to eye their pet thoughtfully after reading a few entries — and for the rest of us, it’s exactly the kind of tool you need to put together a dog-friendly vacation.

The giveaway ($15 value)

Why wait, I ask you? The giveaway starts now, and it takes place on Twitter. Here’s what to do:

  1. You may already be a follower of @dogjaunt — if not, sign up to follow me.
  2. Copy and paste the following text into the “Compose new Tweet” box: My dog and I want to stay in a special place in Britain! #dogjauntgiveaway
  3. Be sure that your tweet includes the link to this review as well as the #dogjauntgiveaway hashtag, since I’ll look for those elements to see who entered to win

You can send one entry tweet per day (Twitter asks me to ask you not to open multiple accounts to enter the giveaway — frankly, I wouldn’t know if you did, but Twitter will, and there are bad consequences).

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm PST on Friday, April 6 (the day after tomorrow!). I will announce the winner — chosen randomly — in Dog Jaunt’s Twitter feed and on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page on Saturday, April 7. If you are the winner, send an e-mail with your mailing address to m-a[at]dogjaunt[dot]com within 48 hours.

The fine print

A sweepstakes winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification and provide a shipping address within the specified 48 hours will be considered such sweepstakes winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. To enter, you must be resident of the U.S. or Canada (except Quebec), age 18 or older. Employees, partners and vendors of Dog Jaunt and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter. We will disqualify any entries that we believe are generated by scripts and other automated technology. Dog Jaunt will not use the winner’s mailing information for any purpose other than sending the giveaway item. Giveaways are subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules or regulations. You are under no obligation to keep following @dogjaunt after the giveaway is over, but heck, why not stick around?