BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- For anyone who travels with a four-pawed friend, navigating cumbersome hotel pet policies can be labor-intensive investigation that, done wrong, can have you and your pet on the curb. And some national chains that insist they're pet friendly can still let member properties have their own policies -- inconsistent weight restrictions that limit any dog above 30 pounds, requiring owners to never leave a pet alone inside a room or simply not allowing pets at all. Industry leader Starwood Hotels & Resorts ( HOT) operates an array of pet-friendly brands that deviate in the details. Its Westin Hotels brand clearly states most pet policies in the announcement area of each hotel's landing page, including perks such as a Heavenly Pet Bed or dog bowl and mat provided upon check-in. (Those with dogs larger than 30 pounds should call properties directly to see each hotel's restrictions -- which can often be waived by the general manager, albeit with owners often required to be with pets at all times when inside the room, and with and dogs rarely allowed inside restaurants or lounge areas.) While websites such as PetTravel.com advise of a generous 80-pound weight limit at Starwood's W Hotel & Resorts, a look at individual properties yielded different policies at its W South Beach and W Hoboken, which have a 40-pound limit, and W San Francisco, which has a 50-pound limit.
Kimpton Hotels set "no restrictions and never require an extra charge, fee or deposit" -- making it likely the most friendly and fun hotel group in pet travel.
As for the major luxury brands, Four Seasons has a doggie door open in various dimensions at its top U.S. hotels, including its Biltmore Santa Barbara, which has a generous 50-pound weight restriction but a requirement that guests with pets stay in their Cottage Rooms (although those come in a wide variety of categories). In Los Angeles, where pet ownership is virtually a city mandate, the pet policy at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills isn't so generous -- there's a 15-pound weight restriction, since it's a high-rise hotel in an urban setting not conducive to larger dogs. At the Four Seasons Boston, however, they won't even charge you a pet fee or put you in pet-designated rooms, like even the most liberal pet-friendly brands, although they will require a pet waiver and insist that your companion be under 25 pounds.