Penthouse suites and plush bedding. Rooftop pools with views and spa treatments. Opportunities to socialize or book guided nature excursions. A little relaxing, a little exploring.
These comforts aren't just for humans anymore. That's only a fraction of what dogs and cats can experience at Portland's boutique boarding houses and pet hotels. We've toured some of the best to see what the animal high-life is all about. So go ahead, schedule that trip, and don't feel guilty for leaving the fur babies behind—frankly, they might be doing their vacation better than you.
Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday
It's true that our four-legged friends age more quickly than we do. Given that, you really should be making a bigger deal out of your dog's birthday. At LexiDog (131 N State St., Lake Oswego, 503-635-3733, lexidog.com), owners can rent the space for celebrations, inviting up to seven of their pet's best buddies and all of their parents, who are welcome to turn it into a BYOB people party. Several packages are available, starting with a $50 no-host option (you provide the decorations and treats) to a $175 soiree with balloons, banners and tablecloths. An attendant leads the pack through games like hot dog hunt, bobbing for apples and paw painting. The chain's Pearl District location manager, Lia Gorretta, also happens to run a pet bakery in Goose Hollow, where she can whip up customized wedding-worthy tiered cakes with ingredients like peanut butter, molasses and yogurt or carrow frosting.
Playschool and Pamper
Though the lavender-walled lobby at LexiDog Boutique and Social Club (416 NW 10th Ave., 503-243-6200) resembles a high-end pâtisserie, this is also where owners don't so much "drop off" their pets for day care but cling desperately to the leash while their neck-strong dogs bound ahead inside, eager to reunite with their playmates. Behind a door marked "Social Club" you'll find what looks more like kindergarten if recess were always in session. The racket of barking quiets for about 90 minutes every afternoon, when the beds come down, the lights dim and the tranquil music comes on. You can also schedule a bath and a blowout for your dog in the neighboring spa.
Into the Woods
Perhaps your dog likes to take long walks in the woods, but you don't have enough hours in a busy workweek to make a trek to the forest—or maybe you just hate nature. Central Bark (8526 SW Terwilliger Blvd., 4730 SW Oleson Road, 503-295-2275, ecentralbark.com), which will become Original Bark under the same ownership in February, is a dog care company that offers many of the expected amenities—boarding, day care, DIY or professional bath and brush—but also trail time in the 650 acres of Tryon Creek State Park or second-growth forest of the Maricara Natural Area. The routes, at an hour long, are just enough to poop out high-energy puppers.
Lap of Luxury
You could be forgiven if you needed overnight accommodations, happened by Sniff (1828 NW Raleigh St., 503-208-2366, sniffdoghotel.com) and went in to book a room. The four-story building with pane-glass, bay window-style walls promise rooms awash in natural light and what appears to be a rooftop bar illuminated by strings of soft-glowing bulbs. You can set your pooch up in an $88-a-night penthouse that's bigger than some studio apartments. A steady stream of DOGTV plays on a wall monitor, and dogs can sleep on an orthopedic air mattress—a $5 upgrade from the provided luxury bedding. As for that sky-high patio, it's an off-leash park with panoramic views of the Fremont Bridge that any rooftop bar owner in town would envy. In summer, it's transformed into a swimming oasis with kiddie pools and umbrellas for shade. A lower-level roof is equipped with a track for laps with an employee. Sniff also doubles as an elite institution for puppy education. Little ones between the ages of 8 and 20 weeks that are too young for day care at most facilities can attend Nursery School, which provides socialization and etiquette training.
Founded by a former vet technician and a professional pet trainer, Stay (3606 NE Columbia Blvd., 503-288-7829, staypethotel.com) ensures your pet is never alone. Staff are onsite to supervise 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition to private suites for boarding, dogs can snooze like they're at one big sleepover, kennel-free, on beds, couches, even an empty lap. With an outdoor enclosure that's more than 8,000 square feet, pups here have one of the largest playgrounds in the city, full of tunnels, slides and plastic jungle gyms. In the summer, the space turns into a water park with sprinklers and pools. Owners who can't drive their dogs to Stay for some exercise can book a ride on the business's party bus that's been dubbed the Waggin' Wagon.
Cat boarding may seem unnecessary for the typically low-maintenance animal. But for those longer vacations, disruptive home renovations or a big move, Meowhaus (5244 and 6025 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-281-0222, meowhaus.biz) is the optimal extended-stay hotel, where there's a mouse toy on every pillow and skyboxes at the top of each suite. If you listen very carefully, the faint sound of staccato chirps plays like background music. That's because Meowhaus doesn't just host felines—about a dozen zebra finches also flit through the space. While the combination may sound like disaster in the making, rest assured the birds are separated from the cats, though they do have a view of the aviaries from their suites, which is kind of like a 24/7 reality show taunting the stone-cold little serial killers.