Are you thinking of visiting Dumfries and looking for a dog friendly destination for you and your dog?
The Cairndale Hotel is right in the centre of the Scottish town and perfectly placed for walks and exploring.
And when it comes to welcoming four legged guests, forget dog friendly, this is dog red carpet.
We were invited to stay in return for a review in February 2023 and having visited dozens of hotels that accept pets, the Cairndale Hotel blew us away.
In this post you’ll find out what it’s like to stay, plus things to do in Dumfries, places to go for food and drinks, walks and places to explore and all you need for you and your dog.
How dog friendly is the Cairndale Hotel?
As soon as Patch set a paw in the door, everyone made a fuss of him.
Dougie on reception greeted him by name and he had lots of strokes and belly rubs from staff all weekend which he loved.
Inside our room, we found handmade peanut butter, gluten free biscuits shaped like paws, a Paw-Star Martini doggy cocktail made of chicken and passionfruit.
And a framed welcome photo of Patch!
Plus an eight page guide with recommendations from pups Benji and Smudge for the best things for dogs in Dumfries and Galloway and the surrounding areas.
From nice walks to dog friendly restaurants and pubs, details of the pet shops, vets and links to maps and information on how long each walk is and how challenging.
They have considered everything and I was so moved by how thoughtful it was.
The other thing that is a breath of fresh air at the Cairndale Hotel is that there were no infuriating ‘rules’ dictating what Patch couldn’t do.
In fact on the front of the welcome guide was a photo of a dog on the bed, indicating just how relaxed the hotel is about four legged guests.
For the humans, we had fluffy robes and slippers, a bottle of Bottega fizz, smaller bottles of red, water, and a Nespresso coffee machine with a range of pods.
Eating at the Cairndale Hotel
You have a range of options when it comes to dining at the Cairndale Hotel. There’s the Reivers Restaurant and the Forum Cafe and Bar for snacks and cakes.
In the warmer months, try the outdoor Secret Garden where you can hire a pod style ‘dome’ in the grounds of the hotel and enjoy cocktails, fizz and have your own disco with an Amazon Alexa.
Dogs are allowed on leads and there’s even a Kylie Minogue Rose Prosecco package which as a child of the 1980s I would LOVE, but sadly, it was very cold when we stayed so we didn’t get to sample this!
We ate at the Reivers Restaurant on the first night. Dogs aren’t allowed as it’s a little more formal, but it is no problem to leave your dog in the room as long as they are well behaved.
I had a gorgeous tomato and mozzarella salad to start, then chicken with sautéed potatoes and fresh veg and an amazing chocolate brownie and ice cream.
Tommy had steak with peppercorn sauce, roasted tomatoes and chunky chips, and a chicken terrine to start.
Everything was super fresh, and the portion sizes were ideal so you didn’t feel over-faced and the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable.
In the morning, there’s a standard buffet breakfast with a choice of cereals, yoghurts, juices, croissants, toast and jam in the restaurant.
You do have the option to dine in the bar area if you’d like your dog to be with you.
In the Forum Cafe and Bar is a selection of cake and treats and it’s situated next to the gym and pool area where you’ll find a 14 metre swimming pool, steam room and sauna.
Another treat as part of your package, if it includes use of the spa, is a glass of fizz while in the hot tub.
This is another lovely laid back touch from the Cairndale. Often alcohol in hot tubs is a no-no, but they recognise having a Prosecco is part of the experience which I loved.
About the Cairndale Hotel
Matthew Wallace Junior is Director at the Cairndale Hotel and the property has been in his family for three generations, starting with the late James Wallace, a Dumfries businessman in the 1940s.
The original hotel had 48 rooms and in the 1980s, 12 additional rooms were created at Burnock House, the property next-door, with a bridge connecting the two buildings.
In 2020, the family bought the neighbouring Park House adding a ballroom and additional rooms taking the total number of bedrooms to 91.
While the hotel is vast, it still retains a warm and friendly family feel, and hosts everything from golf breaks to ‘Dark Skies’ stargazing experiences at Caerlaverock Castle, and Motown Weekends.
Situated just a few minutes walk from Dumfries town centre, you’ll find everything you need in terms of shops and amenities on your doorstep.
It’s the ideal spot to have as a base on the gateway to Scotland and to explore the Dumfries and Galloway region.
Dog friendly places to go in Dumfries
The Cairndale Hotel provides its own guide to dog friendly Dumfries including places to visit ‘snack stops’ in your room and here are some of the places they recommend.
We visited the Wagon and Horses pub on Friday night, where dogs are allowed to potter around the bar or cosy up in front of a roaring fire.
If you’re a whisky lover, choose from over 300 whiskies at The Globe Inn, a traditional pub which offers fine dining with a menu created by Jonathan Brett who has Michelin Star experience.
The Globe was poet Robert Burns favourite watering hole and you can visit the ‘snug’ which is the exact room and chair where he would eat, drink and recite his poetry, and the room where he’d stay.
Pet services near the Cairndale Hotel and Dumfries
When you’re away with your dog, it’s handy to know where you can get essentials like food, treats and dog beds, and where the vet is in case of an emergency.
Again, all this is provided for you in the guide.
There’s a Pets At Home at the Peel centre in the town centre, and Happy Pets, a family run pet shop that has been taking care of local animals since 2001.
Ark Vet Centre is the recommended vets and can be found on St Mary’s Industrial estate.
We also found an outdoor flea market close to the river on the Saturday afternoon for doggy pick and mix, and natural treats such as pigs ears.
Dog walks and places to explore while staying at the Cairndale Hotel
We went for a walk to Mabie Forest on the Saturday, and you can choose how little or long you walk for. Trails are mapped out with colour coded signs so you don’t get lost.
It’s a stunning forest covering 2,500 acres with mountain bike trails and, if you’re taking kids, there’s a playground and a picnic area.
Patch stayed on his lead here as I think there would have been a fair few squirrels but if your dog can be trusted off lead, it’s a glorious spot for them to explore.
After our walk, we had lunch at Mabie House Hotel, a stunning 17th Century Country House hotel in the grounds of the forest.
Tommy had scampi and chips and I had a ham sandwich and my favourite tomato and red pepper soup.
There’s a dog friendly area close to reception with comfy sofas and an open fire where Patch relaxed after his walk.
Dumfries riverside walk
Step outside of the Cairndale Hotel to enjoy a riverside walk. We did this when we came back from Mabie Forest and were looking for a shorter walk in the city.
Take in the sights like St Michael’s Bridge, a red sandstone arched bridge crossing the River Nith on this flat route.
There’s also a cycleway that takes you around the city, taking in the local parks and sights and you can also visit the Robert Burns centre by crossing the pedestrian suspension bridge before heading back into the town.
Just outside of Dumfries we found a gorgeous deli and restaurant, The Boathouse, which overlooks the River Nith and is ideal for a spot of brunch.
If your pup loves the sea air, Powfoot beach is only a short drive from Dumfries. We ventured here on our drive home on the Sunday.
It’s a short stretch of coastline along the Solway Firth and you access the beach by crossing a section of grassy mud islands.
The beach itself is a mix of sand and shingle, and very quiet, so ideal for dogs who might not be confident around other dogs and people.
You can also look out across to see Bowness-on-Solway, the Cumbrian Coast and the Lake District fells from the shoreline.
Find out more about dog friendly beaches in the area and restrictions that may apply here: https://www.thebeachguide.co.uk/south-scotland/dumfries-and-galloway/dogs-allowed
Final thoughts on dog friendly Dumfries and the Cairndale Hotel
Dumfries has plenty to offer when it comes to activities for your dog to enjoy and interesting and cultural places for you too.
From forest and woodland walks to checking out the local castles and coastline, there’s so much for you to see and do.
The Cairndale Hotel isn’t just dog friendly, it is truly dog welcoming and Matthew and the entire team pull out all the stops to make your stay extra special for you and your dog.
What’s the cost?
Rooms are from £125 per night for bed and breakfast.
The charge is £15 per dog per night with a maximum of two dogs in the room.
Find out more about the Cairndale Hotel on their website: https://www.cairndalehotel.co.uk/
Take a look at the Secret Garden here: https://www.secretgardendumfries.co.uk/
Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CairndaleHotel
Connect on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/CairndaleHotel/
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