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The Pampered Pooch: Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern Californis by Maggie Espinoza

ot so many years ago, finding a petfriendly hotel was almost impossible. The few that existed tended to be places even your pet wouldn’t want to stay.

That’s all changed, as Maggie Espinosa makes clear in The Privileged Pooch: Luxury Travel with Your Pet in Southern California.

Accompanied by her Bichon Frisé, Marcel, Espinosa tested hotels in San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. She then rated the best hotels with one to four wags for friendliness; if she found a hotel’s pet regulations too stringent or its pet fees exorbitant, she didn’t include it.

Espinosa provides a thorough description of each hotel and its special amenities for pets. At the Casa Laguna Inn and Spa, for example, pets are welcome at breakfast and the wine hour. Humans and their hounds can also share a “togetherness massage,” in which a licensed canine masseuse kneads the dog’s back legs and shoulders, strokes its ears, and checks its paws for proper circulation. The Beverly Hills Hotel offers a “canine connoisseur program” that outfits the dog with a custom-designed dog bed and ceramic bowl; a $200 pet fee provides dog walkers 24/7, and if requested at check-in, personalized treats.

Humans and their hounds can share a “togetherness massage” [with] a licensed canine masseuse.

In addition to 69 hotels, Espinosa describes 55 bistros, 56 fun-in-the-sun activities (including, of course, beaches), and 36 pet boutiques. Her book is clearly organized, with maps, photos, and color-coded sections.

Espinosa is an award-winning travel journalist with an engaging style. The Privileged Pooch is fun to read, and for anyone considering a trip to Southern California with his — or her — “best friend,” it’s indispensable.

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