My 3-year-old corgi Splenda lives a privileged life — and I’m well aware of that. But as the dog of a travel writer whose job it is to tell you, dear reader, about the best hotels in the world (and how to stay at them), it’s only fair that she gets to indulge in some of the fun every now and then.
Better yet for my sweet, sweet Splenda, whose name is a play on the fact that both her human dads are Type 1 diabetics, she’s often tasked with testing out new hotel offerings for our four-legged friends — and that’s exactly what happened earlier this year when The Plaza, New York City’s most iconic hotel, invited her to experience the “Pampered Pup Package” on an overnight stay.
Luckily for me and my fiance, we were invited as Splenda’s plus-ones (mainly because we wanted this stay to be more “Eloise at the Plaza” than “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”).
Though the Plaza has played a significant role in the history of New York since it first opened in 1907 at a dreamy location on Fifth Avenue at the corner of Central Park, the Pampered Pup Package didn’t roll out until National Dog Day in August of last year. The package, which costs $195 as an add-on for guests traveling with pets, is designed to make your pooch feel like royalty.
The package includes a special dog bed waiting in the room, Plaza-embellished food and water bowls alongside a bottle of Evian and even a Plaza dog robe to match the human-size ones hanging in the room. Even better, if you request the package more than 30 days before arrival, you can have the dog robe, which has the Plaza crest on the back, custom fitted for your furry friend.
But the real highlight — and Splenda’s favorite part, by far — is the tiered tray of dog-friendly macarons (made from oat flour, honey, coconut oil and all-natural yogurt filings) waiting to be devoured.
We live in Brooklyn, so it’s always a treat to head uptown, especially for a staycation that gets us out of our small apartment. Splenda, the diva she is, packed her overnight bag with various outfits to look the part of a sophisticated socialite determined to channel her inner Blair Waldorf.
Unfortunately for us, though, it was absolutely pouring out. Despite our Upper East Side state of mind, our Brooklyn budget meant we opted (read: were forced) to take the subway, so after schlepping through the deluge, we arrived, unglamorously, at The Plaza soaking wet — the corgi most of all.
But walking up the literal red carpet through the gold-clad revolving doors and past one of the most immaculate floral arrangements north of 14th Street, Splenda immediately knew she was a star, no matter how wet.
“Welcome, Ms. Splenda,” a doorman announced, the attention immediately going to her fluffy head a mere 6 inches off the marbled lobby floor.
After checking in, we went up to our absolutely palatial Junior King Suite where, the staff had informed us, a special Plaza dog towel was waiting, along with her robe, to help clean up after the storm. From that moment, after getting acquainted with our room (which featured two ornate armchairs, a couch, a beautiful writing desk, a TV with streaming capabilities, a king-size bed, a walk-in closet and a spa-like bathroom), we leaned into our temporary dignified life.
To start, Splenda got a bath, a blowout and time in her robe. She’s a spa girlie — so is her dad — so the luxe bathroom with its deep soaking tub was a dream, even though Splenda got more of a power wash than a soak.
After spa hour, Splenda hit the walk-in closet where, magically, she found her numerous outfit options for her evening walk down Fifth Avenue hanging up (thanks, other dad!).
Landing on a powder blue, nautical-inspired dress with white stripes, Splenda decided the look was perfect for the walk down one of the world’s most famous shopping streets, but not before trying out the furniture and taste-testing her macarons. Safe to say, it all met her very high standards.
In the lobby, Splenda and her infectious puppy smile stopped people in their tracks — even more so when kind staff members greeted her by name, making guests sipping cocktails at The Champagne Bar think we were much more important than we’ll ever be. But that’s the great thing about Splenda; she brings so much joy to the people she encounters and makes everyone feel like a VIP. The service at The Plaza is a reflection of Splenda herself — and she felt like the most important
person dog in the entire world.
After our walk past Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman and the picturesque Gothic Revival-style St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we were all tuckered out, so we slipped into our bathrobes, streamed our family-favorite reality show (“The Real Housewives of Miami”) and ordered lobster rolls from room service for the humans to enjoy while Splenda snacked on her macarons and ate her dinner, which we had brought from home (albeit in a much fancier dog bowl).
Splenda made herself comfortable in her Plaza dog bed — and it was lights out in the City that Never Sleeps.
The next morning, famished from an incredible night’s sleep (what a hard life!), it was time for breakfast, so in true Tinsley Mortimer fashion, we ordered room service. The Plaza Continental was classic, with an assortment of pastries, bread, juice and coffee — plus a side of bacon to share. Splenda, the refined canine she is, joined us in her robe — and maybe even stole a piece of bacon (we’ll never tell!).
To wrap up our stay, we used the morning to take advantage of some of the pet-friendly places near The Plaza: Central Park and Chanel. Just across the street, Central Park is a wonderland for dogs of all sizes. It’s a place where Splenda loves to go for walks, look at the turtles at The Pond on the southwest corner right by the hotel, run away panicked by passing rollerbladers and climb up on all the rocks. For dogs that need some time sans leash, the Central Park Conservancy has a full guide with times and locations for running around.
Next, we made our way back down Fifth Avenue for a cheeky stop at NYC’s flagship Chanel store, which is not only pet-friendly but is where Splenda tends to be a star. Let’s just say that Splenda didn’t quite leave with a Boy Bag, but she did pick up a bottle of Le Vernis to remember the experience.
It was hard to say goodbye to The Plaza, partly because we had to defeat Splenda’s big head and remind her that regular life awaited us back in Brooklyn, but also because the actual process of leaving meant saying goodbye to all her new friends, including waiters at the bar, the receptionist, guests we’d met along the way and some tourists in the lobby.
Pet-friendly accommodations are on the rise, and hotels around the world are catering to people who travel with their pups, but few do it as luxuriously as The Plaza. While $195 for this package is certainly not cheap, I’ve paid $100 to bring Splenda with me in much less substantial hotels where the perks were nonexistent.
All-in-all, we had the most magical time at this iconic hotel in the Big Apple. If you want your best friend to be treated like the upper crust of NYC’s complex social fabric, take them to The Plaza to enjoy the finer things in life.