May 15, 2017
At the heart of Arizona lies a magical red-rocked haven described by USA Today as ‘The Most Beautiful Place in America’. Here’s Bodie’s guide to Dog-friendly Sedona’s Best Places to Stay, Eat, Shop & Hike. With a little psychic recommendation thrown in. (Well, when in a vortex…)
BEST DOG-FRIENDLY HOTEL IN SEDONA
EL PORTAL is the idyllic creation of pet industry veterans Connie and Steve Segner (founder of the world’s biggest pet retail show SuperZoo). This prime location luxury inn feels like a cross between a grand hideaway and a grown-up fairytale. Bodie and I experienced an instant sense of belonging here, blending with admiration for all the lovingly-crafted details from stained glass windows to river rock fireplaces and this distinctive vintage truck parked at the entrance…
The main room is multi-functional, dog-friendly delight – here you check-in, help yourself to beverages at the honor bar, sit hearthside for complimentary early evening tapas, peruse the local books and magazines and then enjoy breakfast with your dog relaxing table side – a truly rare treat! (Menu highlights include a Double Cream Brie Omelette with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and Cowboy Potatoes & the Apple Cinnamon Nut French Toast!)
The 12 guest rooms are wonder-inducing, each with a very different feel. Some like The Garden Court are feminine with a cream canopied bed and beehive fireplace with floral accents. Others, like our Suite 11 – The Santa Fe, have strong masculine stylings with open brick-work, wrought iron fixtures and a leather sofa that could accommodate several hunter-gatherers from the native Yavapai tribe.
Bodie was presented with a doggie basket with everything to ensure a comfortable stay including a large Boxer motif blanket to lay on, but he seemed more taken with this handcrafted rug…
Our bathroom was a double-sinked beauty with wood-beamed ceiling and a separate room for the hot air whirlpool tub and spacious open shower, but the biggest treat for me was the voluminously cosy Southwestern robe…
Five rooms have their own pet patio, others offer a peaceful sun-dappled balcony…
Down below, the courtyard firepits are lit nightly and guests (and their dogs) huddle up to mull over the day’s explorations with a glass of wine or hot chocolate.
There’s a sense of easy community here. And when you do finally wend your way up to bed, with your milk and home-baked cookie, it’s with a contented heart. (Couldn’t you just move in here and call it home?)
ADDRESS: El Portal Sedona • 95 Portal Lane • Sedona AZ 86336
TOURS: El Portal offers personalized concierge services for the Sedona area (be your interests Spiritual, Cultural or Gastronomical!) and we got a wealth of inspiration from the Things To Do section of the hotel website before we even arrived.
PET FEE: No fee for dogs. This makes me so HAPPY!
BONUS: As well as the pet welcome basket, I have to state again what a pleasure it is to have your dog join you beside the breakfast table. One gets used to weathering the weather al fresco so sitting together indoors feels little short of miraculous!
PET DIRECTORY: El Portal offers a comprehensive list of everything dog-related in Sedona from Dirty Hairy’s pet sitting service to Whiskers Barkery. There’s also nine options for veterinary care and contacts for animal control and The Humane Society of Sedona. (Click Pet Directory link to read more!)
NOTE: Bodie was a guest of El Portal but our review is heartfelt!
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Everything is so delightfully walkable from El Portal, with the charming Tlaquepaque Village just a few paw-patters away…
BEST DOG-FRIENDLY ARTS & CRAFTS SHOPPING IN SEDONA
The loveliest place to shop and stroll. Fashioned after a Mexican village, you’ll find brightly-tiled steps, fountain-trickled courtyards and sycamore-shaded alcoves, all set with an abundance of local crafts and artworks – over 40 speciality shops and artisan galleries in total. Tlaquepaque means ‘the best of everything’ and whether you’re admiring the native jewelry at Ninibah or the Navajo rugs at Azadi, you’ll feel like you are discovering ancient treasures!
BEST DOG-FRIENDLY CAFE SERVING HUMMUS PIZZA
This is a very particular accolade for a very particular dish – I’ve never seen Hummus Pizza as a menu option before but I will now always wish for it, provided it’s as tasty as the one served in the sprawling, leafy courtyard at THE SECRET GARDEN CAFE. Toppings include feta cheese, caramelized onions and black mission figs. Be still my beating heart. The cakes have that lovely squishy, oozing-with-cream, home-made look to them. Great coffee for you, cool water for the dog and friendly service.
BEST DOG-FRIENDLY DINNER IN SEDONA
RENE’S RESTAURANT & WINE BAR This snap was taken in the morning light but by night the red carpet walkway is candlelit and oh so alluring. We sat beneath the archway with plenty of room for Bodie to splay and enjoyed the finest filet mignon and silkiest cheesecake – every bite prompted discreet rapture! The atmosphere is relaxed and romantic with a mix of regulars and special occasion celebrations (as well as happy dog-owners). Also open for lite lunch from 2.30-5pm.
BEST ORGANIC DOG-FRIENDLY CAFE IN SEDONA
Eating uber-healthy food can feel like the kindest gift to your body and even reading the menu at CHOCOLATREE has you feeling as if you’re gearing up for a transformative experience. Take the Philospher’s Elixir or Pachamama Latte with brewed Brosimum Alicastrum (known as the Mayan Tree of Life) blended with coconut creme and maple! We sat on the side patio enjoying a Kefir Parfait only to discover the most enchanting garden area as we returned to the carpark (with signs saying things like Park Here & Feel Peace In Your Heart.) I can’t help but feel that if we dined daily on Sunshine Salad with spirulina dressing our lives would be infinitely more harmonious!
BEST PSYCHIC READING IN SEDONA
Just three minutes walk from The Chocola Tree MYSTICAL BAZAAR offers tarot readings (from $40 for 20 minutes) as well as healings, aura photos and an abundance of crystals and gemstones. I asked Claudia about a certain ‘dog project’ I was working on and she consulted the cards and then asserted, ‘There’s magic in that.’ And I know this to be true because the magic goes by the name of Bodie…
BEST VIEW FROM A DOG-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT IN SEDONA
Bodie and I have dined in a few picturesque spots in our time but the HIDEAWAY HOUSE takes ‘scenic’ to a whole new level. One minute you’re strolling beside shops like Trailhead Tea and Victorian Cowgirl and the next you are gazing out from a double-story deck as the sun sets over the most astounding natural skyline.
In terms of attention, Bodie hit a new superstar high here – every staff member (and about five diners) came over to personally greet and rumple his golden fur! One waitress even sat down on the deck beside him and gave him a good ten minutes one-to-one loving! And then a little boy at the neighboring table ventured over and his grandfather was telling us about his own dear dog who he believes had the most charming nature ever. ‘Well, until we met Bodie!’ his son chipped in!
BEST DOG-FRIENDLY HIKING IN SEDONA
Here you can wander amid the Ponderosas and Junipers and discover ancient Indian ruins, all the while reveling in the drama of those magnificent red rocks. We hear Bell Rock Pathway and Baldwin Trail are pleasingly easy on the paws though I must confess that we did most of our view-gawping from the comfort of the AC-blasted car. Every time we parked up and ventured out, Bodie and I found ourselves jostling to claim the tiny scrap of shade offered by some scrubby bush and he would pant up at me as if to say, ‘Just what exactly are we trying to achieve here?’
Fortunately there is a way to beat the heat and still have a lovely walk. From El Portal you meander through the sprawling grounds of Los Abrigados Resort & Spa and follow the path down towards OAK CREEK – this lavishly shaded park offers seats fashioned from what seem to be giant pebbles and a cool stream for your pup to splash into. Wonderfully reviving all round!
GETTING TO DOG-FRIENDLY SEDONA: Sedona is just 100 miles south of the Grand Canyon and 125 miles north of Phoenix/Scottsdale. Both journeys take about 2 hours and rank with us as US road-tripping treasures, both for ease of driving and heart-soaring scenery.
TO PLAY YOU OUT: This extraordinarily beautiful video from VisitSedona.com