ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: Florence, South Carolina, is well-known to travelers driving from the Northeast to Florida as the halfway point off of I-95. After researching, it looked like this property had a good track record for those traveling with pets, so I called and spoke with Hyatt reservations to book and secure the details. The fee for the two dogs traveling with us, Ella and Beau, was $75 for both. On the receipt, the charge was referred to as a Pet Cleaning Fee. When I made the reservation, I received a discounted World of Hyatt member rate. They did tell me the dogs were not allowed in the restaurants, and I said that was sad as Beau likes to pony up to the bar. The reservationist thought that was funny.
After nearly 10 hours of driving, we arrived at the hotel and parked temporarily on the side to check in. I took Ella and Beau in for check-in while my wife waited in the car. We were offered room 310, close to the elevators, and I had to sign a waiver stating I was responsible for the pets and their actions. I asked where the pet relief area was and was told it was beyond the pool. These guys needed a break!
We went to the room after parking the car and then took a bellman’s trolley to get our luggage and supplies. The lot is about a half a block away.
GUEST QUARTERS: The room was a mini suite with a built-in sofa and two queen-sized beds — yes, the dogs got one of them. A large TV hung on the opposing wall, with cabinets flanking the walls around. The large bathroom had a single sink and a big shower. Shampoo and conditioner were provided, along with larger bars of hand soap. The water pressure in the shower was inadequate, but there were plenty of towels.
SERVICES/AMENITIES: Starving from the drive, I did have a burger at the lobby bar served in a grab-and-go style, but you could sit at the bar. The French fries were superior and the burger was room temperature, but I was hungry so I ate it. We took the pups around Florence, which seems to have a lot of nice restaurants. As it was just before the holidays, there were many festive decorations and an impressive light show right next to our hotel.
Speaking to some locals, we learned Florence experienced a resurgence and redevelopment of the downtown area in 2010. Prior to that, they said, “You would not have been caught dead downtown.” I can tell you it is a charming, walkable town, and I was sorry I had so little time to discover the shops and restaurants.
On the pet-friendly aspect, we were surprised we did not receive any welcome package of something for the dogs, as they did ask for their names when I made the reservation. I also found the pet relief area too far and too small. Parking was across the street in a secure lot behind the police department.
During the Civil War, Florence was a major railway hub for the Confederacy and the home of the Florence Stockade, which held 18,000 Union soldiers in terrible conditions.
Ella was dying to hit the pool, but I think that was also against regulations.
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