Guess what? There’s a 200-square-foot hotel suite in San Francisco— replete with a king-size bed, 42-inch smart TV, and 24-hour room service — that only costs $160 a night.
The bad news? It’s for furry, four-legged creatures only. Wag Hotels, the Four Seasons of pet-boarding facilities, caters to dogs and cats alike, offering a bevy of room choices (like multiple-room condos for cats that include an aquarium of live fish for the felines’ paw-swiping pleasure) and additional services. Meals, which can consist of roasted venison pet food and lobster roll biscuits, are included in the room prices, and there’s no shortage of extravagant add-ons, like foaming face masks and coconut oil coat treatments.
It’s also more than just a pet hotel, offering daytime pet-sitting, group play sessions, grooming services (including “pawdicures”), and obedience training.
“We do everything we can to provide you with a level of service you thought only possible at four-star hotels,” Wag Hotels says in a press release. And, in many ways, the accommodations at Wag Hotels rival even those at human hotels. Pets can soak in lemongrass sea salt baths, take dips in Wag’s private rooftop pool, or chase bacon-flavored bubbles from a machine.
But there is an uncomfortable irony about Wag Hotels’ San Francisco location: It’s right in the middle of a neighborhood affected by chronic homelessness. In fact, up until Feb. 14, there had been a longstanding line of tent encampments on Trainor Alley, right across from Wag Hotels. The tents were removed, but that’s not the first time that area has been cleared, and in the past, the tent encampments have returned.
“Certainly we are familiar with the area right near Wag,” Randall Quezada, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing’s community relations manager, says. “The encampment on Trainor had been around for a long time.”
And while Wag Hotels isn’t in the San Francisco district with the most homelessness, it’s not far from it, either. The city’s most recent homeless count breaks down homeless populations by supervisor district, and the district with the highest homeless population is District 6. Wag Hotels is a block away from District 6, and about four blocks from the mammoth-sized Division Street encampment that was cleared during the controversial 2016 Super Bowl encampment sweeps.
Wag Hotels is not the only business affected by the encampments in the area. Nearby Rainbow Grocery is, too, and last year, the owners went so far as to post signs at checkout lines urging customers to demand more homeless services from the city.
This may all sound like a typical “only in San Francisco” tech boom collision of wealth and poverty, but Wag Hotels has been around since well before the current tech boom. The first of the five existing Wag Hotels was opened in Sacramento in 2005, and the San Francisco branch opened in 2007.
That was during the height of the Great Recession, an exceedingly difficult time to open a niche, luxury establishment. But Wag Hotels did great business even during tough economic times, thanks to their relentless commitment to providing guest services that other animal boarding facilities would never consider.
“We accommodate almost all requests,” Wag Hotels Director of Marketing Kemoa Frederickson tells SF Weekly. “One recent request that stands out is a client who booked their dog in one of our Ultra Suites and requested that we play episodes of Law & Order on TV. It was their dog’s favorite show.”
Check out more stories from the Beasts and Birds of S.F.:
When Pigs (Almost) Fly
A day in the life of LiLou, the first non-canine animal to be part of SFO’s Wag Brigade.
Hangin’ With Officer Edith
Animal Care and Control is a tough beat, but one semi-anonymous city employee’s social media accounts reveal unflagging dedication.
The Real Fancy Feast
San Francisco-founded Nom Nom Now delivers fresh, healthy meals to pups in the Bay Area and beyond.
Pimp My Pup
Yap Stores in Ghirardelli Square makes hip and comfy threads for dogs.
The Birds, Beasts, and Snakes of San Francisco
Because humans aren’t the only creatures living in the Bay Area.