Velvet bedspreads, 24-hour medical care, Belgian beer (non-alcoholic!), standard to deluxe to balcony suites, a salon and spa with Spanish perfumes, and a cafeteria for wedding and birthday parties—these are some of the features of Critterati, India’s first ever five-star hotel for pets. The Gurugram-based hotel was founded by Jaanwi and Deepak Chawla in 2017.
The 12,000 sqft-hotel was categorised an ‘essential service’ during the lockdown. Owners who were either stuck abroad or otherwise unable to take care of their pets, were unwilling to settle for home or farm-based boarding. Their pooches, they felt, should be quarantined in luxury.
The Chawlas say that Critterati is the “epitome of unquestionable affection and ultimate luxury” and that it proved its worth during the pandemic. “For a vast majority, dogs are just like their children,” says Jaanwi. “Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, when pet parents were stuck abroad or under quarantine, they wanted a convenient and comfortable stay for their pets. For many, it is luxury, but for these pets and their parents, it is their lifestyle.”
The couple started Critterati after almost three years of extensive research on pet hospitality in the US and Europe, and they have raised the bar of the still-nascent pet hospitality segment in India. Sample this: Critterati’s floors are made of special material to reduce stress on pet paws. The swimming pool is sterilized using UV technology to avoid the use of chlorine, which is harmful for animals.
Like all luxury resorts, this hotel, too, has a wide selection of rooms. A standard room comes with premium bedding, padded floors, two meals, two leash-free play sessions and four potty breaks. For more discerning guests, there are a variety of suites which come with a private balcony, a TV screening special dog programmes, daily swimming sessions and a private webcam link for owners.
“These are not our pets, but our children and we try to give them the best and pamper them,” says Shefali Shukla, one of the patrons. “My Lucy is a little wary of travelling, and most of the time it is not feasible to take her along. The boarding houses across the NCR are horrible, [rampant with] diseases, illegal mating and even critical infections. We zeroed in on this place two years ago, and ever since holidays have been relaxed and fun for both Lucy and me. She comes here not just for boarding, but for her fortnightly outings, dinners and play dates.”
Noida resident Anvay Shrivastava says that the hotel was a godsend during his sister’s wedding. Because of the pandemic, the wedding took place at home and many arrangements had to be made. “We checked our dog in at the hotel and got through the wedding without having to worry about him being taken care of,” he says.
In addition to boarding, the hotel offers day-care and spa services, a boutique, pet clinic, play area, lounge and transportation. Critterati also organises birthday parties, training sessions and photo shoots for pets. While the pooches get groomed, pet parents can socialise with like-minded people at the pet café.