How the ‘dual income, no kids’ generation is spoiling their pets on holiday

Pets at the Egerton House Hotel
Pet-friendly accommodation is rising in popularity among the next generation

“He’s so handsome, and so good at posing!” With the flick of a brush and a little gold paint, the portrait was finished. Its subject sits on a leather armchair, a tower of luxurious afternoon tea morsels in front of him, and his eager brown eyes look out at you with an air of hope, expectation and more than a little imperiousness.

I took the painting and turned it so he could examine its watercolour splashes and with a cursory sniff he dismissed the artwork entirely and looked right back at his tower of treats. Not all of artist Shelley’s subjects are so uninterested in their portraits, but what can you expect when you’re painting a Manchester terrier with a superiority complex?

This wasn’t the first time Shelley The Artist had painted a dog. In fact, most of her work is in the pet arena, depicting the beloved animals of doting owners who pay for her to immortalise their dogs or cats in watercolour. I met her at the cosy Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge, where she’s the resident artist for a unique experience; dog owners can bring their animals for an afternoon tea that includes a portrait sitting for their pet.

Pet portrait at the Egerton House Hotel
At Egerton House Hotel, dog owners can enjoy afternoon tea while an artist creates a portrait of their pet

In their lounge-like drawing room I had crustless sandwiches, warm scones and a divine array of sweets, including plum cake with white chocolate mousse and a rose-infused sponge cake, while the dog snaffled three tiers of homemade meatloaf, peanut butter biscuits and carrot cupcakes. All of this is included in the package, and for the princely sum of £550, you also get to take away a little piece of hand-painted art that shows your dog’s best side.

You’re probably thinking that this deal is, perhaps, a little niche – and a little on the steep side. Who on earth would pay £550 for afternoon tea and a portrait of their dog? Well, I’m certainly not the only person to shower their dog with expensive experiences and gifts, for I am part of the #DINKWAD generation – and we’ve got some serious spending power.

DINK stands for “dual income, no kids”, and this demographic is one of the travel industry’s most sought-after customers. Research by shows that 41 per cent of DINKs have put off having kids so they can enjoy more adventurous holidays, and 64 per cent say they haven’t yet had children because they like having more disposable income.

It’s that disposable income that travel companies are after, and The Egerton House Hotel is getting in on the action by appealing to us DINKs with dogs – otherwise known as DINKWADs, although I suppose I am actually a SINKWAD, on account of my being a single dog mum.

Pets at the Egerton House Hotel
The Egerton House Hotel has plenty of treats for pets

Pet-friendly accommodation website PetsPyjamas says DINKWADs likely made up the vast majority of their customers last year, with 89 per cent of bookings in the 12 months prior to November 2023 made by pet owners travelling without children. So Egerton House isn’t the only travel business to be tempting us well-heeled dog owners with unusual offerings. Personally, I’ve spent nights at plush properties like Hampshire’s Four Seasons Hotel, where the dog gets his own bed and bowls in the room and there’s a menu especially for him in the Wild Carrot bar downstairs.

I’ve also stayed at five-star Boringdon Hall Hotel & Spa in Plymouth where I got to eat Michelin-starred food at inventive Àclèaf and the dog got his own welcome pack with a ball, treats and a local walks leaflet. Next, I’ve got my eye on London’s Mandarin Oriental, which supplies similar dog amenities but also includes a dog walking and pet sitting service.

We dog owners are known to be a little more spend-happy when it comes to treating our pets. So much so that, when dinosaur-themed adventure park ROARR! launched their Santa’s grotto experience in December 2023, the “Bark in the Park” night, in which dogs were welcomed to sit on Father Christmas’s knee, was the first to sell out.

The DINKWAD and SINKWAD label isn’t just a way for marketing bods to talk about a specific demographic, though. On social media, young people with dogs are owning and embracing the label, posting videos of their pets eating in upscale restaurants, lounging on plush hotel beds and exploring wild places from mountaintops to empty beaches. The tag #dinkwad has garnered almost 60 million views on TikTok, and on Instagram there are thousands of posts tagged with the likes of #dinkwad and #dinkwadlife.

Pets at the Egerton House Hotel
Arty the dog enjoying Egerton House Hotel

George Bridges is one such dog owner who is leaning into the label. He and his two sprocker spaniels have travelled all over Wales together, climbing mountains in Snowdonia and tackling hills in the Brecon Beacons. “I would always spend more on the dogs than I would myself. They have luxury collars, leads, bowls, blankets and beds, and they get treats and lots of toys.” He even buys them fillet steak for their birthday dinners, despite only ever treating himself to a sirloin at best.

“[When we travel], I will book and stay in an Airbnb or a cabin so that the dogs can stay in more comfort, whereas when I travel alone I have slept in the back of cars, vans, cheap hotels, or family and friends’ sofas. For the dogs it has to be more comfort at any cost,” he says.

Bridges embraces the label, too. “People that know me know that the dogs come first. I work two jobs to maintain the life I have with my dogs, I live in the house I do so I can have the dogs, I have the car I drive because its better for the dogs, all my social media is littered with pictures of the dogs, and I celebrate birthdays and Christmas with presents and personalised sacks for the dogs. I can’t say I’ve ever used the label in conversation or while posting on social media, but when I see the label being used, I do think to myself, that’s me.”

Tom Woods and Mags Doyle are the doting owners of Atticus, a three-year-old Lhasa Apso who really is living his best life. They take him everywhere: “If somewhere isn’t dog-friendly, chances are it’s not somewhere we’ll spend our money,” says Mags. “He’s part of our family, we don’t want to leave him behind if we can avoid it.”

They are typical DINKWADs and while they don’t necessarily label themselves as such openly, they do identify with the concept and say they have made plenty of DINKWAD friends on their travels, too.

As I was leaving Egerton House Hotel, dog in one hand, portrait in the other, I caught the eye of another couple having afternoon tea while their miniature dachshund snaffled treats beneath the table. As I looked down at the dog and back up at them, we shared a knowing glance and a little nod. Fellow DINKWADs, I suspect. We’re everywhere – especially when there’s special treatment for the dog.


Lottie Gross was a guest of Egerton House Hotel (020 7589 2412; which has double rooms from £455 including breakfast. Afternoon tea from £30; “pawtrait” experience £550 including afternoon tea for two plus a dog afternoon tea, as well as a portrait of your pet by Shelley the Artist.