Four legs or two? How luxury hotels are expanding their guest lists

Quite at home at the W Hotel in Brisbane.

Quite at home at the W Hotel in Brisbane. Photo: @laulau1781.jpg

Tasting menus, room service and mini-bar snacks are some of the inducements luxury hotels are offering a new breed of guests – with four legs.

Increasingly, dogs are welcome as customers at Australia’s top hotels, many of which are luring their masters’ dollars by crafting packages of pet-friendly inclusions, from puppy-cinos to doggy dieticians .  

“We know that travel looks different for each guest, and that people are now travelling with multiple generations of family, friends and even their pets,” says Harry Singh, the general manager of Elements Melbourne.

Hotels charge, on average, about $50-$90 to accommodate pets. Sometimes they will also add one-off cleaning fees of up to $150, or ask for security deposits.

But none of this deters owners, according to hoteliers.

“The option to bring along a furry friend has been super popular,” says Daniel Meek, manager of Brisbane’s Ovolo The Valley.

“We’ve welcomed numerous puppies from the smallest of chihuahuas through to rottweilers and everything in between. We certainly don’t discriminate and have also welcomed some extra cute and cuddly felines. We haven’t had any issues at all so far with any of our pet guests.”

The hotel also provides a welcome letter with a list of dog-friendly eateries and local activities.

Many hotels do limit the size or number of dogs per room, and ask that owners don’t leave their animals unattended. At others, such as Sydney’s Langham Hotel, you can even hire a pet-sitter.

luxury hotels pets australia

Dinner for one: Tucking into the ‘dogustation’ at Vibe Hotel in Sydney.

 And while we have yet to adopt the laissez-faire attitude of Europeans to eating out with animals, many hotels are relaxing their rules to accommodate our four-legged friends when dining, too.

According to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, following a change of law in 2012 – after research found there was negligible risk to food safety – dogs are now allowed in outdoor dining areas that are not enclosed. However, the law does offer the right of refusal. When it comes to hotels, it’s up to individual establishments.

At Sydney’s five-star Langham, where a room costs upwards of $350, guests have included parrots, rabbits, lizards and even a teacup pig since opening in 2014. All have been able to indulge in their own in-room dining menu (featuring dishes such as an Angus tartare) as well as Langham-branded beds, collars, leashes, food and water bowls and balls.

At Vibe Hotel at Rushcutters, guests can dine a deux on the hotel’s “Doggy Deck” terrace. There, dogs have their own special animal nutritionist-developed “dogustation” menu that includes puppycinos, ‘pawtein’ balls and sesame pup wafers.

At Canberra’s Mercure Hotel, you can dine with your dog in front of the fireplace, or on clement days, outside on the terrace.

One of Melbourne’s newest hotels, Marriott’s Element Richmond, has also opened its doors to pets, offering dogs their own sustainably-crafted beds as well as a dog-friendly mini-bar to snack from. 

Other hotels have extras such as pamper packs, room service menus and personalised gifts as well as dog sitting or dog walking services.

How do hotels ensure their pet guests behave? Just as with human guests, there are expectations of behaviour – including not trashing the room and keeping the noise down.

Some hotels impose weight limits on pets while others, like The Ovolo Brisbane, have no size discrimination and “take anything from a chihuahua to a rottweiler”. Almost all require that your pet not be left alone in the room.  

Beware though: With most hotels charging a steep cleaning or stay fee, taking your fur baby on holiday is infinitely more costly than a night away with your human one. 

For a longer list of luxury accommodation across Australia that will also make your four-legged friends welcome, click here.

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