CEL Masthead Winter 18

Canberra’s best dog-friendly holiday accommodation

Georgia Morris

Where can you stay in Canberra if you are travelling with your dog?

We kept getting asked this question by our interstate dog-loving friends, so we decided to take on the challenge to find the best dog-friendly accommodation in Canberra.

We like to holiday with our dogs too so we understand what’s important. Good dog-friendly accommodation should provide a safe, well-fenced, grassy outside area; good shelter from the heat, cold or rain; and, of course, dogs must be allowed inside!

We also like staying in inner city locations, but within easy walking distance to dog-friendly parks. Who wants to be exiled in the outer ‘burbs or in a caravan park away from the best city vibes and sights?

Well, we were pleasantly surprised. Canberra has a great selection of dog-friendly accommodation that ticks all these boxes and more.

Here’s our pick of Canberra’s inner-city dog friendly holiday, listed in alphabetical order. We’ve personally researched and visited each of them for ‘dog friendliness’ and interviewed the owners/managers about what they offer and any rules they set.

Our focus is from a dog’s perspective (what’s the backyard like?) rather than a human’s (what’s the shower like?) so you may want to contact the owners for more information or check the guest reviews on their booking sites, but all boast very positive guest reviews.

Below are the highlights, but visit Canberra Dog Walks for more detail.

Ainslie Art House, Ainslie

Julia, Reuben, and Canberra Dog Walks inspector at Ainslie Art House

Julia, Reuben, and Canberra Dog Walks inspector at Ainslie Art House

Julia and artist husband, Malcolm Utley, provide a unique old-time Canberra experience in their 1927 weatherboard cottage located in Ainslie.

Not only do guests have the whole, two-bedroom cottage to themselves, but the house and garden are filled with Malcolm’s paintings and sculptures. The contemporary sculptures provide a striking contrast to the original Ainslie cottage.

Although recently renovated, the cottage still retains its period hardwood floorboards, sash windows and high ceilings. It even has an upright pianola on the front covered verandah.

“It came with the house, together with a box of music rolls” says Julia. “We make sure we have a roll ready for guests to play.”

Dogs have the run of the backyard, planted with a combination of natives and fruit trees, as well as access inside to the large laundry area and kitchen at the rear of the house.

Guests can walk their dogs in Corroboree Park directly opposite the house, which also features tennis courts and a children’s playground.

“Around a quarter of our guests bring their dogs,” says Julia. “We’re popular with people coming for the dog shows and competitions because it’s only a short drive to EPIC.”

Ainslie Art House is directly on the route of a great walk dog-friendly walk through Ainslie. See Canberra Dog Walks for free directions and map.

Call Malcolm on 0432 508 809 or book through stayz.com.au or airbnb.com.au.

Cockatoo House, Watson

Louisa and her Springer Spaniel, Tilba, and Brittany Spaniel, Merry, under the wisteria at Cockatoo House

Louisa and her Springer Spaniel, Tilba, and Brittany Spaniel, Merry, under the wisteria at Cockatoo House

This unpretentious, relaxed home in a quiet loop street in Watson is the definition of family and dog friendly. Available for holiday rental since 2003, it provides several bedrooms, a huge enclosed rear sun room and a wisteria covered pergola in the back garden.

Owner Louisa and her family lived in the house themselves for many years before moving to nearby Hackett.

“We always had dogs in the home so it seemed natural to allow guests to stay with their dogs,” said Louisa. “I do remember one of our first guests asked if they could bring 14 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels! I have to admit being nervous, but they were visiting for a dog show and were completely professional, leaving the house and yard in great condition.”

Cockatoo House is only a five minute drive to Canberra’s CBD and a ten minute walk to EPIC . “A lot of our guests visit for dog shows and competitions held at EPIC so it’s really handy for them and it means we get a lot of repeat guests.”

The well-fenced backyard has good grass cover and shade, including solid shade and shelter all day from a large garage and verandah. There is a park less than 50 metres away for dog walking. Dogs are allowed the run of the house and backyard, and allowed on the outdoor furniture.

“Our ‘house rules’ for dogs may not be as strict compared to some other places but I always speak to guests about their dogs first before agreeing to take them, and make sure I’m comfortable about their dogs.”

Cockatoo House is close to the route of a great dog-friendly walk through Watson. See Canberra Dog Walks for free directions and map.

Call Louisa on 0421 033 020, email [email protected] or book through stayz.com.au.

Magnolia Cottage, Ainslie


Deborah and neighbour, Gnocchi, at Magnolia Cottage

An original 1920s Ainslie weatherboard, Magnolia Cottage is located in a whisper-quiet loop street diagonally opposite Corroborree Park. Owner, Deborah, bought the house with a mind to moving in herself one day, but in the meantime has offered Magnolia Cottage for visitors with dogs.

“I enjoy animal company. We’ve always had dogs and consider them family members, so it’s nice to bring them with you when you travel,” says Deborah.

The two-bedroom cottage is in largely original condition with an updated kitchen and bathroom. The backyard is well fenced with shady trees and lots of lawn for dogs to roll around in. The garden boasts camellias, azaleas, a veggie plot, fruit trees and the beautiful eponymous magnolia tree. A large outdoor setting allows humans to enjoy the garden too.

“About 30% of my guests bring their dog, sometimes because they are visiting Canberra to compete in a dog show, or they might be between home moves, or they are coming to see Canberra’s iconic attractions.”

“I’ve been offering Magnolia Cottage for about nine years and never had a problem with visiting dogs yet.”

Call Deborah on 0438 382 014, email [email protected] or book through stayz.com.au. More info is also available at www.facebook.com/MagnoliaCottage.Canberra.

Mercure Hotel, Braddon


The historic Ainslie Hotel, now the Mercure Canberra

If you’d prefer hotel accommodation, the Mercure Hotel Canberra, on the corner of Ainslie and Limestone Avenues in Braddon, offers pet packages in two ground floor, double rooms.

The rooms are very spacious with tiled floors and each provide direct access to a private, fully fenced, grassed area for toileting and a run off leash.

Dogs are allowed on leash in all public areas of the hotel except the restaurant and bistro. However, guests can arrange to have meals served on the outdoor terrace in the hotel courtyard if they wish have their dogs with them.

The Mercure operates in one of the oldest hotels in Canberra – originally the Ainslie Hotel – built in English art deco style in 1927. The Mercure chain has done a beautiful job renovating the hotel in keeping with its history and character. Initially intended to house parliamentarians and public servants, it has been on the ACT Heritage Register since 2004. Long-term Canberra residents have fond memories of the hotel in its various incarnations.

The location is perfect for a city stay – a 5 minute walk to the city centre or a 5 minute walk to the War Memorial.

And for dogs, Reid Oval is only a five minute walk away and provides an extensive off leash area when not used for sports. Locals gather here most evenings to walk their dogs and socialise.

To book call 6243 0000, toll free 1800 475 337 or email [email protected].

Want to know more about visiting Canberra with dogs? Check out Canberra Dog Walks for free information about Canberra’s best dog-friendly cafes, off leash areas, dog swimming areas, dog-friendly walks around Canberra, and more. All information is free and inspired by a love of Canberra and dogs.


Georgia Morris

Canberra Dog Walks creator, Georgia, has lived in Canberra for nearly 50 years – since she was only one! Somehow, although there’s been lots of Australian and international travel, she’s never managed to move away. Georgia now shares her extensive insider's knowledge and love of Canberra and dogs with others through http://www.canberradogwalks.com.au, and on Facebook @canberradogwalks. Although targeting dog owners, she hopes her free information inspires everyone to get out and explore new areas of our beautiful city. More about the Author