A great pet friendly place to stay
Travelling in Australia with pets isn’t as easy as some might expect. We’ve got wide open spaces, beautiful beaches, rainforests and rural areas, however, unlike many European and American cities, staying with a pet in a motel/hotel or apartment is not the norm. Pet friendly accommodation can be difficult to find.
Finding somewhere that is nice enough for people to stay in as well makes the search even trickier.
Luckily for us, I found Akoonah. Tucked away in the gorgeous hinterland, about 15 minutes west of Byron Bay, it has the best of all worlds.
Cathy and her husband Leonard run Akoonah, having long left behind a life in busy Sydney, have built a relaxing “retreat-like” environment in amongst a beautiful bush setting.
Peace and quiet
Spending a few nights here, where the only noises are the striking sound of the whip birds and the constant low level noises of other local bush creatures, is a great escape. It’s also possible you’ll spot the resident koalas and other bush animals as they race through your leafy, green forest that is the backdrop to your cottage.
Akoonah offers true pet friendly accommodation, with animals being given free reign, provided they are well behaved. Chasing the local wildlife is not cool! The host even leaves pet treats alongside the complimentary tea and coffee for your loved one. Now that’s thoughtfulness.
Two options for your stay
Guests can choose to stay at Akoonah Cottage or Akoonah Studio. Both offer a similar experience, with the main difference being the cottage has a bedroom on a mezzanine level, whilst the studio is a one level open plan arrangement.
We chose to stay in the cottage. The rates are extremely reasonable and only really change during the key festival times in Byron Bay, and of course Christmas. Generally there is a two night minimum stay, which increases during peak times.
We stayed for two nights at $AUD170 per night, inclusive of tax.
The cottage has been designed to let in maximum light and breeze. Screens on all the windows and doors mean that the breezes continue to come in, but the bugs and other things that live in the bush like frogs and lizards, stay out.
The cottage is fully self contained, with a very functional kitchen, a bar fridge, and a larger fridge out in the laundry area. We cooked our breakfast and dinner here both days and the kitchen inclusions more than covered our needs. The owners also make it easy to recycle, with appropriate bins and also a compost bin out the back. Their worm farm is also a recipient of vegetable scraps.
The lounge has a small flatscreen tv and a range of DVDs to select from. I had to cast my mind back to how to operate a DVD player, with streaming now making movie watching all too easy in my home.
The couch is a futon style which allows it to double up as a bed for extra guests. It’s not the most comfortable lounge to sit on to watch the tv but that’s a small gripe.
Bathroom and laundry facilties
The bathroom sits at the back of the cottage, alongside a laundry area containing a full size fridge, washing machine and dryer. The shower is spacious, with excellent water pressure and my favourite….hot water. All water used in the cottage is rainwater.
Sleeping up high
The bedroom sits up on the mezzanine level, which offers views out onto the forest area. Two ceiling fans ensure the cottage is cool, even on those really hot days. There’s something very “New York” or “Paris” about loft living so it makes a nice treat.
Tip: If mobility is an issue I would recommend the studio as there is quite a steep staircase running up to the mezzanine level.
As an Australian, I live outside on my deck during the year, even in winter, so I just love having them in places I visit as well. The deck here is spacious and fully secure for large animals like dogs. It wouldn’t keep a cat in 🙂 We ate all of our meals out here and it was the perfect place in the late afternoon to enjoy a drink.
Many an hour could be spent in the hammock too. In another nod to part of our essential Australian culture, a bbq is located on the deck. We couldn’t resist it either, cooking some of the famous local Bangalow pork on here one night.
If you don’t just want to sit and admire from the deck, there is plenty of room to walk around and explore the native wildlife and plant life.
Things to do nearby
As mentioned, Byron Bay is really close. The road into Byron Bay can slow you down, but on average, it takes 10-15 minutes to get there. Byron is always a fun place to hang out in and there’s plenty to see and do. With its laid back, casual vibe, Byron Bay is also welcoming to our animals, making the whole experience of holidaying with a pet so simple.
Main Beach at Byron Bay is THE place to be. Brown bodies hang out on the beach and the grassy areas. Tourists pose with people selling coconut water and others try to sell their wares to those that pass by. Kids gather to listen to their surf instructor, whilst others just hit the surf, determined to catch a good wave. Bryon Bay is where all the back packers come to spend their days chilling out on one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It’s not a bad life if you like that kind of thing.
For us, we headed to an ocean spot just near Main Beach, where dogs are free to run, play and swim.
Most of the cafes along the streets in Byron are happy to have dogs sit with you outside whilst you eat.
At nearby Belongil Beach, another dog-friendly beach, the cafes here do the same.
There are plenty of markets around the area, both local markets and farmers markets. We chose to go to the Bangalow Farmers Markets. Here we filled our bags with the tastiest grapes we’d had in quite some time, fresh Bangalow pork bought straight from the farmer himself, mulberry jam and some incredibly large and tasty pineapples.
Bangalow is a small town worth a visit. Small and sleepy, it’s got a fabulous history trail through the main street. On almost every building there is a nameplate, noting the history of the building. We strolled along the street, reading them all.
Lennox Head is another sleepy seaside town, where the beach shacks of decades ago are slowly being taken over by something more modern. It’s got a great vibe and I love that small towns like this still exist.
If you are in the Byron area, don’t forget to visit The Farm. This business, centred around paddock to plate methodology seems to be going from strength to strength. It was standing room only here on the weekend. I managed to secure one of their delicious sourdoughs, baked on site, and some Bangalow bacon. Now there’s a treat. Smoky, thick pieces of bacon that actually tastes like bacon. Puts the commercial product to shame. You can eat here, come for a picnic, or buy all sorts of goodies from their providore range.
Northern NSW has so many wonderful places, it is worth taking your time to explore.
Awesome pet friendly houses in NSW
Akoonah Cottage and the studio offers a great place to stay in quiet surroundings and is definitely one of the better pet-friendly houses in NSW. This isn’t high-end luxury, but it’s extremely clean, comfortable and relaxing. The only downside for me (and many will disagree with me I’m sure) is the lack of internet and phone service.
Whilst I know for many getting away from this offers peace and tranquillity, for me, everything I do these days requires the internet. It was my own fault for not checking, but because I assumed incorrectly, I didn’t bring any of those things called books with me 🙂
Perhaps one of the nicest aspects of Akoonah is the donation of a portion of the proceeds makes its way to a variety of animal welfare not for profit organisations. This is true philanthropy in action.
Thanks so much to Cathy for developing such a wonderful environment, where people and pets alike can have a great time.
Looking for alternative, non-pet friendly accommodation in nearby Byron Bay? Click on the image for great deals.
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Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.