The Ovolo.
The Ovolo. Nicole Tujague

You'd be nuts to leave the mutts

It's a doggone shame that we Australians are so stitched up about allowing our furry friends to be with us in hotels, cafes, restaurants and basically anywhere unless tied to a pole in the street or somewhere equally demeaning. We lived in France for a while, borrowed our neighbour's labrador to guide us around the hills ... and she ate with us at a tavern. Inside.

Sure, the animals - and their humans - are well trained for this. It's a part of the culture, which also applies in many parts of the UK, Europe and the US. Once in Paris, we saw a poodle (naturally) sitting at table enjoying what appeared to be a dogustation. Nobody turned a hair. Workplace Health and Safety? Probably having lunch at the next table.

Animals at the table? Don't mention that in Korea or Vietnam. You may get a surprise.

Hounds of Australia, rejoice! For now there's a definite trend to allow you the rights and privileges of your French cousins. And in Brisbane, of all places. On a recent weekend excursion to the River City, bereft of our usual dog sitter, we took the hairy ones with us for a luxury hotel stay. It was a howling success (they didn't, we did, with appreciation for the VIPooch service).

Ovolo The Valley Hotel is the perfect location for a weekend with the dogs. It's just a few minutes away in my ancient Holden dogmobile or a 30-minute walk to New Farm Park where they can roam free in some parts. After all, there are certain rituals they must observe, if you know what I mean.


This hotel is quirky, fun and ideal for children of the canine persuasion in every way. The Ovolo team members have been trained as effectively as the dogs, so we are met at reception with smiles, hugs and kisses - but only for Gypsy and Tara. Then we're shown to our room and surprise, there are two plush doggie beds and a bag of treats for each. These all receive the sniff test and are judged to be more-ish (as is the human goodie bag and the free minibar).

There's a balcony with food and water bowls overlooking the Emporium complex and Gypsy adopts this as her default position, watching the comings and goings and probably hoping for a flock of sheep to pass by. She's a border collie cross. Tara on the other hand adopts the typical spoodle "lizard drinking” posture - flat out in her comfy bed. Really, I can't think of a nicer 15th birthday present for both of these old ladies.

The Ovolo
Gypsy surveying the scene from the balcony. Nicole Tujague

Whether you take dogs or not, Ovolo The Valley is one of the most pleasant places to stay in Brisvegas. It's just a short walk to James St and all the delights of Fortitude Valley's renowned shopping, dining and playing attractions. And a quick bus ride to the CBD, if you really have to. Weekend staycation in Brisbane? Take the hounds; you'd be barking mad if you didn't.