'I took 3 kids under 8 and dog to a luxury hotel, and it wasn't a disaster.'

I have a strict protocol when it comes to booking accommodation for my family

Hotels, since our eldest started walking, have mostly been off the agenda, because of their lack of cooking facilities and tiny fridges that can’t hold enough baby yoghurt and cheese sticks to sustain us for a weekend.

And since the Great Stained Rug Fiasco of 2017*, the criteria I have when booking a weekend getaway in a holiday rental that includes my entire family usually looks like this:

  • Pet-friendly

  • Kid-indestructible

  • Preferably without carpet or furniture that wasn’t sourced from IKEA

  • Pool (the golden rule: kids will always love a place with a pool)

This approach has let us leapfrog safely from mid-level holiday rental to mid-level holiday rental without too much fanfare: I can relax in the knowledge that the kids and dog aren’t going to damage anything I can’t afford to replace, and (as long as I remember to move the inevitable bowls of seashells out of reach) none of my tiny kleptomaniacs leave with a souvenir they shouldn’t have.

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The downside, of course, is the WORK involved. There’s the food order ahead of time to make sure the fridge is stocked with breakfast stuff. There’s the cooking and cleaning - cleaning which often includes, in spite of a hefty fee built into the rate - the requirement that the dishwasher be run and unstacked before checkout, which means getting up extra early for Sunday breakfast.


So when the opportunity came up to visit Beach Suites in Byron Bay - a luxe, pet-friendly hotel directly opposite Main Beach - I was simultaneously excited and filled with (pun intended) reservations.

Would my dog behave itself in a manner befitting his opulent surroundings? More doubtfully, would my kids? 

Helen, who has worked as the property’s manager for 15 years, assured me they were more than equipped to handle a family of five and a rambunctious golden retriever

"We're used to families coming to stay," she told me, "In fact, we’ve got a little height chart in the office where repeat visitors' kids get measured on the wall so we can see how much they’ve grown between visits!"

When we arrive, a few Friday nights later, Helen is as good as her word. As per my criteria, it was pet-friendly and kid indestructible. Oh, and it had a pool.

As we arrived, branded teddies for the kids await in the 2-bedroom penthouse, as well as a doggie bed and blanket, a bag of liver treats, which, once I wrangle them out of the hands of my two-year-old, the dog devours on the spot.

Impossibly generous dimensions, recycled redwood accents, a full kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows gazing out to the sparkling Pacific had the kids running giddily from room to room, but the real prize was located one floor up - a private, heated, rooftop pool that not even the Northern Rivers rain could stop the kids plunging into.

"We’ve got a lot of repeat guests who bring the whole extended family,” explains Helen, Tthe grandparents might book out the penthouse with the pool, then mum and dad and the kids might book one of our garden apartments - all of which have full kitchens - and then they can enjoy the best of both worlds without all being on top of one another."



Food, I had already decided, would be an outsourced affair during our stay, save for the inevitable toasty or two-minute noodles the kids would ask for to stall bedtime, but having finally been able to bring our much-loved fur-child with us, the kids were reluctant to eat a single meal without him.

The kids enjoying our stay at the hotel. Image: Supplied.


Happily, it turns out there are more dog-friendly restaurants and bars in Byron than I could have predicted - lunch in the undercovered laneway of trendy seafood-forward eatery Bonito (part of the newly opened Hotel Marvell) came with a place set for Bongo (under the table), and nearby Treehouse at Belongil Beach also welcomes doggo dining partners.

Almost directly across the road from the hotel is the designated dog beach, where we’d planned to enjoy a picnic dinner, but thanks to the weather we ended up ditching those plans and heading to the pub next door instead, with Helen assuring me that even if the dog (who we left behind for this meal) complained, she’d be capable of calming him down.

“I’ve worked evenings with dogs tied up underneath the desk before,” she laughs, “honestly, relax. It’s all about feeling welcome and relaxed enough to enjoy yourself properly.”

So we did. 

The next morning - with no 33-point cleaning checklist to adhere to - we reluctantly checked out. Even Bongo looked disappointed to be leaving, so much so we’re already planning our return, something that will need to happen sooner rather than later, as we managed to steal a dog bed AND a hotel umbrella in the chaos of herding the kids into the car. 

*I’m still not quite ready to talk about it, but it included Ribena juice, a toddler with gastro, and a $570 cleaning fee added on. Hotels for the win!

Read more of our Travelling with Kids stories:

Writer was a guest at Beach Suites Byron.

Feature image: Supplied.

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