Imagine several days away with the dog in a cabin with no internet, no cable TV, stocked with books, and a completely fenced yard and back deck. Thanks to Shenandoah Dog Friendly Rentals in Virginia, USA, you can live the dream in a dog-friendly cottage, and I did.
Surrounded by six acres of trees, flanked by the state park, and no neighbours in sight (but not far from a main road), I spend three days at Chateau Frankie in Bentonville, Virginia (not Arkansas). Best three days I’ve spent with my pup yet. A truly dog-friendly cottage is hard to find – dogs might be allowed, but this one is designed for the dog, and you of course.
Wait. I bet you’re visualizing a rustic cabin, similar to ‘glamping’ at best, with hard bunk beds and cooking over an open fire. If that’s your thing, great! But you’ll have to go elsewhere like a national park.
Chateau Frankie is a chateau with all the creature comforts of an upscale home:
- King sized bed upstairs
- Whirlpool tub in the upstairs ensuite bath
- Heating and air conditioning
- Kitchen stocked with cooking gear and ceramic flat top stove and oven
- Ice maker in the refrigerator door
- Large flat screen TV downstairs for DVDs
If cabins had ratings based on amenities like hotel rooms, Chateau Frankie is five-star. This is my kind of cabin – better than my home. Especially the yard and deck.
A Dog-Welcoming Dog-friendly Cottage
One thing I do not have at my small home is a fenced yard. One reason I love dog-friendly accommodations like this when I can find them is the fenced yard. Open the door and let the dog run out, or open the door and not fear the dog will race out … that’s a vacation for me.
At Chateau Frankie the access to the fenced backyard is through the basement door, and my little spaniel figured this out quickly – racing to the door to downstairs first thing every morning. Note that the basement at Chateau Frankie is a TV room with a futon couch, a table, shelves of games and puzzles, and an adorable dog house with a bed. The dog house is usually personalized with the name of a visiting dog on the whiteboard above the door. Nice touch.
A Dog-friendly Cottage with Fenced Yard and Deck
The yard is big enough to throw a ball although not too far. Victoria couldn’t get enough of outside, but she wanted me with her. If you have a dog – or dogs – you can sit on the front deck above the yard and still see them. There’s also a hose, towels, and shampoo to wash Fido down if necessary.
A word of caution: you can walk the trails around the property, but there are black bears milling about. I didn’t see any, but think I heard one. Off-leash dogs will not fair well against a bear. No off-leash dogs outside the fenced area. Inside the fenced area, nothing bothered us.
The back deck was my favourite – also fenced it’s equipped with comfortable seating, a picnic table, barbecue, and a propane fire pit if you know how to light it up. Speaking of knowing – there are notes posted all over the cabin explaining how things work. I needed that help.
Best part of Chateau Frankie: no dog size or number limits. According to owner Cara Sue Achterberg, they’ve had up to four dogs stay with no issues. What about people? Two to four people can comfortably spend a week here.
Chateau Frankie contains the following:
- Two bedrooms, one with a king-sized bed and one with a queen-sized bed
- A double futon couch downstairs
- Two bathrooms
- Full kitchen
- Board games, puzzles, and many DVD movies
- Propane barbecue
- Library nook with writing desk
Dog Lovers Writer’s Retreat in Virginia
That’s right – there’s a small library with an antique writing desk in the upstairs bedroom. If the fenced yard was my favourite thing, this is a close second. Stacked with books about dogs and the writing process, Chateau Frankie is also the ideal retreat for a professional or aspiring writer. Scroll through the shelves and there’s a surprise near the bottom: three novels written by Cara Sue Achterberg, Shenandoah Dog Friendly Rental’s owner.
“I was supposed to be a full-time fiction writer,” Achterberg says, mentioning she has a fourth novel out called Blind Turn, “but then I got distracted by dog rescues and fostering.” That’s right, she’s fostered about 200 dogs to date, works with dog rescues, and co-founded a non-profit organization called Who Will Let the Dogs Out that helps advocate for dog shelters mostly in the southern US where the need for help is the greatest.
And yes, she’s also written two memoirs – Another Good Dog and One Hundred Dogs & Counting – about her experiences fostering dogs and a far-from-glamorous behind-the-scenes look at rural American dog shelters. Phew. That’s a lot.
So … if you love dogs, travelling, the quiet outdoors, reading, writing, personal solitude, or any combination of these things, Chateau Frankie is where you want to spend a few days, or weeks, in the spring, fall, or summer.
How to Book this Dog-friendly Accommodation
You won’t find Shenandoah Dog-Friendly Rentals on booking sites or apps – so no additional service fees above a cleaning fee. This rental service prefers the personal touch – making direct contact with their renters, and their pups.
Chateau Frankie is the perfect place to disconnect with the world and reconnect with your dog – or dogs. But, you’re an activity kind of dog family, the Shenandoah State Park is very close by, and so are kayaking rental outfitters.
The area around this dog-friendly cottage is also known for the following:
- Hiking trails and river adventures
- Winery tours
- Historic sites
- Caverns, including the Shenandoah Caverns – designed for family fun
What isn’t in the area are grocery stores – real ones with fresh produce. Be sure to bring your food with you. The ‘food markets’ nearby are gas station add-ons – if you love canned beans, Spam, and more types of potato chips imaginable then they’re a buffet. Otherwise, stop at a fresh food market on your way to Bentonville, Virginia.
Up next …. our visit the Gracie’s Place in Woodstock, Virginia – the sister property to Chateau Frankie. Wait until you see inside this one!
If you go….
Chateau Frankie is part of the Shenandoah Dog Friendly Rental group, a privately-owned company specializing in extremely dog-welcoming accommodations in Virginia state. Contact shenandoahdogfriendlyrentals.com directly to book.
Linens, towels, books, games, cooking equipment including dishes and utensils are provided at this dog-friendly cottage. Bring your own food and beach towels for the dog if you plan to go to the river in the nearby Shenandoah National Park.
Chateau Frankie is in Bentonville, Virginia about a one-and-a-half hour drive from Washington D.C., an eight-hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and a four-hour drive from Virginia Beach.
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research.