From the glamorous new high rises of Cairns, to the sleepy tropical hideaways of the surrounding coastal suburbs, you can afford to be choosy on your next sojourn to Far North Queensland.
Whether you’re looking to hole-up in a luxury, full-service resort where you can lounge around all day in the sunshine, or a simple yet stylish budget-friendly address that’s just a place to lay your head, these are the best accommodation options in Cairns.
Just one of a spate of recent openings by the Crystalbrook Collection, Flynn is a boutique bolthole that’s raising the bar on the Cairns scene. The emphasis is as much on the shared facilities as it is the stylish, modern rooms at this new kid on the block: relax poolside in one of the cabanas, dine on elevated classics at gastropub Boardwalk Social, enjoy a sundowner with friends at the super suave Whiskey and Wine bar. Or just kick back after a day spent exploring Tropical North Queensland (TNQ), and gorge on your room’s harbour, ocean or city views; upper range rooms also have balconies.
Oaks Cairns Hotel
Open since September 2020, this Cairns Esplanade hotel makes a great base for adventures. It’s ideal for those who don’t care for extra trimmings, such as a pool, or guest room balconies, but don’t want to sacrifice on style when it comes to room design. And if you don’t have the budget (or inclination) to stretch to a spacious suite, or views, then you can opt for the internal hotel rooms.
While they may be smaller than your average, the modern, streamlined design and amenities on offer are just the same as the property’s deluxe options. Oaks Cairns Hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant has also fast become a local hangout thanks to its stellar panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, taking in the Coral Sea and the neighbouring hills draped in greenery.
Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns
The grand old dame of Cairns, the Shangri-La has been part of the local cityscape for the best part of the last two decades. But following a total revamp, finished in late 2018, the look and feel of the rooms is now uber contemporary and fresh in design. With views of Trinity Bay, modern furnishings and lashings of natural light, the Deluxe Sea View Room is our pick of the guestrooms. But each and every one boasts a balcony, some with views of the city, some with views of the hotel’s tropical gardens, and others with views of the marina or Coral Sea.
Shangri-La The Marina has all the trappings you might come to expect from this high-end hotel brand (think pillow menus, white Egyptian cotton linens, a business centre, a gym, a pool and poolside bar, and a casual dining restaurant) and it occupies some prime real estate on the Cairns marina too.
Peppers Beach Club and Spa
This perennially popular Palm Cove property is situated just metres from the beach and seconds from the town’s restaurants, boutiques and cafes. There’s a wide selection of rooms on offer, making it a solid choice even for large families or groups of friends: choose from a standard guest room that sleeps two, or go all out with a two-bathroom, three-bedroom penthouse. Many of the larger rooms also come with a fully equipped kitchen; perfect for those seeking a longer stay in paradise. And each room, regardless of its size, has a balcony, most of which feature a spa bath too.
In sympathy with the surroundings, Peppers Beach Club and Spa exudes a relaxed tropical vibe, from the plantation shutters that line balconies to its lush green gardens, rainforest rock pool and lagoon pool with sandy beaches.
Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
A spacious, luxury refuge, the Alamanda Palm Cove has a few strings to its bow. This all-suite property is home to what are surely some of the biggest self-contained suites on the coast: even the one-bedroom suites start at a whopping 85 square metres. It’s also one of the only properties in the region with direct beach access. And moreover, it’s host to what is arguably Palm Cove’s best restaurant – if not the best in the entire region – Nu Nu. Dishing up Modern Australian food with a heavy Asian slant, you’ll have to fight it out with locals and other holidaymakers for a spot on the restaurant’s sought-after deck.
The Alamanda is well-suited to those travelling with kids (there are two family-friendly pools; there’s a games room; children aged under 10 stay and eat breakfast for free; plus strollers, baby baths and high chairs are available free of charge). But the property has equal pulling power with couples, who can enjoy the adults-only pool with poolside service, beachfront dining and a spa.
Kewarra Beach Resort & Spa
Set amid 33 acres of lush tropical gardens, this Kewarra Beach property is perfect for travellers seeking a bit of rustic luxury that delivers plenty of room to roam and tranquility too. It feels far removed from the high rises of Cairns, even though it’s only a 20-minute drive away. Curl up with a good book by the lagoon pool, or spend your days exploring the coastline before returning to soak up the last of the sun’s rays at the private beachfront Beach Shack bar – toes in sand, cold drink in hand. This rainforest retreat, just steps from the ocean, perfectly captures TNQ’s tropical essence.
Read more about Cairns here.