Cairns’ best hotels: Weekend getaway in tropical Far North Queensland

Who wouldn't want the perfect mix of sun, sand and brunch? We've rounded up Cairns' best hotels for your perfect tropical weekend getaway.

Situated between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range lies Cairns, a bustling city of art, culture and laidback brunching. The doorway to the Queensland countryside and arguably Australia’s best natural attraction – The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns has risen from its humble beginnings as a hub for gold miners and become a mecca of entertainment, nature exploration and world-class accommodation.

Hotels in the area have developed alongside its growth as a city, and you can find everything from affordable, family-friendly rooms to the utmost in luxury accommodation. So if you’re looking for a lagoon-style pool to take a dip or relax with an exotic massage, you can easily find a Cairn’s hotel to fit your needs; all that’s left is explore this picturesque, laidback city.

An affordable-luxury Cairns beach hotel


The Cairns Queenslander Hotel & Apartments combines casual holiday-making with affordable luxury. Less than a 10-minute walk from the famous Cairns Esplanade, you can easily take a breezy stroll along the shoreline before cooling off with a refreshing dip in the lagoon.

All the rooms at the complex are light-filled and spacious, with some offering a full pressure monsoon shower that you’d happily spend hours under. If you feeling like treating yourself, opting for a room with a terrace will give you the perfect opportunity to crack into the Pinot Grigio and watch the sun go down in the evening.

For window shoppers, Cairns’ biggest shopping centre, Cairns Central, is just seven minutes’ away by car and is home to some of Australia’s premier brands. While those that prefer to be one with nature can head over to the nearby Centenary Lakes Botanic Gardens where they can meander along the Rainforest Boardwalk and admire native Australian tropical flora.

When you’ve finished exploring, you can saunter to a sun lounger in the hotel’s lush green gardens or plunge into the tropical pool. If you don’t feel like venturing far for dinner, the hotel’s on-site restaurant Steak on Lake plates up gourmet burgers, char-grilled steaks and seafood dishes in breezy outdoor surrounds complete with wicker chairs and romantic candle lighting.

Cairns Queenslander Hotel & Apartments

8.3 Very good (2637 reviews)

The ideal spot for a tropical beach holiday


If your idea of Cairns is a tropical beach holiday, look no further than Coral Sands Beachfront Resort. Located on Trinity Beach, part of the iconic Northern Beaches of Cairns, it offers serene waters and soft white sand in a more relaxed setting away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The resort’s one, two and three-bedroom fully self-contained apartments, feature lots of rich wood furnishings, tropical colour schemes and natural, light-filled spaces that exude an air of comfort. The property is sprawled across two acres of tropical landscaped gardens and features a lagoon inspired pool so you can cool off after a long day in the Cairns heat.

You’ll be happy to know you can easily wind down with cable TV in your room or get pumped up at the nearby fitness centre. The rooms also come with fully equipped kitchenettes, perfect for late night hot chocolates with marshmallows. There’s also no need to go to Bunnings for your sausage sizzle, as the hotel has it’s own outdoor barbeques to grill up one ‘with the lot’.

If self-catering isn’t on your holiday activities list, the on-site licensed Italian restaurant, L’Unico Trattoria is ready and waiting. The restaurant specialises in seafood (of course), so if you love crab and lobster make sure you tuck into the angel hair pasta and bug for mains. If you prefer to wander off the property, Trinity Beach’s Vasey Esplanade is home to Italian, Thai and seafood restaurants for whatever cuisine takes your fancy that day.

To top it all off, the transport links to the area are highly praised by travellers, bringing people from Europe and Asia who want a beachside break while still being just 20 minutes’ from the city centre.

Coral Sands Beachfront Resort

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (1529 reviews)

A Cairns hotel perfect for exploring the region


Positioned at the base of the Freshwater Creek State Forest, Palm Royale Cairns gives you space to unwind amid tranquil Mediterranean architecture, lush tropical gardens and a choice of two swimming pools, one of which is styled like a beach with a cold water spa alongside, and the other, a 25-metre lap pool to help you get some gentle exercise. You could spend your days lazing poolside with a glass of your favourite tipple or just as easily don your exploring hat and head off to experience the local craft markets or the Great Barrier Reef. It’s all at your fingertips.

Picture yourself snorkelling in Australia’s iconic tropical waters, sailing in the sun on a catamaran or white water rafting on the Barron River. If you prefer being above it all, you can choose between the Kuranda skyrail which carries you over lush rainforests or a Great Barrier Reef helicopter tour.

After a busy day enjoying this hotel’s ideal location, you can meander back through the peaceful gardens to the solace of your room. All 150 rooms feature romantic private terraces that overlook either the pool or gardens and most rooms come with king size beds. If you’re hiring a car to explore the nearby nature hot spots, the hotel offers free parking and there is a guest lounge and bathroom, so early or late arrivals can pamper themselves a little before or after check in.

Palm Royale Cairns

8.1 Very good (2128 reviews)

A luxurious stay in Far North Queensland


An hour’s drive north of Cairns’ Central Business District (CBD), Peppers Beach Club & Spa is a wonderful option if you’re not overly disposed to concrete jungles. It’s located in Palm Cove, a slightly more quiet area where indigenous paperbark trees line the main esplanade and kayaks dot the seashore in the mornings.

All rooms are well-appointed with neutral, chic décor and a balcony or terrace overlooking the pool, ocean or garden. If you feel like spoiling yourself, a Penthouse even gives you your own plunge pool.

You can work up a sweat on the tennis court or in the fitness centre before cooling down in any of the Club’s three swimming pools. You might even want to swim up to the On the Rocks Café Pool Bar to order a tropical delight and later, retire to the on-site beachside restaurant, Lime & Pepper, to enjoy its menu of modern Australian dishes and freshly sourced ingredients from the reef and surrounding tropics. The coral trout or salmon would be the pick for seafood lovers.

Peppers Beach Club & Spa is popular with families, but it’s also a favourite honeymoon destination specifically because of its on-site Day Spa. The treatments fuse ancient therapies from Indigenous Australian ‘dreamtime’ legends with local spa products for a ‘back-to-nature’ approach to relaxation. It’s luxury, to say the least.

Peppers Beach Club & Spa

Top rated
Palm Cove
9.2 Excellent (2247 reviews)

A city escape to the sunny North


If you’re a city-lover through-and-through, then make sure you check into Pullman Cairns International. Located less than a kilometre from Cairns Central Shopping Centre, this five star hotel is surrounded by trendy bars and a range of café’s where you’ll very likely find Australia’s favourite answer to brunch – avocado on toast.

All rooms at Pullman Cairns International have plush furnishings in oceanic tones, with some offering panoramic views of the coastline. You’ll forget you’re in the heart of a bustling metropolis when you’re lounging by the playfully curved blue pool or unwinding in the hotel’s award-winning Vie Day Spa. Perhaps you’ll prefer to work up an appetite in the fully equipped fitness centre, equipped with weights and cardio machines, before dining at Coco’s, the on-site Restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a popular seafood buffet every night.

Being just twelve minutes’ away from the airport and close to the heart of the CBD, you can get just about anywhere with the able assistance of your concierge; from the local farmers markets to snorkelling and riverside tours.

Pullman Cairns International

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (2234 reviews)

Test your luck and roll the dice at this Cairns hotel


Why book Las Vegas when you can roll the dice in tropical Cairns? The Reef Hotel Casino is attached to the number one entertainment complex in Cairns, where you can test your luck with a wide range of table games, gaming machines or at the dedicated Keno lounge.

The hotel has 127 rooms that are well-appointed with modern, neutral interiors, sumptuous bedding and spa baths with massage jets. Each of the luxury hotel rooms has its own private balcony garden overlooking the Trinity Inlet or Cairns city centre.

Whether you’re sipping a daiquiri by the rooftop pool, lazing in the Jacuzzi or taking a wander through the Cairns Wildlife Dome, your days at the Reef Hotel will be full of Instagram moments. Once the sun goes down, you might choose to dine at any of the hotel’s restaurants and bars, or dance the night away at the hotel’s very own nightclub.

The acclaimed Tamarind restaurant fuses traditional Thai cuisine with contemporary Eastern flavours and seasonal produce, while Flinders bar and grill serves up honest pub classics made with the finest cuts of meat for breakfast, lunch and light snacks. The Reef Hotel also has a Chinese restaurant, Merchant Artisan food and coffee house and BAR36 – with it’s inventive cocktails and exposed-brick New York-style interiors.

If you feel like a doing some local sightseeing, you can wander out to explore nearby beaches or the Trinity Inlet, which are both just a short stroll from the hotel. Or pamper yourself in the spa, sauna and steam room, which will leave you revitalised and ready for your next exciting Cairns foray, such as finding a lookout spot in the forest to take in Barron Falls’ dramatic waterfall landscape.

The Reef Hotel Casino

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2221 reviews)

Feature image courtesy of Boggy / Fotolia