A gateway to both the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, Cairns could easily trade on its natural beauty alone. But there’s more to this northern tropical city than World-Heritage-listed wonders. To help make your stay an extra luxurious experience, we’ve rounded up the best hotels in Cairns to escape to.

Between relaxing by the pool and finally reading that novel, spend your holiday sampling the city’s emerging food-and-drink scene: Caffiend for your morning cuppa, dinner and drinks by the water at Salt House and temperature-raising ramen at Ganbaranba (14 Spence Street).

Families will love exploring Cairns Aquarium, the casual eats at weekend favourite Rusty’s Markets and splashing about in croc-free Cairns Lagoon. For a business trip, a weekend escape or however long you decide to stay, here’s our pick of the best hotels in Cairns.

Crystalbrook Riley

Taste-makers will love the design of this chic luxury hotel, where every one of the 304 rooms and seven suites looks as if it comes straight from the pages of an interiors magazine. A mix of Mid-century Modern and contemporary inspiration – wood panelling, comfy statement chairs and adjustable lighting – lends a polished yet homey feel to each space.

The pool is a Palm Springs-style dream (with its own beach), Eleme Spa offers a range of indulgent treatments and there are three on-site dining options, from mod-Asian street food at Paper Crane to sophisticated Mediterranean fare at Rocco. The only daily appointment you absolutely must keep? Sunset drinks at Riley’s rooftop bar – the highest in the city.

Crystalbrook Riley Hotel, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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SEE ALSO: 10 Magical Things to Do In and Around Cairns

Pullman Cairns International

From its grand, colonial-style entrance and lobby to the palm-fringed pool, there’s a sense of splendour to this luxury property that combines the convenience of a CBD location with restorative harbour and hinterland view rooms.

Business travellers will appreciate the proximity to both the airport (12 minutes drive) and convention centre (10 minutes walk) and when work is done for the day, on-site Vie Spa and all-day diner Coco’s Kitchen + Bar make switching off a cinch.

Stage one of a multi-million-dollar refurbishment of the Pullman’s spacious rooms and suites (minimum 40 square metres) will be revealed in October 2021, incorporating the latest technology and contemporary updates.

Pullman Cairns International, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Hilton Cairns

Lush balcony gardens bring the tropics to every room at Hilton Cairns, which sits only a green lawn and row of swaying palm trees away from the waters of Trinity Inlet.

Choose from the King Hilton Guest Room (with the option to connect with an adjoining room if you’re travelling with family), to Executive Rooms with work spaces and the sprawling 120-square-metre Premier Suite with its separate kitchen, living areas and penthouse views.

Fill your time swimming in the pool, working through the cocktail list at Gin Social and dining alfresco under twinkling lights at Mondo on the Waterfront.

Hilton Cairns Hotel, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Crystalbrook Bailey

One of three luxury Crystalbrook Collection properties in Cairns, Bailey is the sophisticated sibling – all urban-cool styling with artful accessories and sleek finishes.

Its 216 rooms, one suite and 38 residences ensure every traveller is catered for, from families on extended school holidays (the three-bedroom residence with kitchen and laundry) to those on business trips (the Urban room with desk and city views) and couples or friends (the one-bedroom residence or Urban Master room).

There’s also food and drink for everyone: CC’s Bar and Grill serves up classic Aussie steaks and sides, Pachamama has a Latin-leaning focus and Milk Bar has your daily coffee sorted as well as milkshakes, muffins and jaffles that the kids (little and big) will love.

Crystalbrook Bailey Hotel, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

If the only swim-up pool bar in Cairns doesn’t convince you to stay at this 314-room resort, consider this: two bars, two restaurants, babysitting services and multiple meeting rooms make it an ideal base for every kind of traveller.

Located a stroll away from town and the esplanade, the hotel’s closest attractions include Cairns Aquarium (one block away) and the Cairns Museum (a five-minute walk). Channeling a contemporary coastal vibe, rooms are a blend of pale wood tones, seaside hues and tropical motifs, a theme that’s carried through the property’s breezy common areas.

The lagoon-style pool (with its sandy shoreline and Beach Club) is one of the city’s finest and Moku Bar & Grill has perfected laid-back all-day dining.

Novotel Cairns Hotel and Resort, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Shangri-La The Marina

With its front-row location at Marlin Marina, a stay here offers unmatched access to boat tours departing for the Great Barrier Reef.

Between adventures, hang by the pool (there’s also a dedicated kids’ pool), workout at (or just check out) the fitness centre and enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Backyard, Shangri-La The Marina’s relaxed yet refined on-site restaurant.

Each of the spacious 255 rooms and suites – decorated with local artworks and sunny colour palettes – has its own balcony and a view of the marina, the hotel’s gorgeous tropical gardens, Trinity Bay or the city and hinterland beyond.

Shangri-La The Marina, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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Crystalbrook Flynn

Splashy palettes of pink, blue and gold, a glass-walled lap pool you can peer into from the esplanade below and a DJ setting the mood – Flynn is all about fun. Rooms and suites (293 and 18 respectively) embrace the vibe with bold wall art, bright throws and cushions and a Nespresso machine for the morning after.

A dining destination for Cairns locals as well as guests, the hotel is home to buzzing alfresco hang-out Boardwalk Social (with those aforementioned pool views), hearty family-style dishes at Flynn’s Italian and the city’s biggest whisky selection at Whisky and Wine, which has a balcony that looks over the Coral Sea. Plus, if you like a little peace with your partying, head to Eleme Spa to find balance.

Crystalbrook Flynn Hotel, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

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SEE ALSO: We’ve Found 12 of Australia’s Dreamiest Hotels

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