The first thing you notice about  Crystalbrook Riley is the pool. Not just any pool, this luxe oasis is a sprawling resort pool on steroids, with multiple private coves, its own beach and a tucked-away 25-metre lap section for when all that relaxation gets too much.

It’s the jewel in the crown of this Cairns harbourside retreat, which also boasts two top-notch on-site dining options, an indulgent spa and a sophisticated rooftop bar that is the highest in the city (and the ideal place to toast your good fortune as the sun sets over the mountains). Read on for the full review.

Where is Crystalbrook Riley? 

Crystalbrook Riley

Grab a cab at Cairns Airport – you’re only 10 minutes away from the hotel, which is situated towards the northern end of the city’s buzzing waterfront boardwalk.

What’s near Crystalbrook Riley? 

The best way to get a feel for the city’s relaxed lifestyle is to simply step outside the door. An early stroll along the Esplanade – with its shady parklands, outdoor gyms and beach volleyball courts – is a must, as is a trip to Rusty’s Market (open Friday to Sunday) for super-fresh exotic fruit and seafood. Head to nearby Cairns Marlin Marina for a snorkelling trip to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef with local company Reef Magic.

Room types 

Crystalbrook Riley panoramic suite interiors view

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The most sophisticated of Crystalbrook’s Cairns trio, Riley is slightly more subdued, with a neutral palette, cloud-like carpets, tasteful timber panelling and elegant wall art. King-sized beds are positioned to take in the views – which range from the city to the pool to the sea – while guests have the option of booking one of the 311 rooms or suites in the main building or the sparkling green tower. Like to gaze out at the water without getting out of bed? Choose a Panoramic Sea Room, where floor to ceiling glass invites you to do just that.

Restaurants and bars 

Crystalbrook Riley food

The best place to toast the sunset in the city is at Rocco, Cairns’s highest rooftop bar and restaurant, situated on the top floor of the new tower. Grab a table on the terrace and enjoy a gin-based spiced Maghreb Star and a selection of super-tasty Mediterranean mezze plates. When the night has fallen, head downstairs to the vast, open-air Paper Crane (which also hosts breakfast) for a modern Asian feast served with local wines or a zesty, yuzu-based cocktail.


“Responsible luxury” is Crystalbrook’s mantra. Like sibling Cairns hotels Flynn and Bailey, Riley has replaced paper products with in-room iPads and phased out single-use toiletries and plastic bottles. Refillable water bottles fill your in-room fridge, coat hangers are made from recycled cardboard and the restaurants list a dish’s “climate calories” – calculating food miles, cultural considerations and the sustainable sourcing of ingredients. You can even avoid the wear-it-once trap by renting your holiday outfits through the hotel’s partnership with a local boutique.

Travel for work

Six meeting and event spaces, all with natural light, can accommodate up to 400 people. For a fun spin, book one of the hotel’s Meet Mindfully packages, offering bonding activities from art classes to a tropical treasure hunt.

Spa and pool

Hit the compact hotel gym or burn some energy in the 25-metre lap pool, part of the huge, 1000-square-metre lagoon-style oasis dotted with cosy coves and nooks to call your own. The on-site Eléme Spa offers a full range of treatments in a cool, subterranean-style space, while Saturdays see group yoga by the pool (bring the yoga mat from your room).

What you need to know 

Act the Palm Springs part by booking a cabana package by that sparkling pool. Go all-out with champagne, charcuterie and a decadent lunch platter, all brought to you by your cabana host.

Best for: Couples
Design: Contemporary luxury
Ambience: Relaxed
Number of rooms: 304, plus seven suites
Rates: From $356
Wi-fi: Fast and free
Parking: Self parking for $12 per night
Address: 131-141 Esplanade, Cairns
Telephone: (07) 4252 7777

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SEE ALSO: The Best Resorts to Book in Cairns



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