In Far North Queensland, Cairns is one of Australia's most unique destinations thanks to its tropical climate and its proximity to two of the world's most important natural wonders. Most visitors to the Great Barrier Reef will make at least a stopover in this remote outpost, but those that stay a while will discover a small city with big ambitions.
The many restaurants and bars cater to every kind of traveler, from backpackers to honeymooners, while the nearby Daintree Rainforest will have you marveling at the diversity of Australia's flora and fauna. Of course, you'll need a comfortable home base for your tropical adventure, so read on for our guide to the best hotels in Cairns.
Choose between a beachfront or rainforest bungalow at this laid-back resort less than a 30-minutes drive from the Cairns Airport. The well-maintained botanic gardens mean you will spend your stay surrounded by beautiful birds and butterflies when you're not soaking up the sun on your private beach.
Sprawling over 33 acres on the northern fringe of the city, Kewarra has unbeatable views and first-rate facilities, including two swimming pools, a paddock-to-pate restaurant, spa, and the world-famous Beach Shack Bar. Even if you're not staying here, enjoying a wood-fire pizza and a beer from the Beach Shack as the sun sets is a quintessential Cairns experience. Rooms start from AU$299 per night.
The elegant Shangri-La occupies prime real estate at the Cairns Marina, with 255 rooms alongside a business center, gym, and poolside bar. The Shangri-La's reputation for service and hospitality applies here with airport transfers and taxis easily arranged. Horizon Club guests have access to a private lounge and buffet breakfast, as well as use of the hotel's meeting rooms.
Onsite restaurant the Backyard is a local favorite, with outdoor seating and a contemporary Australian-Japanese menu, while visitors have easy access to tours of the Great Barrier Reef from the nearby dock. Rooms start from AU$205 per night.
Riley is the coolest hotel in town, home to the city's first rooftop bar, the Mediterranean-inspired Rocco, which looks out over the Esplanade. Part of the Crystalbrook Collection, this property is made up of 311 rooms and suites, plus two dining offerings, a huge swimming lagoon, and a spa.
Despite its focus on environmental sustainability, this modern resort has a playful attitude and plenty of contemporary design flourishes. Rooms start from AU$239 per night.
Part of the Accor hotel group, the Pullman is a five-star hotel in the heart of the city. Here you'll find the seafood-focused Coco's Kitchen and Bar, plus a business center, fitness center, day spa, sauna, swimming pool, and jacuzzi in a luxurious setting.
The Pullman's design philosophy pays tribute to the city's early history, and all rooms have large balconies overlooking the mountains or the ocean. Rooms start from AU$209 per night. A second Pullman hotel across the road hosts the Cairns Casino.
Bay Village offers plenty of accommodation configurations for solo travelers, couples and families, from single rooms up to two- and three-bedroom apartments, all set among gorgeous gardens with a swimming pool. The decor is welcoming and Indonesian-inspired, with traditional textiles, tiled floors, and rattan furniture that fit perfectly with the tropical climate.
This retreat is home to a cocktail bar and popular Balinese restaurant Bayleaf, and all the dining options of the city center can be found just a short walk south along the Esplanade. Rooms start from AU$140 per night.
The Hilton is conveniently situated near the Cairns Marina, within walking distance of the departure point for most tours of the Great Barrier Reef. Both business and leisure travelers are welcome in this lush yet sophisticated hotel, with a waterfront cafe, Italian restaurant, outdoor pool, bar, business center, and gym.
All the bathrooms are recently renovated, and spa suites feature a generous bathtub, while executive suites include a large desk and ergonomic chair. Rooms start from AU$165 per night.
Right on the Esplanade, Mantra Trilogy is surrounded by gorgeous views and some of the top attractions in Cairns. With 230 suites (including multi-room apartments), a gym, a BBQ area, and two pools, this hotel strikes an impressive balance between city living and resort luxury.
Four restaurants onsite, as well as a supermarket and liquor store, make this a great choice for families and business travelers. The apartments are designed for longer stays with a fully equipped kitchen and laundry. Rooms start from AU$146 per night.
A 10-minute drive from the center of town, Coconut holiday park offers cabins, caravan sites, and camping grounds with a family atmosphere. Across 28 acres of manicured lawns dotted with shady palm trees, amenities include a swimming pool, water slide, and splash park for kids, plus a tennis court, games room, ball court, and an 18-hole mini golf course.
There’s also a restaurant and a BBQ for guest use. Many families return here year after year, so book early if you're planning on visiting in the dry season. Cabins start from AU$129 per night, with camping and caravan sites under AU$40.
Another Accor property, the Novotel was renovated in 2019 in an airy, nautical style. All rooms have private balconies, and suites come complete with spa baths and a separate lounge room.
The fitness center, outdoor pool, Pacific-inspired restaurant, and a swim up bar make for a relaxing stay right next door to the excellent Cairns Aquarium, with friendly service and plenty of space. Rooms start from AU$157 per night.
This 1939 Art Deco B&B on the Esplanade is packed with personality. The original building combines Maltese and Australian architectural styles, with wood paneling, brightly colored walls, vintage furnishings and unusual configurations in each of the 10 rooms to fit into the heritage-listed building. The historic charm and helpful service make for an unforgettable stay, especially for lovers of history and retro design. Rooms start from AU$85 per night.