With a tropical climate, a chic marina and easy access to Australia‘s extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a magnet for luxury lovers. There are plenty of top hotels in Cairns to make your stay even more special, too, whether you’re visiting with family or looking for a romantic getaway. Think rooftop restaurants, cocktail-making classes and generous all-inclusive packages where you’ll want for nothing. These are the best 5-star hotels Cairns has to offer, bookable with Culture Trip.
It’s hard to believe you’re in the city centre at this glamorous five-star hotel right on the marina in Cairns. Guests can watch boats bobbing on the water, opt for drinks by the pool, dine in a waterfront restaurant or stroll around the immaculate tropical gardens. Shangri-La’s 255 spacious rooms have eye-popping views over the marina, city or Trinity Bay, private balconies and local artwork, while lucky Club-room guests can enjoy afternoon drinks with canapes on the waterside deck, private breakfast and a daily refreshed mini bar.
With its waterfront location, five-star facilities and bags of space, the Water’s Edge apartments are a fantastic alternative to a hotel. Right on the Cairns Esplanade, and opposite parkland, the property is within walking distance of restaurants, markets, nightlife and the aquarium, making this a great choice for those with children. They’ll have plenty of room, too, as the huge apartments have between one and three bedrooms, though everyone will be desperate to bag the chic, swim-out apartments.
Craving lazy days on the beach? This elegant five-star hotel in Cairns, which opened in 1958, is right next to the sand, with vintage cruiser bikes, fishing rods and even sketch kits available to make the most of the stunning setting. The extras keep on coming too with yoga lessons, mixology classes, poolside sorbet, a book and DVD library and even twilight punch and canapes each evening. From the honesty bar to the chic candlelit restaurant, it’s a no-brainer for a grown-up stay.
Escape it all at this astonishing resort right on the Great Barrier Reef, an hour’s flight from Cairns. Even the generous all-inclusive package is designed to make the most of the breathtaking surroundings, with use of stand-up paddleboards, snorkelling gear and clearview sea kayaks all included. The hotel will even prepare a deluxe picnic hamper for a feast on a private beach you’ll have all to yourself, or you can stay in the hotel and soak up the brilliant blue views over the included gourmet meals and fine wines.
Art lovers will be wowed by this plush hotel and residences in the heart of the Cairns CBD (central business district). The hotel hosts regular art events including live graffiti sessions, has separate art spaces around the hotel and dedicates each of the 12 guest floors to a different artist. Rooms have a sleek, urban feel with a Nespresso machine, Apple iPad control centre, complimentary movies and rainforest shower, while those looking for more space can choose a residence with one, two or three bedrooms.
Fancy a little seclusion? This upmarket collection of apartments at various locations, including the centre of Cairns and the tropical Northern Beaches, guarantees peace and quiet on your terms. All are fully self-catered so you can dine out or whip up your own favourite dishes, and have between one and three bedrooms. The concierge team are also happy to help arrange car hire, rainforest safaris, helicopter flights and even bungee jumping.
Live the high life in Cairns at the Riley, with luxe touches at every turn. All 311 rooms come with extras including free movies and a Nespresso machine, while guests wanting a VIP experience will love the glamorous pool deck, raw food Greenfields restaurant and tranquil Eléme day spa. Be sure to book a table at Rocco too, the city’s highest rooftop bar and restaurant with a moreish Mediterranean menu and a vast champagne selection.
One of Crystalbrook’s game-changing trio of cool Cairns’ hotels, Flynn is best suited to anyone who wants to be near the city’s best shopping and nightlife. This hotel, steps from the Esplanade, has 311 modern rooms with views over the skyline or ocean, while families can plump for two interconnecting rooms both with balconies and bathrooms. When hunger strikes, head for pasta at Flynn’s Italian or try Boardwalk Social, where gastropub classics are served with live music, sports screenings, DJ sets and a drinks menu featuring 36 beers on tap and 40 gins.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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meet our Local Insider
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It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.