Smart Luxury

This Popular Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef Just Got a Hot New Luxury Hotel

by  Shevin Tantula | Dec 17, 2019
Guest room
Guest room / Courtesy of Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

Before Riley debuted in Cairns last November, the city had gone 20 years without a 5-star hotel. Thankfully, the resort-style property made up for lost time, not only offering chic, centrally located accommodation, but also a commitment to “responsible luxury.” From room keys made of recycled wood to restaurants serving locally sourced menu items, top-rated Riley is going above and beyond to encourage sustainable tourism, without skimping on delivering stylish, beachy digs.

Courtesy of Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

What’s Inside

Hotel Type: Large, resort-style hotel located on Cairns’ waterfront promenade

Number of Rooms: 311 rooms and suites

Bars and Restaurants:

Paper Crane: Full-service restaurant offering a modern Asian menu and al fresco seating.

Greenfields: Casual, health food café with a focus on salads, poke bowls, and juices.

Rocco: Mediterranean cuisine, creative cocktails, and dramatic Coral Sea views at the highest roof bar and restaurant in town.

Hotel Trivia: Riley’s parent brand, Crystalbrook (an independent Australian hospitality group), is a founding member of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, an organization dedicated to conserving the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What It Looks Like

Courtesy of Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

The Design: The result of a multi-million-dollar makeover of an outdated motel, Riley wows guests with sleek, contemporary spaces that transition seamlessly from indoors to outdoors. The property is airy, bright, and filled with natural hues inspired by its beachy Tropical North Queensland surroundings.

The Rooms: Rooms are spacious, sleek, and the perfect refuge for a tropical escape. Most have balconies and overlook the property’s lagoon-shaped pool and private man-made beach, with the blue-green waters of the Coral Sea further beyond.

The Public Spaces: The lobby boasts soaring high ceilings and plush, oversized couches. Venture past the swimming pool and al fresco dining areas and you’ll make it to Riley’s most eye-catching feature: a shining, 12-story, torch-shaped tower, which is home to guest rooms, a spa, and the rooftop bar and restaurant Rocco.

Accessibility: Accessible rooms are available, with elevators connecting the lobby with guest room levels. 

What It Feels Like

Courtesy of Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort

The Mood: Riley’s spirit is relaxed, playful, and fun. Think of it as a cheeky Australian cousin of The Standard.

Who Stays Here: Couples looking for a romantic retreat, jetsetters looking to party, and in-the-know, savvy seniors.

Trend Watch: We love the brand’s passion for sustainable luxury and hope to see it become more widespread. Boxed water, anyone? 

You’ll Love It If: You enjoy seeing and being seen at the hottest new hotel in town.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You: The property hosts pool parties from which the DJ’s thumping beats can easily be heard from guest rooms that face the pool (i.e. most of them).

What You’ll Get

Fitness and Other Extras: Guests enjoy access to the hotel’s 24-hour fitness center. Rates also include complimentary wifi.

Four-Legged Guests: With the exception of guide dogs, pets will unfortunately have to stay home.

What You’ll Pay

Average Rates: $143 to $190 per night

When to Stay for Less: The best rates can be found during Cairns’ low season, which extends from October through June.

Resort and Other Fees: Self-parking costs $8 per night, while valet is $15.

Know Your Neighborhood

Area History: The Cairns Esplanade has been a central hub of activity since the city’s founding in the late 1800s. The heritage-listed War Memorial honors soldiers who fought in World War I and is an easy stroll from the hotel.

Important Local Attractions: The bustling Cairns Night Markets is less than a 10-minute walk and the Reef Fleet Terminal — the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef — is just a few blocks further.  Kuranda village is nestled in the nearby surrounding rainforest and can be easily reached by the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or the Scenic Railway.

Getting There and Getting Around: The hotel is a quick 10-minute drive from Cairns Airport. Taxis and Ubers are easy to secure both from the terminal and around town. 

Walkability: The city center itself is small and easily walkable. Additionally, a wide selection of shops, restaurants, and bars are all within easy reach of the property.

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