“ Address: Cnr Florence & Abbott Sts / Cairns / 4870 / Australia „
All divers will know that however much they might want to hop straight on a plane at the end of their holiday, that's just not possible. You need to spend a day letting your body recover from the diving before you can fly. After our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, we needed to find a hotel for our day of 'down-time' before heading back to Sydney. I struggled to find somewhere because I couldn't afford to go back to the Hilton, lovely as it was, because the deal I'd had there was for 2 nights. The other hotels were almost all big concrete blocks or backpacker places and neither appealed. What I really wanted was something with a bit of style or a bit of history - two factors in short supply in Cairns. I was intrigued by the plantation style and old wooden buildings of The Hotel, Cairns and, after shopping around, I got a rate I was willing to pay, and opted for a so-called Plantation Room. I paid £77 pound for one night for a room with a king-sized bed.
Our dive company dropped us at the hotel after we'd collected our luggage. It was well placed, just a block back from the esplanade and a few blocks from the city centre. It was a bit quieter, I'm sure, than if we'd been closer to either the sea or the centre. I was a bit surprised to find it looked more like a glorified motel than the swanky hotel on the website, but I'd been living in a cabin 6 foot by 6 foot for the previous few nights with 30 seconds of hot water per day in a shared bathroom so anything bigger that didn't sway was going to be very welcome.
The receptionist was astonishingly friendly and welcoming. Australians really do warmth better than any other nationality I've come across in the hotel trade. Perhaps it's because they're paid a proper wage and not just expected to live off tips like in many countries. I knew from the website that they had a small fleet of Smart Cars and I asked her how the 'free' hire worked. She explained that guests pay $30 a day for insurance plus the cost of any fuel that they use. I was tempted - very tempted - but couldn't persuade my husband who thought (incorrectly as it turned out though I hate to say "I told you so") that it would be easier to just get the bus.
The reception desk offered cold drinks and snacks and we took a quick wander around to see what else was available. The small swimming pool was deep blue and surrounded by sunbeds and the restaurant and bar were filled with masses of wicker furniture. Somebody must have been in love with Lloyd Loom because the hotel was home to more Lloyd Loom wicker products than I've seen in my life. There was a do-it-yourself laundry available as well as a gym, internet access, meeting rooms and plenty of car parking space.
Our room was really cool and calming, painted in shades of cream and pistachio. The floor was tiled with terracotta quarry tiles and the windows were covered with louvred plantation shutters. The large bed had a bedspread in green and brown blocks with a mound of soft pillows and cushions. We had two Lloyd Loom chairs and a small glass-topped wicker table. There was a flat screen TV and a DVD player, a minibar, air conditioning as well as a ceiling fan and - to keep hubby happy - a tray with tea and coffee. The tea on the boat had suffered for being made by a French cook - need I say more?
The standard of the room was really good although the furniture was all a bit squeezed in. The bathroom was not up to the same level and seemed to have been overlooked when the rooms were refurbished. The bathroom was divided into two separate areas - one with the sink and vanity unit, with wardrobes and mirrors, a hairdryer and an iron with an ironing board. The main bathroom had an enormous marble-sided bath with a big round shower-head that was a bit too low since I could only just get under it and I'm only 5 foot 8.
Outside our room there was a pretty courtyard with sun umbrellas, more wicker furniture and some large palms in big terracotta pots. I liked the style of the hotel and the wicker and pot plant approach to keeping the place cool and fresh.
We found the hotel a bit noisy because our room was close to the road but we slept soundly none the less. Although the hotel wasn't quite as 'historic' as I'd hoped, we were comfortable and enjoyed our stay. We checked out the next morning before taking the bus to the zoo and the hotel were very accommodating about hanging onto our luggage for us.
I'm glad we chose a low-rise, independent hotel rather than one of the multi-storey chain hotels and I would probably consider this hotel if I went back to Cairns again, which isn't actually very likely.