Global Palace, 86/88 Lake Street
Location: excellent, right in the heart of Cairns, and walking distance from pretty much everything. My friend and I chose this place solely based on the fact that it was above a Mexican restaurant (Buckin' Mex). Most trips will pick up from here.
Rooms: 3, 4 or 5 beds in a dorm. Twin and double rooms also available. No bunk beds. Rooms are basic, but that's what you expect from a hostel. All include ceiling fans - a must have in Cairns! Prices start at $17 ($16 with a VIP card).
Facilities: pool, kitchen, balcony, TV, internet, luggage storage, table tennis and pool tables.
Staff: helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. Also contains a travel desk in the reception area.
Overall: a huge hostel, very good standard. Trying to watch TV in the lounge was a bit difficult with a bunch of very loud, drunk people on the balcony, however. Excellent value for money.
I stayed at Calypso for a few days back in September when I spent a month doing the east coast with my boyfriend.
I arrived in Cairns and this was my first experience of a hostel, and I've got to say it was a positive one.
I wasn't picked up from the airport as my boyfriend already had a car out there. But as soon as we got there the staff were so friendly and welcoming.
Got to our room which was a private double, but we had to share shower facilites. The room was basic but really decent and clean. Shower facilities were very clean as were the toilets.
Used the kitchen to cook, only one cooker and sink and a few fridges but was still ok.
Theres a nice little pool area with trees overhanging, looks quite pleasant.
Night time entertainment was quite good. The one night we did a quiz which was a laugh and everyone was really friendly.
The location is a little far out of the town but is a nice walk. Not so much is your out drinking at night!
We left for a trip for a few days and left our big backpacks in the storage at the hostel which they didn't charge us for.
When we came back for our luggage we stayed and had some dinner and then got the shuttle bus in to town to catch the greyhound at night. They dropped us right at the greyhound station which was nice of them.
I would recommend this hostel to anyone. Young or older, men or women. Really pleasant place.
In December I flew to Cairns for the start of my time travelling the east coast of Australia. I chose to stay at JJ's Backpackers because it was cheaper than cheap, and the 15 minute walk into town would lead to me having to get some exercise. I spent a total of £73.57 in your English money and for that I got 6 nights, dinner, bed and breakfast. True story.
JJ's offers a free airport pickup, but you'll need a mobile phone and their number because the airport's courtesy phone doesn't work, and their advert doesn't list their number. I called and was picked up about 10 minutes later by two staff members who also checked me in as the receptionist was on a 4 hour siesta.
I had booked a single room and was given a twin for sole use. As hostel rooms go it was reasonably large but supremely under-equipped - two single beds, a set of open shelves with no back or sides (meaning things were liable to fall off unless set down neatly, and books had to be stacked not stood up), and a bin. C'est tout. The décor was fine - nice and plain - and the floor was covered in a plastic style coating that I believe was most fashionable in the 70s, though of course that was well before my time.
I explored the rest of the hostel which didn't take long. It was a motel-style set up, with all rooms on the ground floor - land is evidently cheap in Cairns. Rooms were split into 4 clusters, each with their own shower room and toilet, and since the rooms were a mix of size and configuration, each of the washing facilities served 10 to 15 people by my calculation. However since I was there in the off season they were under occupied and I only once had to wait for a shower and could have had one immediately I suspect had I been willing to leave my block and walk outside to the next one.
Hostel facilities were not extensive but included an open air laundry (with the usual washing / drying fees found in Oz - just over £1 for each), a kitchen that included all the essentials, a TV / breakfast room and several picnic benches. There was also a pool but as it was the same size as my car, and had a bottom that couldn't be viewed through the murky water, I didn't venture in. All the hostels in Cairns seem to have pools, but many were like this one, simply there so people booking online or from a brochure wouldn't pass over the hostel because they were pool-less - in reality I never saw anyone in it the week I was there, despite the soaring temperatures.
Later in the afternoon I went to check in properly. The guy on the desk then gave me sheets and a lecture on how I'd been ripped off by booking my trips several months in advance direct with the companies in question rather than on 24 hours notice through their on site commission driven booking agency. I didn't take kindly to this and, on principle, the one extra tip I booked on during my time up there was not a booking I chose to make through them.
Other people staying seemed to be a mix of were nice and normal, and a bit odd. One afternoon I returned to find someone, no doubt in need of some pegs, had taken down my by-then-dry swimmers and socks that I'd rinsed through, and folded them neatly for me. Another morning I sat in the sun waiting for breakfast when I was approached by an oldish guy. Thinking he was probably the owner or a member of staff I made small talk for a few minutes until it emerged that he was a guest who had been living there for several months. He wanted to show me some photos, and when I agreed, he whipped out a wallet full of snaps of the young, male staff members surrounded by buxom blondes in various states of inebriation. It transpired that these photos had been taken at the place where the free evening meal was served, and it was at that point that I figured I probably wouldn't be missing much if I decided against going.
Breakfast was a self-service affair, served from 7.30am. I was under the impression that few people would be up then, but it turned out lots were, and on most days you had to queue. The selection certainly went some way to introducing me to a budget traveller's diet - the bread was cheap and toasted badly, the spread was made of unidentified ingredients, and far too many of them, and the cereal could never pass for Kellogg's. In addition to these things, tea and coffee were available, though no juice. Still, it was free, and edible even if not especially tasty. A few days I went out for breakfast (mainly to the posh local hotels whose breakfast buffets cost the same as a night's DBB at JJ's but were entirely worth it). Dinner was a choice from a set menu at a pub in town, where upgrades were also available for a small fee. I never sampled this, but others who did said it was nothing to write home about, though was free and therefore worth considering for many travellers. Me, I don't really do budgets or inedible food, so didn't bother.
Luckily for me, eating in Cairns was not particularly expensive. Very near JJ's was a small parade of shops, most notably a bakers, a supermarket and a Deli, and restaurants, including take away places. Further into Cairns centre you could find every type of food at reasonable prices, and open all hours (unlike Sydney). The centre was a 15 minute walk through a mainly residential area, but once there you could find a lagoon swimming pool (much better than any the hostels had to offer), shops, a museum or two and a the terminal from which all the boats to the Great Barrier Reef departed.
JJ's was perfectly acceptable for what I was after in a room - a bed to sleep in, a quite place to hang out reading, and somewhere safe to leave my belongings - but I think it is similar to most of the other Cairns hostels. It's slightly cheaper than some as it's further out, so that's the only real choice you have to make. As school reports tend to say: trys hard..could do better.
11-13 Charles St
Cairns QLD 4870
PH : +61 7 40517642
Fax : +61 7 40517223