ANGELA SAURINE checks into a modern, apartment-style hotel conveniently located on Cairns Esplanade
There are certainly benefits staying in a new hotel, where everything just seems to make sense, from the shape and design of the soap holders in the ensuite bathroom to the power points beside the bed for charging phones. Opened in late 2020, Oaks Cairns Hotel delivers on that front. From street level, the lift takes you to reception on level one, with rooms spread across four floors and a rooftop restaurant on the fifth. Whilst there is no parking onsite, there are some car parks nearby, but many of Cairns’ biggest drawcards are within walking distance, and attractions such as Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures offer shuttle pick up around the corner.
One of the biggest selling points of this hotel is its location on the Esplanade in the CBD, close to Cairns Esplanade Lagoon and only around 10 minutes’ walk to Marlin Marina, where tour boats to the Great Barrier Reef depart. The night markets are also just around the corner, metres away from the door.
There are 76 rooms spread across four levels. Our Hotel Executive Ocean Room has views over the Esplanade. We love the comfortable king bed, large square shower with two shower heads (including rain showers) so two people can shower at the same time, and new release movies. But my favourite feature is the flat screen TV that swivels between the lounge area and the bed. You can also choose internally-facing rooms, Hotel Executive rooms with views over town, and premium Hotel Deluxe rooms. Families who need extra space are well catered for with the Two Bedroom Dual Key option — two Hotel Executive rooms linked by an interconnecting door. These rooms offer two king-sized beds or four singles, two bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities and views over town.
Food and drink
Located on the hotel’s rooftop, Oak & Vine Restaurant boasts sensational views over Cairns Esplanade Lagoon and the Coral Sea. Book an early dinner to catch the sunset, then watch people swimming under the twinkling lights in the evening. Its menu is inspired by on-trend Nikkei Cuisine, which blends Peruvian dishes with Japanese techniques and fresh local produce. The seafood ceviche is a must! Burgers, fish and chips, and rib eye fillet are amongst the other offerings. There’s also a huge wine list, cool cocktails for mum, and craft beer for dad. The hotel is housed above a McDonald’s, while the nearby night markets offer Asian food, gelato, crepes and a New Zealand Natural ice-cream shop. Seafood lovers should check out Prawn Star Cairns, which is located across four boats moored at Marlin Marina, for that novelty factor kids love. Ganbaranba is great for Japanese food, such as noodles and gyoza, while Mondo on the Waterfront offers casual al fresco dining along the boardwalk. You can also dine on the deck at The Backyard in the nearby Shangri-La Hotel, which has a great grass area for children to play.
With so many fun things to do with kids in Cairns, it’s hard to know where to start! It’s easy to while away the hours at the epic Muddy’s Playground, which has a great café, around 10 minutes’ walk away along the promenade. You can swim at the stinger- and croc-free Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, which is also a great spot for a barbecue or picnic, and in some of the area’s beautiful freshwater swimming spots including Stoney Creek and Crystal Cascades. Take a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, visit Cairns Aquarium, see the jumping crocs at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, and ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or Kuranda Scenic Railway to the village of Kuranda to visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Birdworld and Koala Gardens.