As a luxury adventure traveler, hotels are an important aspect of my stay. Whenever I travel, I’m always happy to spend a little more for an amazing hotel experience. Some people may not care about this part of their travels, but for me a good hotel can not only shape, but define a trip. This was absolutely the case as I meandered around Queensland, in search of adventure, yes, but also a relaxing and comfortable stay. I was frankly surprised at the quality and diversity of luxury hotels in Queensland, and these five in particular are ones every luxury traveler should add to their must-stay list.
One Oceanview, Airlie Beach
One of my favorite accommodations in Queensland is also probably the hardest to write about. It’s not a hotel and it’s not exactly a B&B, it’s a delightful mix of the two. Marita Kemp and her partner built this ultimate in luxury homes to enjoy the amazing views of the Coral Sea that only the Whitsundays can provide. At some point in the process they decided that they wanted to invite others to enjoy this gorgeous seaside estate and the concept was hatched. This 2,000 square meter home can accommodate several couples or even families at a time, but each experience is tailored to the guest. After only a few hours I truly did feel like a houseguest in what is probably the most amazing private residence I’ve ever visited. The open and light design takes full advantage of the amazing weather for which this area of Queensland is so very well known, and the service was second to none. Almost by intuition, Marita understood my needs and before I knew it I had coffee ready for me whenever I needed a cup and meals that rank with the best restaurants in the area. It’s also in an amazing location, which means exploring the town of Airlie Beach and the surrounding Whitsundays couldn’t be easier. While not a hotel per se, this is one of the best luxury experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy and I can’t recommend it enough.
Qualia, Hamilton Island
I have to preface this with the sad caveat that I did not actually stay at Qualia. I know, I know, I wanted to but through some quirks of fate, there was no room at the proverbial inn during my time on the resort-focused Hamilton Island. Although I didn’t stay there, I did visit the property a couple of times not just to see it for myself, but to experience some of the hotel’s legendary hospitality through meals and spa experiences. Annually ranked as one of the best hotels in Australia, Qualia specializes not only in luxury living, but in privacy. Guests enjoy their time at the resort in private cottages set deep in the forest, creating an ethereal feel to the stay. The restaurant, open only to guests and invited visitors, has Michelin-caliber meals that the chef fine-tunes to each diner’s unique tastes. Add to that the resort’s amazing location on a private stretch of the island, and this truly is the best way to experience Hamilton Island. It’s also a Relais & Châteaux affiliated property, guaranteeing a level of service and comfort that ranks amongst the best in the world.
Peppers, Throughout Queensland
I know, the name doesn’t sound very luxurious but after staying at two of their properties in Queensland, I can attest to the fact that Peppers Hotels is most definitely a luxury brand you’ll want to discover for yourself. Part of the Mantra Group, Peppers specializes in refined indulgence that is difficult to find anymore. Staying with them in Broadbeach, along the Gold Coast of Queensland, this property offers suites that feel more like home than a hotel. I was there for a week, and there was nothing better than having a mini-apartment all to myself complete with living room, kitchen and two-bedrooms, not to mention stunning views of the beach. It was also perfectly located next to shops and restaurants and of course the famous seaside itself. I hated to leave their Broadbeach location, which is always a great sign that a hotel is doing almost everything right. My last night in Queensland, fittingly, was spent at another Peppers hotel, this one in another beachside resort town – Palm Cove. Once again, I was impressed by the expansive suites and a prime location along the town’s major thoroughfare. I admit I may have prejudged the entire brand based solely on their name, never a smart thing to do, but I can attest to the fact that this is one of the best luxury brands in Australia.
The Shangri-La family of hotels almost always guarantees a great hotel experience in luxurious surroundings, and their Cairns property lived up to that and more. An easy walk from the town’s major promenade, the Shangri-La in Cairns has done a great job of keeping its interior updated and elegant. The room was large and furnished with low profile, Asian-inspired décor that made my brief time there relaxing and comfortable. Add to that great marina views and an excellent staff, and I can’t say enough good things about this amazing luxury hotel in Cairns.
Silky Oaks Lodge, Mossman
The final hotel I want to highlight impressed me so much that I recently devoted an entire post to it. More than just a great luxury resort, Silky Oaks Lodge offers an experience nearly impossible to find anywhere else in the world. Occupying an enviable space adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage protected Daintree Rainforest and Wet Tropics region, Silky Oaks has incorporated all the best elements of the jungle into its refined and private luxury experience. Not unlike Qualia, Silky Oaks is made up of a series of small cottages that they call tree houses. Perched high on hills overlooking the jungle or nearby river, the tree houses offer a secluded and luxurious experience for every guest. Silky Oaks has also done a great job of embracing its natural surroundings by offering walks through the forest, a private swimming hole, kayaking on the hotel’s river and a spa that is one of the best I’ve ever been to. There is no choice in my opinion; Silky Oaks must be on your to-do list if you’re an admirer of luxury hotels and resorts as I am.
Queensland may be blessed with beautiful natural wonders, but it also has a vibrant luxury travel sector that has kept up with the times in ways not seen in all areas of the country. It means that for someone like me, who loves experiential luxury travel, there may be no better place in the world to have a fun, adventurous day but also a calming, luxurious evening in some of the best hotels in the world.
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