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Flynn in Cairns

When my husband and I first stayed at Crystalbrook Flynn, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being unfaithful by spending the night. After all, I had slept with two other members of the same family – Riley and Bailey – already. And I liked them both. A lot. So much so that I had already bedded down with the handsome Riley more than once.  This time we were returning to Flynn, the contemporary 311-room hotel that was billed as the ‘wild child’ of the group, as a couple for a second time. Our first stay took place during COVID when there were only a handful of guests in the hotel and many of the excellent drinking and dining venues were closed. Finally, the time had come for us to see Flynn with its party pants on and ready for fun.

Flynn Cairns
Flynn in Cairns

The porte cochere at Flynn is large enough to accommodate multiple cars and the mini buses picking guests up for day tours. Parking is available onsite and easy to access with plenty of space to park larger vehicles. There is also an attractive lounge area in reception to wait for pick ups in the air-conditioning. After a cheerful welcome at reception, we were once again given detailed directions to our room which is handy as there are two towers plus guest facilities located on different levels. Once you’ve got your bearings it’s easy to find everything but we did manage to get lost when we stayed here the first time.

Reception at Flynn in Cairns
Reception at Flynn in Cairns

For our first stay at the hotel, we opted for a Sea King Room on Level 9 of the Esplanade Tower which featured tones of turquoise, pink, white, and grey, and had a comfortable king size bed, easy chair, a HD Smart TV,  mini bar, coffee machine, free fast wifi, and a customised iPad in lieu of a hotel compendium. This can be used to check out the daily weather forecast and order room service, book restaurants, etc. There was also a table with two upholstered dining chairs which doubled as a work desk. Outside there were 180 degree views of the Coral Sea and a balcony with two plush outdoor chairs and a small table. Water pressure in the bathroom was excellent and the large pump packs of eco-friendly Indigenous-inspired toiletries were of a high quality.  If you’re after a cake of soap, shower cap, etc you’ll find these in the drawer under the bathroom sink. If you feel like a splurge, the suites on the top three floors of the Esplanade tower are worth the spend with million dollar views and large balconies to take it all in.

Flynn view
View from Flynn Sea King Room in Cairns
Flynn Sea King room
Flynn Sea King room

This time, we were upgraded to a two bedroom Urban King Suite which had a view of the Cairns streetscape and the distant lush green hills that surround Cairns. The Urban rooms at Flynn are quite a bit cheaper than the sea view rooms so if you don’t particularly care about the view or are going to be out and about each day like we were, they are a great option. We didn’t need the extra bedroom with two single beds and an extra bathroom as there were only two of us but having the lounge area was great as the weather was extremely rainy while we were there. Definitely not ideal for sitting out on the balcony. If we travelled to Cairns with friends or our son, we would definitely opt for one of these Urban suites.

Lounge room in an Urban King Suite

There are two places to swim at Flynn with one pool on level one and another on level two. All that was missing from the jaw dropping see-through pool on level one above the drinking and dining spot Boardwalk Social was an inflatable unicorn. If you’re like me and not game to bare all in your swimmers with a bar full of punters looking on, there is plenty of time to swim here before Boardwalk Social opens. There’s also a secluded second pool surrounded by luxe cabanas on level two plus an Eléme Day Spa. Or you can join the good natured throng across the road at the saltwater swimming lagoon on the Esplanade (‘the nard’ to the locals) which can accommodate 1,000 people. It is patrolled by multiple lifeguards and open daily from 6am to 9pm.

Level 2 pool at Flynn
Level 2 pool at Flynn
Cabanas on Level 2 at Flynn
Cabanas on Level 2 at Flynn

In a case of good things come to those who wait, we got to enjoy a drink at the sophisticated Whiskey and Wine bar on this visit. Even better, the rain held off so we could sit outside. We gazed longingly at this venue when it was closed on our first visit as it looked so good and it didn’t disappoint. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Flynn’s Italian, was also up and running so we booked in for the four course Tavolo Per Due menu which costs $99 with wine matching. Each course has two options: one with an Italian wine match and the other matched with an Australian wine. We were impressed with the quality of the wines on offer and the food which encapsulated classic Italian flavours and featured some of the region’s best produce. The truffle ricotta bruschetta with tomatoes from the Atherton Tableland, balsamic pearl, basil oil, and shaved parmesan on sourdough was a standout. It’s worth booking a table in time for the sunset so you can watch the colours change while you enjoy your first course.

Drinks at Whiskey & Wine
Drinks with Trevor at Whiskey & Wine
Truffle ricotta bruschetta
Truffle ricotta bruschetta at Flynn’s Italian

On our previous stay, Flynn’s Italian was offering a continental selection plus a hot a la carte menu which was cooked to order as there weren’t enough guests to put on the regular hot and cold buffet. This time, the buffet was back but we felt it wasn’t on par with the one available at Riley. Then again, Riley is a more expensive hotel so the difference did make sense.

Flynn's Italian in Cairns
Breakfast with a view at Flynn’s Italian in Cairns

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Boardwalk Social on the ground floor has earned a reputation as a buzzing local hot spot with live music, great cocktails, big screen TVs, and a party vibe. It’s as popular with locals as it is with tourists. There’s a bar with well-priced drinks (especially during happy hour) and food is available from market-style food venues serving burgers, salads, pizza, tacos, and bar snacks like chips and potato wedges. When you order, you’re given a number and the meals are delivered to your table when they’re ready so you don’t have to get up and collect them.

Stairs lead up to Level 2
Stairs lead up to Level 2 at Flynn
Boardwalk Social at Flynn
Boardwalk Social at Flynn

Flynn is an impressive hotel that is equally well suited to a holiday spent exploring Cairns or an upmarket staycation where there is little need to leave the hotel. This sophisticated wild child lends itself to good times and late nights and all sorts of fun for travellers who love letting their hair down in the heart of the action. Add the new Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct just outside the hotel and you’ve got the makings of a perfect holiday.

Disclosure: The writers paid a media rate for their stay and dined as guests of Crystalbrook Collection.

Looking for things to do while you’re in Cairns? Go white water rafting on the Barron River, take a day trip to Paronella Park and the Mamu Tropical Skywalk, ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail, check out Cairns’ thriving coffee scene, or head out of town and spend a few nights at the luxurious all inclusive Mt Mulligan Lodge . If the weather is good, a day trip to Fitzroy Island is a top choice if you don’t mind venturing slightly further afield.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.