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Would you stay at a Cairns hotel without a swimming pool?  If it’s the Oaks Cairns Hotel, you should. This 76-room five-storey hotel is located in a prime position on the Esplanade and doesn’t need a pool as the swimming lagoon is directly across the road. Room rates offer amazing value for such a new hotel in the heart of Cairns.

Oaks Cairns
Looking across the lagoon to the Oaks Cairns Hotel

Our stay at Oaks Cairns came with more than a few surprises. The first was the photos on the hotel website don’t do the accommodation justice. We opted for a Hotel Deluxe room as we were going to be out and about each day and figured sharing a room would be fine. We were expecting the Deluxe would be slightly larger than a standard room with a rollaway squished into one corner for our teenage son. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

We were blown away by our accommodation and how well it suited our family. At 47sqm, the Hotel Deluxe rooms at the Oaks Cairns are larger than some of the suites I’ve stayed in at five star hotels. The clever room design also made it feel like our son had his own ‘room’ with an entertainment unit providing a divider which created two separate areas. The couch folded out to a full size double bed which he opted to leave made up and the grown-ups had a king size bed. Our son connected his Bluetooth headphones to the large LG television which had free movies. He was able to stay up late watching TV without disturbing us.

Hotel Deluxe Oaks Cairns
Hotel Deluxe room at the Oaks Cairns

While all of these things were impressive, our favourite Deluxe Room feature was the bathroom which had a HUGE double rain shower which isn’t pictured on the website. This had fabulous water pressure, even when two people were showering at once, and was so large there was plenty of room to shower as a couple without feeling cramped. When we’re sharing a room as a family, one of the biggest pain points is everyone rushing for the shower when we return to the hotel after a day out. The double shower meant my husband and I could hit the shower first then head upstairs to the rooftop bar for a sundowner while our son took his time getting ready. There are only three of these ‘double shower’ rooms and we would book one again in a heartbeat.

Oaks Cairns bathroom
Oaks Cairns double shower

Another surprise was the Oak & Vine Restaurant and Bar on the hotel roof. This drinking and dining venue offers one of the best views in Cairns and became our go-to spot for evening drinks each day. We were originally planning to go out and try a couple of local bars but never made it as the view from Oak & Vine proved too hard to resist. In the late afternoon, this bar was the perfect spot to enjoy a (well-priced) glass of wine and views of the lagoon, the Esplanade and out to sea as we watched the tour boats come in after a day out on the reef.

Oaks Cairns Oak & Vine Restaurant
Sunset drinks at Oak & Vine
cocktails at Oak & Vine
Cocktails at Oak & Vine Restaurant in Cairns

Oak & Vine Restaurant and Bar has a menu that is designed for sharing. There are three large ‘stand-alone’ dishes: fish & chips, a burger and a vegetarian curry plus an extensive selection of smaller share plates. We sampled four small share dishes during our time at the hotel – beef skewers, chicken fried in crispy egg batter served with Japanese tartare sauce, a cheese plate and tempura prawns. All of these were excellent although we agreed the chicken probably had a slight edge (it disappeared in double-quick time). Portions sizes are large so pace yourself. Not even our teen could fit in dessert when we came for dinner one night as the servings were so generous.

Oak & Vine Cairns
Beef skewers at Oak & Vine
Chicken fried in crispy egg batter served with Japanese tartare sauce
Chicken fried in crispy egg batter served with Japanese tartare sauce
Cheese plate
Cheese plate (with lavosh served in a separate bowl)
Oak & Vine Cairns
Tempura prawns
Burger at Oak & Vine Restaurant in Cairns
Burger at Oak & Vine Restaurant in Cairns

This open air restaurant and bar on the roof also doubles as a breakfast venue. If you have breakfast included in your package, each person gets a serving of bircher muesli, juice and (real espresso) coffee plus a basket of pastries and a fruit plate to share. We treated ourselves to an a la carte breakfast on our first morning and it was delicious. Don’t miss the buckwheat pancakes which come with cinnamon poached pears. It can get very warm at this restaurant in the morning, especially if you don’t manage to get a table in the shade, so put on some sunscreen before breakfast if you burn easily. 

A la carte breakfast at Oak & Vine Restaurant Cairns
A la carte breakfast at Oak & Vine Restaurant Cairns

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Hotel breakfast at Oaks Cairns Hotel
Breakfast at Oaks Cairns Hotel

We also discovered Level 1 is more than a reception area. And that you can take the stairs up there from the ground floor (the door to the stairs is just outside the glass doors on your left). This is handy to know as the Oaks Cairns only has one lift and it gets busy sometimes. As the hotel is just five storeys high, we discovered it was quicker to take the stairs. We didn’t bother waiting for the lift unless we were carrying luggage.

Reception Oaks Cairns
Coffee machine on Level 1
'Secret' balcony at the Oaks Cairns
‘Secret’ balcony at the Oaks Cairns

On Level 1 you’ll find a complimentary coffee machine plus a large balcony with tables and chairs where guests can mingle and relax. Walk down the hallway to the left of the reception desk and you’ll find another ‘secret’ balcony which overlooks the lagoon and the Esplanade and is great for people watching. This might have been our first visit to the Oaks Cairns, but it definitely won’t be our last.

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of the Oaks Cairns Hotel. She would not hesitate to return to this hotel at her own expense and is already missing that fabulous double shower.

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.