>  Destinations   >  Australia   >  Pullman Cairns International review

There has been a lot of talk in the travel industry about the tourism downturn in Cairns with many tour operators and hoteliers doing it tough. However, not everyone is struggling. Whenever the industry goes through a downtown there are invariably a few businesses which continue to thrive. One of them is Cairns’ largest 5-star hotel, the Pullman Cairns International.

View from the Pullman Cairns International
View from the Pullman Cairns International

This iconic hotel was once known as the Sebel Cairns but took on a new name a few years ago when it was taken over by Accor and rebranded as a Pullman. Located in the heart of the CBD and only 8km from the airport, it is one of the few hotels in town with spectacular views. The Presidential Suite on the top floor boasts plush furnishings, multiple balconies, a grand bathroom, king-size bedroom and surround-sound entertainment but if your budget doesn’t stretch to presidential proportions, a standard room on a high floor has an equally good view. 

Presidential Suite at Pullman Cairns International
Presidential Suite at the Pullman Cairns International

The old saying “they don’t build ‘em like they used to” certainly rings true when it comes to accommodation. I am a big fan of older (refurbished) hotels as rooms were much bigger back then. Pullman Cairns International was built in 1987 and has standard rooms which are bigger than the average suite. Each one comes with a work desk, internet access, a spacious Italian marble bathroom, and a private balcony. 

King Harbour View Room
King Harbour View Room

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There always seemed to be something going on outside. We watched yachts coming and going, a battleship sailing down the channel and a beautiful sunset over Trinity Inlet.  The hotel is within walking distance of the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal where most day trips leave from. After a big day out on the reef, it’s a relief being able to simply stroll back to the hotel.  Pullman Cairns International is also home to one of the city’s most famous dining experiences. Renowned for having Cairns’ best seafood buffet, people come from far and wide to feast on Tasmanian oysters, Gulf prawns, spanner crabs, mussels and more at Coco’s Restaurant.  

Cooling off at the Pullman Cairns International
Cooling off at the Pullman Cairns International

Coco’s iconic reputation is both a blessing and a curse, according to hotel manager Paul Clarke. Any attempt to change the menu is invariably met with howls of outrage, particularly from the locals. It seems that for now at least, Coco’s famous seafood buffet is here to stay. The hotel is within walking distance of pretty much everything but even a short stroll can be hot in summer. Our family decided to skip the sights the afternoon we arrived and hang out at the hotel’s distinctive lagoon style pool instead. Unlike some hotels, this pool is more than large enough to accommodate everyone. Even though the hotel was running at 100% capacity the pool area didn’t feel crowded. It was certainly a haven from the tropical North Queensland heat. 

After a good night’s sleep we walked across the road to the Cairns Reef Casino to take on the high ropes course at CairnsZOOm. For those after something more relaxing there is the hotel’s Mii Spa Day Spa which is the largest day spa in Cairns. It has 10 treatment rooms, including a Dreamtime couples suite with private outdoor bath and garden, a dedicated hand and foot treatment zone, a Vichy shower and post-treatment relaxation sanctuary. Pullman Cairns International reflects the ambiance and friendly spirit of Far North Queensland and is the perfect base for those wanting an active holiday exploring everything Cairns has to offer or somewhere to enjoy a relaxing break. 

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of the Pullman Cairns International.

If you would like to explore some other parts of beautiful Tropical North Queensland, we have tips for visiting Fitzroy Island, Heron Island, Orpheus Island, the Whitsundays, and Cairns which is one of the most popular jumping off points for the Great Barrier Reef.

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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.