Hilton Hotel in Cairns, Australia

SDCairns Hotels › Hilton Review
Updated: January 4, 2022

• Location: Right on the esplanade in downtown Cairns.
• Hotel website: hilton.com
• Hotel phone: +61 (0)7 4050 2000
Check prices for Hilton

Review of Hilton Cairns hotel.

The Hilton hotel is located right on the esplanade in Cairns.

Hilton – Majestic position facing the water and oh-so convenient for city amenities.

Between a quiet side street and waterside path with a cycling track, the Hilton is also only meters from the casino, a park with an adventure playground, and the terminal for boat trips around the majestic reef. Everything is as expected of this international chain: e.g. all rooms and suites are spacious, comfortable, and functional, while the pool offers plenty of shady palms and lawns, as well as a bar and jacuzzi. Also, the gym is better than most, and the giant atrium with tropical plants is beautiful. The design ensures that all rooms/suites feature sizable balconies and many enjoy unobstructed sea views. And the Hilton proudly showcases the region’s indigenous heritage with Aboriginal carvings dotted among lush tropical gardens and a weekly corroboree (dance/music performance).

Hilton – The Location

  • Address: The official address is 34 Esplanade. In fact, the main entrance faces Marlin Parade, which leads off Wharf Street, an extension of the Esplanade.
  • Area: Fabulous, quiet area so convenient to the amenities around the city and along the water.
  • How to Get There: The only option to/from the Cairns Airport (7km) is by Cairns Taxis. See “Local Transport” below for information about local buses and trains.
  • Handy to: Casino. Boat terminal for trips around the Great Barrier Reef.

Hilton – The Basics

  • Guests: Caters to all – from business travelers to holiday-makers and families to honeymooners.
  • Pets: Not allowed.
  • Views: About half the rooms directly face the water and views are unobstructed. Others overlook a quiet dead-end side street.
  • Kitchen: The Hilton Premier Suites feature kitchens and living/dining areas.
  • Private Pools/Jacuzzis: Some rooms come with ‘hydro-baths’, i.e. bathtubs with water spouts, while the Premier Suites feature ‘whirlpool spas’ (jacuzzis).
  • Parking: Valet and self-parking available for a daily fee.
  • How to Book: Booking.com will have the best rates.
  • Phone: +61 (0)7 4050 2000
  • Email: reservations.cairns@hilton.com
  • Website: hilton.com

Hilton – Amenities

  • Pool: Accessible via a spiral staircase, the pool is much longer and more appealing than at most rivals. Plenty of shade – natural and under a roof. Alongside is a ping pong table, jacuzzi, and bar (but not a swim-up one).
  • Spa: Not provided, which is not unexpected for any hotel in downtown Cairns.
  • Fitness Center: Better than expected. Well-equipped and facing the pool.
  • For Families: Table tennis (ping pong). Baby-sitting.
  • Other: Wedding chapel. Business Center. Tours arranged. Gift shop/convenience store. Laundry/dry-cleaning. Indigenous ceremony with dancing and didgeridoos Friday evenings.

Hilton – Food and Drink

  • Restaurants: Café Sunrise – facing the flourishing gardens and open only for breakfast. • Mondo on the Waterfront – separate to and under the hotel, it faces the waterside path. The cuisine and service have won numerous awards. Open for lunch and dinner.
  • Bar: Gin Social – chic meeting spot next to the lobby. Water views, signature cocktails, and craft beers. Open daily from 4pm to midnight.
  • Breakfast: Buffet breakfast can be included depending on the type of room and how it was booked. Continental breakfast included with the suites and executive rooms.
  • Room Service: Available 24/7.

Hilton – Rooms

  • Room Types: Double Hilton Deluxe Room • Double Hilton Guest Room • Double Hilton Spa Room • King Hilton Deluxe Room • King Hilton Guest Room • King Hilton Spa Room • Double Hilton Executive Room • King Hilton Executive Room • Hilton Executive Spa Suite • Hilton Premier Suite • List of all rooms
  • Smoking Rooms: Unusually, allowed on the balconies of all rooms.
  • Best Room: The Hilton Premier Suites are twice the size of the other suites and four times larger than the standard rooms. On the top floor for maximum views, with hydro-baths, executive club access, and separate living rooms and kitchens.
  • For Families: Many rooms have 2 double beds, while most others can squeeze in an extra single bed. Otherwise, book a room with connecting doors.

Hilton – Local Transport

  • Walking & Cycling: Cairns is so compact and wonderful for walking. Cycling is also popular along a path that extends about 3km alongside the water. Bikes can be rented at Cairns Electric Bikes, just around the corner on Wharf Street.
  • Buses: Services operated by Sunbus head to the lovely tropical beaches less than an hour away. The most convenient bus station is on Lake Street (800m). Greyhound Australia offers buses all over Queensland and the rest of Australia from a stop (250m) near the Reef Fleet Terminal.
  • Trains: Running between Cairns and Brisbane 5 times a week, the Spirit of Queensland is one of Australia’s most spectacular train services. Just as amazing – and far shorter – are the daily trips on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. All trains use the terminal (1.5 km) attached to the Cairns Central shopping center (see below).
  • Taxis & Ride-shares: Best to book ahead for Cairns Taxis. Uber also operates as far as Port Douglas.
  • Car Rental: Most internationally-known agencies (and several locally-run ones) offer rentals, including Avis and Hertz.
  • Boats: All sorts of boats for sightseeing, diving, fishing, and sailing depart from the Reef Fleet Terminal (100m via the boardwalk). Book online, at any travel agency in downtown, or at the official booking office opposite the terminal.

Hilton – What’s Nearby?

Almost every restaurant and café in Cairns is licensed to serve alcohol.

Best Nearby Restaurants

  • Wharf One – delightfully set along the wharf 200m away, it offers light meals, tapas, and all sorts of drinks from early morning. Fab spot to watch the cruise ships come and go.
  • Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns Wharf – magnificent position in a heritage-listed building alongside the cruise-ship terminal (400m). Vast amount of seating inside and out, extensive menu, and a famous micro-brewery.
  • Ochre Restaurant – divine waterfront setting barely 50m from the hotel via the boardwalk. Award-winning Australian cuisine with an ever-changing menu and focus on sustainability.
  • Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront – alongside Ochre (see above). Waterside tables and top-class service for seafood, steaks, pastas, and salads. Another outlet attached to the Cairns Aquarium (see below) has a wall alongside a tank of marine life.
  • Bushfire Flame Grill – award-winning Brazilian-inspired restaurant where waiters slice off as much meat as wanted from giant skewers. 200m via Wharf Street.

Best Nearby Bars

  • Barrier Reef Hotel – classic old-style Aussie pub in a heritage-listed building. So likably different to the resort bars. Good-value meals and friendly staff. About 300m along Wharf Street.
  • Rattle ‘N Hum Cairns – as popular with locals as tourists for its esplanade setting, garden seating, and daily specials (especially pizzas). About 400m away.

Nearby Shops

  • Roughly 500m along the Esplanade are the Cairns Night Markets. Open every day, with souvenir stalls (from 5pm) and cafés (from 10am), they are a bit of a tourist trap. More vibrant is the Asian-style Rusty’s Markets (open from early, Friday to Sunday), about 700m via Spence Street. Mostly fresh produce, but also souvenirs, live music, and food court. The massive Cairns Central shopping center is 1km up Spence Street.

Nearby Attractions

  • Boat trips – from the Reef Fleet Terminal (100m via the boardwalk), all sorts of organized trips are available – whether diving/snorkeling, fishing, sailing, water-sports, or whale-watching among the most extraordinary coral reefs on the planet. Others just swim, snorkel, hike, or dine at Fitzroy Island or Green Island – both only 45 minutes one-way by boat.
  • Casino – smaller than some, but no less popular and vibrant. All sorts of gambling available, as well as live music and inexpensive bars and bistros for all. Just across Wharf Street.
  • Lagoon – in lieu of any beaches in the city, this massive open-air swimming pool faces the sea, 500m via the Esplanade. Surrounded by shady lawns with free barbecue facilities. Open from about 6am to 9pm daily. Free entry.
  • Cairns Aquarium – the city’s newest attraction is 1km along Abbott Street. Among the 15,000 marine creatures are giant sawfish, hammerhead sharks, and turtles, as well as crocs, frogs, and snakes unique to the region. Open daily.
  • Beaches – some will be disappointed that the coastline within Cairns is swampy and muddy. Thankfully, perfect tropical beaches – Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, and Palm Cove – all with plenty of places to eat, drink, shop, and stay can be found within an hour north by local bus. Note the warning signs about stingers (jellyfish) and even crocodiles.

Hilton – The Hotel

The hotel is in a superb location.

The Hilton is superbly positioned between a quiet downtown street and the waterside path.

Rooms offer superb views.

With no other high-rises nearby and being so close to the sea, views from many rooms are superb.

There are lush tropical gardens in front of the hotel.

The tropical gardens in front of the hotel are lush and dotted with Aboriginal sculptures.

A public path runs nearby.

The setting all around the hotel is wonderful, particularly along the public path next to the water.

The lobby is spacious and inviting.

The lobby area is spacious, fashionable, and inviting.

Gin Social is a stylish bar.

Gin Social is a stylish bar and meeting spot at the hotel lobby.

Café Sunrise offers indoor and outdoor seating.

With tables inside and out, Café Sunrise is only open for breakfast.

Mondo on the Waterfront bistro is delightful.

On a lower level below the hotel, the Mondo on the Waterfront bistro is delightful.

Mondo on the Waterfront bistro offers waterside seating.

Many tables at the Mondo on the Waterfront face the sea.

The pool is large and appealing.

The pool at the Hilton is larger and more appealing than those at most rival hotels in the city center.

The gym is well-equipped.

Big and well-equipped, the fitness center faces the pool.

The central atrium is packed with tropical trees.

Unlike other hotels around the city, the substantial atrium in the middle of the Hilton is packed with tropical trees and flowers.

All accommodations are spacious and comfortable.

As expected of a hotel within the Hilton chain, all rooms and suites are spacious, functional, and comfortable.

Rooms come with contemporary art.

Every room/suite features contemporary art and a glass window (with a blind) between the bathroom and bedroom.

All accommodations have balconies.

All rooms and suites feature balconies large enough to enjoy the direct sea views.

Sea-facing rooms can see the Reef Fleet Terminal.

Views from the rooms and suites facing the sea extend to the Reef Fleet Terminal from where boats leave for trips around the Great Barrier Reef.

Ochre Restaurant is located close by.

Barely 50m from the hotel are a string of classy restaurants along a boardwalk, including the Ochre Restaurant.

Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront is next to Ochre.

Next to the Ochre along a boardwalk close to the hotel is the famous Dundee’s Restaurant on the Waterfront.

Wharf One Cairns is a laidback cafe.

A perfect spot for watching people, boats, and cruise ships is the laidback café called Wharf One Cairns.

Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns Wharf has a great micro-brewery.

Popular for its micro-brewery and extensive seating inside and out is Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns Wharf.

Bushfire Flame Grill is a meat lovers' heaven.

The Bushfire Flame Grill restaurant offers all-you-can-eat meat on skewers.

Barrier Reef Hotel is a great country pub.

Close to the Hilton, this typical Queensland country pub is dwarfed by high-rise apartment buildings.

Rattle ‘N Hum bar & grill is very popular.

Hugely popular among locals and tourists is the Rattle ‘N Hum bar and grill, a short walk along the Esplanade.

Cairns is located by the bay.

Cairns faces an attractive bay that stretches several kilometers from the hotel.

Boat trips to the Great Barrier Reef depart from the Reef Fleet Terminal.

At the Reef Fleet Terminal, barely a minute’s walk from the Hilton, boats leave daily for trips around the Great Barrier Reef.

A 3km-long walking and cycling path stretches by the water.

Stretching about 3km from the hotel is a walking and cycling path alongside the water.

An agency nearby rents out bicycles.

Just around the corner from the Hilton, this agency rents bikes which are ideal for exploring the flat streets around Cairns.

Lagoon swimming pool is free for all.

Only a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, the remarkable Lagoon swimming pool is free for the public.

The casino is very popular.

Just across the road from the Hilton is the casino.

Cairns Aquarium is nearby.

About 1km away, the excellent Cairns Aquarium is home to about 15,000 creatures, mostly from the Great Barrier Reef.

Shields Street is an attractive vehicle-free street.

Cairns is perfect for walking, especially along the vehicle-free Shields Street.

Cairns Central shopping center is nearby.

About 1km from the hotel is the massive Cairns Central shopping center.

Cairns Night Markets has several souvenir stalls.

Although a bit of a tourist trap, the Cairns Night Markets are worth a visit.

Rusty’s Markets is vibrant and Asian-style.

Vibrant and fascinating, Rusty’s Markets is about 5 minutes on foot from the Hilton.

Public buses connect to the beaches in the north.

Public buses link the center of Cairns with beaches to the north.

Palm Cove is about an hour away.

About an hour from the hotel by public bus, Palm Cove is the perfect tropical beach. Check rates and availability: Hilton

All Cairns Hotel Reviews

Read More

Get All New Content

My Travel Newsletter