4.5
Very Good 993 Reviews
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This Hotel meets our standards
Our editors have been here and it has met our standards

What We Love

  • Balmy evenings dining al fresco while watching the moon rise over the Coral Sea
  • The award-winning Li’Tya spa, which uses techniques based on ancient Aboriginal traditions
  • Mingling with fellow guests over free punch and canapés in the Brigadier’s Bar and Lounge

What To Know

  • The Reef House is just 20 minutes’ drive from Cairns International Airport
  • Tours of the Great Barrier Reef operate from Cairns to the south and Port Douglas (40 minutes to the north)
  • Marine stinger (jellyfish) season occurs in Far North Queensland from November to May/June. Palm Cove Beach has a netted area for safe swimming

Amenities

  •  Bar
  •  Free WiFi
  •  Handicap Accessible
  •  Parking On Site
  •  Pool
  •  Restaurant
  •  Spa
Disclaimer: This content was accurate at the time the hotel was reviewed. Please check our partner sites when booking to verify that details are still correct.
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Overview

Tropical home away from home with an award-winning spa, pretty pool and topnotch eats a short drive from the Great Barrier Reef

The Look

Across the road from a glorious mile-long strip of sand, amethyst-blue sea and four small islands dotting the horizon, towering centuries-old melaleuca gum trees stand guard at the entrance to this colonial-style hotel. Grand white colonnades frame the long timber deck leading to reception, and central to the resort is a 25-meter freshwater pool (there’s also a 20-meter saltwater pool), set amid lush gardens, swaying palm trees and blazing bougainvilleas. Daily at sunset the corridors are lit with dozens of candles as guests gather to share stories of their day’s adventures.

Bed and Bath

From the cool, terracotta-tiled floors and white plantation shutters to the rattan furniture and mosquito nets over the beds, everything about The Reef House says ‘tropics’. The rooms are large and airy, all feature king-sized beds with crisp white linen and a burst of color via tasteful throws and cushions, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, free WiFi and in-house movies. Superior Balcony Room guests can start the romance bubbling along in a couples’ spa bath on their own private and expansive verandah. For those whose bubbly days are largely behind them, family suites are also available.

Beyond

The Reef House Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has more than enough variety to sustain a lengthy visit. The evening menu changes according to the season and features a five-course degustation menu with wine pairings. From the à la carte menu, the crispy-skin wild-caught barramundi is worth the trip alone. The Brigadier’s Bar and Lounge operates on an honor system (in the spirit of an army officers’ mess) and offers a library of books, board games and DVDs. There’s also the option of flopping on a comfy deckchair and dining poolside. In Li’Tya Spa, uniquely Australian treatments are carried out in restful yet state-of-the-art rooms. Don’t miss the Mala Mayi (90-minute mud wrap and full-body massage) – when it’s over you’ll feel as though you’re walking on air.

In the Area

With relaxation taken care of at The Reef House, Palm Cove Village and the surrounding area is abuzz with activities. From snorkelling to scuba diving to golf to horse trekking to white-water rafting to the latest water craze, jet-ski flyboarding, you can get as big or small an adrenalin rush as you desire. Once you’ve worn yourself out, the village has a generous serve of bars, cafes and restaurants, plus the typical tourist boutiques and souvenirs shops.

How to Get There

The Reef House Palm Cove MGallery by Sofitel
99 Williams Esplanade
Palm Cove, 4879 Australia

Reviews

4.5 Very Good 993 Reviews
Iconic!
Reviewed 3 days ago

This was our favorite hotel on our honeymoon in Australia 25 years ago. We always had the fondest memories of it, but never quite made it back here - one attempt in 2001 was quashed by the Ansett collapse. So, we were glad to be able to put it in our homebound itinerary from New Zealand this year, as a conclusion of what we planned as our silver anniversary vacation.

When you come back to a place after such a long time, there is always the danger that you idealized it so much that it cannot live up to your expectation. And you cannot be sure that what you loved it for then, is what you will love still - and whether it is still there at all. We are so glad to say that, for us, the Reef House withstood the test of time. Despite of all the updating that obviously happened during all these years, the place kept its original character which makes it special: it still feels a bit like a colonial haven for travelers from afar, joining every night at the bar to chat about their journeys. A faint similarity to the old Raffles in Singapore comes to mind, both in architecture and heritage, perhaps even in posture.

Legacy notwithstanding, rooms are in very good shape, functional and comfortable. We had a Verandah King Spa Suite which gave us a separate seating area and also a large terrace with a jacuzzi and an outside kitchenette. In these rooms, there is one master bathroom and another one which serves as vanity, wardrobe, and luggage room. Ample space for two.

The lush tropical hotel garden combined with the open seating areas, restaurants and bars is what makes the atmosphere throughout the Reef House so special. The hotel has one "tranquility" pool for adults which has a waterfall that adds a nice twist, a separate, warmer pool where also kids can roam, and a hot whirlpool. The beach is just across the street and the sand and waters are pristine; in box jelly season an enclosed swimming area on the beach is just a few hundred meters down the street.

Service is excellent; all our requests - from gluten-free items for breakfast to a late checkout on our departure day - seemed to be already fulfilled the minute we asked for them. The complimentary daily Brigadier's Punch and Canapés at 5pm became a nice daily ritual - and a symbol for the hospitality the hotel extends to its guests. To us, it is - once again - an iconic place to stay in the tropics.

Tropical holiday haven
Reviewed 4 days ago

Enjoyed a relaxing week in an ocean front room right in the heart of Palm Cove. Comfortable and spacious room in a colonial setting. Two pools, great restaurant and the Brigadiers Bar make this a perfect spot for your next tropical holiday. Staff are always welcoming and friendly. This was our second stay here and will not be our last.

Lovely spot to unwind
Reviewed 1 week ago

Lovely small intimate hotel with well appointed rooms. The outside seating in each room on the balcony was lovely for having a drink in the evening. The tranquility pool was a lovely place to unwind late afternoon and the non alcoholic punch of the day was very refreshing.

Exceeded Expectations
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

My wife and I stayed at the Reef House with friends for 5 nights. The friendly team, quality of food and drinks exceeded our expectations in all aspects. The accommodation was comfortable and suited the environment perfectly.
We will definitely return to enjoy these facilities and to experience the wonderful culture that is displayed by all employees.
The complimentary drinks each afternoon at the Brigadier's Bar provided a wonderful opportunity to meets other guests and share experiences.

A great stay!
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Had a wonderful stay at the Reef House Hotel! The personal service was great and Claire at the front desk helped us plan all our activities, giving us great ideas and reviews of places to visit. All of the staff were very friendly and it made our stay especially enjoyable. We really liked that our fridge was stocked with complimentary bubbles also! Thanks! Is a great location, just opposite the beach and the breakfast was lovely. We upgraded to the hot breakfast a couple of days which was very nice. The hotel itself is quite old but with all the added touches it didn’t matter. There were two pools to choose from (the sun beds could do with a clean) and both had jacuzzis! We also enjoyed the free selection of DVD’s available in the games room and bikes were available to take also. Such a lovely stay. Thanks so much!