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Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
On The Wallaby
Some hostels just feel like home and this one does, with handmade timber furniture and mosaics, and spotless rooms (without TV). Nature-based tours depart daily; tour packages and transfers ($30 one way) are available from Cairns.
With beach-funk decor, a Bali-esque pool area and an ultra laid-back vibe, this eight-storey converted apartment tower is the ultimate surf retreat. There are budget dorms, apartments and a hip penthouse begging for a party...
Kingfisher Bay Resort
This elegant eco-resort has hotel rooms with private balconies and sophisticated two- and three-bedroom timber villas elevated to limit their environmental impact...
North Gregory Hotel
This historic art-deco beauty in the middle of the outback has undergone its most extensive renovation since the ‘50s. The lobby is like a glamorous film-noir set and the rooms are styled somewhere between its heyday and 20th-century Brisbane...
Green Island Resort
The luxurious Green Island Resort is a polished-floorboards kind of place with tastefully refurbished rooms complete with king beds...
Maroochydore Beach Motel
You've gotta love a theme motel, especially one as snazzy and spotless this one. There are 18 different rooms, including the Elvis Room (natch), the Egyptian Room and the Aussie room (complete with toy wombat to snuggle)...
Glass House Mountains Ecolodge
Glass House Mountains
This novel retreat overseen by a keen environmentalist is close to Australia Zoo and offers a range of good-value sleeping options, including the cosy Orchard Room ($112) and the converted Church Loft ($175), each with polished floorboards and tremend...
M On Mary
Handily located a few blocks from the Botanic Gardens, this 43-storey building has modern, comfortably furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments that are good value for the money...
The Hotel Cairns
There’s a true tropical charm to this sprawling bone-white hotel, built in traditional Queenslander 'plantation' style. Rooms have an understated elegance and the huge ‘tower’ rooms and suites offer luxury touches including private balconies...
Lizard Island Resort
Wash the sand off your feet in giant clam shells filled with water before entering your pricey smooth-as luxury room at Lizard Island Resort . Rates include all meals and drinks.
Daydream Island Resort & Spa
Daydream Island Resort & Spa is the tackier side of the Whitsundays, with five grades of accommodation. Still, it's efficiently operated and set in beautifully landscaped tropical gardens...
The Woolshed Backpackers
Clean, simple and private, Woolshed is an escape from the hostel party circuit...
Backpackers By The Bay
A low-key alternative to the seething party-hostel cluster downtown, with tidy rooms, hammocks, a good pool and a distinct lack of skull-clanging tunes and whoops. It's about a 10-minute walk from Airlie's centre.
Cairns Girls Hostel
Sorry lads! This white-glove-test-clean, female-only hostel is one of the most accommodating budget stays in Cairns.
Dolphins Beach House
Up there with the better backpacker joints on the east coast, Dolphins is a peaceful retreat set in lush tropical gardens...
Airlie Waterfront Backpackers
Flashpackin' good-times, with coveted ocean views, squeaky-clean rooms and flatscreen TVs.
Brisbane City Backpackers
This place is popular, and makes good use of outdoor spaces – the rooftop has sun lounges and river views, and there’s a pool with barbecue. Rooms and dorms are generally well kept, ranging from four- to 30-bed, plus private and en-suite rooms...
Brisbane Backpackers Resort
The best feature of this popular hostel is the pool and spa, with a tiled outdoor area and a bar right next door. The rooms themselves are basic but generally well maintained. The hostel provides a courtesy bus, tours, meals and plenty of amusement...
Somewhere To Stay
Big and breezy, there’s more than 50 rooms in this enormous white Queenslander home with a very laid-back vibe.
Pk's Jungle Village
PK’s is a longstanding backpacker hub. You can reach Myall Beach by boardwalk, and its Jungle Bar is the entertainment epicentre of Cape Trib.
Energetic backpackers with a great bar, live tunes and lots of freebies, including breakfast, bikes and pick-ups from Cairns.
Backpackers In Paradise
If you’re in Surfers to wage war against sleep, this party backpackers is for you. Encircling a courtyard carpeted with astroturf, most rooms are freshly painted and have bathrooms. The bar does cheap dinners – fuel-up before you hit the town.