Pay 3, Stay 4
We've hand-picked the very best boutique and luxury hotels in Queensland to bring you our collection of stylish romantic retreats. Find your perfect hotel and get the low-down on holidays in Queensland – just choose your destination from the list below…
Destinations in Queensland
Australia’s third largest city has long lived in the shadow of Sydney and Melbourne, but in recent years Queensland’s capital has come into its own, shaking off its small town mentality.
Infamous in Australia for its bling mix of high-rise architecture and taste for the high life, the Gold Coast in Queensland is all about seaside glamour and fun in the sun, with some serious surfing thrown in for good measure.
A trip to the hamlet of Grandchester – whose pride and joy is its Victorian rail station – may only take an hour by car from Brisbane, but driving through the rolling pastures and past mountain ranges you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time, too.
With azure waters, powder-white sandy bays and spectacular snorkelling and diving, the sun-kissed tropical islands of the Great Barrier Reef are the kind of escape you dream about, but wake up here and they’re blissfully real.
Maleny is a quiet Queensland town rich in natural beauty.
South-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim boasts sultry subtropical rainforests, dramatic escarpments and an arc of lofty peaks perfect for romantic picnics, jaw-dropping treks or just soaking up from your spa bath with a glass of the good stuff.
A tropical playground for Australia's style set, the Sunshine Coast offers a swoon-worthy line-up of sun-kissed beaches, lush hinterland havens, chic stores and a stellar restaurant and bar scene.
Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is a fantastic place to dive and snorkel. Your surfing ability will determine the best location to sample our wide variety of waves. Longboarding is well suited to Noosa, and Byron Bay and Crescent Head in New South Wales, but if you’re looking for a more challenging experience check out Margaret River in Western Australia (also an amazing wine region) and Burleigh Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Drive Victoria’s scenic Great Ocean Road where infamous Bells Beach suits serious surfers and Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne and Fairhaven will appeal to beginners. Keep going to spot wild koalas near Kennett River, kayak with seals at Apollo Bay and see the awe-inspiring Twelve Apostles sea stacks and Loch Ard Gorge near Port Campbell.
Noosa, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a must-see destination with its mild temperatures in and out of the water – even in Australia’s winter – and its crystal-clear ocean. There is loads to do, too, from surfing the waves to stand-up paddle boarding on the river, and hikes and running trails through the National Park.
I also love Cable Beach in Broome – you can witness a spectacular sunset over the ocean while riding on a camel along the sand. It’s a wonderful experience and truly unique to Western Australia. Mr & Mrs Smith favourite Pinctada Cable Beach has a spa and smart dining just a stroll from the sea; for camel treks, try Ships of the Desert. While in Broome, visit Matso’s brewery and sample their desert lime and wild ginger cider.
Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland beyond Port Douglas – it’s wild up there. The lush forests and spectacular creatures, from palm cockatoos to green tree pythons and tree kangaroos, make it feel like a completely different country. Geographically, it kind of is, as it’s composed of fragments off the end of the land bridge that once linked Australia to Papua New Guinea.
Narawntapu National Park, near Devonport, in Tasmania – I sat in wonder looking out over what seemed like a well manicured park, perfect lawns stretching for miles between neatly trimmed shrubs. It was only as the sun set that the gardeners became apparent, and none brandished shears or secateurs. They simply bounced and shuffled from cover. The darker it got, the more kangaroos, wallabies, potoroos and wombats appeared, almost magically, and started their night’s work, nibbling and chewing the landscape into shape. I’ve never seen so many large wild mammals outside of the African plains, so it’s no surprise they call this place Tasmania’s Serengeti.
The Red Centre is hot, dusty and iconic. I love the harshness of the landscape and the contrasting areas with water, rivers or springs. If you like birds and reptiles as much as me then it doesn’t get much better or more Australian than this. My best memories of the Outback were my first meeting with a thorny devil (an Australian lizard), the huge flocks of wild parrots and cockatoos, and night drives looking for the more secretive creatures as they came out to play.
Fly into Queensland’s tropical capital Brisbane from the UK with Emirates. Elegant Spicers Balfour Hotel serves tasty breakfasts on its terrace, just a stroll from arts centre Brisbane Powerhouse and Fortitude Valley’s stylish shops and bars. Take a day trip to Moreton Island, which teams beaches with lagoons and National Park land. Sandboard on the dunes or snorkel or dive among the spooky boat wrecks at Tangalooma. At nearby North Stradbroke Island, savour a freshwater dip in the tea tree-stained Brown Lake, or walk to pretty Blue Lake. Look out for dolphins, dugongs, turtles, seabirds and whales in season, and try a Moreton Bay bug (a flathead lobster). In town, check out man-made Streets Beach on the South Bank, get an art kick at the GOMA, then sip prosecco at Stokehouse overlooking Brisbane River.
An obvious box to tick is the lively metropolis of Sydney, with its fantastic food, nightlife and exciting mix of people. For an insider’s tip, Cape Tribulation, in Far North Queensland, was wonderful, with beautiful jungle and beaches. Thanks to its offshore reefs poor old British explorer James Cook ran aground near here in the 18th century and gave it its negative name… unlike him, my family and I had an amazing time on holiday in a private farm in the rainforest. Just fly into Cairns and drive north, calling in at Port Douglas, or check out the Great Barrier Reef.