Review: Crystalbrook Flynn is Cairns’ most exciting local
This dazzling luxury hotel occupies pride of place on Cairns Esplanade, putting guests in the thick of the action.
Urban Master King
- Spacious and uncluttered rooms
- Close to Cairns Pier where Barrier Reef tours depart
- Surrounded by restaurants and family attractions
- Poor meal selections for vegans and vegetarians
- No 230v outlets near the bed, only USB
- Wheelchair access is difficult to locate
- Hotel pools are not exclusive to guests
- Direct access to Cairns Esplanade at the rear
Crystalbrook Collection has, in just a few years, swept into Australia and challenged the way hotels think about sustainability and sociability.
While the company has since expanded to Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay and Newcastle, Cairns was always its first target, immediately setting about constructing three brand new hotels which would set a new bar for service with an environmentally conscious modus operandi.
First to open in late 2018 was ‘Riley’, followed a year later by ‘Bailey’. The third of the North Queensland siblings, ‘Flynn’, arrived in late 2020. As is often the case with the youngest sibling, it’s the more free-spirited of the bunch.
Guests and visitors at Flynn see this warm and cheeky personality in various ways, from the bright, inviting interior and vibrant atmosphere through to playful handwritten notes scattered around the hotel.
As part of its agenda of sustainability, all Crystalbrook properties are cash-free across all restaurants, bars, and the hotel itself, so leave the cash in your wallet.
Location & Impressions
One of Australia’s biggest non-capital cities, Cairns is the metropolitan centre of North Queensland, with tourism a critical cog in the machine.
Tourism accounts for many businesses located on the three kilometre Esplanade, especially around the Cairns Pier – the jump-off point for many daily cruises and adventures to the Great Barrier Reef.
Crystalbrook Flynn, along with Riley and Bailey, all occupy prime real estate in this action packed corner of the city. The three are separated by no more than two blocks.
Guests at Flynn enjoy direct access to a multitude of shops, restaurants and attractions mere steps from the rear entrance, including a Ferris Wheel and free public swimming pool patrolled by lifeguards.
Parking around the hotel is plentiful with lots of public spaces. For more security, a space within the hotel will cost $12 per night.
To access the carpark, reception staff will hand you a gate buzzer to keep until check-out.
Take note that while the hotel does offer wheelchair lifts at both its front and rear entrance for accessibility, there are no ramps available as an intermediary between the lift or stairs.
Crystalbrook offers guests the ability to check-in via a smartphone app, however this can’t be done at all until the room is ready.
First, you must import your reservation via a code generated by the app. Once you’ve been notified your room is ready, the app will serve as your room key.
If you’d like something more tangible, reception can issue you with a circular RFID fob made from timber.
‘Urban’ guest rooms at Crystalbrook Flynn are spread across two buildings – the Abbott and Esplanade Tower – named according to the road they overlook.
Apart from some subtle design elements, rooms are similar but vary in size from 25-41sqm, with family style rooms also available through interconnecting doors.
Rooms are spacious, with a large floor area unencumbered by coffee tables or other furnishings, while there is a small desk in one corner and a relaxation chair in another.
Balconies are similarly expansive, albeit with only one chair, which means you’ll need to relocate one from inside should two people wish to enjoy the evening ambiance.
A control panel next to both sides of the bed allows you to set lights to six different modes, including a nightlight mode which activates a dim bulb under the bathroom sink.
Bedside power is limited to one USB outlet on each side. If your device or appliance requires a standard outlet, your nearest plug options are at the desk or bathroom.
Rooms also feature a digital compendium offering information on hotel services, local weather and nearby attractions.
Cairns’ pulsing Esplanade is literally at Flynn’s back door. Cross the road and you’ll find yourself at the harbourfront which, during low tide, sees the water retreat all the way to the dredged shipping channels.
Adventurers heading out to snorkel or dive on the Great Barrier Reef can walk to Cairns Pier in around ten minutes, where tour boats depart daily for Moore Reef, Fitzroy Island and Green Island.
Closer to the hotel, you’ll find the famous Cairns Night Markets just outside the front door, with various merchants peddling local wares, clothing, and souvenirs. Cairns Museum and Aquarium are also just a few corners away.
Numerous car rental brands nearby can also have you zooming off to local hotspots including Freshwater Railway Station, from which the Kuranda Scenic Railway departs each morning.
It’s also less than an hour drive to Palm Cove or Port Douglas via the stunning Captain Cook coast road, the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest and several crocodile encounter tours cruising the Daintree River.
One of the priorities for Flynn upon opening was to endear itself to Cairns’ locals and visitors, and it has done this through Boardwalk Social – an energetic yet relaxing open-air bar and lounge at the rear of the hotel.
More of a public bar than a restaurant exclusive to guests, Boardwalk Social offers 36 draught beers and 40 spirits, most locally brewed, along with international gins and inventive cocktails amid a pub-style menu, live music, and sports on TV.
For a more formal setting, upstairs is Flynn’s Italian, offering a delectable fine-dining Mediterranean menu of antipasto, secondi (main courses), salads, and desserts.
The restaurant draws on local seafood and produce, while sourcing its beef from the 85,000-acre Crystalbrook Station, its wholly owned cattle farm 220kms west of Cairns.
Unfortunately, the menu is not very vegan-friendly, with almost all main courses containing some sort of animal product.
Climb the stairs once more and you’ll find Whiskey & Wine, a well-stocked cocktail bar featuring dozens of local and imported drops which can be enjoyed amid great views over the Esplanade.
Flynn’s Italian is also where hotel guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast each morning from 7-10:30am, with a broad mix of hot and cold items regularly replenished.
If you’d prefer to enjoy a day working on your tan or catching up on your favourite book, Flynn offers two swimming pools on two consecutive levels, with plenty of lounge seating where you can lay your towel for some down time.
But in a strange quirk, not only do both pools overlook the Boardwalk Social bar and lounge, but thanks to clear glass panels, the same can be said in reverse.
Call it typical Flynn quirkiness but feel free to give bar patrons a wave as you peer down at them while underwater.
Curiously, neither of Flynn’s swimming pools are restricted to hotel guests, with no room key needed to gain access for any adventurous locals preferring somewhere more private than the public pool across the street.
Elsewhere, Crystalbrook’s spa brand Eléme offers a comprehensive menu of treatments ranging from massage and facials to detoxification, tightening and smoothing.
It’s not difficult to generate a sweat in Cairns but if you’d prefer, Flynn also offers a moderately sized 24-hour gym with a variety of machines to help you maintain your fitness regime.
Crystalbrook Collection has shaken up the Cairns hotel scene, landing three prime sites right in the heart of town and creating a trio of deluxe hotels to be reckoned with.
Flynn has settled in well and is now firmly one of the locals, with large and comfortable rooms, a mix of higher-end and casual dining and an all-round relaxed and jovial atmosphere.
Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Crystalbrook Flynn is Cairns’ most exciting local
13 Oct 2022
Total posts 1
The hotel is new and looks great.It is poorly managed and does not meet up the expectations of the customers. Please see google reviews before staying in this property
26 May 2011
Total posts 19
I have just stayed at this hotel and agree with many of the comments. A ramp at checkin for wheelchairs or even to make it easier for luggage seems so simple.
The pools and relaxation areas being open without needing to be a guest was a turn off. What happened to some privacy? I understand they want to make money selling food and drinks but it didn't appeal to me. Hotel guests should have access to the level 2 area only as minimum.
The Eleme Spa is worth visiting for a treatment and if you have the funds to treat yourself.
I wouldn't rate it 5 stars, 4 stars is more fitting given the price of rooms