Sun and sophistication: why the Gold Coast is the best of both worlds

Whether for a day, a weekend or longer, here’s how to take your Gold Coast getaway to the next level.

By Chris Ashton, October 4 2023
Sun and sophistication: why the Gold Coast is the best of both worlds

Queensland’s glittering Gold Coast has long been front of mind for Australian travellers. Known equally for its sweeping beaches and accessible hinterland as the jewel-like skyscrapers rising between them, it’s the kind of destination everyone’s visited at least once.

Yet much has changed in recent years, and reasons to revisit are adding up – particularly in the luxury and wellness arenas, where fresh hotels and a suite of lavish new ways to treat yourself await to enhance every stay.

Of course, there’s plenty that’s unchanged too: dazzling natural beauty for one; premium shopping from all the big names and countless boutique brands. But it’s now showcased from a different perspective – and yes, there’s often Champagne involved.

Best of all, you don’t need to commit to a full-scale luxury trip to enjoy its charms. The city’s well set up for a refreshing dip in and out, whether jetting into town for just a weekend or extending your stay once work hours are over.

With that in mind, these are our tips for embracing all the sundrenched city has to offer.

Check-in to indulgence

First up, a memorable hotel is an essential part of any great getaway. That’s an area the Gold Coast’s excelled in for decades. However, an influx of recent additions from boutique and well-known brands is dialling that ingrained splendour up to 11.

Take The Langham Gold Coast, which debuted to rousing fanfare as the city’s ‘first new beachfront resort in 30 years’ last year. While that record-breaking achievement is definitely worth raising a glass to, the hotel itself has many decadent ways to treat yourself.

Think soothing elemental wellness rituals at Chuan Spa, signature Afternoon Tea at Palm Court – three tiers of buttery pastries and savoury sandwiches, with a glass of bubbly – and, as the sun sets, Michelin-level Cantonese cuisine at the sensational T’ang Court.

Nearby in Broadbeach, The Darling – an all-suite hotel linked to The Star Gold Coast – makes a play for high rollers, shaking up the scene with runway-ready interiors crowned by a slick rooftop restaurant and bar, Nineteen at The Star. More on the last point later.

It’s worth clarifying that you don’t need to be an actual ‘high roller’ to stay there, though the term does paint a perfect picture of the service and experiences awaiting after check-in. Guests also have access to The Star’s wider facilities, including Azure Spa.

Once you’ve explored your suite, making a beeline for the rooftop infinity pool, followed by cocktails and nibbles at golden hour, is the ideal way to kick off your stay on the right note.

If the grandeur of a country manor and waking up to the sound of birdsong is more your style, Verandah House Country Estate at Tamborine Mountain could be exactly what you seek.

Welcoming guests since 2022, the Scenic Rim hideaway boasts a handful of upscale suites, all enveloped by manicured gardens. Among them is the soon-to-open Estate Suite (debuting in November), which has some key features setting it apart from its farmhouse-chic siblings.

On top of a wrap-around verandah and views all the way to the city and ocean, it’s home to twin bathtubs overlooking cloud-catching Mount Warning. Bespoke Ralph Lauren decor and a delicious array of complimentary whiskies and gins add to the feeling of soft luxury.

Feeling hungry? You’re in luck.

The Gold Coast dining scene has really come into its own in recent years – we’ve seen it first hand. There’s a growth and confidence now; a bubbling undercurrent of innovation prompting locals and newly-arrived chefs to raise the bar over and again.

Effortlessly-cool whisky and wine bars now sit alongside sustainably-minded seafood haunts and multicultural meccas, while long-time favourites continue to pick up a legion of fans.

It's always evolving too, giving ample reason to make repeat visits. That extends to its many breweries and distilleries, of which Granddad Jack’s and Wildflower Gin are just two worth checking out.

Making a bespoke bottle of gin at Wildflower is a great take-home souvenir of your time on the Gold Coast.

One of the latest dining additions is KOST, a sleek design-led restaurant featuring charcoal and flame-licked fare, coastal-inspired cocktails (be sure to try Lady Luck) and a 130+ bottle wine list that includes an extensive array of Champagnes offered by the flute.

Those in the mood for elevated fare will love the artful plating and panache of Citrique at JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort. On top of its a la carte and six-course degustation menus, there’s a weekend seafood buffet laden high with the catch of the day.

Palette at HOTA, Home of the Arts, plates up intriguing tasting experiences too, each themed around the precinct’s current exhibition. The latest bespoke menu – featuring bay ravioli lobster, kangaroo tacos and a playful spin on fairy bread – is inspired by the Archie 100 Exhibition running until October 2.

For something ‘spicier’, pan-Asian fare and what is arguably the city’s best view at Rick Shores in Burleigh or Latin American zest at Las Palmas in Palm Beach, which brings Colombia, Cuba and Brazil to the Gold Coast, deserve and will duly reward your attention.

The aforementioned Nineteen at The Star should absolutely take a place on your itinerary too, even if you aren’t staying at The Darling. It’s a destination – a place to see and be seen.

Sliding into a private booth and enjoying VIP bottle service, while savouring the likes of Russian sturgeon caviar, kingfish crudo with finger lime, basil and citrus honey, and grade 9+ wagyu beef cooked to perfection will confirm you’ve made the right choice.

Experiences worth travelling for

Beyond hotels, bars and restaurants, the hallmarks of a fun holiday are its experiences – the kind taking you outside the everyday, opening your eyes and expanding your knowledge. That’s Kiff & Culture to a tee.

With a finger on the pulse and a Mercedes van at the ready, Kiff & Culture is a private tour operator shining a light on local wonders up, down and within the Gold Coast, be them artisanal producers or nature-based discoveries.

There are trip styles for every traveller. In our opinion, the Eat & Drink Gold Coast and Tamborine Mountain Wine & Dine tours both really hit the spot. Tailored multi-day trips can also be tailored to you, peppering your itinerary with all the craft brews, hidden wineries or lazy long lunches you could ask for. 

Another equally-enticing though vastly different sightseeing option is Sailing in Paradise, which swaps roads for a private charter along the glittering Gold Coast Broadwater. It’s excellent for time-poor travellers, delivering those impactful ‘wow moments’ with the boat all to yourselves.

The ‘Sunset and Harbour Lights Cruise’ – a chance to enjoy canapes and drinks while lazing on the front deck of a catamaran as sunset blazes across the sky – is arguably one of the finest ways to see the coast.

When the sightseeing is done, it’s time to switch things up a little with a visit to Pink Flamingo.

Though its name may conjure images of inflatable pool toys at a Palm Springs motel, it’s actually a world-class spiegelclub: a sassy melting pot of burlesque and cabaret that wouldn’t be out of place amid the laneways of Paris.

When relaxation calls, spa time at the recently-upgraded QT Gold Coast’s SpaQ is an absolute must. Treatments are designed like an unfolding narrative: Weekend Warrior is for the ‘fearless and brave’, while Pure Gold will leave you ‘transformed, nurtured’ and feeling like god or goddess.

Naturally, there are plenty of free experiences on offer too: the ocean and rainforest-view walks around Burleigh headland, beach time at Currumbin or Tallebudgera, and the captivating cascade of Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, to name a few.

Whatever you choose to do though, and however long you may be in town, it won’t take long to realise just how much the Gold Coast has evolved. It’s fresh and fun, and there’s a lot more yet to come.

Plan your perfect Gold Coast escape today at

This article was produced in collaboration with Destination Gold Coast.