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The Reef House – A Boutique Hotel Like No Other

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You’ve seen one hotel, you’ve seen them all right? Travelling from city to city, town to town, the monotony of the same ho-hum accommodation offerings can leave you unsure of where you are due to their un-remarkability.  However, every now and then we stumble upon a place that makes us feel at peace and at home from the moment we arrive, a place you will never forget. One of these places is the iconic beachfront Reef House hotel in Palm Cove.

Halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland, the sleepy village of Palm Cove provides the perfect paradise setting. A setting that ensures your stay at the Reef House will be like no other holiday you have ever experienced before.

The Reef House is so much more than a hotel, it is a luxury colonial style beach house. Situated opposite the Coral Sea Beach and in the slow-paced and somewhat exclusive gem that is Palm Cove, relaxation and rejuvenation are the name of the game when you visit the Reef House.

Let’s take a step back in time…

From the moment you lay eyes on the Reef House, you know that you’re in for something special. The colonial plantation style of the property conjures a feeling of old world charm, and a sense of personalised service that is hard to come by.

Nestled amongst the centuries old melaleucas, the property holds onto the character it has had since it was first built in 1958.  One of the first original properties of Palm Cove, the Reef House was built by a Cairns bookmaker who lived there with his family.

In the early 70s, the home was turned into a restaurant after it was purchased by a syndicate.  The restaurant included very limited accommodation, with three suites in the garden.

By 1972, the property was acquired by Brigadier David Thomson, who would later become the Federal Minister for Science and Technology. It was at this time that the Reef House was opened up and became a guest house where patrons were treated as personal guests – and visitors included the Prime Minister and celebrities.

The Reef House has expanded somewhat since this time, now featuring 67 rooms and suites but many of the historical elements remain, including the Colonial style buildings, and plantation shutters as well as many of the Brigadier’s personal touches – of which we will tell you more about later. The essence of what the Reef House set out to be has remained the same, with it offering a place for you to rest your head, and take a step back from the nuisances of the real world, in the comfort of a truly unique, colonial style boutique accommodation you will not find anywhere else.

Sleep in style…

While thoughts of Tropical North Queensland will induce images of you soaking up the sunshine at the beach or by the pool, perhaps enjoying a drink or two, you would be forgiven for wanting to spend some time inside your room while you’re at The Reef House.

Many of the guest suites have an incredible view – with some rooms overlooking the pools and expansive gardens that make you feel as if you are in a tropical jungle, while others may point you in the direction of the Coral Sea.

Opt for our Ocean View Spa Apartment and from the privacy of your balcony you can watch the sunset as you sit in your own jacuzzi, or you can take a siesta in your plush bed, after your time in the sun, or exploring all the natural wonders that you can find all within a stone’s throw of Palm Cove.

Accommodation options range from rooms to suites, apartments to villas. Your options for beachfront accommodation are truly expansive at the Reef House.

Take a dip…

With the beach so close you may be wondering whether you have any use for a pool at all, that is until you get to experience either of the two pools available to you at Reef House.

When the Reef House was first built, a swimming pool proprietor was said to be indebted to the original Bookmaker owner, and in his bid to repay him, he promised to build the best swimming pool in North Queensland, and that is exactly what he did.


Located centrally in the garden, amongst luscious leafy plants, you will find our main pool. For the adults only, this space is where you can come to relax and lose a few hours just watching the world pass you by. The second pool is a heated jacuzzi pool that is open for all ages, and features sun loungers under large umbrellas letting you escape from the sun as you wish.

Feast on local fare…

You don’t need to stray from the property to tantalize your tastebuds with local fresh produce. The Reef House restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and dinner on the deck here is hard to go past.

Built around the ancient melaleucas, you will dine under the stars, all while taking in the view of the nearby palms and the Coral sea directly in front of you.

Indulge in local tropical treats that you can only truly experience in Queensland – seafood is always a stand out option for us.

And don’t forget the wine, with a large list of locally produced wines to sample, add a glass to each course and our in-house Sommelier can assist to help you find your favourite.

Start your wellness journey

When you’re in Palm Cove, you’re in the heart of the Spa Capital of Australia. Tropical North Queensland has been dubbed as such and the Reef House Spa is one the best spas in the area.

Spa Director Isabelle, who was trained in France by some of the most incredible skin care specialists in the world, think Clarins, Chanel, Dior & Phytomer, has curated a spa treatment menu that, just like any element of your stay at The Reef House, can be tailored to suit your needs.


The Reef House Day Spa is the only spa in all of Queensland that uses the luxurious products and treatments of Phytomer – making it a truly exclusive experience for all visitors.

Indulge in utmost relaxation with one, many, or all of the spa treatments available to you in our Reef House Day Spa. Face and Body rituals will be performed for you, all of which will lead you on your journey to wellness and relaxation.

You will leave relaxed, rejuvenated and informed, armed with knowledge from your highly trained spa therapists.


Experiences at your fingertips…

While you may want to spend all your time in the relaxing confines of the Reef House, given your proximity to many natural wonders and attractions, there is a lot for you to see and do, all very close to Palm Cove.

Smack bang right in between the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park, both of which are World Heritage listed, Palm Cove is the perfect launching pad for adventure and experiences you cannot have anywhere else.

Our concierge can help you organise a tour or experience that will be as simple or as extreme as you wish.  Once in a lifetime opportunities such a helicopter ride over the great barrier reef, an outback dining experience under the stars where you sample local tropical produce, tours of the Daintree Rainforest where you can snorkel in the river, and sailing out to the Coral Cays on the Reef on a glass-bottomed catamaran are just some of the many unique experiences you can enjoy.

While no one would discourage you from taking time out to relax in the private and indulgent surroundings of the Reef House, if time permits on your trip, these experiences are at your door when you’re in Palm Cove. For more information on these luxurious experiences, read here.

Sticking with tradition…

It’s the personal touches and traditional elements that still exist from the inception of the Reef House that sets it apart from other hotel accommodations. The aim of the team at The Reef House is to make you feel like family, and each element of our personalised service helps with that.

Upon your arrival you will be greeted with a gin infused drink and cold towel to help settle in and relax after your flight, though to be fair, once you set eyes on the beachfront colonial property, and take your first breath of that tropical air, relaxation will have started to settle in already.

Each day guests are treated to complimentary homemade sorbet by the pool, where you can taste this fare made with local tropical ingredients.

Twilight signals cocktail hour at the Reef House, one of the Brigadier’s traditions started back in the 1970s. We light the lanterns around the property and guests are invited to enjoy complimentary Brigadier’s punch and canapes, the perfect finish to any kind of day.  It also gives our guests the chance to mingle and get to know each other all while enjoying the tropical night air.

Designed for all kinds of fun and entertainment, the Reef House offers guests access to cruiser style bicycles to roll through Palm Cove with, as well as fishing rods for those who want to try their luck in reeling in their own dinner.

Your personal concierge is always on hand to help you with any requests and to help make your stay everything you want it to be.

The promise of your stay at the Reef House is one of luxury, true relaxation, and a tropical experience that is truly unique.

Come visit the Reef House today.

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