Staying at Riley – Sustainable Eco-Hotel in Cairns, Australia

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you probably know that we prefer to stay at eco-hotels on our travels. Eco hotels offer a great opportunity to cut down your carbon footprint and make a positive impact on the places that you visit.

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During our recent trip to Cairns, Australia we had an opportunity to spend a few nights at Riley, a five-star luxury eco-hotel and found it to be one of the most sustainable hotels we’ve had the pleasure of staying on our travels!

Riley, Crystalbrook Collection eco-hotel in Cairns, Australia
Riley, Crystalbrook Collection eco-hotel in Cairns, Australia
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Part of the greater Crystalbrook Collection, Riley is the perfect hotel for those looking to enjoy a “playfully modern” stay without harming the environment.

The Property

Riley is located right on Cairns Esplanade with views that sweep over the sea and the Great Barrier Reef beyond that. At 42 meters high, the design allows for each room to have its own panoramic view. The property has unique features, such as a man-made beach, rooftop bar, and more.

Panoramic views of Cairns from our room at Riley riley hotel cairns
Panoramic views of Cairns from our room at Riley

Riley is a brand new hotel, having just opened in early 2019. Designed by renowned architecture firm ThomsonAdsett, this hotel has a gorgeous atrium with tons of natural light and warm, inviting tones.

Lobby at Riley hotel Cairns
Lobby at Riley hotel in Cairns

Each room and suite is uniquely designed to be tasteful, chic, and inviting. The outdoor area is particularly gorgeous with elegant pools, winding walkways, and palm trees placed perfectly in between.

Overlooking the pool at riley hotel cairns
Overlooking the pool at Riley

Accommodations at Riley

With a total of 311 different rooms and suites, Riley is a large hotel with plenty of space. On each of the hotel’s 12 stories, you’ll find a combination of rooms and suites to match every style and budget. 

The Rooms

You’ll be spoiled in your choices for rooms at Riley. There are five different options to choose from, including Urban, Resort, Sea, Panoramic Sea, and Family.

All rooms are decorated with a fun, modern yet eco-friendly design that’s intentionally not supposed to feel like your home away from home.

With a balcony or panoramic windows in each room, you’ll have stunning views over Cairns, the ocean, or the resort itself. Even the most inexpensive rooms are spacious, bright, and beautiful, making them the perfect choice for your Cairns holiday.

Panoramic Sea View room at riley hotel cairns
Panoramic Sea View room at Riley

During our visit, we stayed in the Panoramic Sea View room, that offered wall to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean and the Esplanade in Cairns. The room was spacious and had plenty of light. And to our greatest surprised, even the bathroom came with a breathtaking view. 

 riley hotel cairns is an eco friendly choice of accommodation while in Queensland

The Suites

If you’re looking for next level luxury, the two suite options at Riley: the standard Suite and Riley’s Suite, offer just that. The suites feel like your own little slice of paradise, equipt with huge bathtubs, full kitchens, separate living and dining areas, and large bedrooms.

For something extra special, stay in Riley’s Suite, with two separate bedrooms and a total of three massive balconies. Each of the suites provides high and breathtaking views of the Coral Sea. 

The Food

To find good food during your stay at Riley, you won’t need to leave the hotel. The hotel features 3 fabulous restaurants, Greenfields, Paper Crane, and Rocco, which we had the pleasure of eating at during our visit. 

Each one of the restaurants is unique in their own ways and each one serves a different type of cuisine to keep your dining fun and exciting. 


They say the calories don’t count on vacation, but when healthy food tastes as good as it does at Greenfields, you won’t have to worry. Greenfields serves up simple, elegant, and often raw dishes that are guaranteed to make you feel good inside and out.

Healthy spread from Greenfields at riley hotel cairns
Healthy spread from Greenfields at Riley.

They use locally and sustainably sourced produce and specialize in grain bowls, salads, and cold-pressed juices. Greenfields is the perfect place for a nourishing lunch and a great place to grab a snack, a drink, or a delicious smoothie.

In a rush and want to get takeaway? At Greenfields, food and drinks are available to take away in eco-friendly, rapidly renewable and biodegradable BioPak and Vegware packaging. A small detail that demonstrates Riley’s commitment to sustainability! 

Paper Crane 

In the morning, the Paper Crane restaurant offers buffet style breakfast to hotel guests. The buffet offers a great variety of options, ranging from typical eggs and cereals to Asian dishes and even a make your own Bloody Mary station. 

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice

In the evenings, Paper Crane turns into a stylish restaurant with a modern Asian fusion menu. Here, you’ll find menu items like local mud crab served Singapore-style, vegetable gyozas, and ramen. 

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Open kitchen at the Paper Crane Restaurant at Riley

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice


Rocco is the place to go if you love Mediterranean food. Located on the rooftop of Riley, Rocco seems to be considered the hip new restaurant in town. During our evening at Rocco, we were quite impressed by the clientele – smart, young, and fashionable, definitely, a cool crowd to hang out with.

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Rocco – rooftop restaurant at Riley

On the menu, you’ll find dishes like grilled calamari, Turkish bread and dips, roasted eggplant, and haloumi cheese and more. This is also THE place for drinks at Riley, as the restaurant offers an extensive and very creative cocktail menu. Our favourite? The Punch Pot  – a unique take on Moroccan mint tea, with Tanqueray Gin, mint and house-made bespoke syrup served ritualistically from a vaporizing teapot. 

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice

The food was delicious, the drinks – fantastic and the atmosphere, enhanced by an acoustic guitar performer makes Rocco a great choice for a special evening. 

Sustainable Practices

The Crystalbrook Collection has coined the hashtag #responsibleluxury and they do an excellent job of walking the walk. “We embrace environmental change to enhance, not compromise, the quality of our guest experiences,” Riley says, and we couldn’t agree more. From basic things such as a no-plastic-straws policy to more complicated practices such as solar energy, Riley is one place you can truly feel good about staying. 

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Responsible Luxury at Riley

The hotel takes pride in the number of upcycled items and materials it uses and also has a number of partnerships to achieve waste free practices.

Rooms at Riley are completely plastic-free with carton water and personal water filter being used as an alternative to plastic water bottles. All the writing materials are made from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council certified paper, toiletries are packaged in paper and most are made from biodegradable materials. Even their key cards are plastic free! 

riley hotel cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Hangers at Riley are made from recycles materials

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Personalized iPad with info about the hotel replaced the regular leaflets and magazines!

In addition, Riley is a founding member of Citizens of Great Barrier Reef, a social movement aimed at helping citizens understand and reduce their impact on the world’s largest reef system that lies just offshore. 

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice

We were happy to learn that sustainability practices at Riley go beyond the rooms and extend to their restaurants as well.  Riley donates extra food to the hungry community, source the majority of food locally, and even farm their own beef less than three hours from Cairns.

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Meat at all Riley restaurants is sourced from their own cruelty-free farm!

Overall, Riley and the entire Crystalbrook Collection really go above and beyond to maintain the highest levels of sustainability without sacrificing luxury. 


The Eléme Spa

At Riley, you’ll find the Eléme Spa, a perfect place to relax and unwind after an exciting day in Cairns. Choose from a long menu of massages, facials, and body therapies and let the staff take care of the rest. 

Our treatments are Riley were definitely a highlight of our stay. We loved the relaxed yet professional setting at the spa and our massages were top notch!

Yoga Practice

Riley partners with a local yoga studio to bring yoga to the pool deck every Saturday morning. It’s free for all hotel guests, so it’s easy to take advantage of the beautifully serene setting to practice all your favourite poses.

We didn’t get a chance to attend a yoga class, but thanks to the fact that each room is equipped with its own yoga mat, we were able to continue our yoga practice overlooking the ocean in our room. 

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice


Another highlight of our stay was the beautiful pool at Riley. The weather wasn’t too hot during our visit, but we still enjoyed some solid time catching the rays and enjoying our time at the pool. 

Riley Hotel Cairns is an eco-friendly choice
Pool at Riley

Overall, our stay at Riley was a true pleasure. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this gorgeous hotel to anyone who loves luxury travel with an emphasis on sustainability. Riley shows that you don’t have to sacrifice one of these two themes for the other, but rather that they can coexist in perfect harmony.

Riley has been one of our favourite eco-hotels in Australia and given how affordable it is, we know that we’ll definitely be staying there again!


What has been one of the most sustainable hotels you have ever stayed at? Tell us about the experience below.


Disclaimer: Our stay at Riley was provided courtesy of the Crystalbrook Collection, but as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own. 

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