Since my first visit to Cairns, many years ago, I’ve always been enchanted by the iconic Queenslander style of architecture which is so characteristic of the area. Surrounded by wide shady verandas, often enclosed in trellis, and built high above the ground on stilts, they’re the perfect design for the hot humid climate of tropical Queensland – as European settlers quickly discovered in the late nineteenth century. The unofficial capital of Far Northern Queensland, Cairns has its fair share of these romantic old buildings, and on a recent visit to the city I had the good fortune of staying at Ryan’s Rest guesthouse, situated in a loving-restored home, just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.
Promoted as boutique-style budget accommodation, Ryan’s Rest is a unique little spot to rest one’s weary head while exploring the magic of this spectacular part of Australia. Originally a family home, the house has been converted into a comfortable guesthouse with seven rooms for short-term visitors, and a few small units downstairs for those who are staying longer. During our visit, my husband and I stayed upstairs in a lovely room decorated with rustic period furniture – a vintage-lover’s heaven, with polished hardwood floors, ten-foot hight ceilings, and a delightful old-fashioned dressing table and wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong – these weren’t priceless antiques, but simple, somewhat weathered pieces which reminded me of the home my elderly grandmother lived in years ago. However, as an enthusiast for all things vintage I was enchanted, and I feel that little touches such as these go far in creating the home-away-from-home vibe that I love so much about this place. My family and I first stayed at Ryan’s Rest ten years ago, and when we recently decided that we wanted to return to Cairns for a visit, it was the first place we considered.
As described above, the bedrooms at Ryan’s Rest are warm and inviting – a far cry from those in most budget accommodation. While they were certainly not five-star, they were spacious, spotlessly clean and attractively, albeit simply, decorated. The house’s side veranda has been enclosed, providing an extra living space for guests, with another single bed (in addition to the double) and a television – an area we used as a sitting-room during our stay. Being in the tropics, a good cooling system is essential, and all rooms feature both ceiling fans and air conditioner.
The common areas at Ryan’s Rest are also first-class. A well-equipped kitchen is situated at the back of the house, enabling travellers to self-cater, thus reducing travel expenses. This features a stove, a few refrigerators and plenty of bench space.
Adjacent to the kitchen is the open-plan dining and recreation area, which was absolutely wonderful. This part of the guesthouse has been dramatically renovated over recent years, and has been opened up, creating a large covered veranda area that’s just perfect for Cairn’s tropical climate. With plenty of rustic outdoor seating, more deliciously retro old furniture and quirky tropical decor such as wind-chimes, pretty little vintage knick-knacks and a large basket full of shells and coral, this is a great place to cool down in the tropical breeze, read, or simply enjoy one’s meals. The front veranda is also wide and spacious, offering protection from the tropical sun and torrential downpours, while providing spectacular views over to the rainforest-shrouded mountains in the distance.Downstairs, a small salt-water pool, is another popular place to hang out, especially after a long hot day.
Most of the rooms at Ryan’s Rest are not en suite and therefore there are shared bathrooms and toilets. However, like everywhere else in this sweet little establishment they’re spotlessly clean and well maintained. The shower rooms are large and spacious, with slate floors and plenty of ventilation. There’s also a laundry downstairs for guests’ convenience, with a coin-operated washing machine and dryer.
In a nutshell, if you’re planning to venture into far northern Queensland for a holiday, Ryan’s Rest Guesthouse is a great alternative to most budget accommodation that is available locally. Beautifully restored, this lovely old wooden Queenslander is atmospheric and inviting – the perfect spot to return to after a day exploring all that the area offers. The managers and staff are extremely friendly and welcoming, and this also helped us to feel right at home.
Ryan’s Rest offers a few different accommodation options. While most rooms aren’t self-contained, there are a couple of suites with their own kitchens and bathrooms – great for romantic couples and families. Most other rooms sleep two to three people, with one having facility for five guests.
For more information about Ryan’s Rest, take a look at their website or give them a call on 07 4051 4734.
Ryan's Rest is located at 18 Terminus Street, Parramatta Park.