Where in Oz: Port Douglas, Queensland
Nights stayed: 2 (29 & 30 April 2017)
Cost: $250 ($125 per night, Queen Guest Room – 2 adults)
Thumbs-up: fantastic pool/BBQ/guest kitchen area
Thumbs-down: not a single negative that we could find!
Our rating: 9.75/10 (location – 10; environment – 10; fit for purpose – 10; value for money – 9)
When choosing accommodation for our long weekend in Port Douglas we didn’t expect that we’d be spending much time in our room, so were really only looking for a place to sleep. We had simple criteria: it had to be within walking distance of at least one pub or bar, not too pricey, and provide off-street parking.
As we’d only ever driven through Port Douglas once, almost 10 years ago, we weren’t familiar with the layout of the town, but knew that Macrossan Street was the main drag. We figured if we could walk there, we’d be close enough to some of the action…and at least a watering hole or two. After a quick online search, we settled on $125 a night as our maximum spend; we didn’t need luxury amenities or water views, and it seemed that we could get a basic room that met all of our needs for this price.
A number of places seemed to fit the bill, but a challenge we face when choosing motel-style accommodation is whether or not the available parking will accommodate our 4WD. With a (modest) suspension lift and carrying a roof box, it requires generous overhead clearance height, so most underground and other off-street parking is unsuitable. We can often dismiss a place to stay just by looking at photos on its website, but if in doubt we’ll call and ask. While a number of the places in Port Douglas that met our criteria in terms of price and location also offered parking in some form, we were able to eliminate most of those due to our height restrictions. Having narrowed down our search, we phoned the Port Douglas Motel, which offered off-street parking and looked to have high-set shelter over its parking spaces. The very helpful person who answered explained that the motel offers hire cars, which are housed in a secure lot on site; so should our car not fit in the allocated space outside our room, we’d be able to keep our car in this area, no problems.
Happy with that, we booked (via lastminute.com.au) a ‘Studio, 1 Queen Bed’ room for two nights, and didn’t really think about it again until a couple of days before our trip. We were considering doing a sunset cruise in Port Douglas, and upon checking Google Maps to determine whether we could walk from the motel to the Reef Marina were very pleased to find that it was only a 650m stroll. That affirmed our choice of accommodation, but we still didn’t have high expectations when we arrived at the Port Douglas Motel after our seven-hour journey from Townsville. We figured we’d dump our bags, hit the town, and not be back until bedtime!
So we were more than pleasantly surprised to find that our ‘studio’ room was in fact spacious, bright and inviting. The colourful, tropical-influenced furnishings and accessories – perfectly appropriate for the destination – lifted our weary spirits immediately, so we decided to unpack the car (which, happily, did fit within the undercover parking space in front of our room), do a reccy of the town, then come back to our room for pre-dinner drinks. Having given the immaculately clean kitchen and bathroom facilities in our room a tick of approval, we headed out, passing the brightly decorated saltwater pool on our way and planning a dip upon our return.
The Port Douglas Motel is certainly within easy walking distance of not only Macrossan Street, but Wharf Street, the marina and the ‘surf’ beach; we took a quick spin ‘around the block’ on foot and had got our bearings on the town within 10 minutes. Although Port Douglas proved to be a lot bigger than we remembered it (no doubt it has grown a tad in the past decade!), everything we could want was available within a few minutes’ walk of our room. We were spoiled for choice of places to eat and drink, and a bakery, pharmacy, supermarket, newsagency and speciality shops were all close enough that we could pop out for anything we might need without having to get in the car and drive.
The motel’s proximity to everything meant that we could go out two or three times a day to see and do different things, then return to our room to relax and revive before heading out again. The appealing environment of the motel also meant that we spent more time than expected there: not only in our room, but in the poolside undercover communal kitchen/dining area, enjoying a few drinks and chatting with other motel guests, all of whom were as impressed with the place as we were. With a good-sized BBQ, a full oven and stovetop, and plenty of cooking/eating/drinking utensils provided, the motel offers everything self-catering guests could want. If we’d been staying longer, we’d have made even more use of these facilities. As it was, with several of the other guests doing just that, it was a very welcoming and lively atmosphere for our pre-dinner swim and drinks!
Nothing spoils a weekend away like a bad night’s sleep due to noise and/or a dodgy mattress, but we had nothing to fear. Given how close we were to the hustle and bustle of Port Douglas on a busy long weekend, we slept extremely well on both nights of our stay: we stayed in room number 4, in the single-level front wing of the motel, and didn’t hear a sound from the street or other rooms. And our queen-sized bed was extremely comfortable.
Customer service was also top-notch, with the delightful Marie welcoming us on arrival and providing some helpful local info, and owner Lillian taking a genuine interest in our feedback upon departure. We wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Port Douglas Motel again – but hopefully next time our visit will be much longer!