Inspiration Destinations Australia How to Spend a Luxurious Weekend in Townsville 

How to Spend a Luxurious Weekend in Townsville 

April 16, 2024
Panorama of Townsville, Queensland, Australia, with Magnetic Island in the background, seen from Castle Hill viewpoint - Luxury Escapes

The recent introduction of the first five-star hotel has turned heads toward this picturesque town in Queensland, Australia. Welcome to Townsville, where luxury meets sun-drenched paradise. 

Townsville, towns-ville, – a place so nice they named it twice – officially holds its own among its better-known neighbours, with Port Douglas and Cairns to the north; the Great Barrier Reef to the east; the Whitsundays to the south.  

While the name may have come from British mariner Robert Towns, the notion still stands: the seaside city is flush with small-town charm, quality dining and outstanding celebrations of music, art and theatre. Below, we uncover where to stay, eat and drink, alongside must-do experiences, for an opulent weekend retreat that seamlessly blends relaxation, adventure and indulgence. 


A room at Ardo Hotel Townsville, the best place to stay when enjoying a weekend in Townsville - Luxury Escapes
Ardo, Townsville. Source: Supplied.

Located on the edge of the Coral Sea, Ardo is the first five-star accommodation in Townsville. Opening in late 2023 after an A$88 million build, the hotel is refined, open and minimalist, boasting two signature restaurants, a day spa, rooftop pool and terrace and stop-you-in-your-tracks views. Ardo offers 132 rooms: some have outdoor bathtubs and all feature outdoor space and easy-going Queensland charm. You could easily occupy your entire stay within the premises, but its location also makes it an ideal base for exploring the town and surrounds.  

Ardo's sister property, The Ville, is reachable via shared walkways. The coastal-cool hotel’s standout features include a glistening infinity pool, cabana deck and inviting swim-up bar, plus an onsite casino and award-winning Asian fine dining. Looking for a serviced apartment? Look no further than Oaks Townsville Gateway Suites. Located on bustling Palmer Street, apartments come with full kitchens, large living and dining spaces and laundry facilities. 


A dish at Bridgewater at Ardo, a good restaurant to eat at during a weekend in Townsville - Luxury Escapes
Scallops on the menu of Bridgewater. Source: Supplied.

Take the time to enjoy lunch on the Ardo Rooftop, located next to the hotel’s shimmering pool and offering flatbread pizza and hot and cold tapas, including the likes of salmon ceviche and sticky lamb ribs. You may well find that the eatery is among the first list of suggestions rattled off by locals when asked for restaurant recommendations. Marmor – a steak and seafood restaurant also on the rooftop – and Terasu – Japanese on the ground floor – are likewise among the city’s best.  

In town, JAM and Bridgewater are must-visits. The esteemed establishments, led by chef Matt Merrin, were both awarded the coveted chef hat distinction in the 2024 Australian Good Food Guide, making them the exclusive recipients of the honour in Townsville. On the menus: duck dumplings, preserved lime ricotta ravioli, tempura quail and orange creme baklava.  


Start with a drink on the glorious alfresco deck at Shorehouse, where you can watch the comings and goings of The Strand – Townsville's palm-lined beachfront promenade – from an elevated vantage point. Here, you’ll enjoy drinks of sweet plum liqueur and zingy passionfruit, Thai basil and fresh citrus and, of course, a classic in the tropics: the mojito with lemongrass and ginger.  

Be sure to wander two minutes around the corner to Tan Lines Distillery, a hidden gem where the spirit of the tropics is ingrained in each sip of coffee vodka (available to taste only at the distillery) and award-winning pink gin (coloured by Townsville-grown Rosella flowers). On Sunday mornings, a trip to Cotters Market is a must. The market makes the list for its promise of the chance to sip freshly squeezed sugarcane juice while walking around in the Queensland sun. 


Nothing says luxury getaways like sunset catamaran sailing, jet-skiing, helicopter tours, private wildlife encounters, top-down convertible cruising and snorkelling among secluded bays. All this and more are achievable in one day on Magnetic Island, the 50-square-kilometre suburb that lies 20 minutes off the mainland by ferry.

Get your hair wet in the mesmerising underwater world of Geoffrey Bay, Florence Bay, Arthur Bay and Alma Bay, where encounters with giant clams, vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life are virtually guaranteed. The half-day Maggie Discovery Eco Tour by Aquascene is suitable for all ages and abilities and offers plenty of wildlife interactions. A private morning sail for six people with Casual Fare Sailing offers a more elevated experience onboard a 33-foot sailing yacht. October to May is stinger season, so while notably uncool, one-piece lycra suites (almost always supplied) must be worn when in the water. 

Back on the mainland, perhaps a round at a championship golf course or visit to one of the outstanding galleries? Perc Tucker Regional Gallery offers free entry to outstanding international and local exhibits, with past exhibitions including The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art and the Art in Conflict exhibition by the Australian War Memorial. Maintain the aquatic ambience with a swim in Ardo’s outstanding rooftop pool or venture out to idyllic waterfalls, including Wallaman Falls or Ethel Creek Falls. 

The writer was a guest of Townsville Enterprise Limited. 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Ardo Brings Luxury Accommodation to Townsville.

About Madeleine Keck
Journalist and travel writing aficionado: Madeleine has visited six continents and worked throughout four. At home in Melbourne, you'll find her reminiscing on past solo backpacking journeys, dreaming of the next adventure and wishing she lived in a continuously warmer city.

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