Up where I belong? Luxury accommodation in Cairns (2007)

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Up where I belong? Luxury accommodation in Cairns (2007)

To the best of my knowledge the words “upgrade” and “Mr Reid” have never appeared in the same sentence. Certainly I have stayed in some luxurious hotels -- Sorrento’s Grand Hotel Cocumella (right) gets passing mention here to make you envious -- but I knew about them in advance.

Yes, a couple of times I have been in that part of the aircraft where the cabin crew knew my name and champagne arrived before take-off.

But these have been exceptions. Mostly I stay in rooms that never appear in brochures, and have my legs crushed in economy where the guy behind kicks off his sweat-soaked trainers.

Such are the familiar discomforts of low-end travel, which is why “upgrade” sings all the more sweetly.

And the PR woman at the newly renovated Cairns Hilton certainly didn’t use the magic word when we met in the lobby-cum-lounge where designer chairs, the pebble garden and classy cocktail bar caught my eye. Maybe because I paid it handsome and genuine compliments something strange -- but welcome -- happened as she checked me in.

A discreet whisper, a swipe card for the room exchanged for another, a knowing smile . . .

“Mr Reid, we have just learned our luxury suite is available . . . “

This, I think, was their way of saying “upgrade”.

And so I found myself standing outside two very large doors which, had they swung open simultaneously, could have allowed entry for a caravan of elephants carrying travelling cases of some 19th century marquess. Or a presidential party.

IMGP1024As I stepped across the threshold I entered a world previously denied me. Flat-screen televisions the size of dining room tables, the view beyond taking in the river with luxury yachts, green distant mountains and endless sky. You could have played tennis in the lounge and there were so many mirrors in the bathroom my multiple reflections made the place seem overcrowded.

I luxuriated in this suite with its floor-to-ceiling windows, drank brandy at dusk on the long patio and spent half an hour trying to decipher the television remote.

I was solitary king of all I surveyed here -- but in truth was scared witless I might scratch, scuff or damage something. I indulged myself and even persuaded myself I deserved this. But I was out of my league.

When I left I stole soap.

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