Outside my suite there’s a procession of teens and twentysomethings below me on the street that runs alongside the beach. I can’t hear them through the window but I can see them; I watch for minutes at a time as they each take turns to pucker lips and pout, arm outstretched as they stare back at their iPhones.
Coolangatta’s The Pink Hotel has become one of the Gold Coast’s most Instagrammed locations. Its colour scheme – the sort of cotton-candy pink you can’t drive past and not notice – grabbed the attention of the world’s most fickle demographic. But it’s the more subtle side to the Gold Coast’s hippest retro hotel that impresses me more; for there are hidden secrets within it that the Instagrammers on the street won’t ever find.
Like The Janitor’s Closet. I’m told by reception staff to push on a wall with tools on it (after I open the door marked Janitor’s Closet). When I push hard, I step into a secret room where a pianist plays and a barman mixes a cocktail at a bar stacked with bottles, beneath walls of sexy artwork. And the rooftop bar, Santeria, is for guests only, too. I didn’t even know it was there till I hear someone playing an acoustic guitar. I follow the sound up an external staircase, till I find guests reclining on daybeds and sitting round a bar built on green faux-turf. It looks out on Coolangatta’s Greenmount Beach – a dreamy white-sand bay lined with pandanus trees. On the horizon, I can make out the high rises of Surfers Paradise; from this angle, it looks just like Atlantis, appearing out of the Pacific.
It took the owners – three childhood friends who grew up close by – nearly six months to completely overhaul a motel built in the 1950s (The Ocean View Motel), and turn it into the hotel it might’ve been in the first place. This could be the setting for a Quentin Tarantino film. There’s 17 rooms, each individually decorated. A receptionist with tattoos and piercings shows me up to my room. Inside there’s a record player with a Lou Reed LP set to go, risqué pink and orange furnishings and pink neon-lit scribes of poetry on the walls. There’s a mix of Danish, Swedish and mid-century styling across all the rooms, although the two-bedroom Artist Suite is the real knockout with its 1930s grand piano located smack-bang in the middle of your living quarters (why not feel like Elton John when you wake?).
It’s different to any other accommodation options you’ll see on the Gold Coast. There’s an adherence to the laws of retro that feels like I’ve travelled back 65 years in time. But there’s never a contrived feeling to being here despite it feeling like an artsy hotel, instead you wake each morning feeling like you really want to read the copy of On The Road left in your room (but I never do).
It doesn’t pay to be the indoor type here – it’s the location of The Pink Hotel that’s every bit as impressive as the hotel itself. It’s a 30-second walk to the waves – which form part of the world’s most famous point break (Snapper Rocks is the site of an annual event on the world surfing championships circuit). The walk here – under pandanus trees on a headland that juts over the water round to family-friendly Rainbow Bay where surfers congregate in parks for barbecues – has to be Australia’s prettiest coastal walk.
Coolangatta these days is home to a vibrant cafe culture that’s playing out all around my hotel. And there are some of this sunshine strip’s most innovative restaurants – including vegan-only, if that’s your fancy – within a few hundred metres. Though if you prefer burgers and beer, LA-style dive bar right next door (Eddie’s Grub House) offers room service. So you can sit on the rooftop with a cocktail and a burger, and never leave the premises at all.
Take me there
Fly: Gold Coast Airport is five minutes’ drive away. Fly there with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar or Tiger.
Stay: Prices start from $295 per night, see thepinkhotelcoolangatta.com.
Explore more: destinationgoldcoast.com