Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Low rates land you in Kauai, but few other selling points at this beachfront hotel
The Islander, eight motel-style buildings sandwiched between a and Waipouli Beach in , has little going for it: The cramped rooms are cleaned just twice a week, the pool is small, the beach in front is so-so for Kauai, and there's no restaurant, gym or spa. Guests show up at the Islander mainly for one reason: As one of the most affordable hotels in , it can serve as a cheap base for exploring the island.
While the north and south shores are home to Kauai's best luxury resorts, the east coast town of Kapaa has the island's greatest number of budget hotels. With few crowds, the town's narrow beaches are nice for romantic walks, but little else. Rocks and choppy surf make it a poor choice for swimmers, snorkelers, or surfers. Sticks and other debris litter the shore, making the sand uninviting even for sunbathing. The town is filled with small shops, gas stations, grocery stores, activity-booking offices, and the occasional bar, so amenities like groceries and sunscreen are within handy reach just about anywhere. But in terms of atmosphere, Kapaa could be any other budget beach town in the U.S.
But even for a budget hotel in a budget town, the Aston Islander lacks appeal. The two rooms I looked at (I switched after the first, and braved a night in the second) both smelled like mildew. The design is Island kitsch, the beds are unremarkable, and the others features, like a tube TV and an empty mini-fridge, are middle-of-the-road. The hotel has no gym and no restaurant, though a convenience store, a kayak tour office, and Trees Martini Lounge share the same parking lot. The kidney-shaped pool with a hot tub and bar nearby is small. The hotel doesn't provide room service, rations beach/pool towels, and charges extra for cribs and rollaways. Check-in was quick and the clerk offered help with my bags, but for orientation, she simply handed me a map.
Kauai travelers who simply want a low-priced home base for exploring the island may not mind Aston Islander's shortcomings. Room rates on Kauai generally don't get much lower. And if the rooms smelled fresher, this place would be a hands-down great value. For anyone with a little more wiggle room in the budget, the Kauai Coast Hotel next door has a well-regarded restaurant, an better pool, and cleaner rooms.
Minimal help for guests
A do-it-yourself hotel, the Islander offers a budget-hotel level of service; most of the courtesies involve staying out of guests' way. Check-in staff smile and engage in chitchat, but they're mostly there to field basic requests, like handing out pool towels.
On the beach in congested Kapaa; most top attractions are at least 20 minutes away by car
Kapaa, Kauai's largest town (with around 10,000 residents), is home to many low-priced hotels like the Aston Islander. Sitting on Kauai's eastern shore, Kapaa lacks the picturesque beaches of the south shore or the rugged cliffs of the north shore. Shopping centers with grocery stores, unremarkable restaurants, and other basic services are its main feature. Without the high-end restaurants, golf courses, and other vacation amenities found in Poipu or Princeville, the town serves mainly as a home base for travelers who want a cheap place to vacation in Kauai. Kapaa also has the worst traffic in Kauai, especially near the city center (north of the hotel) and at the bridge over Wailua Bay (south of the hotel).
Narrow and litter strewn, with choppy waves and rocks that limit even wading
Driftwood and debris litter the narrow, steep stretch of sand at the foot of the hotel. You won't find crowds -- or much room to frolic. Boogie boarders and the occasional surfer congregate off shore, but the rocks at the shoreline and choppy waves make wading unpleasant. Travelers can find better beaches by the Kauai Marriott in Lihue and on Plantation Beach in Poipu, right by the Kauai Sheraton, Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, Castle Kiahuna Plantation, and the Waiohai Marriott.
Typical for a budget hotel, except for the smell (cleaned only every four days)
Picture a Motel 6 room, then add a few island touches like teak furnishings, corny paintings, and hula-dancer lamps. The small, 311-square-foot standard rooms, all with balconies, open directly onto the grounds, motel style. The biggest problem is a musty mildew smell, perhaps owing to infrequent housekeeping visits.
The budget-style extras are quaint at best, disappointing at worst.
About what you'd expect from a budget hotel. The main amenity, a small kidney-bean pool with hot tubs, adjoining bar, and grills, serves for quiet dips and abbreviated laps.
Very little to keep kids (or parents) happy
Even for families seeking a low-priced home base on Kauai, the Aston Islander falls short. While guests who want to save money by eating in can buy groceries at the shopping center across the street, the rooms lack real kitchens -- each has only a mini-fridge, sink, and microwave. That means relying on the poolside grills for cooking. Besides that, not much on the property caters to kids, and the narrow beach isn't kid friendly.
No on-site restaurant, and just barbecues for preparing own meals
No on-site restaurant, but the hotel shares a parking lot with the Trees Lounge martini bar, which serves dinner. Guests can cook meals on the outdoor barbecue grills, but the rooms -- with only sinks, mini-fridges, and microwaves -- don't offer much help to chefs.
A low-priced hotel in Kapaa, Aston Islander on the Beach has no gym, no spa, and no restaurant. The only extras are a small pool, grills for guests, and an unassuming outdoor bar. What's worse, the rooms smell musty. The biggest draw -- or the only draw -- are the room rates, which are among lowest.