Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi in room, and bad plug-in connection (for a fee)
  • Small, crowded pool
  • Service is friendly, but limited.
  • Noise from nearby bars carries at night.

Bottom Line

This 645-room hotel looks and feels like a shopping mall, with chain restaurants on the ground floor, an escalator to the lobby, and service that seems to emphasize speed over personal touches. But the beachfront location is great, and recently renovated rooms feature fun décor and flat-screen TVs. Plus, most have ocean views.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A 645-room tower across from the beach, the Aston's aloha-kitsch décor pleases a diverse crowd of guests.

The Aston's aloha-kitsch decor
The Aston's aloha-kitsch decor

The kitschy Aston Waikiki Beach, with its bright surfboard-tiki-aloha print décor, crowds of tourists, and mall-like entrance, stands in sharp contrast to the some of its mellower neighbors, like the Park Shore or Marriott Waikiki Beach. The hotel essentially begins on the 2nd floor of a 25-story tower. Chains like Cold Stone Creamery, Wolfgang Puck Express, and Subway line the ground floor along Waikiki's main drag of Kalakaua. After pulling up to the side-street entrance marked by surfboards bearing the hotel's name, guests ride a bamboo-lined escalator to check-in on the 2nd floor. There large tiki statues pop up every few feet, and elevators feature hula murals and fun facts about Hawaii. Whether it's groovy -- or screamingly tacky -- depends on your taste.

The hotel is clean and conveniently located on the east end of Waikiki's main strip. The 645 rooms aren't large -- about 225 square feet -- but most have ocean views and many have balconies. And a 2006 renovation means they sport flat-screen TVs and fresh furnishings.

The Aston may have fewer amenities than the massive Marriott Waikiki Beach next door, or the towering Hyatt Regency beyond that, but it also tends to be significantly cheaper, and the rooms are plenty comfortable. With connecting rooms, a free breakfast buffet, and beachfront location, it's a great choice for families who want to save money, or twentysomethings looking for a fun, affordable base of operations.

 Location

Convenient and bustling, on the eastern edge of Waikiki and directly across from Kuhio Beach

Aston Waikiki Beach is the second-to-last building on the east end of the Waikiki strip, on the corner of Kalakaua and Paoakalani Avenues, and facing the Kuhio section of Waikiki Beach. The hotel's entrance is on Paoakalani, and rooms on that side face the massive Marriott Waikiki Beach next door.

Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast, offers a curious blend of mainland creature comforts and local flavor. On the sidewalks, Japanese tourists intermingle with tanned locals, surfboards under their arms, on their way to the beach to catch a few waves after work. On both sides of the street, high-end retailers -- Tiffany, Cartier, and yes, even an Apple store -- are interspersed with indoor malls and streetside vendors hawking cheap seashell jewelry and T-shirts. Seemingly every mid-market chain restaurant can be found here -- Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Tony Roma's -- along with more than a handful of Starbucks and fast-food joints. And towering above it all: 40-story, thousand-room hotels dotting the landscape like pins in a cushion.

  • Wide variety of shopping, dining, and drinking -- all within walking distance
  • Kapiolani Park, an oasis of (relative) calm for people-watching and local flavor, is three minutes by foot.
  • Across the street from Kuhio Beach
  • Building's ground floor includes Wolfgang Puck Express, Cold Stone Creamery, Subway, The Cookie Corner, and some T-shirt shops.
  • Cheap and easy to get around Waikiki via "The Bus"
  • Honolulu International Airport is a 15-minute cab ride.

 Beach

Across the street from one of the world's most famous beaches; Kuhio Beach, aka "the wall," is the closest subsection.

Concrete pier at the beach
Concrete pier at the beach

Loosely speaking, the entire 1.5-mile stretch of sand alongside Kalakaua Avenue is known as Waikiki Beach. In reality, it's more like three separate beaches, the borders of which vary depending on whom you ask. The Aston Waikiki Beach is located a block from the Kuhio section, known to some as "the wall," for the 50-yard concrete pier that juts out from the sand at the corner of Kapahulu Avenue. (The kids who jump off the pier are known affectionately as "wall rats.")

Kuhio Beach is broader and far less crowded than its more famous neighbor to the northwest, Queen's Beach. The water is shallow and warm, and because the wall creates an artificial cove of sorts, it's also calm, making Kuhio the best place for kids to swim, according to the lifeguards there. On the other hand, the ocean bottom is a bit rocky, so tread gingerly.

  • Public beach
  • Ocean bottom is rocky, unlike neighboring Queen's Beach.
  • Lifeguards monitor the beach throughout the day.
  • Free towels and chairs, provided by the hotel
  • Umbrellas and chairs can be rented from one of the many Star Beach Boys stands.
  • Water sports equipment like surfboards and boogie boards available for rental at the Star Beach Boys stands
  • Respected Hans Hedemann Surf School is near the wall, where Kapahulu Avenue meets the sand.

 Rooms

Fun décor, great views, and modern amenities make up for small size.

The Ocean View Guest Room
The Ocean View Guest Room

Almost all the rooms are a small 225 square feet, but thanks to a 2006 renovation, they feature great new beds, flat-screen TVs, and a fun, colorful, tropical-themed décor, from the red flower-print throw pillows to the tiki-style lamp to the mix of bamboo, dark wood, and rattan furniture, including the sizeable dresser, a table, and two chairs. Some guests complain about rooms feeling small. My standard with two double beds was easy enough to get around, though the single closet was small.

Noise can also be a problem because bars with live bands basically surround the Aston Waikiki Beach. And even on the top floor I heard the constant clang of the trolley on the street below. At dusk the strains of the live band playing down at Tiki's wafted in through the window. Yet an impressive 85 percent of the rooms have some ocean view, and indeed the balcony of my Partial Ocean View room on the 25th floor looked out on surfers and the sunset. From inside the room, however, I could see only the Marriott Waikiki Beach next door and skyscrapers.

  • Semicircular balconies have great views, but room for just one plastic lounge chair.
  • Soft beds with white sateen sheets, matching duvet, two fluffy pillows (extras in closet)
  • 32-inch LG flat-screen with basic cable only, plus pay-per-view movies.
  • CD player
  • Playstation 3
  • Empty mini-fridge
  • Hard-wired Internet worked only a couple minutes at a time; wireless signal spotty
  • Electronic safes
  • Shower water pressure is decent; raffia rug in the bathroom covers grotty tile floor.
  • Generic and minimal toiletries: just a single "conditioning shampoo" and two bars of soap
  • Noise, particularly on the western (non-Diamond Head) side of the building, can be a problem.

 Features

An average pool, but a fitness center that beats the competition

Modern equipment at the fitness center
Modern equipment at the fitness center

Like many Waikiki high-rises, the Aston has a small, heated pool on its 2nd-floor deck. With a nice assortment of lounge chairs and mini cabanas, the Aston's pool area has more ambiance than those at the nearby Park Shore and Queen Kapiolani.

  • The pool always seems to be overrun with kids.
  • Snack bar with snacks and towel loans nearby; Tiki's is within stumbling distance for those itching for booze or a more robust meal (but no cocktails poolside).
  • Free towels and beach chairs
  • Small but impressive fitness center with multiple Precor treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes, all with personal video screens, plus fitness balls and free weights
  • Tour desks run by outside firms arrange area excursions.
  • Free Wi-Fi with a weak signal in the lobby and pool area
  • Computers in lobby are charged by the minute.
  • Valet parking has a daily charge, with unlimited in/out privileges.

 Family

Popular with families, thanks to good prices and a great location

Kids at the pool
Kids at the pool

Reasonable room rates, a popular pool, clean, comfortable rooms, and a convenient location make the hotel a solid choice for families.

  • Free breakfast buffet
  • Free cribs; connecting rooms available; rollaways charged per night.
  • The pool isn't huge, but kids seem to enjoy it just fine.
  • On quiet end of Waikiki strip
  • Kid-friendly Subway and Cold Stone Creamery dining options downstairs
  • Beach just across Kalakaua Avenue
  • One block from Honolulu Zoo

 Cleanliness

For such a large hotel, the Aston is in great shape.

The hotel was renovated in 2006, and aside from worn bathroom tiles I found my room to be pristine and spotless, as were all the candy-colored common areas.

 Food

Among many options, the free poolside breakfast buffet stands out.

Taco's at Tiki's Grill & Bar
Taco's at Tiki's Grill & Bar

Chains like Wolfgang Puck Express, Subway, and Cold Stone Creamery line the ground-floor lobby, and the fun bar and grill, Tiki's, is right off the 2nd-floor pool deck. But none are affiliated with the hotel, so guests don't have room charging privileges. Perhaps the top on-site dining experience is the free poolside breakfast buffet. At check-in guests receive a cooler bag to bring down to the poolside buffet (they're encouraged to bring their food across the street to eat on the beach). Empty chairs are hard to come by. I ate out of my lap while a singer and hula dancer performed. The buffet selection is decent: scrambled eggs, cereal, yogurt, rolls, and fruit.

  • Free breakfast buffet from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. is a step above continental.
  • Tiki's is totally kitschy, but the large, shaded terrace has lovely views; lanterns and tiki torches make it a romantic setting at night.
  • Lively sunset happy hour at Tiki's, with live band, $2.50 beers and $1 shots
  • Tiki's awarded "Waikiki's Best Mai Tai" in 2008 by Hawaii Magazine

 Bottom Line

This 645-room hotel looks and feels like a shopping mall, with chain restaurants on the ground floor, an escalator to the lobby, and service that seems to emphasize speed over personal touches. But the beachfront location is great, and recently renovated rooms feature fun décor and flat-screen TVs. Plus, most have ocean views.

Things You Should Know About Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

Address

  • 2570 Kalakua Ave., Honolulu, HI, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Aston Honolulu
  • Aston Hotel Waikiki
  • Waikiki Beach Hotel

Room Types

  • Guest Room Oceanfront
  • Guest Room Ocean View
  • Guest Room Partial Ocean View
  • Junior Suite
  • Standard Guest Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 645
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Internet: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Waikiki, Honolulu
Address: 2570 Kalakua Ave., Honolulu, HI, US
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