Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A 645-room tower across from the beach, the Aston's aloha-kitsch décor pleases a diverse crowd of guests.
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.
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.
Across the street from one of the world's most famous beaches; Kuhio Beach, aka "the wall," is the closest subsection.
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.
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.
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.
Popular with families, thanks to good prices and a great location
Reasonable room rates, a popular pool, clean, comfortable rooms, and a convenient location make the hotel a solid choice for families.
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.
Among many options, the free poolside breakfast buffet stands out.
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.
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.