Hilton Waikiki BeachWaikiki, Honolulu, Oahu
- In-room Internet is charged daily
- Only on-site restaurant is relatively pricey
- No real on-site bar scene or nightlife
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Picture what would happen if you dropped a standard, upper-middle-range, mid-size Hilton from the sky onto a street corner one block from what the Travel Channel calls the "third sexiest beach in the world" -- that's pretty much what you get at the Hilton Waikiki Beach.
Corporate travelers account for 60 percent of the hotel's guests -- that's pretty high for Hawaii. As such, it's lobby bar and small restaurant are not the places to hang out and party. From the outside, the Hilton looks just like all the other buildings dotting the Waikiki landscape: 601 guest rooms on 37 floors. Once inside, however, you glean the full effect of its two-year (2007 to 2009) $65 million renovation -- like the neoclassical columns and marble flooring in the bright, magenta-schemed lobby. Of course, this is still a huge hotel chain at heart, meaning you can find the exact same furniture and artwork in every hallway. But there's also great value in uniformity -- the spacious, even stylish, redesigned rooms are some of the most comfortable in Waikiki, and a steal for the price.
One block from Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, and the beach
Kuhio Avenue, which runs parallel to Kalakaua, could well be described as Kalakaua's calmer, quieter -- and, alas, shadier -- little cousin. Still, this is Waikiki, the most heavily touristed neighborhood in all of Hawaii. The stretch of Kuhio outside the hotel is a four-lane road, and the street boasts just as many creature comforts as its neighbor; they are simply lower profile -- Denny's and IHOP instead of Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, hostels and apartment complexes instead of the Hyatt Regency. Unfortunately, the area could also be described as the seedy underbelly of Waikiki. Still, you need not worry about your safety. Violent crime isn't a problem, and plenty of families and unaccompanied women can be seen walking around, even at night.
A block away is Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach on Oahu's southeast coast, offering 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, even an Apple store -- are interspersed with indoor malls and streetside vendors hawking cheap seashell jewelry and T-shirts. Seemingly every midmarket 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.
- Cheap and easy to get around Waikiki via the bus (appropriately nicknamed "The Bus")
- Honolulu International Airport is a 20- to 25-minute cab ride.
- Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, and Diamond Head Crater -- three of the most popular tourist sites outside Waikiki -- are all within 30 minutes by car.
A three-minute stroll to one of the most famous beaches in the world. Kuhio Beach, also known as "the wall," is the closest subsection of Waikiki Beach to the Hilton.
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 Hilton 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
- Lifeguards monitor the beach throughout the day.
- Free towels provided by the hotel
- Umbrellas and lounge chairs must 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.
Large, clean, comfortable, and quite stylish
The rooms are the reason the Hilton is a good deal. They combine the base-level comforts of a midrange large chain operation -- spaciousness, modern technology, cleanliness -- with the aesthetics of a higher-end hotel and the amenities every room in Hawaii should have (that would be a balcony). The designers eschewed the generic Hilton aesthetics for a sleek yet understated approach: dark-wood furniture, padded yellow headboards, ergonomic office chair in cream-colored leather. The bathrooms are lovely, with large walk-in showers with solid water pressure, and stylish translucent "broken-glass" windows. In short, the rooms at the Hilton Waikiki Beach offer as much princeliness as Hiltonness.
- Nearly all 600 rooms are standard guest rooms with identical amenities, basic layout, and size (about 300 square feet); the only real differences are the bed choice (one king or two doubles) and views (8th floor and higher are deluxe rooms, which are $40 a day more).
- If possible, ask for an ocean-view room; my 29th-floor deluxe balcony featured 180-degree views of Honolulu and the mountains beyond.
- Hilton's extremely comfortable "Serenity Beds," have Serta "Suite Dreams" mattresses, Pacific Coast down duvets, 250-thread-count sheets, and Touch of Down brand pillows.
- 42-inch LG plasma TVs (with 30 channels, including HBO)
- Alarm clocks with iPod hookups
- Hilton's new GuestLink system, which allows you to connect pretty much any electronic device (laptop, Xbox, whatever) into the TV. (If you don't bring your own cables, the front desk will provide them for free; you just need to put down a $20 deposit.)
- Disappointingly, in-room Internet access costs $10 a day and isn't wireless -- poor form for a hotel that prides itself on its business friendliness.
- Laptop safe
- Coffeemaker with free Hawaiian Paradise brand Kona blend coffee
- A copy of Conrad Hilton's autobiography, 'Be My Guest', sits alongside the Gideon's Bible in the nightstand. Which one you use as your holy book is up to you.
- The La Source brand bath products by Crabtree & Evelyn.
The highlight is the Hang 10 pool, so named because it's (duh) on the 10th floor and (duh) this is Hawaii, dude. It's large and well maintained, and features decent views of the Waikiki skyline along with some pleasant landscaping, well-spaced lounge chairs, and a Jacuzzi.
- Fitness center isn't big, but it's otherwise fairly well equipped with Precor cardio machines (four treadmills, three ellipticals, and a bike) with private TV screens and headphones, a multipurpose strength-training machine, and a set of free weights, plus specialized equipment like fitness orbs, medicine balls, and yoga mats.
- In-room Internet access is charged per day, and it's not wireless either; the lobby has a fast Wi-Fi connection.
- Use of the business center is complimentary -- rare for a Waikiki hotel.
- 17,000 square feet of meeting space
- Parking is valet only, charged nightly.
No activities, no kids' club, no rollaway beds; but the pool is big and the beach nearby.
Business travelers make up 60 percent of the Hilton's clientele (rare for Hawaii), so the amenities and vibe are understandably not geared towards children. Still, there's a lot here to keep the kids happy: the pool, namely, and of course that beach a block away. Plus, cribs are free, and the restaurant, MAC 24-7, offers plenty of things kids will eat.
- A gentle but necessary warning: the neighborhood is a tad sketchy. I was propositioned by hookers twice and a drug dealer once near the Kuhio one night -- all in an hour. Still, you need not worry about your safety. Violent crime isn't a problem, and I saw plenty of families walking around, even at night.
- For a better family option in a similar price range, try the Marriott Waikiki or Sheraton. If you want to use Hilton Honors points, go for the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Not an issue
The entire property was overhauled between 2007 and 2009, and so far the staff has done a nice job maintaining the property, from the lobby and pool area to the rooms. Even the pool chairs are clean and unfaded.
MAC 24-7, the Hilton's open-all-the-time restaurant, is basically a modern take on the classic diner -- red-cushioned booths, fixed stools at the counter, white tiled floors -- yet MAC maintains an impressively high profile. The Travel Channel's Adam Richman made an appearance here for his show, Man v. Food, taking on their "MAC DADDY" pancakes -- three thick 14-inch-wide flapjacks that are free if you can finish them. (In case you want to know: Man lost, food won.) If you're not interested in consuming four pounds of flapjacks, the waffles with strawberries are excellent. It's not cheap, but it is certainly a fun place to grab breakfast or a midnight snack.
- MAC 2-Go, right next door, sells snacks, soda, and Starbucks coffee.
- Room service comes courtesy of MAC 24-7, and is thus available anytime. Prices are high, though.
- Off-site, options abound, from fast food to high-end hotel eateries. Close to the Hilton, the Coconut Cafe and Ruffage, a husband-and-wife-owned, health-food cafe with a wall of fame that rivals those at many Waikiki hotels, are both solid options.
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Address2500 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, United States
Also Known As
- Hilton Honolulu
- Hilton Hotel Honolulu
- Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel
- Honolulu Hilton
- Prince Kuhio
- Radisson Waikiki Prince Kuhio
- Deluxe Mountain View Room
- Deluxe Ocean View Room
- Executive Mountain Golf View
- Executive Ocean View Room
- One Bedroom Suite with Parlor
- Standard Room