Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Though not priced as low as some of the true budget properties in Waikiki, the 441-room Ohana East certainly doesn't rise much above them. There's a poorly equipped fitness center jammed into a converted suite, unexciting decor (those old tube TVs don't help), smallish rooms, and some missing basics -- like no tubs in the bathrooms, for instance. And it's a solid five-block, or 10-minute, walk to the beach.
Luckily, the friendly, competent service, three restaurants (one of which is fantastic), and little extras, such as 15 minutes of free in-room phone calls, redeem things a bit. The lobby has touches of Hawaiian art and displays, and while the pool isn't very big, it's well maintained and gets the job done for younger kids.
But the Ohana East has some stiff competition, which makes it a tough hotel to recommend over others. Its standard room size is roughly equivalent to lower-priced properties. Right down the street and equidistant from the beach, the Aqua Wave offers similar amenities (pool, on-site restaurants, in-room Wi-Fi, though no room service) and usually costs a bit less for similar-size rooms. You can be right across from the beach in bigger rooms with flat-screens for a similar price at the more centrally located Waikiki Parc Hotel -- and it has a branch of Nobu in the lobby.
For just a few dollars more, sister property Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber, in the same vicinity of the Ohana East and across from the beach, has bigger rooms and much better amenities. Hotel Renew is also closer to the beach, with roughly equal-size standard rooms that are much more stylish with flat-screen TVs and better toiletries and bedding. Going a little farther from the beach and giving up most amenities (like a pool and restaurant), you can get outstanding prices for updated, stylish rooms in the Aqua Waikiki Pearl. Finally, for more square footage, updated technology, and quieter rooms at roughly equivalent rates, you could consider the Best Western on Ala Wai Canal. It's a slightly different location, but offers some of the area's largest rooms in this price range, plus free breakfasts.
More than expected for the price level
The level of staff attentiveness is impressive at this midpriced property -- sure, there's not the dedicated concierge or nightly turndown that you'd find in higher category hotels, but the porters are vigilant, the 24-hour reception desk staffers have great attitudes, and there are some extra services beyond what you'd typically find. On more than one occasion a staff member approached me near the entrance to ask if I needed directions, a taxi, or even suggestions for what to do or where to eat.
Located on the eastern end of Waikiki, about five blocks from Waikiki Beach
The Ohana East is located on the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Kaiulani Street in the eastern section of Waikiki about five blocks from Queen's Beach. The immediate area surrounding the hotel is especially heavy with souvenir shops; an entrance to the somewhat tacky International Marketplace is a block away. Nearby Kuhio is busy with traffic, but not so loud that you can't get to sleep.
The hotel is four blocks away from Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Oahu's southeast coast. 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 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.
Smaller than area competitor's, though well maintained
There's nothing particularly remarkable about the Ohana East's rooms. The standards are small (240 square feet) for this price-level in Waikiki (the Aqua Waikiki Wave, Best Western, Ilima, Aston Waikiki Joy, and Waikiki Parc all have larger standard rooms). Decor is fresh, but unexciting -- furniture is cream-painted bamboo, bedspreads feature floral prints, and old tube TVs make them feel more dated than they are.
About five blocks from the heart of the action on one of the world's most famous beaches
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 Ohaha East is located less than five blocks away from the section called Queen's Beach, which is the part you see on postcards of Waikiki: manicured, palm-tree-dotted lawns leading to a sunny white-sand beach. Children splash about in the shallow water near the shore, while surfers and standup paddle-boarders (the rad new thing to do) parole the outer waters.
To summarize Queen's Beach in one word: packed. Packed with energy, packed with activity, packed -- most significantly -- with people. Towels carpet the sand like blankets at a sold-out concert. Families with small children, honeymooning couples, even locals taking lunch breaks -- they all merge here, sunning, swimming, and sandcastle-building, all the while doing their best not to kick sand in each other's faces.
Enough amenities, but aside from the on-site Thai restaurant, none are that impressive
There's not much that's special about the features offered at the Ohana East, but the fact that they're offered at all puts it a leg up on some of its competitors. The pool -- roughly equivalent to that at the Waikiki Parc and better than what the Aston Waikiki Joy or the Best Western offers -- is clean and has plenty of lounge chairs. The tiny "gym" in a converted suite is pretty poor, but some properties, like Hotel Renew, don't offer one on-site at all. Overall, facilities are usable and fine, but nothing special.
Not especially kid-friendly, and the beach is five blocks away
This isn't a terrible budget choice for families, but there are much better options. While the spacious rooms are a boon to those with kids in tow, the five-block walk to the beach is a hassle with younger children.
Clean and well maintained
In the past few years, all rooms have been refurbished; overall, it's fresh and clean.
Although it offers an on-site pool, attentive service, several good eateries, and access to a free trolley around town, the Ohana East suffers from small rooms with old TVs, a poorly equipped fitness center, and a location five blocks from the beach. With stiff competition at this price range, there are better choices.