Queen Kapiolani Hotel Rating: 2.0 Pearls
Diamond Head, Honolulu, Oahu

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Convenient, quiet location on eastern edge of Waikiki
  • Some rooms have spectacular views of Diamond Head Crater
  • On-site restaurant's menu is varied and affordable
  • On-site sports shop coordinates tennis, golf, and water sports
  • Free Wi-Fi in all rooms

Cons

Bottom Line

The Queen Kapiolani is a great value option two blocks from the beach, on the quiet eastern edge of Waikiki. Some rooms offer superb views and, thanks to refurbishments in 2011, a bright, classic aesthetic. Rooms are decked out in hues of white, gold, and tan, and feature flat-screen TVs and free Wi-FI. The on-site restaurant has seen a similar overhaul, improving its décor and menu. While still not luxurious, the property's updates to rooms, the restaurant, pool, and outdoor areas have elevated it from its slightly sketchy past.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Renovated in 2011, spaces are clean and comfortable with solid value amenities.

The large lobby
The large lobby

The Queen Kapiolani consists of 315 rooms and suites spanning 19 floors. The more attractive entrance is on Kapahulu Avenue, directly across from the Honolulu Zoo (a not-so-delightful side effect of this hotel's location: rare bird screeches penetrate into the rooms at odd hours). The vehicular entrance and front desk are off narrow Lemon Street, surrounded by dingy hostels and apartment buildings.

The hotel's guest rooms, restaurant, and exterior spaces were renovated in 2011, after Oyster had visited the property. The hotel is much-improved, but has still seen better days. The lobby lacks for natural light (a point exacerbated by its dim brass chandeliers), but the new tiled floors, furniture, and paint have made it appear more cozy than dingy. The room updates have similarly brightened and streamlined the decor, introducing white, gold, and tan textiles to the space, as well as new carpeting, linens, and paint. Furniture has been refurbished but remains the same. The look is classic and comfortable and the vibe is light and airy, with the focus on the views of either Diamond Head or Waikiki Beach.

Guests range from Hawaiian families to European couples to twentysomething groups and backpackers. All come here looking for a good value with solid amenities and feature.

 Location

On the quiet eastern edge of Waikiki and a long block from the beach. The zoo is across the street, and hostels are next door.

On the eastern edge of Waikiki, and specifically on Kapahulu Avenue, a block (and about a two-minute walk) from the Kuhio section of Waikiki Beach. With Kapiolani Park across the street and no high-rise neighbors, the hotel has fantastic views of Diamond Head. Cheap hostels and apartment buildings neighbor the hotel.

A long block up Kapahulu is Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy, milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Waikiki Beach. It 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, P.F. Chang'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
  • Honolulu Zoo is right across the street. Rare birds at the zoo can be surprisingly vocal; their calls were easily heard in my 18th-floor room, even with the windows closed
  • Cheap and easy to get around Waikiki via "The Bus"
  • Honolulu International Airport is a 20-minute cab ride

 Beach

A two-minute stroll to 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 Queen Kapiolani is one 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, 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 a block away at the corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua

 Rooms

Some have fantastic views, though dated furniture remains after renovations.

Standard rooms measure just 216 square feet.
Standard rooms measure just 216 square feet.

In 2010 and 2011 rooms were renovated, providing much-needed updates to the musty interiors. New paint, wallpaper, carpeting, and linens are in all rooms, while only some received new furniture during the update. Tones are largely neutral, pulling attention away from the rooms (a wise choice, since they are still not particularly glamorous) and to the gorgeous views that the hotel boasts.

 Features

A small pool plus sporting-goods rentals; daily fee for Wi-Fi.

The hotel's small pool has great views.
The hotel's small pool has great views.

The small swimming pool is on the 3rd floor and offers fantastic views of Diamond Head and the ocean. The tiled pool deck is quite spacious with plenty of lounge chairs, but has little landscaping and is a few feet from a massive power line. The hotel's restaurant, Garden Lanai, is just around the corner, and there's also a vending machine on the pool deck for some quick refreshment.

  • Lobby includes a tour office, and souvenir and sports shops
  • Sports shop rents tennis rackets, surfboards and golf clubs
  • Self-park garage has limited spots (for a fee)
  • Large function space can hold up to 650 people
  • Lobby features a few computers (fees apply)
  • Guest laundry room in the basement
  • Free Wi-Fi in all rooms

 Family

Low rates, proximity to the beach, and rooms with sleeper sofas

A reasonable but distinctly low-end family option: Rooms are spacious and cheap and the hotel is just a block from the beach and across the street from the Honolulu Zoo. For some families, however, those virtues won't outweigh worn and musty rooms.

  • Cribs are available free of charge
  • Suites include kitchenettes and sleeper sofas; all rooms have mini-fridges
  • The lobby shop sells beach toys, and guests can rent boogie boards
  • The affordable restaurant serves kid-friendly grub like burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and French fries
  • On the down side, the pool is quite small, there's no lifeguard on duty, and the pool deck is dirty

 Cleanliness

Housekeeping does its best, but the building and rooms are in desperate need of an update.

The housekeeping staff is friendly and attentive and, thanks to the renovations in 2011, the hotel is clean. Though some furniture is still somewhat dated, new décor has spruced up the place a great deal.

 Food

The on-site restaurant's menu is affordable and varied, if basic.

The on-site Kulana's semi-open-air setting is charming and quaint at dinnertime, offering spectacular views. It used to be a little too basic, but the 2011 renovations brought a complete new look to the space. There's adaily breakfast buffet and sit-down dinner featuring local Hawaiian fare. A happy hour takes place Monday through Friday, and pupu platters are served at the bar in the afternoons and evenings.

The hotel also offers a variety of catering menus for special events and business meetings. And there are many restaurants within blocks on Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues.

 Bottom Line

The Queen Kapiolani is a great value option two blocks from the beach, on the quiet eastern edge of Waikiki. Some rooms offer superb views and, thanks to refurbishments in 2011, a bright, classic aesthetic. Rooms are decked out in hues of white, gold, and tan, and feature flat-screen TVs and free Wi-FI. The on-site restaurant has seen a similar overhaul, improving its décor and menu. While still not luxurious, the property's updates to rooms, the restaurant, pool, and outdoor areas have elevated it from its slightly sketchy past.

Things You Should Know About Queen Kapiolani Hotel

Address

  • 150 Kapahula Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815-4097

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Castle Queen Kapiolani Hotel
  • Hotel Queen Kapiolani
  • Queen Kapiolani
  • Queen Kapiolani Honolulu

Room Types

  • City View Hotel Room
  • Deluxe Ocean View Room
  • Deluxe Room - Diamond head View
  • Deluxe Room, City View
  • Diamond Head View Studio with Kitchenette
  • Ocean View Hotel Room
  • Ocean View Studio with Kitchenette
  • Penthouse City View One Bedroom Suite with Kitchenette
  • Penthouse Ocean View One Bedroom Suite with Kitchenette
  • Standard Hotel Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 315
Pool: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Diamond Head, Honolulu
Address: 150 Kapahula Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815-4097
(See Map)
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