Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A 23-story, 297-room hotel owned by the Halekulani Group that's meant to be the younger, cheaper sidekick to the decadent grande dame across Kalia Road.
With a connection to the ultra-luxe Halekulani across the street, and a Hawaiian outpost of fabulous haute Japanese eatery Nobu in its funky lobby, the Waikiki Parc is one of Waikiki's more intriguing boutique properties. Yet the staff has little attitude, and rates can be very attractive -- not bad for a quiet location across the street from the beach, where semi-stylish rooms are decked out with high-def, flat-screen TVs and MP3 players.
At times the decor seems random, even bizarre, as if the owners imagined that this is how a hip boutique hotel should look. The main entrance leads to a trippy hallway illuminated in shades of blue and green, while the lobby features geometric furniture and icicle-shaped lights. At least the faded wood elevators, room doors, and the white-shutter window blinds evoke a retro, beachy feel (though keycard access for the elevators seems a touch too citified).
The majority of the hotel's guests are Japanese families, with a smattering of American couples and singles and other international travelers, who seem more interested in the convenient location and amenities here than its avant garde touches. For instance, the hotel touts its "urban chic" pool (named "Parc Blue"), a detail lost on the kids doing cannonballs into it.
Some may find rooms to be a bit tired, but overall the hotel is a convenient, quiet, affordable alternative for those aspiring to the much pricier Halekulani, even offering charging privileges there (but forbidding access to its beach and pools). Although this hotel is mellower and perhaps hipper than most in Waikiki's comparably priced Aqua boutique chain, its rooms aren't any nicer -- and at least Aqua has free Internet. But the Waikiki Parc is closer to the beach and great shopping on the Waikiki Beach Walk. It's probably best for those who aspire to $300-a-night rooms yet can't quite afford them, while Aqua is for those who want low rates and don't care who knows it.
Friendly and mostly solid service, with a few glitches
As expected, service isn't nearly as fawning here as at its much higher-priced big sister property Halekulani across the street, but the friendly staff, including an extremely helpful concierge, makes a mostly solid effort, with just a few missteps.
The bell stand is located on the Helumoa Road side of the building, so guests entering on Kalia Road risk losing out on bell services. After checking in three hours early with no problems (thumbs up for that), I received no offer of assistance with bags. At checkout, however, two staffers were more than happy to stow them in the luggage room. The welcome booklet does a nice job listing all of the hotel's services; among them, it touts the availability of items such a "toothbrush kits, sewing kits, and slippers." Around 11 p.m., I called to request toothpaste. "We don't have that here," the person at the front desk said curtly. Even stranger, someone knocked on my door five minutes later and presented me with two toothbrush/toothpaste kits.
Waikiki Parc has a convenient location that's slightly quieter than at larger resorts fronting the ocean. Beach access is two minutes away via a public path that runs between Halekulani and Outrigger Reef. The shops and restaurants of Waikiki Beachwalk are just around the corner.
Two blocks away is Waikiki's main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, a touristy milelong stretch of shops, restaurants, and high-rise hotels that runs along Oahu's southeast coast. Waikiki 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 "Hawaii 09" 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.
Across the street from the heart of the action on one of the world's most famous beaches
To get to the beach, guests must use the public right-of-way path down the block between the Halekulani and the Outrigger Reef. While Waikiki Parc guests do not have access to Halekulani's beach facilities directly across the street, umbrellas and water-sports equipment are available for rental in the small space between the Halekulani and the Outrigger Reef.
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 Parc is located a few minutes' walk 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) patrol 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.
Lackluster decor, though spacious for rooms this close to the beach
Although standard rooms are of decent size (315 square feet), and feature some cool high-tech amenities and a luxurious, microfiber duvet, the faded green carpet, boring off-white tile floors, and plain white walls are borderline tired. However, ocean view rooms offer stunning views of the water. You can find larger, more modern, standard rooms elsewhere at the same price level, but they wouldn't be as close to the beach. (The Best Western on Ala Wai Canal boasts 400-square-foot standards, for instance, and the Aqua Palm's are 325 square feet). But you'd be hard-pressed to find rooms this close to the ocean in such a prime part of Waikiki for the same price.
Still, you won't necessarily know you're on the ocean if you're in a standard room on the 8th to 10th floors -- generically called "Parc Rooms"; the same inland-facing rooms on floors 11 to 23 are euphemistically called "Mountain View". Both more accurately should be labeled "Garage View." My 10th-floor abode overlooked a parking deck, and the delightful sound of car alarms broke out no less than three times during the stay. A word to the wise: spring for an ocean view room, or request a high floor.
An impressive number of unique features, though a few are disappointing
For a small hotel that's quite literally in the shadow of its grander, much more expensive Halekulani sibling, the Waikiki Parc has an impressive number of unique features. True, the pool isn't that exciting, and the gym is disappointing, but the hotel organizes events to get guests socializing, it's the only place on the island where you can rent a Lotus sports car, and it offers access to the Halekulani's spa.
The rectangular, 8th-floor pool, dubbed with a cooler-than-cool name, ("Parc Blue" ), sets the tone with funky furniture and mellow pop music blaring from Bose speakers. But with lots of little kids splashing about, teenagers doing handstands, and older Japanese couples lounging, it doesn't exactly scream "hip." The pool deck has views of the ocean, the city, and the Sheraton Waikiki next door and offers an abundance of lounge chairs. Even if it's not the most exciting, it's better than some other pools at this price level. The bar area was stocked only with towels during my stay, but it plays host to Friday-night, bi-weekly wine socials.
The vibe feels grown-up, but it's decent for families.
Public spaces are clean, but some rooms feel worn.
Though all public spaces are well kept, rooms could be cleaner. A few of the issues in my standard room:
Nobu in the lobby -- at a discount! -- and a free continental breakfast
Though eating options are plentiful for just about any hotel in Waikiki, the Parc might have the best in-hotel dining of any budget boutique on the island, given there's an outpost of the world-famous haute Japanese restaurant Nobu in the lobby. Better yet, Waikiki Parc patrons get a 10 percent discount off dinner, and the front desk can make dinner reservations at check-in. For a full menu, click here.
With a branch of Nobu in the lobby, a beach across the street, and signing privileges at its adjacent high-end sister Halekulani, this well-priced boutique hotel appeals to foodies and families. The fairly simple rooms have high-def, flat-panel TVs (some have spectacular views) and the service is friendly, if far less doting, than at its sibling.