Oceanfront location with stunning Wakiki Bay and Diamond Head views
Storied history reflected in classic decor and Hawaiian style
Air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and marble bathrooms
Some rooms have balconies with amazing ocean views
Free amenities include mobile hotspots and GoPro rentals
Free daily activities including yoga and introductory surf lessons
Oceanfront saltwater pool with lots of loungers and umbrellas
24-hour fitness center includes free headphones and fresh fruit
Stays quieter than many Waikiki hotels that are right on Kalakaua Avenue
Included activities like hula lessons and lei making
Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
Only Mailiani Tower rooms have ocean-view balconies
Historic Wing rooms are looking a bit tired
Pool and hot tub close early
Pricy beach chair rental fee
Daily resort fee (common in Waikiki)
The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort is a four-and-a-half-pearl oceanfront property along Waikiki’s golden beachfront. Its 528 air-conditioned rooms are a mix of modern units with balconies, or historic (and somewhat tired) units with rattan-accented furniture, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges. The sandy beach has a private area and stunning Waikiki and Diamond Head views, though you'll pay extra for loungers and it's definitely busy. Travelers rave about Royal Hawaiian's mai tais, but its two restaurants get mixed reviews. Additionally, while the pool has garden views, it's small. Other amenities include a spa, fitness center, and freebies like surf lessons, GoPro cameras, lei making, and hula lessons. As an alternative, check out the bustling Moana Surfrider, which has an altogether fresher, more modern style, while still maintaining some historic touches.
Elegant local legend with classy decor, lush grounds, and a storied history
The Royal Hawaiian is Waikiki’s original grande dame. The hotel -- whose iconic pink-hued exterior is known locally as the Pink Palace -- opened in 1927 and for years was the destination for wealthy Hawaiian and mainland travelers. In fact, guests have included Shirley Temple, Franklin Roosevelt, and Kevin Costner. Throughout the 1940s it was leased by the U.S. Navy and became a R&R refuge for Navy personnel before returning to its luxury roots in 1947. Today, elements of its storied history adorn the hotel's interior, including stained glass Art Deco chandeliers, multi-toned walls, original cloth-corded telephones, and mail chutes. A huge black-and-white tiled patio dotted with lime green armchairs overlooks the The Royal Hawaiian's lush, flower-filled grounds. It's a breezy spot to relax away a day and listen to the original clocktower's hourly chime. This hotel is the more lighthearted of Waikiki's luxury properties, retaining just a touch of Hawaiian kitsch that's not found in spots like the Moana Surfrider. Despite being in the heart of bustling Waikiki, the hotel mostly feels like an oasis of calm, though spots like the so-called private beach area and pools (some shared with the Sheraton next door) can be busy -- to say the least. The Royal Hawaiian attracts a mostly American and Japanese clientele, including couples and families.
Amid Waikiki's teeming shops and restaurants, though feels removed from the tourist fray outside
Royal Hawaiian’s oceanfront location has stunning Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head views, and while it's utterly central, the property feels insulated from the busy crush of the streets nearby. The hotel is well-protected from the noise the plagues many Waikiki hotels, situated as it is on its lovely grounds. Many restaurants, bars, and shops are within a two-minute walk from the hotel and a full-size grocery store is six minutes away on foot. Buses also make it easy to navigate Waikiki, and busy Kalakaua Avenue -- lined with chain restaurants and designer boutiques -- is just behind the hotel. Honolulu Zoo is a 15-minute stroll or three-minute drive from The Royal Hawaiian. Diamond Head State Monument, which has gorgeous Waikiki and Honolulu views, is an eight-minute drive away, with 45-minute hikes to the top. Downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, and the Hawaiian royal family's former home, Iolani Palace, are 15 minutes away by car, while the Pearl Harbor monuments are around a 25-minute drive. One of the island’s most stunning and pristine beaches -- Hanuama Bay -- is also 25 minutes from the hotel by car. Oahu’s North Shore -- a famously laid-back, surfer paradise with beautiful beaches and huge waves -- is an hour away, door-to-door. Expect a 25-minute ride to Honolulu International Airport.
Elegant rooms with high ceilings, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, coffee makers, and marble-wrapped bathrooms
Royal Hawaiian’s air-conditioned rooms are set in two locations: the relatively newer Mailani Tower and the original six-story Historic Wing. The so-called Historic Wing rooms have elegant, earth-toned interiors. Tan walls are decorated with round mirrors and paintings of pink flowers are complemented by damask-patterned silver and pink accent walls. We love the room’s high ceilings, but wish they received more natural light. Having been last renovated in 2009, these rooms are also starting to look just a touch tired. Beds are a mix of one king or two doubles with plush, scooped headboards framed by turned Lucite lamps. Flat-screen TVs with cable channels are standard, but could be bigger. They’re set on oftentimes scuffed up rattan-accented cabinets containing mini-fridges and coffeemakers with free coffee. Bathrooms are covered in beautiful marble -- from the vanities to the shower walls. Expect standard toiletries plus shower caps and dental kits. Bathrooms also include scales, hairdryers, illuminated beauty mirrors, and striped pink robes. Other room amenities include luggage stands, safes, slippers, irons, ironing boards, bottled water, basic alarm clocks, and iPads loaded with hotel information. The newer Mailani Tower rooms have bright, modern interiors with floor-to-ceiling windows, colorful modern art, and balconies (some with ocean views). Wi-Fi is included as part of the hotel's daily resort fee. All rooms sleep a maximum of four people.
Beautiful beach, oceanfront pool, two restaurants, 24-hour fitness center, and lots of freebies
Given its luxury status, it's no surprise that this hotel offers a number of features and entertainment, but keep in mind that some are shared with the Sheraton resort next door. That's true of many of the kid-friendly features, including the kids' pool and kids' club (for which there's a fee). The resort does have one Waikiki’s most gorgeous beachfronts, with stunning Diamond Head and Waikiki views. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are available, though keep in mind that Waikiki is anything but tranquil when it comes to beaches. You'll also have to pay extra for lounge chairs on the sand.
The nearby saltwater pool has ocean views and a hot tub, but is surprisingly small and closes early. Loungers are free, but there’s a fee for cabanas. Other pools are available at the Sheraton, but these are also often busy. Abhasa Waikiki Spa offers standard treatments like facials, wraps, and massages. The 24-hour fitness center is stocked with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bicycles, resistance machines, and dumbbells. The free ear buds and fitness classes are a nice plus.
The hotel’s two restaurants get mixed reviews and serve seafood, international, and Hawaiian cuisines. The beachfront bar’s mai tais get rave reviews -- and the entertainment doesn't hurt either -- plus there’s also a bakery near the lobby. The Monday night luaus are a highlight according to previous guests. Breakfast at the poolside restaurant is a particularly upmarket affair, with gourmet jams on the table, complimentary smoothie shots, and warmed maple syrup. Kids' menus are free for children under 12.
The hotel offers free activities including introduction to surfing, flower lei making, shell bracelet making, and hula lessons. Other freebies include mobile hotspot rentals, GoPro cameras, and shoe shines. Laundry and dry cleaning service is available. Car rentals, excursions, and discounted tickets can be arranged with the concierge. On-site shops sell clothes, sundries, gifts, and handmade Hawaiian quilts. There’s 12,000-feet of indoor meeting space and a gorgeous oceanfront lawn that's also used for events. Valet parking is available for a fee, though Wi-Fi is included in Royal Hawaiian’s resort fee.
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