Forty-story, thousand-room hotels dot the Honolulu landscape like pins in a cushion. For a bit more local flavor, retreat to one of these smaller-scale boutique hotels.
The 12-floor, 51-room Lotus Honolulu is a luxury boutique hotel with the vibe of a Zen oasis, complete with Buddha statues, dim lights, and walls of votive candles in the living-room-like lobby. The grounds are lush, green, and smell of the native flowers growing everywhere. Afternoon wine tastings typify the laid-back sophistication of this lovely retreat tucked away off the beaten path. Close enough to the hustle of the Waikiki strip for entertainment, but far enough away to feel secluded, the Lotus is a minute's walk from one of the island's best swimming beaches.
Built in 1915 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, Manoa Valley Inn is a historic mid-range bed-and-breakfast in a residential neighborhood of Honolulu. The charming property has seven uniquely decorated rooms that, like the rest of the inn, have a mix of antique furnishings and kitschy pieces. The family owners provide a cozy, welcoming atmosphere and a large breakfast with both hot and cold options. For a unique experience in a less busy area of Honolulu, the inn is a good choice, but guests will need a car to get to the beach and other parts of the city -- a car is not necessary for Lotus Honolulu or any of the other hotels on this list.
This cute, 81-room hotel offers a lot in the way of style. The funky, modern, key-lime-pie-colored lobby feels more like something you'd find in South Beach than just outside Waikiki's center. Rooms exude the same easy-spirited modern feel as the lobby, a kind of Ikea-does-Art-Deco look. All rooms come with large flat-screen TVs with HBO, microwaves, coffeemakers with free Kona coffee, and free safes and Wi-Fi. Suites are funky, with details like a spacious private sundeck or a sky light above a giant soaking tub. Most rooms have small furnished balconies, but don't expect ocean views. (By comparison, all rooms at Lotus Honoluu feature private lanai balconies with at least partial ocean views.) Coconut Waikiki also offers a decent number of amenities for the price, like a small splash pool and a bright fitness center.
The 119-room Vive Hotel Waikiki is a mid-range chain located a five-minute walk from Waikiki Beach. Guests rave about the friendly staff at this modern hotel with its large, open lobby -- home to a daily breakfast buffet with fruit, pastries, and coffee. Modern and minimal rooms (some with ocean views) start on the seventh floor; they have flat-screen TVs and updated bathrooms. Unlike Coconut Waikiki, though, there's no pool or fitness center here.
Facilities may be limited at this hotel -- there's no business center, pool, or gym -- but what it does offer are stylish and affordable rooms, one block from Kuhio Beach. A small but beautiful lobby and a bar with happy hour and niche top-shelf booze create an upscale feel. Hotel Renew's mandatory "boutique" fee covers in-room Wi-Fi, breakfast, daily newspapers, beach gear, and coffee and tea in the rooms and lobby.