Historic property: the oldest continually operating hotel in Hawaii
Hawaiian colonial-era charm throughout
Excellent harbor-front location in downtown Lahaina
Traditional room decor with modern amenities
Some rooms have large outdoor balconies that overlook Front Street
Popular restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; plus happy hour and live music
Small pool and outdoor lounge area
Free Wi-Fi and off-site parking
Small banquet/event room and adjacent outdoor courtyard
Not on the beach or within walking distance of the sand
Room decor is slightly bland
Some rooms are subject to street noise at night
No spa or fitness center
Built in 1901, the Best Western Pioneer Inn is the oldest continually operating hotel in Hawaii. The mid-range hotel’s greatest asset is its harbor-front location in downtown Lahaina -- though there aren’t any beaches within walking distance. The historic property looks much like it did at the turn of the century, with its colonial exterior, charming front porch, and gingerbread trim. The hotel’s 34 rooms are classic spaces with wood furniture and white linens, but the decor is more generic than historic. On-site amenities include a small outdoor pool, popular full restaurant (with happy hour and live music), and small event space. Travelers looking for a beachfront property may prefer the Kaanapali Ocean Inn, though it isn’t historic and tends to be pricier.
When the Pioneer Inn opened at the beginning of the 20th century, Lahaina was a bustling harbor town. In fact, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii until 1845, and the city was often referred to as the “whaling capital of the Pacific." Seeing the Pioneer Inn today, it’s easy to imagine what the property once looked like: the grande dame in a cosmopolitan metropolis. While Lahaina has changed, much of the Pioneer Inn has stayed the same. Its exterior still has a colonial Hawaiian appearance, with forest green clapboard and white gingerbread trim. Inside, the lobby is filled with fascinating memorabilia like rusted harpoons, varnished turtle shells and ship helms, and framed black and white photos. Movie buffs might recognize the hotel’s common spaces from “The Devil at 4 O’Clock” the 1961 Spencer Tracy flick that was filmed here.
The atmosphere around the Pioneer Inn is casual and friendly. Most travelers only stay for a few nights before heading elsewhere -- like Lanai (the ferry is across the street). This isn’t the type of place where guests hunker down for a week and never leave. Guests run the gamut, from couples, to families, to solo travelers.
Within walking distance of shops, bars, restaurants, and the Lahaina Harbor
The Pioneer Inn is located between Lahaina Harbor and Front Street in a prime area of downtown. Lahaina is Maui’s most populous city (city is used loosely here) and a hub for shopping, dining, and nightlife (essentially bars that are open until 10 or 11 p.m.). From the Pioneer Inn, all of downtown is within walking distance, but there aren’t any beaches nearby. Puamana Beach Park is a five-minute drive, while world famous Kaanapali Beach is about 12 minutes from the hotel. The Pioneer Inn is about a 40-minute drive from Maui’s Kahului Airport.
Mostly bland and generic decor, but outdoor balconies are a highlight
Guests don’t have many options when it comes to room types. The hotel’s 34 rooms are split into three basic categories: King, Twin, and Queen. Unfortunately, rooms don’t have the same historic charm as the lobby and exterior spaces. They’re decorated traditionally, with polished wood headboards and spindle-back chairs, but lack much character. White walls are accented by sea foam green accent moldings. Hawaiian-inspired artwork alludes to the hotel’s history, but rooms still feel generic. Rooms are equipped with several nice amenities, including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffeemakers, and mini-fridges. Bathrooms are bland white-on-white spaces with pedestal sinks and shower/tub combos.
All rooms have outdoor balconies that overlook the interior courtyard, the harbor, or bustling Front Street. White rocking chairs are a nod to Hawaii’s plantation era and provide comfortable outdoor seating for guests. Rooms that overlook Front Street are particularly popular around Halloween, when Lahaina hosts parades and outdoor celebrations (like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, on a much smaller scale). Note that these rooms can experience noise.
An outdoor pool, popular restaurant, and free Wi-Fi
Feature are limited, but offer some nice vacation perks. The Pioneer Inn has a small L-shaped pool in its central courtyard. It’s rarely used, but there are several lounge chairs where guests can sunbathe.
The Pioneer Inn Grill & Bar is the hotel’s popular restaurant. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and attracts tourists and locals alike. It has a casual atmosphere, with lots of covered outdoor seating. Guests can expect a menu of bar food favorites, including burgers, wings, and steaks, along with a substantial Hawaiian pupu menu (small plates). Beer on tap and two-for-one drink specials are the name of the game here -- don’t expect artisan cocktails or fancy wine. Locals often drop by for happy hour and there’s usually live music several times per week.
The Pioneer Inn has a small meeting room/event space. The sunny room is filled with antiques and historic memorabilia (similar to the stuff found throughout the lobby). The room if often used for events like family reunions, bridal showers, and rotary club meetings. For larger groups, tables and chairs can be set up in the adjacent courtyard. Wi-Fi is free and the hotel has an off-site lot where guests can park for free.
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