Aqua Palms Waikiki is a two-and-a-half-pearl hotel on Waikiki’s west side, an eight-minute walk from Kahanamoku Beach and close to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Its 224 are tired and lack full ocean views, but include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, Sony PlayStations, mini-fridges, and (in some) small balconies. Loungers surround the small pool and the Weber gas grill is a definite plus. Other amenities include a cardio room and a Blu-Ray/DVD/video game library. There’s no on-site restaurant, but guests receive discounts to a few nearby eateries. Aqua Palms’ freebies include beach chairs, towels, and shuttle service to central Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Center. If you'd prefer direct beach access, it’s worth considering the Park Shore Waikiki instead, where rates are often similar and the overall vibe is more pleasant.
Basic chain hotel with tired interiors and rates that are high for what's on offer
Aqua Palms Waikiki opened in 2004 and, while rates are low for Waikiki, the hotel has seen better days. It's in need of a refresh and the lack of features (coupled with a daily resort fee) and distance from the beach makes this one of the less value-savvy options in the area. Murals of beach scenes decorate the lobby, though what little seating there is faces the busy street outside. Faded couches with mushy pillows are situated next to a coin-operated coffee machine, adding to the downmarket vibe. The pool is a slight refuge, but traffic noise is a constant from the busy street below. Even the hallways, with their green and orange bamboo-patterned carpets, show their age. Walls are scratched up and paint is chipping off in many spots. Overall, it’s a quote-unquote budget-friendly property, but you're not getting your money's worth here. Hotel guests are mostly American couples and families, though the property also attracts travelers from Asia.
On busy Ala Moana Boulevard, an eight-minute walk to the beach
For better or worse, the hotel sits along busy Ala Moana Boulevard in Waikiki’s west end. It’s down the street from a big park and less than a three-minute walk from multiple restaurants and shops. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is just across the street, so travelers here can access the touristy Hawaiian happenings there with relative ease. The closest beach -- Kahanamoku -- is an eight-minute walk from the property, though the most famous central sections of Waikiki's beaches will take around 20 minutes to reach on foot. In the other direction, Ala Moana Center -- Hawaii’s biggest mall -- is a two-minute drive or 13-minute walk from theh hotel. Similarly, the Hawaii Convention Center is a two-minute drive away. Honolulu Zoo is located on Waikiki’s far east side and takes around 10 minutes to reach in a car. Diamond Head State Monument is about five minutes beyond that, with trails to the top taking around 45 minutes to complete. Downtown Honolulu, Chinatown, and the Iolani Palace are also 10 minutes away by car (in the opposite direction), depending on traffic. Budget 15 to 20 minutes to reach the airport in a taxi or car.
Tired and basic rooms with air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and PlayStations, though balconies aren't standard
The rooms here -- like the hotel overall -- need an update. During our late 2017 visit, things were looking dated and tired. Cream-colored walls are dinged up, furniture is scuffed, and the boxy lampshades that illuminate the room (there are no ceiling lights) are dented and discolored. Expect typical tropical accents, like palm tree-themed art and bedding. Overall, the rooms are small and their king, queen, or two queen beds consume most of the limited space. Floor-to-ceiling windows add a necessary bit of roominess and light. Standard features include flat-screen TVs with cable channels, Sony PlayStations, iHome iPod docks, air-conditioning, mini-fridges, and Wi-Fi (the latter as part of the daily resort fee). Microwaves, coffeemakers, fans, irons, and safes are also included. Bathrooms have granite vanities and shower/tub combos that could use a reglazing. The water pressure, at least, is good. Hawaiian Tropic coconut-scented toiletries are standard as are hairdryers.
Pool with a Weber barbecue, cardio room, coin-operated laundry, and free beach chairs
Amenities here are limited, which is fine, but disappointing when you consider the fact that the hotel charges a daily resort fee. A small pool overlooks the busy road (meaning traffic noise) and a city park. It has lots of lounge chairs and a Weber grill for guests to use. The gym is really more of a cardio room, as it only has two treadmills and an exercise bike. Self-parking is available (for a fee) in the hotel’s shared garage. A coin-operated laundry room is located in the parking garage. Beach chairs and towels can be borrowed from the front desk. There’s free water, an ATM, newspapers, and a Blu-Ray/DVD/video game lending machine in the lobby, as well as a coin-operated coffee machine. The guest computers were out of order as of late 2017, though Wi-Fi is included in the resort fees. Free shuttles run to and from Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Shopping Center and discounts at Macy's and nearby restaurants.
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