What makes a hotel qualify as one of the best on Oahu? At Oyster, we know that the “best hotel” is different for just about everyone. For some, the best hotel is the most luxurious, and for others, it’s the one that offers the most for kids. We compiled lists of the best luxury hotels, best value hotels, best family-friendly hotels, most romantic hotels, “hidden gem” hotels, our favorite hotel rooms, and the best hotel spas. Don’t have time to read all that? Not to fear. We selected one hotel from each list that bests its competitors (if only slightly). Below, we present the best hotels on Oahu.
Kahala's location in a ritzy Honolulu neighborhood -- away from the chaos of Waikiki -- makes it the most serene luxury option on the island. It's also the best. Its phenomenal service truly separates it from its competitors: at check-in guests are greeted with leis and cool washcloths; staff members address you by name throughout your stay (impressive for a 338-room property); and additional thoughtful touches include daily newspapers delivered in blue cotton bags and ice buckets that get refilled at turndown. The elegant rooms feature enormous flat-screen TVs, balconies, and some of the best bathrooms we've ever seen.
Location, location, location -- the age-old motto certainly holds true in Waikiki, where mega resorts have tried to edge each other out for the choicest beachfront spots. Yet this budget hotel, with rates that tend to range between $100 and $150 a night, managed to squeeze its way in; the family-friendly Kuhio section of Waikiki Beach is right across the street. Back in the room, guests will find fun tropical decor, flat-screen TVs, and in most cases an ocean view. And a free, daily, hot breakfast adds another nice perk.
The largest resort in Hawaii, the amenities-packed Hilton Hawaiian Village has more to offer families than any other property on Oahu. The crowds are big. But if you're willing to make a pre-breakfast detour to stake out chairs by one the resort's four impressive pools -- one is Waikiki's largest; another has four waterslides -- your kids will be thoroughly entertained. Among the premier attractions are the dozens of species of animals on the grounds, including parrots, penguins, and turtles; the calm, coral reef-protected waters at the beach; and the Friday night fireworks. And what'll you love? A chance for some kid-free relaxation, thanks to Club Penguin, which plans field trips to the aquarium or zoo and activities like Hawaiian crafts and sandcastle building, for kids ages five to 12. (And the per day cost is half of the price of Sheraton's kids' club.)
A 10- to 15-minute drive from Waikiki, on the nearly isolated beach of a posh Honolulu suburb, the intimate Kahala Hotel has been the island's premier romantic choice since it opened in 1964. Even Liz Taylor and Richard Burton honeymooned here, hiding from the paparazzi in a private cabana. And if you're not sold on the side-by-side massages, just take a look at "Kissing Point".
On paper, Hotel Renew might look like a standard-issue budget property that's generally short on amenities. Indeed, it lacks a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurants. But this charming, 72-room boutique has some of the most stylish rooms on the island, and some unexpected perks like a free (albeit simple) continental breakfasts, free Wi-Fi, and free beach chairs, bamboo beach mats, and boogie boards.
The Kahala tops our list of best hotel rooms with spacious, recently renovated rooms that are expertly decorated (we wish our homes were this tasteful and elegant). The décor -- earth tones, stripes, and florals paired together, and a dark-wood, two-poster bed -- strikes a classy note. Enormous bathrooms are well-appointed with soaking tubs, walk-in showers with rain showerheads, and bath products by Floris of London. The hotel offers 16 different types of rooms and suites, and for a princely sum you can have one that overlooks the dolphin lagoon or sits right on the beach.
The 17,000-square-foot Moana Lani Spa is one of the largest and newest luxury spas in Waikiki. But what really makes it stand out is its prime location on Waikiki Beach. The ocean views from its swank treatment rooms, including its couples treatment suites with private balconies, are superb. The extensive facilities include oceanfront relaxation lounges, steam rooms, saunas, and a Jacuzzi. Day passes are also available.