I was very nervous about staying here after reading all the reviews. We went through a travel agent and she only had this and one other option to chose from on the Hilo side of the island through her company, so we didn't have a whole lot of options. I will go into pretty great detail of our experience, and it is probably going to sound negative, but honestly our room was comfortable and nice for the price (and the location was pretty great). Staying here made exploring Volcanos Nat'l Park a breeze. It gave us a lot more time to spend seeing the East side of the island and the park and a lot less time to waste driving back and forth from Kona. I would stay here again.
I do agree that it is a strange place, and kind of sad. It's huge and seems like it was a grand place at one time, but it does have kind of an abandoned feeling. It's a shame, because it has so much potential and seems like it was probably a great place in its heyday. The outside of the building was only partially painted, like they ran out of money mid-project. Honestly, the whole place kind of felt like they ran out of money mid-renovation. One of the locals we talked to said all the Hilo hotels along that stretch are in poor condition because the land is leased and none of them were sure their leases were going to be renewed, so for the last 10 years or so no one did much of any maintenance to the buildings. We also found out that this building was in bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure.
A lot of the outdoor lights were off, and it was not clear to us where the lobby was when we drove up (we got there after dark). They gave us an actual key (not a card), which was kind of odd. We asked about internet, and they gave us a cable to use in our room. They have wi-fi in the lobby. The self-parking and internet was free, which was pretty great. For internet and parking at our hotel on the West side of the island we had to pay $25/day.
The lighting in the room was very poor/dim, and had a cold institutional feeling (one small round fluorescent fixture in the bedroom, and one in the bathroom, 2 bedside incandescent lamps). In the daylight the room was much more inviting and it actually started to feel like home base after the first night. The room was kind of sterile and had an unfinished feeling. There was no dresser to put clothes (although there was room for one), only an open closet and 2 desk drawers, so that was kind of a pain. There was a good size mini fridge and a coffee maker, but no microwave (some previous reviewers had microwaves in their rooms). We paid for a garden view room, but we were actually able to see the water and hear the ocean from our room, which was nice. The window had sliding wooden panels which blocked out all the light when closed and, from the outside of the hotel, it looked like the windows were boarded up. I think they were going for a modern minimalist style with the rooms, maybe a little Asian-influenced? The room and the hallway floors were tiled, except for the first floor and lower level, which were lobby and banquet areas. I didn't mind the tile floors. I feel like they can at least get them clean, unlike carpeted hotel rooms. We didn't have any noise problems, either, and there were guests staying right next door to us and down the hall.
The elevators were old. One of them made a strange ratcheting noise, like someone was using a socket wrench. We stayed on the second floor, so we just used the stairs most of the time. We did use the elevators when we were exploring the hotel, and I was never worried that we'd get stuck or anything. From the 10th floor, though, you had to push the up and down button to call the elevator, which was odd. We did not see special instructions for elevator use on any of the other floors.
We did some exploring and every floor of one particular wing seemed to be completely closed down, with the lights off or only a few lights on. We found an abandoned restaurant on the 10th floor that had a bunch of construction supplies in it, and was leaking water in through the ceiling in a couple of spots. They appeared to be using the old dining area of this closed restaurant for a massage and acupuncture school. Strange. There were some ballrooms/conference rooms that were locked on the lobby level, and I'm assuming they were vacant. Near the lobby there was a place that looked like a closed restaurant that, for an hour or two on Sunday, was used as a church. There was an area that seemed like it was the old lobby at the back of the building, and on the floor above this old lobby was a healthcare clinic of some sort.
They had one ice chest on the 7th floor which was old and rusty, but the actual tub the ice sat in looked okay. We don't use ice, so it didn't matter for us, but I don't think I'd be afraid to use it. There was a swimming pool, and it looked like it was maintained, but we didn't use it. It would have been nice if there had been a hot tub.
There was original artwork in our room and the same artist had done a mural on our floor (there were murals on floors 2-6 as you got off the elevators, which was kind of charming). It definitely warmed the place up a bit.
Honestly, it was a very strange and kind of sad place, but certainly not as bad as many of the reviewers say. We had a comfortable bed, a clean place to stay, a nice bathroom with plenty of hot water for showers, a mini-fridge, internet, and a decent view of the water (which we didn't pay extra for, ask for, or expect). The hotel staff we interacted with were all friendly and helpful, even the housekeeping staff we ran into in the hallway. We didn't use the laundry room, but we checked it out. The machines were older-looking but clean, and WAY cheaper than our hotel on the West side. Having free parking and free internet was great (our other hotel charged $25/day). It was pretty inexpensive, and if you can get over the fact that you are not staying at a fancy resort hotel with a bunch of amenities, it's just fine, and it makes for some interesting memories and stories.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.