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“Best Bed & Breakfast I have ever experienced!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Shipman House Bed and Breakfast Inn

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Shipman House Bed and Breakfast Inn
131 Kaiulani Street, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #7 of 18 Hilo B&B and Inns
1 review
“Best Bed & Breakfast I have ever experienced!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2012 via mobile

Amazing house, hosts and experience! I stayed here with my daughter and it was the most relaxing, informative and tasty vacation. Hilo is old and charming and not crazy like Kona or Waikiki. The people were friendly and Barbara and Gary gave us daily advice on what to see and experience. The breakfast was HUGE and had fresh local fruits, fresh smoothie, juices and baked local bread and a homemade breakfast muffin. Simply fabulous!

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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184 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (17)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 14, 2012

We loved our stay at the Shipman House. The trip up the driveway to this enchanting home was just the beginning of our excitement. The owners have restored an old Victorian Home to it's former grandeur and have furnished it with many family antiques. The main floor is a step back in time to pre-statehood Hawaii. We stayed in Auntie Clara's Bedroom and loved watching the sunrise from our very comfortable bed. Then was the fabulous breakfast on the lanai. The weather was beautiful, the owners were great hosts, and the amount of quality of foods available was outstanding. There were 13 different fruits (most gown on the Shipman House grounds), two kinds of homemade granola, a hot cereal, fresh yogurt with 6 different toppings, two kinds of bagels, and two kinds of homemade breads with 4 different jams or fruit butters. And that doesn't include a fabulous assortment of teas, coffee, and juices. My only disappointment was that I couldn't eat it all! The wrap around porch on the first floor and the second story porch were appointed with great chairs to comfortably watch the sun set through the palm trees and to enjoy the sounds of the Hawaiian evening. The innkeepers were spot on in their recommendations for great parks, eating places, and businesses to visit. The value for your money was definitely worth it and we will stay there anytime we are in Hilo.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2012 via mobile

The Shipman House is beautiful. The hosts, Gary and Barbara, are very nice people who take good care of their guests. The house is centrally located in a pretty part of Hilo. The breakfast is delicious and full of variety (from baked goods to many kinds of tropical fruit that were was grown on the property). The hospitality at The Shipman House is superb. If you're comin for a peaceful stay in Hilo, this is your place.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Barcelona, Spain
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2012

We stayed at the Shipman house for just one night about two years ago (october 2010), so I am not good on the details. I just remember that Barbara took great care of us, asking for our plans for the day, and making great recommendations: we wanted to see the lava flow in the evening, and not only did she recommend a great place to have "the best" chocolate milkshake, but she also provided us with things we had not though of, such as a blanket to seat on, binoculars, and I think she even mentioned a tripod for the camera. She also recommended a great place for dinner on our way back.
For our needs, breakfast was more than sufficient, with plenty of fruit, which I am really fond of. But I usually don't eat a lot for breakfast.
We were not annoyed by the frogs. In fact, I don't really remember hearing them.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Sydney
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2012

What a wonderful stay; the B&B is a hidden gem in Hilo and our only regret is not staying longer. Barbara and Gary are such wonderful hosts and from the moment you enter the House you sense peace and tranquility. Barbara's & Gary's local knowlege and advice has meant that we will leave our brief stay with you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Clearly the owners are proud of the service they offer thier guests and this shows through in the quality of the rooms, and the in-house breakfast- Wow! Healthy, tasty and home-grown.

When (not if) we return to the Big Island - we will be back to the Shipman Inn.

Room Tip: The Mauka room faces the bush and gets a cool evening breeze
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VA
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2012

The rules are overwhelming! If you need to have so many "rules" for others to stay at your "home", maybe you should just have family come and stay.
Barbara is very gruff, Gary is very personable! Gary should take over more of the face to face with guest and leave the computer interface to Barbara.
Great picture of the bath tub in the brochure, but don't think you can use it after a hard day at Volcano National Park. It has a huge sign on the tap putting it off limits to guest.
If you are not learning impaired, you will feel like it on your second or third or fourth mandatory breakfast tour of the 'fruits of the Shipman property'. Nice touch on the oatmeal, but there is not enough prepared for all guest to help themselves. If you think you need more than fruit to carry you up till lunch, you need to visit Ken's on your way to your activity. The breakfast here does not carry the average person through to lunch, even with minimal activities planned. (If your response is that the county does not allow HI B&B's to serve hot breakfast, then you need to check what the competition is serving and the county ordinances, since I asked the county district supervisor!)
A/C would cut down on the amount of moisture that seeps into your luggage while it sits in your room. It would also dampen the volume of the frogs... not blaming the frogs on Shipman, but the ear plugs do not help. Several stiff drinks does help, but the drinks make it difficult to make it to breakfast on time... bracketed for the owners convenience.
The boards on the great wrap around porch (really, loved the porch) but many boards are puttied and caulked, and not fixed properly.

Room Tip: Stay some place else....
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hilomama, Owner at Shipman House Bed and Breakfast Inn, responded to this review, October 2, 2012
Wow, that's quite a list. I am so sorry you were unhappy here nearly a year ago. Let me address some of your points. Rules-- We actually have very few rules: no shoes worn in the houses; no smoking (it's the law); no candles or anything that burns in the house; and we ask that luggage not be rolled indoors, as it leaves an imprinted trail on the soft wood floors. Think "Museum", as that is what the Shipman House is. These rules are included in nearly every piece of correspondence we send out, so there are no surprises upon arrival. On the other hand, we offer guests some privileges not offered elsewhere: guests are welcome in any room that has its door standing open, they are encouraged to play the same Steinway piano Hawaii's last queen played when she would come to visit my great-grandmother, or they may sit in the library and read books a hundred years old.
The bathtub in the brochure is the one in Auntie Clara's Shell Room's bathroom, and is only for guests staying in that room. The one you refer to is in the porch bathroom, our 'public' bathroom, and is strictly decorative these days. It is not part of any guestroom. Each guestroom does have its own shower/tub combination, although only the Shell Room has a clawfoot tub.
Our tropical fruit platter has such an unusual selection, even many locals ask questions. We give the breakfast tour to first-timers only, but others on the lanai may overhear it (again and again) when new people arrive, or when a new fruit appears on subsequent mornings. For a cereal, most people opt for our Hawaiian macadamia nut granola with all the condiments, but we do offer a hot cereal for those who prefer it. There are other choices on the buffet, but yes, if you want a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, Ken's may be the answer. I've just checked with the county, and continental breakfasts are still what the county allows for B&Bs in residential zones. Please email me the name of the supervisor you spoke with-- I'd love to hear otherwise.
Coqui tree frogs present an ongoing challenge to all of us. They are quiet during the winter months, when nighttime temperatures dip into the high 50's and lower 60's...January through March.

Mahalo for sharing your concerns.
Aloha,
Barbara and Gary
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
52 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
397 helpful votes 397 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

I'm a foodie so I have to gush about the breakfast!!! Breakfast at Shipman House B&B was a fabulous treat we looked forward to for every one of our 5 mornings at the B&B, with an unsurpassed offering of a gorgeous fresh tropical fruit tray artfully displaying a delicious rainbow of island fruit. Fresh lilikoi butter (passion fruit) was made every morning, and it is addicting when spread on a slice of gently toasted fresh Portuguese sweet bread, or on a whole wheat English muffin. Healthy oatmeal or quinoa was also offered, along with yogurt, home-made macadamia nut granola, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and a different home-made baked treat each morning.

The tropical fruit was fresh and local and exquisitely ripened...some of it grown right on the grounds of Shipman House. My husband and I both miss the Shipman breakfasts, and I long for a return visit to the Big Island just to feast on the addicting tropical breakfasts! There were a dozen different tropical fruits at breakfast each morning, and the supply of fruit was generous, so we could have seconds of our favorite fruits. I was delighted by the sweet papaya with a scoop of passion fruit and a squeeze of a lime-like fruit.

We had booked 2 nights in a cottage room at Shipman, and 3 nights in Aunt Carrie's room in the main house. Both rooms were lovely and comfortable, with Queen beds, and ensuite bathrooms with overhead shower heads plus hand-held personal showers.

Shipman B&B has 5 guest rooms: 3 in the main house, (a historic mansion), and 2 in the duplex cottage. On our next visit I will be happy to book any of the rooms which have a Queen bed in either the main house or the cottage.

If you are choosing your room, here is some info.

Cottage Rooms: There are 2 cottage rooms in a duplex cottage in a separate building but near the main house. I felt that our casual, airy cottage room had a feeling of romantic seclusion, even though it was actually close to the main house and next to 4 small parking spots and some garden plants. The coqui frogs calling at night add to the tropical atmosphere, and we were closer to the frogs in the cottage. We love the sound of coqui frogs as it reminds us of romantic tropical nights! Our room in the duplex cottage was quiet, and we never heard a peep out of the other couple in the other side of the duplex cottage. The cottage showers heat up their own hot water when you flip on the shower. If you are taking a long shower, you need to flip the switch off and on again to receive plenty of hot water for a longer shower. The cottage showers have good water pressure, and flipping the switch off and on to get more hot water is only a minor inconvenience. We would cheerfully stay in a cottage room again, and I feel it's a romantic choice.

Main House rooms: We had also booked a few nights in Aunt Carrie's room in the main house. Lovely Aunt Carrie's room upstairs in the main house has a better shower, a slight advantage compared to the cottage rooms. Also, being in the main house makes it convenient to explore the very interesting Shipman family mansion. The coqui frogs sound quieter from the main house, and whether you think this is an advantage or a disadvantage depends on your personal preference.
Since we found advantages to both the cottage rooms and the rooms in the main house, I will have a hard time selecting my favorite room the next time we stay at Shipman House! Ah, yes, the Big Island is calling me back already...
We also found Hilo to be a great base for day-trips to the Volcano National park and up to Mauna Kea.
The owners are friendly and helpful at Shipman, and they always had tips for us every day, answering our many questions and marking places on a map for us.
After 5 nights at Shipman House B&B, we were sorry to leave. We then headed to the other side of the island. On a return visit to the Big Island, I would absolutely book a room at Shipman House B&B again.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Shipman House Bed and Breakfast Inn

Address: 131 Kaiulani Street, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720
Location: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Hilo
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 18 B&Bs / Inns in Hilo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
What to do in Hilo? Plenty! Get some of the best local advice from your hosts at Shipman House B&B, an historic home from Hawaii's monarchy period. Free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, free parking. Large guest rooms all have modern private baths. Amazing breakfast fruits. Special diets accommodated. Your part-Hawaiian host, a Shipman descendant, knows the best places to eat, shop, explore. Walk to restaurants, museums. Hula available. National Register. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Shipman House b&b Inn
Shipman House Hotel Hilo
Shipman House Bed And Breakfast Inn Hilo, Hawaii

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