While we are frequent travellers to Honolulu, we had not stayed at the Royal Hawaiian since before the major renovation in 2009. The first and lasting impression is that they did an excellent job of renovating the common areas and rooms while maintaining the historic character. The historic character is a major draw and it is worth walking around the hotel and having a drink at the (not historic) Mai Tai Bar even if you do not stay here. We stayed in a basic room in the Historic Building and were pleasantly surprised by the size of the bedroom compared to recent stays at the Moana Surfrider, although the bathrooms in both hotels are fairly small. We were also very impressed with the quality of the staff, from the bellhops and chamber maids to the front desk and bartenders, the staff were uniformally courteous, friendly and took care of our needs. As frequent visitors, we have stayed at the Surfrider, Halekulani and now the Royal Hawaiian in the past two years. We have had great stays at the Surfrider, but the Royal Hawaiian is better in nearly all aspects, including location, public spaces, privacy/noise, restaurants/bars and service. The Halekulani is a very different experience. The rooms are generally larger and nicer, and most have better views of the ocean and Diamond Head compared to the Royal Hawaiian. The service is also impeccable, as you would expect at the price point. In some ways, the Halekulani can feel too formal for a beach vacation. While Halekulani has a much larger pool and pool area, it essentially has no beach (although it's a five minute walk to the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian). A final point for travellers with children is that guests at the Royal Hawaiian can use the Sheraton's large pools with slides, etc. which are located next door.