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“The Pink Palace!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

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The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815   |  
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Ranked #20 of 82 Hotels in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Brisbane, Australia
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“The Pink Palace!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Our 10th Wedding Anniversary visit to this iconic hotel didn't disappoint. We loved staying in this 'Grand Old Lady'! The room we chose was a Junior Garden Suite which while not having a view was nice and large with a lounge room to sit that was separate from the bedroom. All the amenities were provided including complimentary water which is a nice touch in a top end property that charges high rates. Receiving good service is never a given and we were lucky enough to have Wendy assist us at the concierge desk. Her experience and knowledge ensured we got to enjoy a lot in the short stay that we had. In particular, she went out of her way to organise 2 meals to celebrate our anniversary. One in Azure in the hotel and the other at Alan Wong's. Her attention to detail was obvious when we got to Alan Wong's and the menus had our names and anniversary printed on them!
In addition, the staff that take photos as part of your 'free' photo were fun. We enjoyed Robin and she made having a photo done a bit of fun. We came away with some great shots to have as a memory of this stay.
The only negatives I would comment on is the size of the pool and the fact that you have to pay a resort fee even though I am not sure what we got for this.

Room Tip: Junior Suite larger than some of the rooms with a view
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Phoenix, AZ
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
60 helpful votes 60 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

We returned here to celebrate an anniversary. Last time we stayed at this hotel was 33 years ago. It is still as beautiful as ever. We have stayed only in the historic building in a garden grove view room. The bed is the most comfortable we have ever slept in. The linens are posh, as well as the towels. The service is impeccable. This hotel was a splurge for us, so we stayed put for the 2 days that we were here. It is right on the beach. The pool was adequate for a short dip, as was the hot tub. But, we came here for the beach, not the pool. Yes, the resort fee is too much, especially if you do not have a car to park. But we always had wi-fi and made sure to get our "free" cup of coffee every morning off the lobby. Can't say enough good things about the Royal Hawaiian.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 5 days ago
Dear GeoladyAZ, Thank you for staying with The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. It is always a joy to welcome back returned guests. We are pleased to learn that your bed preferences, linens and towels all met your expectations. It is wonderful to learn that our service delivery was impeccable, as we take great pride in ensuring that our guests are well-cared for. Thank you for being our guest and we hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you back for many more years to come. Warmest aloha.
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Honolulu, Hawaii
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

Old world charm and wonderful ambience of the tropics make this an experience to be remembered forever. The furnishings are period correct, the details are well thought out, the grounds are perfect for a wedding or celebration. This is as good as it gets for a casual traveller to Hawaii. Sort of makes you think you are famous. We have been coming here for many years.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 6 days ago
Dear Gerlinde d, Thank you for staying at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. It is always a pleasure to welcome back returned guests. We are delighted to learn that you love the historic charm of our resort and find the ambiance to be wonderful. We are honored to have had you stay with us and thank you for being a loyal guest of The Royal. We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you back for many more years to come. Warmest aloha.
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New Jersey
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
62 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
187 helpful votes 187 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

My girlfriend and I recently spent two nights at the Royal Hawaiian, and we were very happy with our stay. This hotel truly is the grande dame of Waikiki Beach. It’s a lovely, historic hotel that feels like a retreat amongst the hustle and bustle of the surrounding area. Beforehand, we weren’t sure if we would like staying in Waikiki, due to the crowds and congestion, but our worries were all for naught. The “Pink Palace on the Pacific” is definitely a must in Waikiki. I only wish that we could have stayed for longer. It’s a unique hotel that is definitely worthy of its spot as part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection. As with any hotel, it has a couple of small issues here and there, but nothing that takes away from the overall experience in a major way.

From what I had heard from talking to others and reading about the area, I was nervous to stay on Waikiki Beach. I of course knew it was a famous beach and a classic place to stay on Oahu, so I definitely wanted to spend at least some time here. However, I was worried it would just feel much too crowded and urban to be what we were looking for on a relaxing Hawaiian vacation. We ended up deciding to split our six nights on Oahu so that we’d be at the Royal Hawaiian for two, before moving to what we expected to be a less hectic environment for the rest.

It turns out that the way the Royal Hawaiian is situated, you really end up with the best of both worlds in terms of location. It is in a congested urban area, so there absolutely are high-rises, slow-moving city traffic, and crowds of tourists nearby. However, having such a central location in Waikiki, just off of Kalakaua Avenue, is also very convenient. The Royal Hawaiian is right in the center of the action of Kalakaua Avenue, which is essentially like Honolulu’s version of Rodeo Drive. Pretty much any high-end shopping one could want is within walking distance, as are many of the restaurants and other hotels of Waikiki. However, it’s nice that the Royal Hawaiian is at least a bit set back from the commotion, since it’s accessed down a short road off of Kalakaua Avenue that first leads to its sister property next door, the Sheraton Waikiki. Just go to the left around the circular Sheraton driveway and you’ll find the Royal Hawaiian tucked back on its own. It took me a little bit to realize that there are some shorter footpaths through the gardens to get back out to Kalakaua Avenue from the hotel, so it’s not necessary fastest to walk out taking the same path that you use when driving in, depending on where you’re going.

Another important thing to consider is that the Royal Hawaiian is one of the few hotels in Waikiki that is technically beachfront. Some hotels, such as the Sheraton next door, are on the water, but don’t have a beach. Most hotels going in the opposite direction past the Moana Surfrider are near the beach, but across busy Kalakaua Avenue from it, which adds extra congestion and hassle to the beach experience.

We definitely spent quite a bit of time researching our room options once we had decided on the Royal Hawaiian. There is a choice between rooms in the main historic building of the hotel or the adjacent tower building. As its name implies, the historic building is where to stay if you like the history of the hotel and are interested in staying in the original hotel in an older room with more character (which is of course renovated). The historic building is basically the main building of the hotel that contains the lobby, front desk, and its promenade of stores, all opening out to the beachfront lawn and Mai Tai Bar on one side, and the pretty Coconut Grove garden area on another. The rooms in the historic building, which were renovated sometime in the past few years, have a décor that looks a bit more classic and fits in with the historic hotel feel. Because it’s such an old building, I could tell just from walking past rooms that were being cleaned that rooms in the historic building can really vary in size and shape. From what I can tell, the historic rooms tend to uniformly have tiny bathrooms, and aren’t necessarily all that large in total square footage.

In contrast, the tower building has a very different feel. Rather than being only 5 or 6 stories high, it’s a pink and white high-rise style tower, which was constructed in the late 1960s, and has a look that I guess is starting to look charmingly retro today. It’s a bit of an odd looking building next to the historic wing, but I guess the pink theme ties it all together. We never entered the tower during our stay, but from what I can gather, the tower rooms have a totally different décor versus the historic rooms, which is more of a modern, beachy vibe. Tower rooms also have balconies (which historic rooms don’t have) and all of them offer ocean views, which many historic rooms do not have. This also drives up room rates in the tower relative to the historic building. The only other difference is that the tower is accessed separately by walking down a pretty outdoor covered walkway past the Coconut Grove. The pool and main beach entrance are also right outside the tower elevators. The tower is definitely a better location for those planning to spend more time at the beach, while the historic wing is more convenient for those planning to come and go from the hotel more often via the front door in the lobby.

Since returning from our stay, we’ve received promotional emails from the hotel about the tower. It seems that it’s recently been re-named the Mailani Tower, and essentially now functions as a special concierge floor/club level, including things like breakfast and hors d’oeurves in a special lounge for all tower guests. I’m really curious about the execution of these new features, especially since the benefits seem to apply to the entire tower, rather than just a single floor of rooms like a club level would be in most hotels. I’d definitely be interested in trying this out in the future, and it at least provides more justification for why the room rates are so high in the tower.

The most basic entry-level rooms at the Royal Hawaiian are Garden View and Grove View in the historic building. It was never totally clear to me how these two views differ, but from what I was told, it seems that the basic Garden View probably looks out at the hotel driveway, while the Grove View looks at the Coconut Grove area, which is quieter and more of a manicured Garden View. Just to be on the safe side, and always leery of booking the bottom-of-the-barrel room, we decided to book the Grove View for about $20 extra per night. After that, we noticed that room rates went up dramatically to upgrade to an Ocean View room or junior suite in the historic building, with exorbitant rates for anything in the tower. We figured that since we were only there two nights, a Grove View would be fine. It also worked out well that these were the cheapest rooms, since I preferred the chance to have the historic building experience anyway.

Leading up to our stay, I appreciated that the hotel sent a welcome email from the concierge team and requested additional information from us before our stay, such as confirmation of our Starwood Preferred Guest Membership, any special requests, and whether we were celebrating anything. It was nice to have an easy way to contact the hotel before we arrived. I recommend responding to the email, since it definitely can’t hurt to do so. I mentioned that we were hoping for an early check-in, and that we were celebrating both of our birthdays on our trip. We ended up being extremely happy with the treatment we received, including a great complimentary room upgrade for our birthdays!

We arrived at the hotel right around lunchtime, which seemed like a pretty busy time when we pulled up, with both arrivals and departures crossing paths. However, the valet staff was very attentive, greeting my girlfriend with a fresh flower lei and greeting me with a kukui nut lei. Immediately after walking up the stairs into the lobby, I was impressed. The Moorish design of the hotel is very beautiful and unique, so it’s well worth stopping for a moment to take in the intricate ceilings and other elements of the hotel’s design. The lobby extends as a long hallway, and it’s hard not to like how open it is to the outdoors, allowing guests to spill right out onto the lanai to sit in rocking chairs overlooking the lovely Coconut Grove. Especially with everything being in pink (really, there’s pink everywhere), it’s just really unique and fun. I’ve never been to a hotel that looked anything like the Royal Hawaiian.

I went to check in when we arrived, hoping, but not really expecting, that we could get into our room around noon. It turned out that our room wasn’t ready, but we were told we’d get a call when it was, with an offer to store our bags in the meantime. The front desk staff member that I dealt with was pretty nice, and definitely professional. However, she wasn’t necessarily the warmest person ever. I found that was the case each time I went to the front desk. They were nice enough, but the warm Hawaii welcome I was expecting wasn’t quite all the way there. I also recall reading that check-in here is done while seated, and that people in the past received things like cool towels or a welcome drink in addition to their leis. We didn’t need anything beyond leis, and our greeting when we pulled up had been very warm. However, I did notice that none of the other things I had heard about seemed to be offered. Check-in was at a normal front desk. There are seated desk areas across from the main front desk, which I assumed were for the concierge, but I guess could have been used for seated check-in in the past. As far as things like cool towels and welcome drinks, I simply think this was done away with at some point. I didn’t see anyone getting anything like this, although there was at least good fruit-infused water available next to the front desk.

We ultimately got a call that our room was ready later in the afternoon, and came back to check-in around 7:00 pm. At that point, the lobby was pretty dead and we were able to check in very quickly and easily. Again, the front desk staff was fine, just not overly warm. In just a minute or two, we were off to our room and told that our luggage would follow soon behind. A friendly bellhop did bring the luggage up just a minute or two after we made it to the room. Our room on the second floor was easily accessible via the historic elevators right in the lobby. We found that elevators were practically always waiting right there for us whether we were leaving our room or going back up to it, which was nice.

We really liked that the rooms in the historic building have beautiful carved wood doors, but even better was opening the door and realizing that we had been given a great upgrade. Rather than getting the grove garden view that we had been expecting, we had been upgraded by a couple of room categories to an Ocean View junior suite! If we had paid for this room upgrade, it would have been at least $200 more per night, so I definitely appreciated getting it for free. We also found a piece of the hotel’s signature coconut cake as a birthday treat awaiting our arrival, along with the nice bag of mini banana muffins that comes standard in all rooms on check-in day. I was so impressed by how nicely we were treated after simply mentioning we were celebrating birthdays while there.

We found the ocean view junior suite to be quite nice. It had plenty of space for the two of us to spread out, which was particularly nice because we had been expecting a very tiny room. I know the layout of rooms here can vary, but our junior suite was essentially an extra large hotel room, with the bed and desk right there when we entered the room, and a living room beyond that, one step up with frosted glass doors that could slide shut to make it feel like a totally separate room if so desired. It was nice to have a full living area with a couch, two chairs with a table, a coffee table, and a second TV.

We found the décor to be very nice and tasteful. The feel of the room definitely reflected the hotel overall, with a sort of upscale classic look with dark wood and lots of pink and brown. The pink wallpaper on the wall behind the bed was really nice, and the bed was comfortable with upscale Frette linens. Another fun touch was the iPad included in the room with hotel information on it. It was fun to play around with the iPad, and I definitely learned more about what the hotel had to offer because the information was presented on an iPad, rather than in a traditional binder.

Even with having a junior suite, the bathroom was still very tiny. It was the kind of bathroom where there’s no way two people can fit in it at the same time, and you have to move around very gingerly to avoid banging into other things. However, I will say that the bathroom was nicely appointed, despite its small size. Everything was done in a nice brown marble, with good toiletries and a walk-in shower that was actually a generous size despite the bathroom feeling small overall. The only thing that was a problem was how absolutely tiny the sink area was. There was just no space for having toiletries or anything else out on the counter. However, a big treat in the bathroom was the Frette towels, which were so lovely and thick, exactly what you hope for in a luxury hotel.

The ocean view from our room was really nice. We were on the second floor of the historic building, pretty much right above the Mai Tai Bar. Our room stuck out a bit so we had windows on two sides, looking out at the beautiful beach and ocean, as well as at the main oceanfront lawn area outside the lobby. We were even treated to the best seats in the house for the weekly luau on the night we checked in! The Royal Hawaiian has a very expensive luau (I believe $179 per person) on Monday nights on the lawn, and we basically had front row seats for the show from our window, which we opened to hear the music. We really enjoyed having a chance to watch the luau, and just hearing the music from the luau or the Mai Tai Bar with the windows open created a great “Hawaii” feeling. We were a little worried about noise from the Mai Tai Bar carrying into the room, since we could hear it a bit when we in the room at night. However, we must have just been tired, or the noise must not have really carried from the windows in the living area to the bed, because it never interrupted our sleep at all.

Overall, I was really quite happy with the rooms. It had a nice décor, and having a junior suite was a great source of extra space that we appreciated. There were only a couple of small negatives. The bed area in the room was very dark. This probably wouldn’t be a problem in most rooms. However, since all of our windows were on the far end in the living room, and there was no natural light coming directly into the bed area, it often felt too dark by the bed (both day and night). Also, it’s probably to be expected in such an old building, but I had trouble finding convenient outlets to plug things into overnight to charge. There were also just a couple of little things missing here or there, which housekeeping should be trained to look for. For example, our room was missing simple things like a pen and paper, a ‘do not disturb’ sign, and a second of the pink and white striped robes. I also thought nightly turndown service would have been standard here, but it wasn’t. None of these were a big deal, and they definitely didn’t really affect our stay. However, at a luxury property, attention to these little details is still important.

There are a couple of other things to note about the historic building in particular. The way the building is set up, it has some pretty long hallways. Our room was a bit of a hike to the elevator, which was no big deal to us and allowed us to be on a quieter end of the floor. However, it could be a problem for anyone with limited mobility. The same goes for getting out to the pool and beach. It’s a decently long walk down the pretty outdoor walkway from the historic building. It’s not really all that far, but could be difficult for some. We noticed down our hallway that there was a “bathers’ elevator” for those going straight to the beach. It’s not really something you’d know about unless you wander around for it, or happen to have a room that’s near it. It’s a good idea in theory, and drops you off just slightly closer to the outdoor walkway to the pool and beach, I guess for the purpose of avoiding going through any part of the lobby in a wet bathing suit. However, despite being a good idea, it grossed us out when we took it. The elevator was really old (not in a charming historic way like the main elevators, but in a dated way), and it smelled horrible.

Overall, I did leave the hotel with a generally favorable impression of the staff, although I think the consistency of service could go up just a little bit. As I mentioned before, the front desk staff was just ok, and the beach staff was a mixed bag, but some of the staff elsewhere was actually quite excellent. I was really impressed one time when the housekeeper, who was down the hall at the time, saw us leaving our room and addressed me by name to say hello when we walked by. The valet staff was also quite good. We were a bit of a pain with parking our rental car, since we ended up having to take out the car multiple times in a short period of time on a couple of occasions. We definitely used the in/out privileges more than most. Especially since moving the cars is a pain here, with the garage being past the Sheraton, the valet guys were always very nice, could always be seen running for cars, and had our car ready and waiting right away every time we called down. We had a convertible, and they were happy to put the top up or down for us. In addition, I was impressed that they learned my name and recognized me pretty quickly, even though we were only there for two nights.

One thing that’s definitely important to mention is the hotel’s resort fee. It’s not at all uncommon to find one at a resort hotel, but of course it’s always annoying to have to pay an extra fee on top of an already expensive room rate. The fee is pretty high here, at $36 per night, and I really don’t feel like you’re getting much for it at the Royal Hawaiian. The resort fee includes valet parking and wifi in the room, along with really nothing else of value. I looked at the list of inclusions with the resort fee, and most of them seemed to be vaguely defined activities and tours around the hotel, with no information provided regarding when or where those occur. I also noticed that the resort fee is supposed to include a portrait session and free 4x8 photo to go with it. This isn’t really something that I would have wanted to take lots of time out of our trip to do, but if it were easy, we would have. This was another thing where information on how to do it was conveniently not provided. With such a high resort fee, I really think there should be clearly spelled out information upon check-in so guests know how to actually make use of all of the inclusions and get value out of the resort fee.

The main complaint regarding the resort fee, which I’ve seen in many other TripAdvisor reviews, is that it’s ridiculous for beach chairs and umbrellas to be an additional fee on top of the resort fee. I tend to agree with this. I’ve been to plenty of hotels that charged a resort fee, but did not charge for beach chairs, and I’ve been to plenty of hotels that charged for beach chairs but did not have a resort fee. It’s usually one or the other. However, Royal Hawaiian was the first place I’ve visited that charged for both, which is a bit exorbitant. We did end up reserving one of the beach sets (two chairs and an umbrella) for one of our days, and at $40 per day, it was definitely pricey. Since we reserved and paid for the beach chairs before we even left for our trip, it didn’t end up bothering us that much, and we just resigned ourselves to the fact that it’s just how it is by the time we got there. I will say that it was nice to know exactly where we’d be sitting on the beach and not have to worry that all the chairs would be taken by the time we arrived. Since the beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian is technically open to the public, you could always bring your own beach chairs and avoid the fee by sitting in front of the Royal Hawaiian’s chained off section. It just didn’t seem worth it to us to do anything like that, and we were happy to have nicer lounge chairs with an umbrella in a quiet spot further back on the beach.

I do recommend booking beach sets ahead of time. During our stay, there were plenty of beach sets available a week or two before arriving, which was when we booked ours online (you look at a map of the beach chairs and select exactly which ones you’d like to reserve). However, on the day we went to the beach, many hotel guests were being turned away who hadn’t pre-reserved chairs. The whole system actually seems kind of stupid to me. The beach sets are a flat $40 per day, which basically runs from 9-6 or so when the beach is open and staffed. However, it would be nice if there were an option to rent for just the morning or just the afternoon at a half rate. We rented our set for the day, knowing ahead of time that we’d only be using it in the afternoon, and when we got there, it seemed that some people had done the opposite, leaving chairs vacated for the entire afternoon after having been there in the morning. I guess I appreciated that the beach staff didn’t let guests who hadn’t paid for chairs use them for free, but it also seemed silly to turn hotel guests away from using beach chairs when many were clearly vacated for the day as of mid-afternoon. However, since it’s set up as a full day rental, you simply can’t re-sell someone’s chair that they’ve paid for, just in case they come back. If it were set up with a half-day option, many more people would be able to use the beach and there wouldn’t be problems with guests being turned away when chairs are vacant.

The service on the beach was generally good, at least before they want to close for the day. You check in for your beach set at a desk at the beach entrance near the pool, and someone is happy to set up towels and make sure the umbrella is in the perfect position. Each chair had a plastic red flag on the back, and I liked the system of raising one’s flag whenever you needed something. We were taken care of within 5 minutes when we raised our flag to order iced tea, a response time that I imagine could have been much longer without such a system. Note that there is no alcohol served on the beach. You can go to the bar that’s right next to the beach, but you can’t have alcohol onto the beach. For anyone who was expecting a refreshing tropical cocktail while lying on Waikiki Beach, it’s not going to happen here.

We enjoyed our time at the beach at the Royal Hawaiian. It was relaxing, and the beach set was definitely worth having to feel like we had our own nice space in a very busy section of Waikiki Beach. Other than the cost, the only thing we really didn’t like was the way the beach chairs are taken down and the beach service is closed at the end of the day. We knew that beach service extended until 6:00 pm, and since we had only been at the beach in the afternoon, we wanted to stay until closing on a lovely day. Most other people did leave sooner, and the beach staff started taking down the chairs and umbrellas probably around 4:30-5:00 if it looked like a group had left for the day. This didn’t really bother us, but what did bother us were the constant reminders to let us know that the beach service was going to be closing. From around 4:30 onward (a full 90 minutes before closing), we were reminded over and over that the beach was closing at 6:00, and it really felt like we were being pressured to leave early. We were asked at one point if we were willing to give up our umbrella early so they could take it down, to which we said no. We had paid for the umbrella until 6:00, so I found it annoying to be asked to give up what we had paid for early because the staff felt didn’t feel like waiting. We did end up staying until just before 6:00, at which point we were the last group in the Royal Hawaiian’s section on the beach (I was surprised how early everyone leaves the beach here). The staff was really hovering at that point, which just made it uncomfortable and awkward. We felt like we were being forced off the beach by our own hotel’s staff, when we had every right to be there until 6:00. It was clear the staff was hoping to go home early, but I think the needs of the guests should come first.

The Royal Hawaiian pool and hot tub also close at 6:00, but we were told we could use the pool if we wanted to after it had closed (the hot tub jets were turned off at 6:00). At that point, it was really nice to have the pool to ourselves. It was really nicely heated as well, which was perfect in March when the ocean temperatures were a little chillier than we’d like. At other times of day, I’m sure the pool would definitely feel less adequate. It’s a very small circular pool just in front of the tower building by the beach. The limited number of lounge chairs by the pool are available free of charge, but the cabanas around the pool are not. They’re pricey. I think some people overblow the pool as an issue. It is really a tiny pool, but it’s in a nice setting, and nice to be able to go back and forth from the beach to jump in. For a couple of adults who were just looking to use the pool for a quick chance to cool off, it was adequate.

Plus, there is a secondary pool option over by the Sheraton. The Helumoa Playground is a shared pool complex positioned between the Sheraton and Royal Hawaiian for the use of both hotels’ guests (it’s located on the complete opposite side of the hotel from the main Royal Hawaiian pool). It’s much larger and definitely a more family-friendly fun pool to use. We didn’t go in it, but I did walk down to check it out, and it’s large, with waterfalls and a slide that looked very fun. I did notice just from putting my foot in the water that the Helumoa pool was considerably cooler than the water in the Royal Hawaiian pool at the time. It also had a busier feel and many more kids around. Although that pool has a lot more chair space overall than the Royal Hawaiian pool, I’m not sure how easy it is to find space there since it’s shared between two hotels. Regardless, it’s good to know that there are two pool options at the Royal Hawaiian, and I don’t think the pool situation should keep anyone from staying there.

As far as dining, we didn’t eat any meals at the hotel. The oceanfront restaurant looked nice, but the prices were outrageous. Seeing that a waffle for breakfast was $21 was enough to make us go elsewhere. I’m not even sure how many restaurants there are at the hotel. I know that Azure serves dinner and the Surf Lanai serves breakfast and lunch, but from what I could tell, they were essentially the same place. The only possible distinction I could draw was that Azure might be the indoor seating while the Surf Lanai could be the outdoor seating right in front of it. I really couldn’t tell.

We did stop at the Mai Tai Bar one night, somewhat out of a feeling of duty to try one of the famous Royal Hawaiian Mai Tais. The outdoor bar is nice and casual, with live music every evening, and plenty of tables so everyone can easily find somewhere to sit. We had a nice table overlooking the beach and found that the service was quite attentive, especially given how busy it was with people coming and going. The Mai Tais were quite large and were the best ones we had in Hawaii (although it’s hard for us to judge, since we’re not actually big Mai Tai fans). Combined with a dessert off of their menu (which does include everything from appetizers to full dinner entrees), it was a nice time and well worth it for an enjoyable end to our evening. I thought I had read somewhere in the past that one Mai Tai per person at the Mai Tai Bar was included as part of the resort fee. I’m not sure if I’m just totally dreaming that up, but if it ever was part of it, it’s no longer the case as far as we could tell.

We explored a few other nearby hotels and concluded that the only places we’d consider in the future are the Royal Hawaiian, the Halekulani, and the Moana Surfrider. Moana Surfrider is technically a Westin hotel, which, like the Royal Hawaiian, is part of Starwood. Just like the Royal Hawaiian, it is historic and pretty, in a great location just two hotels down from the Royal Hawaiian on Kalakaua Avenue, right on the beach. The Halekulani seems like it’s typically cost prohibitive, with very high room rates relative to the Royal Hawaiian. I’m sure it’s a nicer hotel, but I don’t know that I’d be willing to pay all that much more to stay there versus the Royal Hawaiian.

All in all, we really enjoyed our stay at the Royal Hawaiian. The hotel is lovely, and it feels like stepping back in time to an era when traveling to Hawaii was a fancy event that warrants only the best in luxury accommodations. It’s a legendary hotel for a reason. Its rooms are lovely, its location is perfect, and its distinctive pink theme is captivating. The location could not be better in Waikiki, both for going to the beach and walking to other hotels and restaurants nearby. We were really impressed with the great upgrade we were given to a junior suite in the historic building. It’s definitely a busy hotel, with lots of guests and tourists coming through at all times. I think the level of service is generally pretty good given this fact, although other luxury hotels are a bit better overall in terms of service. We found the service to either be great (such as the valet staff), or just ok (front desk and beach). A little more consistency there would make it just about perfect, but even without that, we loved the hotel and would definitely come back in the future. Definitely don’t forgo the unique opportunity to stay here over a more generic hotel in Waikiki instead.

Room Tip: Rooms in the historic building and tower have very different feels. We really liked the historic bui...
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  • Stayed March 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 6 days ago
Dear mrg0137, Thank you for staying at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort and for sharing your lovely experience with us. It is always a joy for us to welcome guests celebrating a special occasion with us. We are pleased to learn that you enjoyed the historic charm and the beachfront location of our resort. It is also wonderful to discover that our dedicated Concierge took excellent care of you and your girlfriend with a room upgrade complemented with our signature pink haupia cake. Thank you for being our guest and for your valued feedback. We have thoroughly reviewed it and have shared it with our team with your comments to elevate our guest experience. We hope to have the pleasure welcoming you back someday for another extraordinary, royal experience. Warmest aloha.
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Waialua, Hawaii
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

We enjoyed a 2 night staycation in one of the Royal Grove rooms. This is one hotel where the historic rooms are maintained well above the standard I have seen at other hotels. When we got to our room on the 4th floor and discovered we were right next to the lifts I was a bit worried about the noise but I needn't have worried as we heard nothing. The beds were comfortable and furnishings were very nicely chosen. We had a room with 2 double beds and I was surprised how spacious the room was. The banana muffins on arrival were a lovely touch. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and helpful. There was a gentleman by the name of Romeo who went well out of his way to show us the way around to the shared pool. I just loved the old telephones and little vintage features of the property. We stayed with our 2 kids so we spent a bit of time at the pool with the slides rather than the small pool at the Royal as it seemed more for the grown ups rather than kids who like to splash around. The only disappointment was the lack of shade. No umbrellas unless you want to pay $60 to hire a cabana for the day. If there was the option of a half day hire I could probably be enticed. There was also no policing on people reserving lounges. I like to be able to sit where I can keep an eye on my kids and a lot of the front row lounges sat empty (except for a towel) for the 3 hours we were there on one occasion.

All in all it was a great getaway. We will stay again.

  • Stayed April 2015, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 1 week ago
Dear Trooly, Thank you for staying at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. It is wonderful to learn that the room and bedding preferences met you needs and expectations. We are pleased that you enjoyed our banana nut bread amenity, as this has been a long tradition that we have upheld for our guests to indulge. We are honored by your kind comments regarding our associates and Romeo, and have shared them with management. Thank you for being our guest and we look forward to having the opportunity to welcome you back for many more years to come. Warmest aloha.
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Elmhurst, IL
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago

The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927 and reflects the art deco style of the time. They have a wonderful staff who truly want to make your stay memorable. It's not the cheapest place to stay on Waikiki but it's truly an oasis in the middle of high rise towers and concrete. Breakfast on the Lanai is wonderful and the view is amazing with Diamondhead in the background. We stayed in one of the junior suites in the historic section overlooking the garden. The room was spacious and private.

There's great shopping within walking distance and every kind of activity and entertainment can be arranged through the hotel concierge. Overall truly an escape to paradise.

Room Tip: The garden junior suites are spacious and offer good value
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  • Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 1 week ago
Dear mastbash, Thank you for staying at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort. It is wonderful to learn that the room you stayed in met you needs and expectations. We are delighted that you enjoyed our delicious breakfast at Surf Lanai and found our associates to be outstanding, as they take great pride in ensuring that our guests have an exceptional experience at The Royal. Thank you for being our guest and we look forward to having the opportunity to welcome you back for many more years to come. Warmest aloha.
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2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

We are still at the hotel and checked in just yesterday. We are here for our honeymoon and booked a honeymoon amenity. We were told at front desk by Jean (who is very nice) that a bottle of sparking wine is waiting for us in the fridge. When we got there, there was no wine. We told them and they brought one up. A slip, no biggie and we appreciate their hospitality. I was then in the shower and noticed mole in the ceiling of the shower (room 206). Not pleasant but didn't want to ruin our mood so left it at that. I turned on the shower and noticed a cockroach at my eye level and I freaked out! My husband came in and killed it and I quickly got out of the shower only to find another cockroach on the vanity counter top. My husband killed thay one too. At this point I was jumping up and down. I thought we booked a 5 star hotel?!
I called guest services and they said they will call house keeping to come clean it. Wait, so we need to stay in the same room still? As I was thinking about calling them back to request a room change I saw another cockroach on the desk and another one near my PJ. OMG! I called for a room change and they did switch us to another room. A bell boy came to our room to give us new keys and took us to our new room on the 4th floor.
However, not a single person from guest services asked us what happened or followed up with us. This is suppose to be a 5 star hotel?
I feel like they should at least come to apologize face to face and upgrade our daily breakfast to a real breakfast instead of 3 pieces of mini pastries or something. Like something to show they cared. But nope, not a word from management! I still cannot believe this is the service of a 5 star luxury hotel! As a SPG gold member I feel like the head office should know about this! In fact, a letter will be on its way when we return home. Disappointing and way to ruin the beginning!


Stayed April 2015, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RHCoordinator, Guest Experience Team at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, responded to this review, 1 week ago
Dear bluev37065, Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. We regret to learn that you had encountered a disappointing and frustrating experience during the short time you have been with us. We sincerely apologize and have already reached out to you in a private message to follow up with you on this situation. Thank you for voicing your experience and we look forward to your response. Warmest aloha.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

Address: 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Honolulu
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Honolulu
#8 Luxury Hotel in Honolulu
#10 On the Beach Hotel in Honolulu
#11 Romantic Hotel in Honolulu
#15 Business Hotel in Honolulu
#16 Family Hotel in Honolulu
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 528
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Royal Hawaiian, a Waikiki Beach Hotel, has Abhasa Spa, renowned restaurants, and a pool with a waterslide and cabanas. We have gorgeous indoor and outdoor event space for weddings and meetings. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Hotel Honolulu
Royal Hawaiian Honolulu
The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort Hawaii/Honolulu

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