This review I provide is based on my personal experiences of the hotel. And of course it depends on you as an individual and what you're looking for, but i'll do my best to give my own opinion of the hotel and it's services.
I discovered this hotel when I was looking for a trip to Hawaii for my honeymoon. I initially chose this hotel because of course it has good reviews on tripadvisor, and it seemed to be the mid-way point for our budget. I will do my best to review the following points. Please take note that I currently reside in the United Kingdom. Take note: If visiting the United States of America for the first time, there is a well established culture of tipping and paying gratuities to hotel staff, and in restaurants. Depending on where you're travelling from, your currency will either be strong against the US dollar or weak against the US dollar.
It is true that the hotel is indeed clean and smells wonderful. They use a distinct fragrance which is based on the Hawaiian plumeria flower that is linked to the air conditioner. My wife and I had been travelling for at least 24 full hours and we arrived at the hotel at 8pm, Monday August 4th local time. Unlike some reviewers mention we were not met with drinks on arrival. However our room did have complimentary water\cookie. I will not take marks off of the hotel experience, because this is not a service the hotel claims to provide. However, i'm sure if you contact the hotel and ask for this before your arrival, they will be more than happy to accommodate your needs. On arrival the hotel seemed fully staffed and there were more than enough porters on standby to assist us with luggage and bags. Being used to budget hotels though my wife and I weren't used to this kind of service so initially we lugged our suitcases ourselves up to our room.
Our room was partial ocean view on the third floor (room 312), and this was true. We did face another hotel and part of the harbour, so we were sceptical about leaving our blinds open, in case hotel guest in the hotel adjacent could look in. Again, sometimes with hotels this is luck of the draw and I cannot blame the hotel for where we were placed. Unfortunately we couldn't upgrade because the hotel was fully booked for the time we were at the hotel. The room was immaculate on arrival, with very comfortable king size bed, good linen and excellent toiletry products. The room included good air conditioning (fan on the louder side) and the shower was excellent with a good amount of water flow, pressure and temperature control. The television was over 40 inches also, if this is something you look for in a hotel. A safe was available in the room also and this was better than I expected as the hotel website mentioned a safe only being available in reception. Our room also included a mini-fridge that was empty and allowed us to put our water and other foods in it. You could have it filled if you wished by contacting reception and making your requests. I found this far better than some hotels having a fridge with their goods on pressure pads that don't allow you to place your own items in it without incurring a charge.
Opening the patio door did seem to allow road side noise from outside in and noise from the road crept in at night even when the door was closed. Being from the city though i'm used to this, so please be aware of this before booking if this is something that bothers you.
We tried to get the most our of our trip, so we decided to explore on Tuesday August 5th. When we returned to our room in the afternoon we were met by a complimentary bottle of champagne, two glasses with a fruit coulis in them, and a congratulations note from the hotel on our recent nuptials. This was a nice touch and I had mentioned we'd be on honeymoon when I booked with expedia. The room was cleaned very well and the daily turn down service included more complimentary bottles of water, ice and another cookie which made us very happy! The water is a great touch, because being in a city with hot weather this is often something travellers could seem to spend money on. The hotel were happy to provide as many complimentary bottles as we needed. Take note, the "Hawaiian water" does seem to have a distinct flavour in comparison to bottled water from UK, but I found it ok.
This is what I mainly found of the hotel experience. It was the simple touches the hotel provided that separates it from other hotels i'm used to. For instance, the hotel in the gym provided basic machines for use. However the cardio equipment included screens that linked to the cable tv network (that actually worked!) and had ipod connectors (pre-gen connectors). If you required lightning connectors for newer Apple products, there was a note in the gym that mentioned they were available from reception. The gym also included a water machine (some hotel gyms i've been to do not have one of these) that provided different water options, towels, a special refrigerator that included towels infused with tea tree oil and even complimentary apples!
The hotel does indeed have two pools. The pool on the first floor is the main pool and like other reviews say don't expect to swim very far in it. It seems it's purpose is to really cool guests off. The poolside service of the hotel staff again is excellent and it is FULLY staffed. Pool side services basically included their hotel staff taking food\drink orders and bringing it to you.
Again, in case you're wanting to do it yourself there is a bar you can sit at to order drinks\food. Even at the pool there was complimentary water (flavoured with hints of citrus\cucumber), sun block lotion and staff were even providing guests with complimentary pineapple pieces sprinkled with spices that were delicious. Though very unlikely, if you spent your entire budged on travelling and this hotel and couldn't afford to eat out, you'd be able to survive on the free cookies, apples and pineapple lol. We ordered some lunch at the pool and the food was delicious and seemed very fresh (soft tacos with pork). As usual though the food and drink prices were the more expected expensive hotel standard and as always with these things you can find much cheaper food and drink elsewhere. I soon discovered that in the case of The Modern Honolulu you're paying for quality and service which I found at every corner in this hotel.
Unlike other reviews, I found more families around the pool than I expected because the hotel doesn't seem to have many services that cater for children. Again, this is not the fault of the hotel but be aware when booking. Other hotels in the Wakiki section of Oahu Island Hawaii do have more options for children in comparison to The Modern Honolulu.
We didn't eat much in the hotel, but we did manage to get a buffet breakfast on Friday August 8th due to an intended storm coming. The selection was limited however was some of the best tasting breakfast i've ever eaten. Again, quality and service was very high here also. Yes it was more expensive than a Premier Inn\Travelodge buffet breakfast with some fewer options but it did taste better. Several US restaurants are on breakfast and as mentioned before cheaper options with bigger portion sizes are available if you're willing to do some research and look. it was a hot and cold selection that included scrambled eggs, canadian bacon, hot links (smaller pork sausages with spices), croissants and other pastries, cereal and yogurt to name most of the options.
We ordered room service on one of the days (eggs benedict) and again the quality\service was fantastic. We did not visit the hotel restaurant Morimoto so I cannot speak of the quality or service of it. Most days we ate out and the closest restaurants (within a 2-minute walk from the hotel) are McDonalds, Red Lobster (american restaurant), Outback Steakhouse, a chinese\hawaiian buffet restaurant (I can't remember the name), Buffalo Wild Wings (sports bar and restaurant), and IHOP (American restaurant that specialises in breakfast) to name a few. There is a local store called ABC stores which I guess is the Hawaiian equivalent to Tesco Express or Spar. This store included all other amenities you could want.
In regards to geographical location of The Modern Honolulu i'll again be as accurate as possible. Our area of Oahu, Hawaii was served by 3 main beaches: Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki Beach, and Kuhio Beach Park. Now i'm used to walking and it's no problem for me to do this in great weather. The tip of Waikiki Beach was literally a 3-4 minute walk from the hotel and was not far at all. Ala Moana Beach park will take you about 15 minutes to get to walking and Kuhio Beach Park, further down from Waikiki will also take you about 20-25 minutes to get to. Please be aware when booking. For me though, nothing is better than taking a walk in great weather so it didn't bother me, but may be a hassle to other people. There are some other hotels in Waikiki that are directly on the beach. Take note The Modern Honolulu is not one of them.
The neighbouring hotel, Hilton Hawaiian Village did include it's own lagoon surrounded by sand that was open to the public and this was a 1-2 minute walk from our Hotel. you can swim in this lagoon and also get a tan so if you don't feel like walking this is another option for you. The main strip of stores was on Kalakaua Avenue and the beginning of this strip of stores was about a 15 minute walk from our Hotel, so be aware of this. Kalakua Avenue goes on for another 2 miles and is full of shops, restaurants and other hotels. If you didn't feel like walking, the hotel always seemed to have taxis on standby for guests and we never had to wait more than 30 seconds for a taxi. This is no exaggeration. The cost of the taxi (August 2014) from our hotel to Kalakaua Avenue was about $10.00 US (£6.00 for just over a mile). This did not include the tip however, and again be aware of tipping if you're not from the USA. There was a nearby bus stop and buses were available. A trip on the bus was $2.50 per journey and you could use the same ticket for a return trip within 2 hours of your initial journey.
If Kalakua Avenue with the stores and Wakiki beach were to the right of the Hotel, Ala Moana Beach Park and the Ala Moana shopping Centre were to the left of the hotel. To get here was about a 15 minute walk but again there were buses available. A taxi from the Hotel to Ala Moana shopping centre again was about $10.00 not including the tip. If you're used to big shopping centres depending on where you're from this is no different. However it did include american restaurants\shops you probably never see in the UK so it's worth a look. Further down from Ala Moana shopping center was another shopping centre called the Ward Centre. This was a 25-30 minute walk from the hotel and included some outlet stores and the local cinema. Please be aware of the walking distances. I was aware of this before booking The Modern Honolulu so make sure you know this too.
There was a concierge service at the hotel that was able to assist guest in booking a multitude of services including trips, tours, surf lessons etc. Be aware though that the Hotel will use their favoured providers for these services and you can book these yourself if you do the research. It's a nice feature and i'm not used to many hotels offering this, but of course i'm also used to budget hotels.
All in all my wife and I are very pleased with the hotel. Like me, if you're used to good budget hotels in the UK this will be far more expensive than what you're used to paying. However the level of quality and service I received here is the best i've ever experienced, and I feel I got what I paid for. If visiting Waikiki, Hawaii it is worth spending some time on doing research into what you want to find the best hotel for your needs. All I can say is that I definitely recommend this hotel to anyone, but of course it depends on the kind of person you are and what you're looking for out of your own hotel experience.