For several years, I have dutifully read numerous reviews of hotels on Tripadvisor before making my own hotel bookings, but have never reciprocated the kindness of other reviewers by writing my own review. This is my first review. I felt compelled to write a review of Halekukani because its current ranking of 3 on Tripadvisor might lead the community of readers to believe that Halekulani actually should rank as lowly as 3rd amongst the hotels of Honolulu. Dear readers, do not think that for a second, as Halekulani is The Finest Hotel in Honolulu and one of the finest hotels in the world.
I have stayed at Halekulani twice and will never stay anywhere else in Honolulu. What marks Halekulani as distinct from so many other hotels is EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE. Halekulani makes you feel like you have been invited into someone's home (and a very beautifully decorated and equipped home at that), which is a difficult thing for a hotel to achieve. From staff all across the board - Duty manager, restaurant staff, reception, porters, concierges, car valets - all staff I have encountered in my two stays could not help me enough during my stay. Example, when I checked in this time, I had a 2 single beds rather than a King size bed. On mentioning this to the staff member who escorted me to my room on arrival, the duty manager (Moses) came and visited me in the room and quickly arranged for the beds to be removed and a proper king size mattress to be moved into the room. No fuss, no problem. That evening, a box of chocolates and a personal apology note from Moses arrived at my room as a result of this "discomfort" on checking in. Nice touch. How many hotels have done that for you? I wanted the formal English-style afternoon tea that same day, but the designated afternoon tea room was full. So, the manager of that service made up a special table in Orchids restaurant overlooking the ocean and served a specialised personal afternoon tea service there. Again, no fuss, no problem. Just solving problems to ensure that guests have an exceptional hotel experience.
In my opinion, Halekulani sits on the best position on Waikiki Beach. For those who have not been to Honolulu before, the beach is curved and Halekulani sits at the "top" of the curve, so you can get brilliant side-on views of Diamond Head from Halekulani, which cannot be said of many hotels in Honolulu, although others on Waikiki Beach do have similar (not as good) views of Diamond Head. If that's not important to you, then don't worry about it. But, it's important to me. I won't go to Honolulu that many times in my life, but when I do, I want to see the amazing natural beauty that is Diamond Head, when I wake up, when I watch TV in the living room, when I sit on my balcony, you get the idea?
That takes me onto the next point and a word of advice - Halekulani has a square-W shaped building structure. Othre reviews have mentioned nice beach view rooms and garden view rooms and I'm sure they are nice. But (and apologies if this sounds a bit snobbish), Halekulani's position on Waikiki Beach is so good (see above), that if you can afford it, you should always chose a Diamond Head Room or a Diamond Head Suite. You will have the most awesome side-on views of Diamond Head from these rooms, but it makes for a beautiful hotel stay when you see that amazing view all the time from your room. Other rooms at Halekulani don't have that side-on Diamond Head view due to the shape of the hotel, so chose your room and your budget carefully.
The pool - this is important for many people, especially those with kids. So take note. Halekulani is not like the Westin Maui or Grand Wailea (both in Maui), which both have awesome water slide / pool complexes that kids absolutely adore. Halekulani has only one largish oval shaped pool (maybe 30 metres x 15 metres) and no water slides. If large water slides / pool complexes are important to you (or your kids), go to another hotel, as the Halekulani does not deliver on that front. As some other reviewers have noted, there are always enough pool chairs at the pool and the pool attendants are great.
The beach - you might be confused by some of the other reviews, so let me make this clear. Halekulani sits right on Waikiki Beach. However, in front of (most of) Halekulani, there is a beach wall (ie no sandy beach). But at the right hand side and left hand side of that beach wall (which is also at the left and right hand in front of Halekulani), there are two small beaches. These are actually really nice small beaches which people use to sun bath and swim in the Waikiki beach ocean, so don't be confused about this issue. You can get access to those two small beaches straight in front of Halekulani. If you want to join the masses on the thick, wide part of Waikiki Beach, you only need to walk 2 minutes along the beach and you're there. So, at Halekulani, you have great beach Waikiki Beach options.
Food - Halekulani has a range of food options, from casual pool dining, a la carte at Orchids, afternoon tea (see above) and a high class restaurant, so there is something for everyone. Note that Halekulani uses very high quality ingredients, so you can have good, tasty and nutrious food using the best quality ingredients at Halekulani, a combaination which can be harder to find elswhere than you might have thought.
Concierges - Halekulani is a 5-star hotel and the concierges are first rate. Nothing was too difficult to organise and they had a mountain of good advice and called me back when I asked them to do so.
Halekulani is a little more expensive than other hotels, so if you are budget conscious, best to look elsewhere. But, the guest experience at Halekulani is so superb, that I have not regretted for a second the money that I have spent there. That extra money has bought me some of the very best hotelling experiences I have had anywhere and I have travelled widely and stayed at many fine hotels.
Bear this in mind - Hawaii is a great place for visit for a holiday. Honolulu / Oahu has so much going for it and many sites and experiences that will draw me back there in the future. But one of the main features that will make me look forward to visiting Honolulu again is the prospect of staying at Halekulani one more time. Dear readers, how many hotels do you say that about?
For great views of Diamond Head, chose a Diamond Head Room or Diamond Head Suite.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.