We booked a last minute 5 day weekend over Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend. We usually stay at The Kahala but it was sold out and The Halekulani does not have a beach. The Royal Hawaiian is the ONLY hotel to stay at on Waikiki Beach if you want any semblance of an upscale BEACH experience.
We booked a 2 story Ocean View Spa Suite for us and a Garden/Grove Historic room for our 2 teenage sons. At check-in as a Starwood member, we were offered an upgrade to a Tower Ocean room for our sons at no extra charge so that they would be in the same wing and closer to us. We almost said no as we had stayed at the hotel many years ago(1990's) before the renovations, and remember the tower rooms to be like a cheap motel 6. We were very pleasantly surprised. The renovated King tower room was very clean with a modern bathroom with glass tiles, had nice Hawaiian decor and large balcony with a nice ocean front view. There was plenty of room for the roll away bed. I would not call it a luxury room in comparison to The Kahala or Halekulani, but it met our needs for a short trip.
Our 2 story spa suite was located on the first floor down a rather dreary hallway from the elevators. The main floor of the suite had a half bath, closet, living room with a large sofa and chairs, small refrigerator (no mini bar??) and a large tv. Upstairs was a large bedroom with king bed with nice linens, 2nd tv, closet, an open bathroom with a very large rain shower (no steam shower..the website is incorrect) and separate toilet. There were switches so you could operate the automatic 2 story drapes on the windows which were needed for privacy due to the location of these suites.. The upstairs was definitely more luxurious than the downstairs which definitely showed signs of wear. If you looked out the upstairs windows thru the greenery past the pool and beach umbrella's, you could see a small sliver of the ocean. The patio was large with a table and 2 chairs and a rattan daybed. The view was of all the lounges and umbrellas at their pool area which were located directly outside of the spa suites. The patio was nice for watching sports on tv while still enjoying the sun and for drinks in the late afternoon while listening to the live Hawaiian music being played in the bar/pool area of The Outrigger Hotel which was next door about 50 feet to our left. (This July we stayed in another Starwood property, The Le Meredien RA Beach hotel on the beach in El Vendrell Spain in a very similar 2 story suite at more than 2 times the price of The Royal Hawaiian, and I must say the quality of the suite at The Royal Hawaiian was far superior!)
Unless you were willing to get up at the crack of dawn, forget about finding a group of 2 or 4 lounges at the small pool. The "kids" pool on The Sheraton Waikiki side of the property was even more busy. Would only go there if i had very small children. We opted to pay to reserve 4 lounges daily on their "private, roped off" section of Waikiki Beach directly in front of the hotel bar and restaurant which are operated by a separate beach activities company. You can do this online in advance via the hotel's website and pick your location. It is $40+ tax for 2 lounges and 1 umbrella, but they are yours all day so you can come and go as you please. We thought it was money well spent for the convenience although we heard many other people complaining about this!! Just don't leave anything valuable there as the huge crowd on the beach starts 2 feet in front of the lounges. We preferred the lounges in the first row (A section mid 30's) about 3/4 of the way down towards The Sheraton Waikiki next-door as they had the best view of the ocean and surroundings.The lounges immediately adjacent to the pool area on the beach had another set of rental lounges with tan umbrellas in front of them that were available to anyone and they blocked most of the water view. Unfortunately the hotel service at the beach lounges was only good 1 out of the 5 days we were there. The other days no one approached us for food or drinks. As with all beaches in Hawaii, be aware that alcohol is not allowed on the beach. When we were hungry or thirsty, we either walked about 20 yards to The Mai Tai Bar or went back to our suite and enjoyed drinks on our patio from alcohol/soda's that was purchased at ABC store in Royal Hawaiian shopping center in front of our hotel. I would have preferred a stocked mimi bar or a menu inside of the refrigerator to order sodas and drinks from the hotel that could be stocked in our bar. I understand that many people complain about prices in Hawaii, but this was a suite in a luxury collection hotel.
Drinks were very good at the Mai Tai Bar. We had 3 lunches, 1 dinner and drinks & appetizers there daily and were never disappointed. Service can be slow during sunset but that is to be expected. The bartenders were all friendly and knowledgeable. We had 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and dinner the last night in their restaurant and the food and service were good.
The grounds of this hotel are lovely. A true oasis in the heart of the "zoo" called Waikiki! There were nice rocking chairs overlooking the coconut grove which were great to sit in an people watch or read a book. The hotel had a few shops that specialized in upscale Hawaiian items.
Overall this hotel exceeded our expectations for a Waikiki vacation based upon our previous stays at this hotel and The Halekulani. We travel to Hawaii regularly (56 trips since our marriage) and would not hesitate to stay here again when we want to be in the center of the action on Oahu or if our 2nd son decides to go to college at UH.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Built in 1927, the iconic Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, ushered in a new era of luxurious resort travel to Hawaii. Situated in the heart of Waikiki, the hotel offers cultural activities, gold standard signature concierge service, valet parking, doctors-on-call, florist, currency exchange service, Japanese concierge, laundry and dry cleaning, dining service and world-class restaurants and bars, wireless internet access in rooms and all public areas, multi-lingual staff, 24-hour room service, business center, and beach and pool services. ... 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