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“Interesting house, but not sure it is worth $25”
Review of Shangri La

Shangri La
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and up
Half-day Bike Tour and Hike to Diamond Head
Ranked #13 of 333 things to do in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Doris Duke's home, built in 1930, is an architecturally significant home which includes a collection of Islamic artwork.
Reviewed July 2, 2011

Doris Duke's Shangri La is an interesting house. Her fascination with islamic-style art is prevalent throughout the house, although only some of it is truly islamic. The tour takes you through several rooms, including the turkish room and the living room, although you do not get to see Ms. Duke's bedroom suite (and since the house was designed around her bedroom suite, it would have been nice to see). The grounds are spacious for Honolulu, and well kept and include a very nice view, although you can get similar views without paying $25.

The house is decorated with several pieces from Ms. Duke's collection, which are interesting, but not overwhelmingly stimulating, and although it's interesting, it doesn't seem like you get $25 worth of a tour since you do not get to see about half of the house.

If you go, go on the 8:30 tour. The house does not have air conditioning and they will give you a small fan which I imagine does not do much good during the hotter parts of the day. Also, the 8:30 tour seems to stay a little longer at the house than later tours.

1  Thank TaxLoio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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691 - 695 of 774 reviews

Reviewed April 24, 2011

This outwardly modest house situated on the waterfront near Diamond Head showcases the Islamic art that heiress Doris Duke collected throughout most of her adult life. Construction began in the mid-1930s, shortly after Duke returned from honeymooning in various Islamic countries. An intelligent and educated woman, she learned enough about architecture, engineering and installation of decorative and landscape features to take a hands-on approach to the creation of the house and its gardens. This was Duke's private retreat where she could escape public recognition and media attention and live a more ordinary life, including surfing the waves near her house.

Not all of Shangri La is open to the public, but in the rooms and courtyards that are on the tour, you’ll see carved and painted wooden ceilings and screens, tiled walls, intricately inlaid furniture, ceramics, metalwork and textiles. There’s also time for a brief look at the gardens, including the fountains, ponds and brick walkways inspired by such Mughal masterpieces as the Shalimar Gardens.

You can visit only as part of a tour, offered Wednesday through Saturday at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The $25 cost includes admission to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, where tours start and finish. Book as early as possible, as space is limited. The academy has many intriguing exhibits well worth seeing before taking the house tour. If you take the 1:30 p.m. tour on Wednesdays, you’ll arrive back at the academy in time for the weekly farmers market held across the park at the Neal Blaisdall Centre from 4-7p.m. Hot and cold meals, excellent baguettes and other baked items, fresh fruit and vegetables, chocolate and other edibles are sold at very reasonable prices, so you can have a picnic in the park before heading home.

2  Thank Tripsterchick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2010

We booked our morning tour almost a month ahead, and it was well worth it. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and Doris Duke's home is fascinating. 1-1/2 hours on the grounds almost seems too short. The $25 cost per person included admission to the Honolulu Academy of Art, where we spent the rest of our day browsing through the wonderful exhibits.

2  Thank TJandTR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2009

I had long looked forward to a visit here. Unfortunately, after our experience, I would recommend viewing the lovely virtual tour of the property (http://www.shangrilahawaii.org/) and spending your tour time at another point of interest instead. (Pearl Harbor, for instance, is fascinating and we spent much longer there than we thought we would!) The Shangri La tour was far more focused on details (exhaustive information about tile making processes, the guide’s varied life experiences, etc.), than I had anticipated and our tour wound up running short of time, leaving us with only a few moments in the most beautiful, oceanfront areas. If you do choose to take the tour, here are some suggestions. If you are staying in Waikiki, give yourself plenty of time to get to the Honolulu Academy of Arts for tour check in. (It took us nearly an hour during particularly bad traffic.) I would suggest calling the Academy directly for specific directions to their parking lot, as the details included in the emailed tour confirmation seemed unclear. (Note that tours don’t actually leave until half an hour after the scheduled time.) There are two tour groups that take the shuttle together. Try to be in the first group, as on the day of our visit, that group went into the house first and seemed to have much more time in the most picturesque areas. Also, ask in advance if the gift store is open. (Photos are not allowed inside the home - including the open air courtyards - but are available for purchase in the gift store. As we were about to board the shuttle, we were informed that the gift store was closed for several days.) Note that the home is not air conditioned, so those sensitive to heat may definitely want to pass on this tour, but each visitor is provided with a souvenir hand fan.

12  Thank travels-from-MD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2009

We went on the 8:30 AM tour and were back to the Honolulu Museum of Art by 11:15 AM. The home is beautiful and the artwork and design is amazing. It is definitely not a museum, but a private one-of-a-kind private estate. You do not get to see all of the interior as some of the rooms are not ready for large groups and more restoration is planned. You may only take photos outside. Make sure to look at the website before going on the tour. Not a great outing for young children or teenagers who become easily bored.

3  Thank HSUGrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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