We just spent a week in Honolulu in late September 2012. (My husband, 2 teen boys and I). We've stayed before, 18 years ago on our honeymoon, and loved it then. We loved it this time too. Honolulu was around 28 degrees C at this time of year, and a bit humid. We thought the temp was very warm, but not uncomfortable.
First glance at this hotel from the street is a bit unimposing. But view it from the beach side and you'll see why it gets it's rave reviews. An attractive and well presented hotel on the inside, with nice foyer, restaurants and amenities doesn't disappoint. Read on for details:
After a long night flight from Sydney to Honolulu we were tired, arriving about midday. Our one minor complaint was that the room was not yet ready, and wasn't for another 1.5 hours. However, we had splurged on an ocean front 1brm suite. It was on the 8th floor. Wow. And Wow again. It was absolutely unbelievable. A beautiful view of Diamond Head, the whole of Waikiki beach, and wonderful sunsets from 3 lanai's (decks) greeted us every day. It was expensive, (for us) but worth it. If you are contemplating a room with a view, I would definitely recommend one of the ocean front rooms, ocean view at least. They're lovely.
LOCATION: Right on Waikiki beach, but not in the main crazy hubub. The location of this hotel is simply unsurpassable. It sits on a jutting out point, situated between the Army Museum and Waikiki Shore Apartments on one side, and the Halekulani Hotel and Sheraton Waikiki on the other (closer to Diamond Head). The beauty of this position is it's unparalleled view of Diamond Head as it juts out from the point, it's situation on a main road Kalia Road, and also main shopping streets, The Beachwalk and Lewers Street, and closeness to shopping mecca Kalakaua Ave. The main section of Waikiki Beach and main street is only 5 mins walk away.
But the best reason? It is right on the beach, not just near the beach. It is Right On The Beach. Not separated by a road, or a park or shops. It literally pours onto the sand. It's Shorebird Beach Restaurant is ON the sand. Wow. For me, that's a no brainer.
ROOMS: It’s a great idea to look on the Outrigger Reef's website to see the coloured chart of where certain room types are. I've seen many reviews that were dissatisfied with rooms that did not live up to expectations, when the graph clearly shows where the room type is. We looked at the graph and chose our room type based on this.
The rooms are all well appointed, beautifully clean and amazingly situated for views (if ocean front or view). We were on the 8th floor in the ocean tower,which was great. The suites have 2 joined rooms, and a sofa bed in the second room. I wish the Outrigger did rollaways, but they don't. The decoration of the rooms is modern tropical. Simple and clean. The curtains and floors were lovely and clean. The view was staggering. You can sit on your lanai and watch for hours, people swimming, walking, eating, boats, sunsets, lights, Diamond Head, ...its just wonderful. At night it's lovely too, lights and beach. I would say this view made our stay at the Reef just perfect. The rooms were spacious and comfortable.
The bathroom even had a spa bath. They give you lots of toiletries which is lovely.
There's a coffee machine with REAL coffee that makes lovely cups. However, if you're a tea lover there's no kettle. There's tea, but no kettle, and no milk. (Just creamer powder).
They have the BEST beds I have ever slept in, with the BEST pillows. I thought I'd never top the Shangri La Fijian Resort for beds, but the beds at this Outrigger are wonderful. I slept like a log. They’re heavenly.
The Air Con works great, and easy to manage. The curtains are great and blackout for a good sleep. We had NO problem with any noise at all, not from the ground, not from the floor, ceiling or outside the room. I love the deck furniture so you can have a drink on the deck and admire the view, whichever view you end up with.
HOUSEKEEPING is great. The rooms were so clean, and nothing was broken or not working. The bathrooms (there were 2) were sparkling. If you're Australian, the tipping is a bit tricky, but we left $5 a day for housekeeping, as I'd read it was the thing to do. I'm sure you would get excellent service anyway. I just had to ring for extra pillows & towels, they probably should have known how many guests were accommodating the room, not enough for 4 people.
STAFF: I can’t fault the staff. All staff, from front desk to concierge, pool guy, to valets and bellboys. They were all great. Of course you have to find a few bob to tip some staff, I suggest you Google tipping in Hawaii before you go, and make a little purse list like I did. It was so much easier. I felt the front desk staff were extra helpful, they did more than just check in and out, they answered a lot of our questions. We were too ‘scared’ to go to the concierge desks after being ‘lectured’ to about time shares (see later in ‘cons’.) Note to Outrigger Reef: give the timeshare people the flick. Its annoying.
SHOPS: There are lovely shops in the foyer of the Outrigger Reef, a lot to look at and while not all cheap they are beautiful quality. The hotel is also situated so close to many other great areas to shop, you’ll find it hard to go past them. Lewers Rd and the Beachwalk are in the immediate vicinity. The Beachwalk is a street full of posh shops and ritzy restaurants that was partially funded by the Outrigger group.
ABC shops are a mecca for travelers as they have everything from milk to medicine, alcohol to souvenirs, clothes, postcards, pool toys and sandwiches. There is an ABC shop on every corner, and one just up Lewes Rd from Denny’s diner, about 2 mins from the hotel.
FOOD AND RESTAURANTS: The ShoreBird Restaurant sits on the ground floor, and spills onto the beach. It’s wonderful and atmospheric. It looks over this sandy section of Waikiki beach and serves wonderful casual drinks and food, from hamburgers and beer to something a bit more posh like sushi and cocktails. It was great value. They have $3.50? Mai Tai’s at their happy hour, but I forget the time. The drink was just ok, I preferred the regular drinks which may have been mixed a bit more generously. Another Outrigger restaurant is the Kani Ka Pila Grille that has more expensive and a bit more complicated food. Nicely placed around a waterfall and the pool, and very nice music at night. The food is not as kid friendly as the Shorebird, but still welcoming to families. We never went to the Ocean Restaurant which is the really posh one. Surrounding the Outrigger Reef is every type of restaurant you could imagine and in the immediate vicinity is Roy’s, a superb restaurant, and Denny’s Diner just across and down a bit…a fabulous place for breakfast, very family friendly and casual food all day and all night. Only minutes away from a myriad of other food choices.
POOL & BEACH: We found the pool a bit disappointing – not the location, but the style. I think it’s just that it’s a dark colour (dark blue looks so cold and uninviting) and surrounded by building (there’s no where else it could go really). So it’s not the nicely landscaped pool you would find in some resorts, though they’ve done their best with the small space they have. I would suggest some cabanas, umbrellas and more pretty greenery around there would make a huge difference. It felt either too hot, or too cold, depending on the time of day, and not really a relaxing place.
In Fiji I have enjoyed pool bar staff coming around asking if I wanted a drink, I suggest this is also something the Outrigger Reef could do. The Outrigger on the Lagoon in Fiji does it beautifully, and make a mint out of it!! (lol…I can’t resist a cocktail).
The Beach out the front, however, is fantastic. Nice amount of sand outside where some parts of Waikiki are very sand-sparse. Under the water the bottom is a bit rocky in some places and kids said you had to be a bit careful, but they got used to it and it wasn’t dangerous. The surf was small and gently rolling. Great for little floats and li-los. You can buy $3-4 float toys at the ABC stores, they’re heaps of fun in the ocean even for Big Kids. Just up the beach under the Waikiki shore is a small arcade where they sell shaved ice and zillions of other things. That’s a great beach treat. It’s hot, the sun is strong, even for us Sydneysiders, so take lots of sunscreen. I saw lots of lobsterized people!!
ACTIVITIES: The activities desk can organize anything you want, but I suggest you do it online before you go. There is a hotel shuttle though, that for a small price (like $14 a person to Pearl Harbour) can take you to the main attractions. It goes at certain times and meets you again at certain times. Very handy, and felt more confident doing this than the cheaper public bus.
I don't like the current hotel trend providing only accommodation for 3 in the room, or just 2 beds. Most room types at the Outrigger Reef have either a King bed and a sofa bed, or two double beds. My children prefer a bed each. I have big men in my family and tall sons. It’s not convenient to have them sleeping together. The Outrigger Reef does not do rollaway beds.
The room wasn’t ready when we arrived. I guess checkout is 10.00 am. So why wasn’t the room ready by 12.00pm? We were so tired, and to have to wait another 1.5hrs was tough. Lucky the room made up for it. I think they should make check in’s a priority.
Tea. This was tricky for us, we love to drink tea. But the tea tasted like coffee as the hot water came out of the coffee machine through the same plastic spout as the coffee would. I never tried asking for a kettle. Probably should have. But I wonder how they thought we would make the tea?? Note to Outrigger Reef: A lot of Australians (and English) like to drink tea. You even supply teabags. You need clean boiling water to make tea, not water through a coffee machine.
You can buy milk at the ABC store, but can’t do anything about the hot water.
Beach chairs hire: Don’t start me. The beach recliners, umbrellas etc, are all for hire, for a ridiculous amount of money (something like $30 an hour). Not sure if they belong to the Outrigger or whether it’s just a business attached to the same area. It would be wonderful if the Outrigger offered their guests 1 hour per room of a double cabana hire on the beachfront.
Internet: It took us AGES to get the internet up and running without very good instructions. It did work but was not fast or easy.
TIME SHARE: Don’t get sucked in by the annoying Concierge/Activities people who try to get you to go to a presentation for time share property. Every time we approached the desk they started again. They tell you that you can have a free Shorebird breakfast, and other various benefits, but not that you have to go to the meeting first, they keep that bit of news until last. Let me tell you Outrigger, these kinds of spiels that treat your valued guests like suckers don’t go over very well. Not with Aussies anyway. After listening to the concierge or activities guy I started to figure something was ‘wrong’ when my questions weren’t being answered. A bit too cheesy? I thought. So when I still couldn’t get an answer I asked him straight out, ‘are you trying to sell something?’. Yep, Timeshare. I was annoyed. I gave back all the dockets and freebies, and left. I didn’t spend $1000s to come to Honolulu to waste on going to a meeting. It was the Sucker Spiel that annoyed me the most. I was too intimidated to go back to any of the activities desks after 3 goes. Outrigger – this stuff does nothing to enhance your guests’ experience.
Finally, we thought most all Ocean front accommodation in Waikiki was expensive, but the Outrigger Reef deserves every one of it’s stars and more. It was not cheap, but not outrageous as some are, and provides many choices of room. The rooms are great, the amenities are wonderful, it’s close to the fun, being only 5 mins walk from main Waikiki. The beach front location is it’s main attraction as is it’s wonderful views from ocean rooms. The beds are divine, the shops are nice, the food is great and staff excellent. We’d stay again, at the Outrigger Reef, in an instant! We loved it.
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, TripOnline SA, Cancelon, Orbitz, getaroom.com, Hotwire, HotelsforEveryone, HotelQuickly and Evoline ltd so you can book your Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Outrigger Reef On The Beach Hotel Honolulu
- Outrigger Hotel Honolulu
- Outrigger Reef Beach
- Outrigger Honolulu
- Honolulu Outrigger
- Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Hawaii/Honolulu