Having stayed on the north shore at the posh Princeville Resort (now the posher St. Regis) for my last 2 visits to Kauai, I knew that for my latest trip to my favourite HI island, the focus would be on the island itself and its diverse scenic wonders. While north shore views are unabashedly beautiful, its quite a schlep to south shore sites like Waimea Canyon. So for this trip I wanted to be more centrally located in Lihue, Kauai's largest town with several inexpensive local-y places to eat, and did not need a luxurious resort with a pool, spa, and beach to loll about in or spend time at. After researching TA reviews and individual hotel websites, I chose the Garden Island Inn for a 6 day stay ending on Memorial Day, and it fit the bill perfectly. I even eschewed a private sale website offer at TA's #1 Lihue hotel, the Kauai Beach Resort. Like the Inn's brochure says, it offers "comfort, convenience, and economy".
The Inn is located about 5 min. from the airport; no airport noise was noted, however. It's a 21 room, 3 story inn with lots of added touches that elevate it far above a basic motel. The exterior explodes with island colour--local artist Camile Fontaine individually painted the door to every room, every lanai partition, and several public walls. Her canvases hang in every room and the lobby (some are for sale). The doormats are shaped like a cluster of beach flip-flops. The 1st floor room doors and windows face the street, but are shielded by a lushly landscaped "front yard" complete with a lawn, some chaises, and tables with chairs. The 2nd and 3rd floor rooms are entered from the rear (where there is a 3 story waterfall), with lanais facing the front, with ocean views in the distance. The 3rd floor rooms have the largest floor plans. There is a large outdoor lanai on the 3rd floor set up with sofas and tables where games can be played.
The island flavour continues inside the rooms. I had probably the smallest (and least expensive) room on the 2nd floor, but it literally had all the amenities of the other standard rooms, except for the kitchen sink. The rooms, which are tiled rather than carpeted, have walls and ceilings painted with a palm tree finish; the ceilings are plastered for a 3-D palm tree effect. The light switch plates have palm trees. There is a vase with a fresh tropical arrangement, wall-mounted A/C, ceiling fan, kitchenette with mini-fridge, microwave, coffee-maker (with Kona coffee) and sink (except my room), DVD player, free WiFi, free local calls. The bathroom was small but functional with a shower (no tub) and liquid toiletries contained in wall-mounted dispensers in the shower and by the sink . The suites may have individual toiletry bottles, at least they do on the inn's website photos.
The Inn's staff exudes island hospitality; an owner and/or manager has an on-site apartment. The small lobby with its indoor/outdoor koi pond offers morning coffee and all day snacks, plus a variety of beach equipment, board games, towels, coolers, sunscreen, guidebooks, etc. There are no guest laundry facilities on-site; you are directed to a nearby laundromat. There is no pool and of course no spa, but Kalapaki Beach and Park are across the street--this beach also fronts the large Kauai Marriott Resort. The street you cross to get to the beach is a busy one (Nawiliwili Ave.), but there are crosswalks where locals actually stop to let you cross! The Anchor Cove mall is also across the street, and it has, most importantly, and ABC store. Another mall (Harbor Mall), is up the street. Both malls have restaurants, and Marriott's pricey beach-side restaurants are also adjacent. The Nawiliwili Harbor is also across the street--the large Pride of America cruise ship docks here on Thursday morning until Friday afternoon--you may see lots of tour buses leaving the harbour for excursions.
Lihue and the Inn are basically a midway point between north and south shore sites--very convenient. Also, Lihue is where Costco, Walmart, Kmart, Macy's and Hilo Hattie are located, plus many restaurants, some of which have large local followings as well as tourist "invaders". We tried several a few minutes drive or walk from the inn: Mark's Place, Tip Top Cafe, Hamura's Saimin, Lihue BBQ Inn, Kalapaki Beach Hut. We also aimed for value and local flavour (over ambience and comfort) when dining elsewhere on the island: Duane's Ono-Char, Kilauea Fish Market, Sueoka's Snack Shop, Puka Dogs, Shrimp Station, Jo Jo's Shave Ice. We became accustomed to eating outdoors amidst sudden but brief rainstorms and marauding flies, chickens and other fowl. I found the well-known guidebook with the blue cover essential.
We took a peek at the renovated St. Regis, our former haunt. The lobby is smaller now with the addition of an on-site spa, and everything else has been upgraded, including the prices. I also took a peek at the Kauai Inn, the closest comparison to the Garden Island Inn in terms of cost, location, and TA reviews (the 2 places flip-flop between #2 and #3). The Kauai Inn, in a residential area more off the beaten path, is larger--about 48 rooms in a cluster of four 2 story buildings surrounding an small pool. They offer a free continental breakfast and laundry facilities. Apparently, some rooms don't have A/C (these are cheaper) and I'm not sure about WiFI.
The Inn is definitely a place to consider for its location and cost, and if you want to explore all the adventures and beauty Kauai has to offer. If you are looking for a lazy, resort-potato experience, I would suggest the St. Regis the Grand Hyatt, or the Marriott.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Garden Island Inn is a quaint, affordable boutique hotel by the lovely Kalapaki Beach and Bay, the Kauai Marriott and Lagoons and the Nawiliwili Harbor. Kalapaki Beach offers safe surfing, stand up paddle boarding, canoing, kayaking, sailing for beginners to intermediate, fishing or just plain relaxing and sunning.This is Kauai's center for shopping, live music and dining with a choice of 10 of Kauai's finest restaurants all within a short leisurely walking distance from the Garden Island Inn Hotel.The Garden Island Inn has quick and easy access from the Lihue Airport and to all the sights and activities Kauai has to offer. Let us be your home away from home while you discover Kauai! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Hotels.com, Ebookers, Traveltool, S.L.U., Agoda, Evoline ltd and HotelQuickly so you can book your Garden Island Inn reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Garden Island Hotel Lihue
- Garden Island Lihue
- Garden Island Inn Kauai, HI