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“After all, this is Molokai.”

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Molokai Hilltop Cottage & West End Studio
Ranked #2 of 4 Kaunakakai B&B and Inns
Cincinnati, Ohio
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“After all, this is Molokai.”
Reviewed 27 July 2014

As all of the other reviewers have said, the view from this secluded, charming cottage is worth the price on its own: a large deck wraps around the back of the cottage looking out on Maui and Lanai (we watched the 4th of July fireworks off in the distance on Maui); on a clear day you can even see Kahoolawe. In general, we found the cottage to be perfectly suited to our needs: it was clean, well decorated, there were plenty of home furnishings (kitchen equipment, towels, etc.). It was homey and cozy, perfect for a couple (like us) to enjoy cocktails and romantic meals on the deck. We fell in love with Molokai, and on our next trip we would definitely look to stay here again.

As some other reviewers have noted, there is definitely some room for maintenance, especially when it comes to doors and windows. Nothing was stuck or unworkably broken, but the screen doors were in disrepair and the French doors required some finessing. We had some issues with bugs invading the cottage until we figured out how to be more mindful with the doors and draw them away with decoy lights outside. But, as they, say, this is Molokai; you don't come here expecting ultra-modern, top of the line anything – that's just not the island's style. You accept the little imperfections and adjustments that come with rural living, which is what this is. That being said, new screen doors and some elbow grease on the doors and windows would go a long way to making this retreat truly superlative. Also, we would love to see an outdoor grill added; with so much deck space, it seems a shame to have to cook inside.

Don't let the little things discourage you here. This is truly a wonderful find on an under-appreciated island.

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
5 Thank Mark P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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35 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
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  • English first
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English first
Benson, Arizona
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2014

If you are looking for a romantic and peaceful get away and are used to a rustic environment this is the place for you. Our stay was unbelievable, total privacy...views to die for and a perfect breeze every evening. The cottage is set up for those who like to cook their own meals and save money by not having to eat out every day. We found the cottage beautiful both the grounds and the structure itself. You have everything you need there, comfy couch and bed, large bathroom, full sized frig, stove and TV's in both the living room and bedroom. The lanai is large with fantastic views of the islands of Lanai and Maui. We spent every evening/nite enjoying the peaceful surroundings on the lanai. If you like animal life the numerous gecko's and birds are fantastic to watch, dolphins could be seen from the lanai frolicking out in the surf...just amazing! We would highly recommend the Hilltop Cottage to anyone looking for a true Hawaiian adventure. The island of Molokai is a paradise for anyone looking for vacant beaches, fantastic water falls and a slow relaxing lifestyle.
Mahalo,
Mike and Lavonda

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Michael S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 November 2013 via mobile

Well, I have to start by saying I'm surprised to see there is a bad review on here. Those people sound like they best stick to Waikiki. The hilltop cottage was fantastic! It is not marketed as luxury so we didn't have high expectations, but it's gorgeous, homely and calming like no other accommodation I've stayed at in Hawaii. It's a very comfortable space with all you need to forget what day it is and what time it is.i especially loved the bed and the jacuzzi tub!the kitchen is well equipped and everything was clean and tidy. Common sense tells you to take your trash out to avoid ants and close the screens to avoid bugs-this is the tropics people!we spent 5 nights and wished we could have stayed so much longer.the views alone are worth every penny.the location is perfect, very quiet and just a couple of minutes from a gorgeously isolated beach and incredible snorkeling.molokai is so different from all the other islands, true island life.its like kauai and maui were 30 odd years ago.totally serene. If you're going, hilltop cottage is certainly the best there is on molokai.

Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
10 Thank Ryan P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ambler, Pennsylvania, United States
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 October 2013

When we first arrived on Molokai, we had reservations at the Hotel Molokai, reportedly the island’s only hotel, and reviews had led us to book a room with an ocean view. Expecting cooler temperatures, we chose a second story room with only fans. It had a lovely view, but it was a tiny cozy room. It seems we had the hottest week of the year. Fans were not adequate, so we switched to an inside 2nd story room with a view of the courtyard and a small air-conditioner. It was much roomier, but dark, and the AC unit took hours to cool the room each time we left and turned it off. We stayed there 3 nights over a weekend which cost more than the five nights at our next place ($139/night). By comparison, our next place on Molokai lifted our spirits and was a joyful place to be. We were worried before we saw it that we would be miserable in the heat without air-conditioning.
Wow! Our first step into the Hilltop Cottage was a breeze of relief. We certainly felt like we had arrived at a home in paradise! The décor is light, and uncluttered. The space is open, and breezes wafted the curtains on three sides of the cottage. The cottage is on the eastern end of the island where the speed limits never go above 35 mph, and the foliage is generally greener and lusher. The front deck “lanai” looked out over the tops of monkey pod trees to the ocean between Maui and Lanai giving ever changing vistas of clouds, and spectacular sunrises.
The windows were open most of the time (closing only the ones on the eastern side when sparse rains fell). The cottage does not have an air conditioner, but it wasn’t needed.
We found the cottage to be clean and tidy, welcoming and abundant– in fact, we usually carry our own cleaning products to wipe down other vacation accommodations -- and we did not need to use them here. The Hilltop cottage is a cottage – not the Hilton. It was exactly what we wanted. We did not seek nor expect luxury. And we got so much more in view, simplicity, comfort, hominess and privacy than we could imagine.
Of course, as with any tropical home, we saw sparse trails of ants. We followed the instructions posted on the refrigerator, keeping the counters, sinks and floor free of any food. We even put our food scraps and wet cans/bags into the freezer until we had accumulated enough to throw away in a trash bag. Although we saw some very tiny ants and a few medium sized ones almost daily, the ants were never a problem to us, and they never found our food. We expected to co-exist with the native critters and took the extra steps to avoid their being a hassle.
If there were no insects, geckos, or roaches then it would mean an unwanted (unhealthy to us) amount of pesticide was being applied. We would rather allow some critters and accommodate them with our own behavior changes rather than eliminate them.
Things in need of repair: screen doors that did not lock were on the host’s list to repair. Another door didn’t lock – but this is an island where people respect other’s property and we felt no fear of intrusion or lack of security when we were there or away.
Waking up every day with such a beautiful view was its own form of private entertainment. No matter where we went on the island for the day or afternoon, we couldn’t wait to get back to the reprieve which the space affords – it felt so private, personal, clean and restful. Even if we chose not to venture out for the day, staying there at the cottage really felt like we were on vacation. Truly unique and desirable. Relaxing, and enjoying an easy pace.
If we traveled again to Molokai we would not consider staying anywhere else. We would recommend it to our friends and family.
If we had read a review recently posted, we might not have gone to Hilltop Cottage. And that would have been a shame, because we would have missed out on a wonderful vacation accommodation. Perhaps the previous visitors were used to 5 star hotels. That experience is likely not available on Molokai. The Hilltop Cottage made our vacation memorable. You won’t get perfection, but you will get a vacation spot that makes you feel like you are on vacation and valued as a lucky member of a Molokai family.

Room Tip: This is not a hotel. You get all the rooms with views on all sides.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
10 Thank Susan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 October 2013

Comfortable bed, amazing views and total privacy. Great spot to relax and enjoy an unspoilt island from. We stayed at Hilltop cottage for 4 days and thoroughly enjoyed the peace, tranquility and peaceful setting. The cottage is equipped with everything you need for a short stay.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank paddlingaussies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 October 2013

Wow, what a view! We found the Hilltop Cottage after searching VRBO and many other rental sites, and were glad we chose to spend 4 nights here. We were on a small island in the middle of the Pacific, so we had the sense of isolation but at the same time, all the comforts of home. The Cottage offered everything you could want: a kitchen with all the standard cooking utensils, a washer/dryer were on premises, lots of comfortable furniture, a TV with basic cable channels, our smartphones got 4G so we had internet, it's only 4 miles from the best snorkeling we've ever had (Murphy Beach on a calm day), and one mile from the only take-out/grocery/beer&wine store on the east side. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi tub, it was the perfect spot to relax in after being on a beach all day. The one bedroom was roomy with a large bed and both the bedroom and bathroom had lots of hanging space for clothes and swimsuits. When we were at the cottage we spent most of our time on the deck overlooking Maui and Lanai, sunsets and sunrises were amazing from that view. The constant breeze kept the house cool.
I must add, I'm not sure what sort of agenda the previous reviewer had. The cottage cost $139/night, which is far from 'luxury' price. It's a great value for what you get. To compare, during our 9-night vacation in Molokai we rented 2 different houses on the east side of the island. The first one was a house on the beach that we stayed 5 nights at and cost $185/night and yes, we could step outside our house and be on the beach, but that house wasn't nearly as nice as this cottage was. We actually wished we had stayed at this cottage for our whole trip and saved some $ so we could have afforded more surf & turf dinners at the Kualapuu Cookhouse, lol. If you want the high-end, Hollywood Hills-type experience there are houses on Molokai that will have it, but will cost at least 3 times more than this fantastic little cottage. We already can't wait to go back to Molokai, the island really deserves to be called the Friendly Island!

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Sara K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
46 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 October 2013

We stayed at Hilltop Cottage for roughly 10 days in late September 2013.

First, the good stuff:

The view from the wraparound deck is stunning, day or night. You look south across the ever-changing aquamarine waters to Maui on the center-left and Lanai on the right. Maui is just nine miles away and you can clearly see the hotels and resorts, and the clouds that hug the top of the island.

You can see and hear the waves that are perhaps 300 meters away and watch as the colors of the reef waters steadily shift. Birds are ever-present, day and night, and in the distance you can always hear wild roosters crowing (they don't just make a racket at sunrise).

At night, you can see Maui lit up along its northern shoreline and in the sky, when it is clear, there are countless stars. The Milky Way you were taught about in science class is actually visible from the deck. It's astounding.

It's very quiet day and night, as the cottage is fairly isolated and the highway below sees cars every few minutes, at most. We liked seeing headlights at night light up the trees above and ahead as cars passed through at night.

The wind blows constantly and that's a blessing, as the cottage is naturally cooled if you get the windows sorted out. Otherwise, it gets oppressively hot.

Overall, the view and setting are enough to overpower the negative stuff about the cottage. If you book knowing these things in advance, and go in with you eyes open (as the saying goes), you'll likely be fine.

The negative stuff:

The place is in a rough state of repair. Most of the windows are shot and do not even crank open. One of the metal cranks, over the toilet, has started to crumble. The window for the bathroom has been shored up from the outside with expanding foam. The doors all work, kinda sorta, but none have screens, so they need to be left open to get airflow from the prevailing winds. That means leaving the doors open for bugs.

The screens on the front of the deck were mismatched and bent so they did not fully close. We went to the market and bought masking tape to close the gap, which worked but meant we stopped opening and closing those screen doors, and walked out side doors to get to the front.

The walls are cracking everywhere, paint is peeling and the cleaning fee we paid in advance was a bit of a laugh given the actual state of cleanliness. The place wasn't a shambles or truly dirty, but neither was it clean we showed up. The top side of the hanging light in the dining area was coated in grime. The baseboards were filthy. We think we saw mould on a window sill.

The builders used regular fasteners everywhere, instead of galvanized or some other types with rust-proofing properties. So you see signs of rust everywhere.

The bedsheets were pilled and hardly luxurious. There was a spot of blood on one of them. It felt like cottage bedding, which would be fine for a spare room in someone's cottage you were staying over at. But we were paying fairly big money for this place. Don't market luxury and deliver what you'd get sleeping over on your aunt's spare couch.

The furniture is cheap and the rustic, distressed look the owner may have been going for crosses the line into just plain beat up - particularly on the cupboard thing by the bathroom sink.

There was no kettle, so we had to boil water in a sauce pan. The sauté pan was miles past its best before date as the non-stick coating was all but gone - meaning what Teflon was left was likely going to get in your sautéed food. The can opener was shot (not a big deal, but a problem when you bring canned goods from the market). The cork screw mostly works. The flatware is flimsy. There are lots of knives, but none for chopping. There is a chopping board, but using it is a little dodgy given the hot water situation.

The cottage has one of those small, propane-driven instant water heaters, instead of a tank. Makes perfect sense, except the settings were such that you never got truly hot water to wash dishes and kill bacteria. It was warm enough for showers, if you waited 20-30 seconds.

You should know the washer and dryer are outside, which will seem weird to most people but is likely common here. They were a little rusty around the edges but the actual wash and dry components were clean and worked just fine. The washer used regular powdered soap.

It's the tropics, so there are bugs. Because the windows are in such bad shape there were little ants getting in, and we'd find them all over the tile countertop if there was even a hint of food left around. There were always larger ants scurrying around the bathroom floor, but just a few, not an invasion. We stopped leaving the door open for airflow because giant grasshoppers were getting in and dropping on our heads, which made me jump about a foot off the couch one night.

The place was reasonably supplied with towels, kitchen stuff, spare lightbulbs, toilet paper and so on. No real issues there. There was not much in the fridge or cupboards, but we left ketchup, olive oil, butter and some water. Other guests have left things like smallish wine glasses.

The DVD player in the bedroom is one of those all-in-one units attached to an ancient CRT TV. There was one DVD in the cottage, but that didn't matter because the DVD tray wouldn't open anyway. There is satellite TV, but the channel selection is very limited and the on-screen menu system somewhat crazy. Sometimes channels were there, sometimes not. But you don't come to Molokai to watch TV. Watch the view.

Internet: None. We went to the Hotel Molokai parking lot one day to tap into its open wifi and grab some podcasts. You could get 3G on a cell phone.

Stuff you should know:

Getting there - It is a twisty, turny highway that leads to the cottage from the main town. It is narrow and challenging and we didn't even attempt it at night. You face that drive every day if you plan to tour around. The directions provided are good until you get close, and then hopeless. We were given a number to look for on a white mailbox, but there was no such number and the beat-up mailbox was more grey than white. We went back and forth three times and then just took a shot at one driveway, based on deduction. We were right, and told by the owner's amused husband that the numbering system had changed a while back. Thanks. Would it really be that hard to put a sign by the road that said Hilltop Cottage??? Marketing 101.

Location - It's beautiful on the east side, but the best beaches and the far easier drive into town is on the west side of Molokai. It is greener on the east side and feels like Hawaii. As one guy we chatted with noted, the west side looks like Texas hill country (until you get right down by the shoreline and condos).

Walking around - You need to drive everywhere from the cottage. The road is not safe to walk or jog on. Too narrow. There is barely room for passing cars and no shoulders.

Hiking - There is none, other than paid hikes in the Halawa Valley and down to the leper colony. There are no state-managed trails and the best possible hiking requires a good 4X4 and expert driving skills to get to on the top side of the island. The Nature Conservancy has monthly lies in there and you have to book months in advance.

Beaches - The snorkeling beach near the cottage is beautiful and empty, but shallow and coral filled. You need to time your swim to high tide or take the risk of getting washed into coral when the water is lower. The snorkeling was good on the west end at Dixie Maru, and the beach at Papohaku (again on the west) was amazing. Two miles long, 100 yards wide, huge waves, and no one there. But you can't swim it. The waves were breaking as high as 15 feet right at the shore.

Tours - We didn't do the mule ride thing, as riding cranky animals along narrow cliffs just didn't seem like a great idea. We didn't do the Halawa Valley hike, which is reportedly great but also reportedly requiring lots of bug spray. We're on holidays. Don't need the bites and endless swatting. The drive in to Halawa Valley is worth it, but only once. It is hairy and goes down to a single lane with no real room for two opposing cars in spots. We did go offshore snorkelling with Molokai Fish and Dive, and kayaking with Molokai Outdoors. We enjoyed both, though finding clear water was not easy with the winds and waves up.

Dining - This is like going to a small town in the country. It's all local places and they mostly cook for the locals, serving the food the locals like. Molokai is not a foodie destination, but I doubt few would think it is. We only ate at restaurants twice - the Goods and Grindz place down the road (it's a takeout stand) and the Cookhouse, which was great for lunch and reasonably priced, but a little over the top for dinner, with mains that were $30+ in basically a rough and tumble picnic table setting.

Shopping - The only retail chains on Molokai were Napa Auto Parts. and Ace Hardware. But there lots of "general stores" selling the essentials, and some gift/keepsake places. Again, no one goes to Molokai for retail therapy.

DIY Meals - We did most of our own cooking - not for budget reasons but it was just a better option to the pub food and lunch plates available at most places. You can get amazing grass-fed organic beef at the Friendly Market (and at a livestock co-op near the airport), and fresh vegetables and greens at Kumu Farms, also up by the airport. There is a market on Saturday mornings in the town, and a young guy selling artisanal breads. It was expensive but well worth it. The bakery everyone writes about - with the back lane hot bread thing - was completely overrated. The bread and selections were no better or worse than a little bakery in a strip mall in any neighbourhood. Groceries are expensive, not surprisingly. Everything not grown there has to come in by barge.

Booze - Good selection at the wine and liquor store on the main drag. A little more costly than the mainland, but that would be expected.

Wheels - We rented from Alamo. Zero issues, though gas is expensive when compared to the mainland. But nothing is all that far away.

People - Lovely. Uniformly great, friendly people. They really liked that we had chosen Molokai as the destination for a first trip to Hawaii. The pace of life is much slower here and you need to accept that and work with it. Frenetic New Yorkers who can't shut down will spontaneously combust if they expect things to happen on their timelines.

Overall - Molokai is wildly different from Honolulu or, we assume, Maui. The people in Molokai want to keep it quiet and undeveloped in the same way Portland's people want to keep their city weird. This is not the place to be for non-stop action or endless sightseeing. You come to Molokai to shut down.

Conclusion about Hilltop Cottage:

The setting is amazing, but the place needs much more attention to detail. We were there for 10 days and NEVER saw the owner, who said she would come by (her house is across the driveway). Do some repairs to the windows, add screens, do a very DEEP clean, fill the cracks, re-paint everything properly, and this would be worth the asking price, or more.

As it was, it's a lot of money for a cottage that's marketed as luxurious but is starting to fall apart and badly needs some TLC. Address the repairs, up the service, and it's a gem.

Room Tip: Lovely setting, but owner needs to up her game in terms of cleanliness and state of repair.
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
12 Thank canuck169
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Molokai Hilltop Cottage & West End Studio

Property: Molokai Hilltop Cottage & West End Studio
Address: 9415 kanehameha, Kaunakakai, Molokai, HI 96748
Region: United States > Hawaii > Molokai > Kaunakakai
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 B&Bs / Inns in Kaunakakai
Number of rooms: 2
Also Known As:
Molokai Hilltop Cottage & West End Studio Hawaii

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