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“The Best in Waikiki”

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The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort
Ranked #21 of 84 Hotels in Honolulu
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 7 September 2009

Just got back from my third stay at The Royal Hawaiian (first after the renovation). They did a phenomenal job with the renovation, keeping all of the beauty of the hotel but nicely updating all of the rooms (which was pretty badly needed). Food at the new restaurants was delicious and service from all of the staff was top-notch. Best place to stay in Waikiki in my opinion because of both the beauty and seclusion of the hotel and the prime beach front real estate and access. I'd recommend the historic wing over the Tower to get the full feel of this very special place.

  • Stayed: September 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank merrick_cj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3,107 - 3,113 of 4,007 reviews

Reviewed 3 September 2009

Great property, it keeps the flavor of good old times. This is a very unique and classy hotel, which is a lot to say in hectic and overcrowded Honolulu. Rooms are a bit small (European size) but very modern and nicely decorated. Beach is wonderful-you have a reserved area, but pool is disappointing. Definitely it's worth the premium compared to other good alternatives in the area. By the way, I was sad to see the massive development Waikiki beach has suffered, definitely another mass tourism paradise...

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank osk77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 September 2009

Amazing hotel. Highly recommended would definitely stay there again. Room was a bit small but otherwise very nice. Very comfortable bed. The hotel is huge, takes a while to get the layout of the place and the adjoining mall.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank shoshani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2009

I come to Hawaii once or twice a year and usually stay in a very popular, very affordable local hotel in Waikiki that I found on this site years ago. I usually pay between 120-140 per night there and am happy, even though it's a couple blocks away from the beach. This trip I had earned a couple free weekend nights for any Starwood hotel and decided it would be fun to try to use them at a Waikiki property for the last 2 nights of my stay. I called and found that there was availability this weekend at any of their 3 beach front hotels: Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, or Sheraton.

I did a TON of research on this and other sites reading all the reviews and comparisons I could find. I ruled out the Sheraton as it was just a regular high-rise and the comments about paper thin walls and being super busy and possibly under renovation turned me off, as well as the fact that it didn't have any special significance vs. the historic grandeur of the Moana Surfrider or the Royal Hawaiian.

I was originally leaning toward the Moana Surfrider - I've always loved driving and walking past the gorgeous Surfrider entrance and the fact that it's right at the busiest public area of Waikiki beach where they have the Duke OceanFest and other activities and also so close to many shops and restaurants that I frequent. However, I read so many negative reviews about street noise from all the street performers and crowds or from the entertainment at this hotel or at the Outrigger that I was very concerned about whether I'd able to upgrade from the city view rooms that were the type the free night award would put me in.

I also read many negative reviews about the Royal Hawaiian, especially the small room size and configuration, but I chose to book at the Royal Hawaiian because it was physically further away from the main street and the noise, and take my chances trying to upgrade to some kind of ocean view or ocean front room if possible.

When I got to Waikiki and checked into my regular hotel for the first two nights of my stay I took a quick look at the rooms in the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian and decided that I had made the right choice to stay my final two nights at the Royal Hawaiian. I looked at the tower ocean front rooms at both hotels, as well as a couple rooms in the historic part of the Royal Hawaiian and here's my comparison (keep in mind that I stayed 2 nights in the Tower ocean front at the Royal Hawaiian so my memory of that room is better than my quick tour of the room at the Surfrider):

The Royal Hawaiian hotel property itself is so much larger and quieter, from the time you drive up to the entrance it is just serene and peaceful. The open air check-in area is huge and looks out on the courtyard. There are several desks, each staffed by people that had a terrific attitude there to help you. The Moana Surfrider had a very small check-in area and there was quite a long line the day I was looking at the room.

The hallways on the ground level at the Royal Hawaiian take you back in time while you look out one way to the beautiful courtyard and the other out to the beach. The hallways to the rooms in the historic building are wide and the carved wood doors are beautiful, compared to the smaller hallways at the Surfrider. At the Royal it's so quiet and relaxing just walking to the room, especially the stroll past the courtyard to the tower. The Moana Surfrider has a beautiful lobby too but is so much smaller and so much busier all day and all night, not very relaxing in my opinion. Also being right on the main street there are always a lot of people walking by and going through the lobby to the bar at the Surfrider. The tree and pool area are nice but being next to busy public Waikiki beach there are a lot more people walking through the area than down a couple hotels at the Royal Hawaiian. I think the Royal has a longer stretch of beach in front of the hotel than the Sheraton, and probably slightly wider from the water to the hotel. I just think that walking around the hotel itself is so much more peaceful at the Royal Hawaiian, yet you can easily go through the courtyard pathway and come to the Royal Hawaiian shopping center or the main street with all the ritzy stores if you want.

The different room types are very unique between each property and within each property. I will first compare the tower rooms at the Moana Surfrider to the Tower at the Royal Hawaiian. In my opinion the tower ocean front room at the Moana Surfrider was decorated a little nicer than the tower ocean front room at the Royal Hawaiian, and may have been slightly larger, although I think the bathroom in the Tower room of the Royal Hawaiian was a tiny bit larger. The Tower at the Surfrider was probably updated more recently than the tower at the Royal Hawaiian. I think there may be a larger number of rooms in the tower at the Surfrider and most face over the public beach area toward Diamond Head. The tower at Royal Hawaiian all face directly toward the ocean over the pool area - it's kind of curved in a semi-circle so the rooms on one side kind of overlook the ocean and face Diamond Head, the rooms on the other side have a partial view of Diamond head but face more toward the ocean and the direction of the sunsets and moonlight when I was there. All the tower rooms at the Royal Hawaiian had a balcony/lanai, some had larger balconies than others, and some had flowers planted at the edge. Something I really loved about the tower at the Royal Hawaiian was that it was completely shielded from the direct sunlight much of the day, and then when the sun was going down it was partially blunted by the palm trees or the Sheraton. You could see and hear the music from the Outrigger pool area but it wasn't particularly loud. There were sliding "doors" that could block the direct sun from coming in the room in the afternoon if you wanted to do so, or you could keep them slid open so that the view was unobstructed. The way the balcony above your Royal Hawaiian tower room was situated it also served to keep you in shade most of the time if you were out on the lanai relaxing on the two chairs out there. There was a small fridge in the Royal Hawaiian tower room.

The bathroom in the tower room at the Royal included a toilet with bidet, a tub/shower combination, a large safe, and the closet, probably similar at the Surfrider although not sure about the size of the safe and whether the closet was the same size. I did not mind the closet being in the bathrooms - they have sliding doors so it's not like they are in the way. My only complaint in the tower room at the Royal was that the air conditioning seemed to be a bit weak - it would not get really cold like the air conditioning in the rennovated rooms in the historic part of the Royal Hawaiian. The air conditioning in the Royal Hawaiian rooms was NOT noisy at all. I didn't have time to test the air conditioning in the tower room at the Surfrider.

I also checked out a few ocean front rooms in the historic part of the Royal Hawaiian. They are much closer to the actual beach since they are only 6 or 7 floors up compared to the tower which is around 14 or 15 floors, so from the tower you see more but are slightly further away. The biggest difference is that in the historic part of the Royal Hawaiian most of the ocean front rooms do not have a balcony/lanai, just windows which can be fully opened. You are much closer to the water so you can hear the waves more easily from the historic wing rooms. The biggest difference between the Royal Hawaiian rooms in the historic wing vs. the tower is that the rooms in the historic wing have been rennovated and are decorated and furnished much nicer... the pictures on the website don't really do them justice. I looked at two different rooms in the historic wing and both were fabulous. One had a separate walk-in closet the other had a closet sort of on the opposite side of the bathroom. I know one of them had just a shower stall (no tub) but I think the other had a combination shower/tub. The air conditioning in the historic rooms was much better, and they also had ornate ceiling fans. They are also a bit closer to the entrance of the property compared the tower which is at the far end from the check-in area. Guests that stay in the tower also have a nice lobby area where they can enjoy snacks and use of a computer for surfing the internet as well as a dedicated concierge and walking right out into the pool area. I glanced into one other room as I was walking past in the historic wing - every room is a slightly different size or configuration but all were decorated beautifully. I can't remember if they had a fridge, but I did note that the safes were smaller in the historic rooms.

The things I didn't do (so I can't compare): I didn't eat at the restaurants or use room service, I didn't sit at the pool or try to reserve beach chairs, I didn't use the internet, but I did use the parking at the Sheraton ($20 per day in and out), short walk down the driveway entrance to the Royal Hawaiian or cut through the Royal Hawaiian shopping center into the courtyard and around to the tower.

Overall, I was extremely happy with my stay at the Royal Hawaiian! The service of each of the staff I dealt with was quick and excellent and patient, from the help up to my room to showing me a couple different options, to bringing me something from housekeeping, it was always very quick and friendly but not overly pushy. I loved loved loved the view of everything from my ocean front room (I paid for the upgrade since it was available, and was reasonable). I enjoyed having a quick bite and some punch during the day in the lobby, and most of all I loved the feel of the quiet peaceful hotel itself. It was just beautiful. I usually never stay at pricey places so this was a once in a long time splurge, but if I have another very special occasion in the future I'd pay to stay at a place like this. It was just so much grander and peaceful than the Surfrider, and I had no problem at all other than wishing my room would get just a little cooler than it got. I could have asked housekeeping to work on the air conditioning but wasn't really in the room enough for it to matter.

In summary, if you desire peaceful and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, but still right at the beach in a very historic hotel, stay at the Royal. If you want a somewhat plain room with an incredible view stay in the Tower. If you want a much richer more luxurious room still with a great view (but not a balcony) stay in the historic wing. If you want a fantastic lobby and a nice bar area under the banyan tree right next to the busy beach and the main street, the Surfrider is a good choice but I didn't stay there so I can't really compare in as much detail. It's also special being the first hotel built on Waikiki beach and it is beautiful, just smaller and not as quiet. I didn't look into the historic rooms at this hotel, so I can't really compare them.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled solo
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18  Thank alwayztravelin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 August 2009

We have used a travel company Whatahotel.com on many occasions and the service and amenities they provide for you at these 5 star hotels is priceless.....Aside from the beautiful property ,concierge level spa rooms, personalized service from arrival to departure., the access from our room to pool, beach and hotel resturants and bars were effortless....Our stay at the Royal Hawaiian was near perfect and we owe that all to Maria with WhataHotel .......the only thing i say negative is room service was not what we expected and quite expensive re-guardless of inclusion

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank LiveToTravel54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2009

Since we are Starwood Preferred Guests we decided to use one of our recently earned "free nights" here. The hotel itself is gorgeous and I found the service from all employees to be excellent as well.

We had a standard room, which was nice, but would not have been worth $250 a night. During our time in Honolulu we also stayed at the Moana Surfrider, which I would say is a better value overall. No complaints but I think you can get better bang for your buck than here.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank sonics21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 August 2009

Imagine my surprise when I entered a newly renovated room during our stay. While I am all for upgrades and improvements, I don't see how the recent renovation of this hotel achieved it. My first visit in 2003 was memorable. I stayed in the historic part during that visit and was struck by the beauty of the four post bed and the "old" feeling of the room. It was old in a sense of historic and elegant, and it matched the rest of the hotel. Now, I feel like the building, the grounds and the public spaces are all a facade for the generic rooms which could be found in any hotel these days. I don't understand the room rates based on this.
As far as the service goes, it started off well. The valets and everyone else all the way til we reached our room were excellent. Our breakfast was ok, the food average but not special, Eggs n Things down the street was more enjoyable. The down side to service started at the pool. In our time in a rented cabana, not once did a server come ask us if we needed anything. Another minus was that there was no information about the hotel amenities in our room. I wondered if they did away with the binders they usually have and programmed a channel on tv so you could watch what they had instead. I'd seen a second pool on the website, but didn't see anything about it the entire time we were there. It would have been nice to know where it was located. It would also have been nice to order room service if I'd known there was any.
Overall this hotel is no longer great, just average. What a shame.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank demaintoujours
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort

Address: 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815-2515
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Honolulu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Honolulu
#7 Spa Hotel in Honolulu
#9 Romantic Hotel in Honolulu
#11 Luxury Hotel in Honolulu
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Honolulu
#15 Family Hotel in Honolulu
#18 Business Hotel in Honolulu
Price Range: £281 - £450 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 528
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

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