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Possibly the most visually stunning of all U.S. state capitals, Honolulu is flanked by the iconic outline of Diamond Head crater and washed by the azure waters of the Pacific. It’s known for its surf spots and idyllic beaches, as well as for the myriad ocean-themed activities made possible by its island setting. It’s also a key destination for culture lovers and history buffs, thanks to the presence of major art museums and Pearl Harbor memorials. Whether you’re in the market for a romantic getaway or a budget beach trip with friends, take a look at our pick of the city’s top hotels - the vast majority of which are located in the iconic resort neighborhood of Waikiki.
Best Overall: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club
Situated a few blocks back from the main Waikiki strip, The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club is farther from the ocean than many of the other hotels on this list. However, its slightly removed location gives it an irresistible atmosphere of quiet tranquility. The decor is 60s-style surfer chic and airy guestrooms are made unique by vintage furniture and local artwork. From one-bedroom bungalows to three-bedroom suites, each room has a flat-screen TV, a fridge, Wi-Fi and a private lanai.
From traditional welcome snacks to a lending library of books and board games, The Surfjack goes out of its way to make you feel at home. Use the hotel bikes to reach the beach in record time or spend lazy afternoons sipping cocktails by the pool. With a tiled floor that reads “Wish You Were Here”, the pool is the hotel’s centerpiece. It hosts regular events, including open-air movies and discussions with local creatives. On-site restaurant Mahina & Sun’s serves fine island-style cuisine.
Best Budget Hotel: Coconut Waikiki Hotel
The Coconut Waikiki Hotel may not be the cheapest hotel in the city, but it strikes the right balance between quality, affordability and an enviable location near Waikiki Beach. Rooms and suites are basic, bright and clean, and include a private lanai, an HD TV, a wet bar and a Keurig® coffee maker. Choose a room with a kitchenette to save money on dining out. Alternatively, there are several wallet-friendly restaurants within easy walking distance.
A range of complimentary amenities add to the value of this hotel. Make the most of free Wi-Fi, complimentary beach towels and a continental breakfast buffet included in your room rate. Although there is a small resort fee, this is waived when you book directly through the hotel website. There’s a swimming pool and a sun deck, as well as an on-site fitness center. Other useful amenities include a coin-operated laundry, barbecue grills and chargeable valet parking.
Best Boutique Hotel: Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head
Lotus Honolulu enjoys a scenic location away from the hubbub of central Waikiki, near Kaimana Beach and Diamond Head State Monument. The hotel’s remote setting and the fact that it has just 51 rooms gives it the feeling of an unexpected sanctuary in the heart of the Hawaiian capital. Sunlit interiors, carved wood accents, and a lush tropical garden help to create your personal oasis. From your bedroom, enjoy stunning views of the Pacific or the Diamond Head crater.
All rooms include high-speed Wi-Fi, a TV with a Blu-Ray and DVD player, a Playstation 3 and an iPod dock. In the morning, relax on your private lanai with a cup of coffee fresh from the espresso machine. Wisp Restaurant & Lounge serves locally inspired cuisine and signature cocktails and even hosts regular live music. Thoughtful touches include beach cruiser bikes, outdoor yoga classes, and a complimentary evening wine reception.
Best Family Hotel: Sheraton Waikiki
Sheraton Waikiki resort is located at the heart the Waikiki beachfront. With a staggering array of amenities and activities, it’s a convenient one-stop-shop capable of keeping children of all ages entertained. All rooms and suites have cable TV and high-speed Internet. Per booking, up to two children under the age of 17 stay for free in existing beds - making this hotel a little more budget-friendly.
There are two pools, one of which is especially designed for families with a 70-foot water slide and an interactive fountain area. You can sign up for surfing lessons or outrigger canoe rides on the beach. There’s plenty of choices for fussy eaters - but casual Hapas Pizza remains the firm family favorite. The Poppins Keiki kids’ program offers childcare services and fun activities for children up to 12 years old.
Best Hotel for Romance: The Kahala Hotel & Resort
For 50 years, The Kahala has been casting its spell over visiting dignitaries and Hollywood stars. Located 15 minutes east of Waikiki on secluded Kahala Beach, it is the perfect choice for a romantic getaway. Celebrate your love in a Signature Suite, with luxury touches ranging from deep-soaking baths to four-poster beds and private lanais with breathtaking ocean views.
Opt to dine at one of five gourmet restaurants or book a private dining experience in the candlelit garden. From the white-sand beach to the private lagoon with its family of resident bottlenose dolphins, the hotel grounds are idyllic. Book a complimentary photoshoot and head out to Kissing Point, a slender promontory designed for admiring the sunset. Other highlights include the palm-lined pool and The Kahala Spa.
Best Luxury Hotel: Halekulani Hotel
Perhaps the most iconic of Waikiki’s five-star hotels, Halekulani has been hosting Honolulu’s elite since 1907. All rooms include a deep-soaking tub, 100 percent cotton robes and a welcome bowl filled with local fruits and hand-crafted Halekulani chocolates. For ultimate luxury, choose one of the Premier Suites. Expect dedicated butler service, complimentary limousine airport transfers and a wrap-around lanai with mesmerizing ocean views.
Spend the day by the sapphire-hued pool or learn how to surf on the pristine beach. At SpaHalekulani, you can indulge in a range of traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian treatments. A choice of several gourmet restaurants include La Mer, a celebrated spot for southern French cuisine prepared with fine Hawaiian ingredients. In the evening, Lewers Lounge serves classic cocktails to the accompaniment of live jazz.
Best Hotel for Nightlife: The Modern Honolulu
Quirky art installations and a fresh, contemporary style make The Modern one of Honolulu’s top choices for trendy young adults. There are two swimming pools, one of which is exclusively for adults. At night, glowing lanterns and a buzzing poolside bar turn this into one of the city’ best al fresco nightlife spots. Seductive bar, The Study, offers a nightly happy hour and live music, while Addiction nightclub keeps the festivities going with top DJs and celebrity clientele. In between parties, refuel at one of two gourmet restaurants, regain equilibrium with a poolside yoga class or detox at the fitness center. There’s a spa on-site, while guestrooms feature cable TV, complimentary Wi-Fi and a Keurig® coffee maker as standard.
Best Business Hotel: Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
This beautiful Waikiki beachfront hotel is a business destination with a difference. Two oceanfront boardrooms inspire greater creativity with stunning Pacific vistas; while the Voyager Club 47 Deck and Diamond Head Terrace provide ample space for al fresco corporate receptions. There’s a 24-hour business center and a series of ocean-themed activities perfect for team-building retreats. Choose from two competitive meeting packages or dine at one of three hotel restaurants. After work, kick back with a glass of wine and a grill-your-own steak at Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar. The hotel also has a spa and fitness center, while standard room amenities include Wi-Fi, an LCD TV and a spacious work desk.
Best Hostel: The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel
The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel is located next door to the Honolulu Zoo and half a block from Waikiki Beach. Air-conditioned rooms are available as mixed dormitories, ladies-only dormitories, semi-private rooms, and private suites. There’s a bathroom in each room, and bonuses include free Wi-Fi, free pizza nights at the rooftop lounge and a complimentary continental breakfast. You can rent bikes, surfboards and snorkeling gear, and parking is available for just $10 per night. A 24-hour reception means you can stay out as late as you like.