13 Sep

Best Hotels in Hawaii: A Local’s Opinion

7 Comments

In an old post, I had talked about how to vacation in Hawaii for cheap by staying at places like hotel condos, bed and breakfast inns, or by just couch surfing. Today, we’ll be looking at the opposite end of the spectrum — what the best Hawaii hotels are. These places are much nicer, more resort-type, have more amenities, and are great choices for special occasions, such as a honeymoon.

best-hawaii-hotels

Hilton Hawaiian Village: a great resort to stay at for a family vacation in Waikiki.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a 22-acre resort in Waikiki, right next to the beach. It’s a “village” in the sense that there are 6 main towers where guests stay and there are many shops, restaurants, and activities in the village, so that guests can pretty much stay in the village and not get bored.

Recommended for… families on vacation.

Be sure to check out… the village! Some interesting aspects of the Hilton Hawaiian Village are the five pools, the man-made lagoon, the penguins, the Waikiki Starlight Luau, Atlantis Submarine Adventures, the Spirit of Aloha catamaran, and the weekly Friday night fireworks. There’s plenty to do and see without ever leaving the village.

Here’s a tip from me… The Hilton Hawaiian Village is nice, but all the restaurants and shops in the village are a bit pricey. You can visit the main Waikiki strip, but it’s a bit out of the way and takes about 15-20 minutes to get there by foot.

As you can see, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is right next to the ocean. By: Eric Franklin

As you can see, the Hilton Hawaiian Village is right next to the ocean. That building with bright colors painted on it? That would be Rainbow Tower, one of six towers on the premise. By: Eric Franklin

Here's the view I had from my room. I could see the ocean as well as the man-made lagoon. The best part was having a front-row seat to the fireworks show that the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on every Friday night.

Here’s the view I had from my room. I could see the ocean as well as the man-made lagoon. The best part was having a front-row seat to the fireworks show that the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on every Friday night.

I tell just about everyone that they can see penguins at the Hilton Hawaiian VIllage. Visit them early though, because they sleep at night. By: **Mary**

I tell just about everyone that they can see penguins at the Hilton Hawaiian VIllage. Visit them early though, because they sleep at night. By: **Mary**

 

Trump Hotel: a luxurious hotel for couples to stay at in Waikiki.

The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Waikiki is hands-down the best place to stay with your significant other. Why do I consider it the best of Hawaii hotels? Not only is it stylish beyond belief, it is rated #1 of all Honolulu hotels on Tripadvisor and holds a 4.5/5 aggregate rating on more than 100+ reviews on Yelp. While the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Aulani (other places mentioned in this article) are family-oriented and self-contained resorts, the Trump hotel is all about modern style, luxury, and top-notch service.

Recommended for… honeymooners and people traveling without kids.

Be sure to check out… well, everything, cause it’s a really, really nice hotel. Also, drop by the infinity pool on the 6th floor.

Here’s a tip from me… spend a little more for a higher-up suite if you can. The view and the room upgrade will be well worth you money. Or if you get a regular room, during check-in, you may be offered a room upgrade for a small fee so you can think about it then. Aside from that, just relax and let the Trump hotel staff take care of you!!

The Trump hotel is located on Saratoga Road, one block away from the beach and one block away from Kalakaua Avenue, the main road. By: Talie

The Trump hotel has some Hawaiian in its design, but primarily, it’s a modern-style hotel. By: Talie

Because the hotel is off-center Waikiki, the hotel has great views and is a block from either the main road or beach. By: iapple

 

Aulani: a new, Disney-themed resort on West Oahu

Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, is a resort that opened up just several years ago in Kapolei, located in West Oahu and right next to the Ko’olina Resort. Aulani is a unique place because not only will you see some Disney characters, but this entire Hawaii hotel slash resort has a Hawaiian design.

Recommended for… families with young kids.

Be sure to check out… the man-made snorkeling hole. And if you like golf, the Ko’olina Golf Club is right next to the resort.

Here’s a tip from me… Oahu is small island, but you don’t want to be going allover the island during your stay, especially because traffic can get ugly going from the west side to Honolulu city (central side). Fun fact: Honolulu has consistently had the 2nd worst traffic in the U.S. The best thing to do would be to get a rental car and take a look at the North Shore if you want to leave the area. However, Aulani is a big resort, so there is plenty to do even if you decide to stay there during your entire visit.

Aulani is a beautiful resort located in West Oahu. The place is designed in a Hawaiian-esque decor, like the pointed roofs in the picture, which are modeled after traditional, thatched roofs. By: t-dawg

Aulani is a beautiful resort located in West Oahu. The place is designed in a Hawaiian-esque decor, as you can see by the pointed roofs in the picture, which are modeled after traditional, thatched roofs. By: t-dawg

If the Disney label wasn't a strong enough sign that this is a kid-themed resort, then the gigantic water slide you see here should convince you. By: Daniel Seto

If the Disney label wasn’t a strong enough sign that this is a kid-themed resort, then the gigantic water slide you see here should convince you. By: Daniel Seto

There will also be plenty of reminders that you’re staying at a Disney resort. By: Daniel Seto

 

Kahala Hotel & Resort: a beautiful resort located in one of the wealthiest areas of Oahu, centrally-located, but away from noisy Waikiki.

As someone who grew up in various parts of Oahu, let me tell you this: the Kahala region is unbelievably nice. The region is also very expensive to live in and so the people that live there are all wealthy or at least own very expensive property. While Waikiki may experience issues like bar brawls and homeless beggars, the Kahala region is free of that as those issues don’t migrate as far as Kahala.

Now, onto the resort itself, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is on oceanfront property right next to the Waialae Country Club.  It opened in the 60s, but about $50million was spent on renovations back in 2009, so you can expect things to look nice and new.

Recommended for… families or couples.

Be sure to check out… the Dolphins! They have daily shows and you can also pay a fee to swim with them. If you have kids, you can also enroll them in the Kahala Keiki Club, which is like a little activity field trip / babysitting that gives you some time to relax on your own. Also, there are some dolphins at the resort that perform daily shows.

Here’s a tip from me…  if you plan to explore that this of the island, it’s actually not too far from some great hikes, Hanauma Bay, and Sea Life Park but you’ll definitely need a rental car because buses aren’t too convenient out there. Kahala Mall is also only about a 4 minute drive or 12 minute walk away.

The Kahala Resort and Hotel is in the Honolulu county technically, but it is secluded enough where you feel like you’re in a remote part of Oahu. By: Eric Patey

Like other resorts mentioned on this list, the Kahala has plenty of things to see and do with your significant other or with your kids. By: Naoki Hiroshima

Kids love the dolphins at Kahala Hotel and Resort. By: Morgen

 

Last Thoughts

Have some opinions of your own? Share in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ron has been living in Hawaii since the age of 5. Though it's difficult to travel when living in the center of the Pacific Ocean, Ron has still traveled to South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, as well as the mainland US (Las Vegas, Hollywood, New York). His favorite place in the world is in the seat of an airplane, just before takeoff.

7 thoughts on “Best Hotels in Hawaii: A Local’s Opinion

  1. My friend stayed at Trump for his honeymoon. Told me it was “top-notch”. It’s pricey, but definitely seems worth it for special occasions.

  2. I’ve read numerous rave reviews on Trump, but what is the best 4-star hotel if you would like to save a little money but still get the feel of 5-star?

    • My husband and I stayed at the moana surf rider a few years back. We paid a lil over 200 a night. Right next to the beach. Omg we loved it

  3. I really want to go to Aulani sometime… but the location… is just so far from anything exciting. Seems to be for families whose kids like Disney. Anyway, if I’m going to not be in town, I’d rather be at Turtle Bay Resort. The location is incredible, golf course is great, and it’s much better for grown ups who don’t want to be around cartoon characters.

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