Royal Hawaiian

(866) 500-8313 or (808) 923-7311
2259 Kalakaua Ave.

528 rooms, 2 pools, 3 spas, 24-hour room service, free room safe, coffee maker in rooms with free coffee daily, 37-inch HDTVs, high-speed Internet access in rooms, Wi-Fi in public areas, 4 conference rooms, valet parking, 13 shops, free state-of-the art fitness room, day spa, 2 restaurants, lu‘au, valet-only laundry (or use the Sheraton Waikiki coin-ops). The Royal is one of the premier properties in Waikiki. Back when they built this place in 1927, there was only one other hotel—the nearby Moana. The Royal’s developers had their pick of where to build, so they chose this part of the beach. And no wonder—this is probably the best stretch of Waikiki—surfable waves offshore and sandy near-shore waters. (Though the water tends to be oddly cloudy here.) Also, this area is the heart of Waikiki with tons of stuff to do nearby, yet it’s insulated from busy Kalakaua Avenue by the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. By location alone they stand apart. But it gets even better when you add the fact that it’s a 6-story, low-rise building with pretty grounds that have plenty of breathing room, dominated by some old, meandering trees—popular for weddings. The result is a less bustling atmosphere than many of the nearby tower-dominated resorts.

Known locally as the Pink Palace, every shade of pink imaginable is represented—that’s their trademark. Of the two buildings, we recommend the “historic” low-rise. Although the rooms are slightly smaller than the tower rooms, they’re more quaintly decorated in keeping with the early 20th century style. Pink is the accent color in the rooms, and they’ve added new modern, but small, bathrooms. The common areas of the resort also look much brighter and fresher. They have some nice touches like sit-down check-in, fresh banana bread in your room and $200 hair dryers that dry your hair 60% faster (hairstylist not included). Their multi-level pool is shared with the Sheraton Waikiki, has a water slide and can be busier than their own pool. Cabanas by the pool are $175 per day and include some amenities.

If you want your ocean views a bit more unobstructed, go with the tower rooms. The room decor offers a nice contrast to the old building—modern clean lines without being stark and cold. New bathrooms boast hand-held showerheads and Toto heated bidets. Almost none of the rooms in the historic building have lanais, but the tower building rooms have generous lanais.

It can take up to 20 minutes to get your car from the valet, so call them way in advance or simply park it yourself, as both valet and self-parking are included in their mandatory resort fee of $35 (which also includes your in-room Internet access, local and some long distance calls). Their Mai Tai Bar is right next to the beach. Ask for a plastic cup, and you may be able to take your drink away to the beach, which is technically illegal but rarely enforced. (And you’re a rebel anyway, aren’t you?)

With a location like this, they can pretty much charge what they want and get it. But staff does a reasonable job, and you have signing privileges at all the other Sheratons in Waikiki.

Rates are expensive, but you can always get a package of some kind. Starwood Preferred members get discounts off rates listed below at this Luxury Collection property. Rooms (324–350 sq. ft.) are $790–$1,320. Suites (540–1,774 sq. ft.) are $970–$9,075.

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