With over 30,000 hotel rooms in Waikiki alone, it can be difficult to know which Honolulu hotels are the real deal. Waikiki is a lively neighborhood in Honolulu and is where the lion’s share of visitors stay. There are only a few resorts, condos and hotels scattered outside this area.

On this page, we’ve listed the Honolulu hotels that are a solid gold value or are real gems. The Solid Gold Value indicates that the property is exceptionally well priced for what you get. The Real Gem means that this accommodation offers something particularly special, not necessarily related to the price.

Solid Gold Value – Honolulu Hotels 

The Equus

This is small boutique family-run hotel is very “green” (not the color, the onsciousness—cleaning agents, recycling, efficient toilets, etc.). Rooms are well-furnished but not overly large; some have had the lanais removed to expand interior (and those rooms tend to have less road noise).

The decor is a blend of Chinese, horses and polo, and it works quite well. The owner was a professional polo player and is still often seen around the hotel. Prints of historical photos from the Bishop Museum line the hallways showing the history of horses and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys). This hotel is not wheelchair accessible due to stairs at the entrance, and you won’t find many kids here either. 

Hotel La Croix

This hotel—formerly the Waikiki Gateway—completed renovations in 2017, resulting in clean, modern rooms and lobby. It seems to be positioning itself as a boutique-type property, and in many ways it works well—for example, new room designs and the great breakfast included in your rate.

But in other ways it just doesn’t work that well. The building is tapered, so rooms and some lanais get smaller the higher you go. Not all rooms on the top floor have lanais, but there are extra large lanais on the 16th floor and some adjoining rooms available. Kitchenette rooms are located on floors 4 to 9. You’re nearing the fringes of Waikiki here, and it’s a 15-minute walk to the beach, so it’s hard to get excited about the distant ocean views.

Waikiki Shore

A skinny condo building with one end touching Waikiki Beach. Nearly all units face Fort DeRussy Park, which is good because the back of the building is crammed up against the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. The higher up the better. (Fifth floor and above clears the trees and gives you a great view of the fireworks from the Hilton each Friday).

The agent on-site is Castle; but Outrigger Resorts (below) also manages some of the rooms here. This affects things like parking: It’s $30 to self-park through Castle and Outrigger whose on-property parking is limited, so other valet parking ($38) may be off-property. Outrigger guests also check in at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Castle rentals have no pool; Outrigger rentals will let you use their frenzied pool next door at the Reef. The condo units themselves are clean, though some could use updating—but they’re very bright, reasonably appointed and roomy. All rooms have kitchens, as well as washer/dryers.

Coconut Waikiki Hotel

The new lobby and motto is warm, comfy and fun. It sports long tables for guests to enjoy their free full breakfast with other guests. That morning meal is quite popular with hot items, muffins, pastries and fresh fruit, as well as traditional items like corn flakes and Fruit Loops (why is it always Fruit Loops?). There is a cozy living room area with games like Sorry, Kerplunk and Candyland that bring back memories before cell phones and Playstations. You won’t get much of a tan by the tiny pool that’s shaded most of the time by neighboring buildings, but the patio is large and breezy with a BBQ and many tables. 

The rooms are small, but they make good use of the space. Only the city view rooms do not have a fridge (a necessity, in our opinion) or microwave. Note also that most rooms have showers only, so if you want a tub, you’ll have to opt for a suite.

Hawaiian King

This low-rise condo building (by Waikiki standards) surrounds its pool and exudes a 1960s feel even today. The services are good here—very personalized from Winston Condos, an original owner that keeps the place humming. Their customer return rate is pretty high; people seem satisfied. Each room is independently owned, so they’re all decorated differently.

Overall, the building is very well maintained with a pretty pool area. On the downside, the front units are right on the road, and there is a bar with karaoke in the building, so expect to hear bad versions of Tiny Bubbles. Rear-facing units are better. This is one of the Honolulu hotels a few blocks from the beach. There is no longer any parking available for guests, and they prefer guests to be over 21.

Real Gems – Honolulu Hotels

The Modern Honolulu

The hotel used to be part of the Ilikai Hotel next door. In 2010, after $240 million worth of renovations, it reopened as The Modern. They tout themselves as “luxurious, yet brilliantly laid-back,” and we agree. This is one of the few Honolulu hotels where internet photos just don’t do it justice, and we’ve never said that before.

From the moment you enter, you immediately feel welcomed and relaxed. The color scheme is taupe and white mixed with dark browns and wood tones. The resort can be very busy, yet it never feels crowded because there are so many places to hang out. They have two pools and decks—one for families and one for adults only. The family saltwater pool has a lounging area poolside, and both pools have bars with poolside service for food and drinks. 

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Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach

This is probably the only “new” resort in Waikiki that, unlike other Honolulu hotels, wasn’t a resort before it opened in late 2016. It had a previous life as an office building, which gives it some added benefits, such as 12-foot ceilings, unique room layouts and a lobby on the eighth floor.

When you walk in, you feel suddenly transported from the street noise because the lobby is open and welcoming with a lounge and plenty of seating areas, a large screen TV and an enormous hanging chair (popular for selfies). Many events are held in the lobby, which is called the lanai (because no rooms have an actual lanai). The front desk staff is often seen making sure guests have everything they need, including the hotel’s signature whiskey that is aged in wooden barrels in the basement.

Halekulani

Wow, where do we start? This is an awesome and relaxing resort. It started as a private home back the in late 1800s and has been a hotel since 1907 when rooms went for about $6, but it opened in its current form in 1984.

Services are unmatched here. For instance, the check-in: Forget the desk—the greeter will take you on a tour, then to your room and give you a box of chocolates and an excellent fruit platter. They track your preferences and try to anticipate your future needs. If you order coffee first thing in the morning, next time you stay, they’ll already have it covered. This is the way a resort should be run. You want it; you’ll get it. Don’t like your pillow? They’ll get you a different kind. They are there for every guest’s needs.

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Royal Hawaiian

The Royal is one of the premier resorts 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 six-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.

New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel

This hotel consists of two buildings: an oceanfront high rise and their Diamond Head wing (3-story walk-up). Their oceanfront category rooms are extremely intimate with the beach—they look straight down onto the sand—and since the tallest room is nine stories up, you’ll never feel completely detached.

Rooms are clean and modern. The bathrooms have hand-held showerheads, which come in handy to clean your sandy feet because it’s on lovely Sans Souci Beach. The beach is the reason for the Real Gem rating. Though still expensive, you won’t get rooms like that for this price in more centrally located Waikiki resorts. And there’s the reason for the lower prices—it’s a fairly long walk to the heart of Waikiki, and many will opt to drive and pay to park. But you’re also away from the buzz of Waikiki. This is a smaller, quieter resort than others you’ll find on the beach.

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