Royal Hawaiian hotel exterior
Wow. Just wow. Situated right on the beach with its own private strip of sand, unparalleled views of Diamond Head crater, and a past guest-list that reads like a who’s-who of Twentieth Century culture, the pink palace is the place to stay in Waikiki. You enter via fabulous Moorish arches before being greeted with a traditional Hawaiian lei and freshly squeezed juices. The lobby and surrounding lanais (or verandas) offer the hotel a wonderful indoor-outdoor feel – there are no doors – and mean the cooling trade winds are free to circulate, making this glam oasis even more relaxing.
Room for romance
Staying in the hotel’s historic wing may seem like the obvious choice, but the very recently renovated tower rooms are cool, stylish and those with an ocean view are absolutely unbeatable. A large private lanai, frette sheets and towels, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, and a nightly turn-down service (complete with chocolates) add up to create a sumptuous honeymoon experience. And if you really want to live it up, why not go for The King Kamehameha Suite? It’ll set you back a whopping $7000 dollars per night (around £4266), but this spectacular suite offers you the chance to sit in the luxe tub, open the windows and look out over your enormous private lanai to a view of the sparkling pacific. It was recently used as the venue for a Louis Vuitton handbag launch, and hey, if its good enough for LV…
Wine & dine
With hundreds of fab eateries – from cheap and cheerful take-aways to celeb fave Nobu – within easy walking distance, Waikiki is a foodie paradise and The Royal Hawaiian is no exception. Yummy local snacks and trusted favourites are served-up alongside fabulous (but potent!) cocktails at the buzzing beachside Mai Tai bar. Slightly more gourmet alfresco fare can be found at The Surf Lanai, (open only for lunch and breakfast) but the jewel in the Royal Hawaiian’s crown is The Azure Restaurant. Its mouth-watering menu is packed with tasty island-takes on seafood classics – all made with the freshest Hawaiian ingredients – and it also offers an amazing five-course tasting feast that changes according to what’s in season.
The fact that this luxury, landmark hotel is right in the thick of things in lively Waikiki – with buzzing beach and bars just steps away – yet still manages to makes its guests feel totally relaxed and pampered. Honeymoon heaven.
We don’t love
The fact that you can’t sip a cocktail while lounging on the golden sand under your trademark pink umbrella – unfortunately there’s no booze allowed on the beach. Okay, so, the fab Mai Tai Bar is literally steps away, but it’s just not quite the same, is it?
The Royal Hawaiian is surrounded by world-class, big-name, five-star resorts, but what really makes it stand out is that it doesn’t feel like one. Instead of getting a faceless, conveyor-belt experience in a sprawling tower-block resort, you feel like you’re in a super-chic, timelessly stylish boutique hotel. And even though you can’t sip a Scratch Mai Tai with your toes in the sand, we still have to say that the Pink Palace’s private stretch of Waikiki beach is quite a draw. Sun-worshippers and surfers alike travel the world to get to this famous beach, and by staying at The Royal Hawaiian you can bag a prime spot, complimentary loungers, towels, water and umbrellas (pink, of course) as well as getting expert advice from the Waikiki Beach Boys on surfing, canoeing and all-things Hawaiian.
Nightly rates at the Royal Hawaiian in a Tower Ocean front room start from £220pp from Aug – Dec 2011, and £253pp from Jan – Mar 2012, Kuoni. Visit kuoni.co.uk for more info, or call 01306 747008.
By Gemma Hughes.