Fodor's Expert Review Aqua Palms Waikiki
1850 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA See on Map
Across from the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Ala Moana Boulevard, just as it curves toward Waikiki's Kalakaua Avenue, the 12-story Aqua Palms offers studio and luxury one-bedroom-suite accommodations. Studios include kitchenettes while the suites have full kitchens; both have tiled entryways, private lanai, and in-room DVD players, and there are coin-operated laundry facilities on-site. The hotel offers complimentary coffee and tea service in the lobby 24/7.
Room options at Aqua Palms include Diamond Head view, city view, partial and full ocean view rooms, as well as a junior suite and one-bedroom suite. Each includes air conditioning, a microwave and mini-fridge (full kitchens in the one-bedroom suite), and private lanai in most rooms. The décor and furnishing feel a bit older and could use an update.
For a quieter experience, ask for a room that is higher up and on the residential side.
Small bathrooms feature over-the-toilet vanities and tub/shower combos, as well as toiletries from Hawaiian Tropic.
The lobby is open and bright, with lots of light but warm colors used for the furnishings and décor. It has a DVD rental kiosk, small business center, and activity desk.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel is a bit outdated, and occasionally the cleaning is not up to par. An update to the rooms is planned for the end of 2018, so this may be a better choice once that has been done.
The oddly shaped pool is fairly small and surrounded by sun chairs on a concrete deck. It’s not particularly inviting for lounging, but can be a good place to cool off.
With two treadmills and one recumbent bike practically stacked on top of one another, the fitness room is quite tiny.
Waikiki (and surrounding areas) are easily reachable from the airport by cab or rideshare. There is plenty to do in these areas without ever leaving (walking, biking, taking the bus, or hailing a car), so a rental car is only necessary if you want to explore other parts of the island.
Venture outside of your ramen comfort zone at Agu Ramen (6-min drive) by adding their signature “hot mess” – a heavy dose of parmesan – to your bowl. No really, it works! Their offerings include classic ramen bowls, options for vegans and vegetarians, and a ridiculously unctuous curry that will have you thinking about it for days. They also have a great happy hour at their multiple locations that includes 50% off appetizers and draft beers.
Without exaggeration, you will likely have the best omelet of your life at The Original Pancake House (7-min drive). Fluffy, huge, and stuffed with some unique items, they’re nothing if not memorable – and so is the décor. This strip mall offering sees Europe meet the Pacific at this German-styled restaurant with Portland roots and Hawaiian favorites like Spam and eggs and macadamia nut pancakes on the menu. They also brew up a damn fine cup of coffee.
If you’re in the mood for a bit of Irish aloha, Irish Rose Saloon (5-min walk) has nightly live music and that great pub feel that you’re looking for. It’s a true favorite among locals and visitors.
Though MAC 24/7 (7-min drive) is definitely a great place to grab a meal, especially breakfast, it’s their cocktails that we really love. Last call is at 3:30 a.m., so you can enjoy a nightcap with your late-night pancakes before heading back to your hotel. Fruity cocktails like the Frozen Mo’o and Lava Lava Rocks fill that island cocktails craving. They also have a great reverse happy hour from midnight to 3 a.m. (except Friday and Saturday), as well as a regular daily happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Though a fairly basic hotel, it's affordable and has an incredibly friendly staff makes the experience here very pleasant. There’s even a weekly Manager’s Reception in the lobby with complimentary pupus and cocktails. It’s also in close proximity to a lot of things that guests need, making it easy to stay without a rental car.