Fodor's Expert Review Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel
2464 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA See on Map
This unusual 14-story circular hotel—built to resemble a Chinese lantern—is a Waikiki landmark, though the rooms are small, with tiny bathrooms that have only showers. A charming interior design scheme brings the Pacific inside, beginning at check-in beneath a seascape mural in the open-air lobby. Elevators are painted a bright sea blue–green, and hallway floors are textured to mimic the sandy beach, complete with appliquéd seashells and sea creatures dotting the circular walkways. Though small, guest rooms utilize every bit of space well, and the lanai (standard in all rooms) offer additional space to get away. Not that you'll be in your room much: Waikiki Beach is right down the front stairs and across the street. The überpopular Eggs 'N Things is located right in the hotel's lobby. Honeymooners, snowbirds, and old-timers love this little hotel with a front-desk staff that takes the time to get to know you.
Simple rooms are made extremely inviting with cheery colors and décor. The “aqua” in Aqua Aston is seen all throughout the bedding, carpeting, and accents. Other bright colors like lime, white, and sand also help to bring the beach right into the room. All of the rooms are very small, however, at just 245 sq. ft., and all include a double bed setup. Each room comes with a private lanai, Keurig coffee maker, and mini-fridge. Pricing depends on views, which include partial ocean and oceanfront.
It’s worth splurging on a higher floor room if you’re going for ocean view. Not only will this give you a more expansive view, it will help minimize the noise of the busy street below.
Bathrooms are a bit snug, with stand-up shower and small vanity that extends over the toilet. Décor and lighting remains bright and friendly here, too, so it feels a little less cramped than it actually is.
Fun, funky, and bright, the retro underwater theme of the open-air lobby at Aston Waikiki Circle will make you smile as soon as you walk up.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Parking is a bit pricey for a budget hotel at $28 per night, and the spaces can be small and limited. Leave a little extra time to drive around and see if you can find other nearby overnight options.
On the ground floor guests will find Eggs n’ Things’ “eggspress” version of a Waikiki staple that’s been around for more than 40 years. Show your room key packet while dining in and receive a 10% discount.
There is an ABC store nearby, which is a great place to stock up on snacks and water for your mini fridge, especially for longer stays. Be sure to stock up on liquor/beer/wine there, too, and pregame on your lanai to save some money.
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, or hailing a car), so a rental car is only necessary if you want to explore other parts of the island.
You may find the staple Hawaiian food poi cooked many different ways during your travels, but you’ll rarely find it in as intriguing and utterly satisfying a form as in the donuts at Liliha Bakery (27-min drive). Sadly, once you try them, you’ll regret every morning that you don’t wake up to these chewy, sweet purple treats. If you’re in the mood for something besides donuts for some reason, find some incredible offerings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their coffee shops. Pro tip: Grab a dozen poi donuts to take home – one of the locations is between Waikiki and the airport.
Venture outside of your ramen comfort zone at Agu Ramen (3-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.
While Tiki’s Grill & Bar (7-min drive) has a pretty delicious menu, you don’t need to go much further than the bar to have a good time. The drink menu is full of fun, tropical cocktails, including the memorable Son of an Itch. This tasty treat comes in your choice of glasses to take home, is served with a bamboo backscratcher, and the best part – it has dry ice in it, so it’s as playful as it is yummy. Live music helps make this popular place even more fun.
Even if you’re not staying at The Modern, you’ll want to sneak behind the bookcases in their lobby to grab a drink at The Study (8-min drive). It may look small from the outside, but this bar with yummy cocktails, incredible live music that gives way to a DJ, and diverse crowd is large and inviting. Alas, you will definitely not get any studying done here.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A lot of thought has been put into making guests smile at this hotel, particularly thanks to the décor and architecture. Its location across from Waikiki Beach, stunning views, and great value make it a good choice for the average budget traveler. We also love the little extras – a free beach pail for the kids, a special locker for surfers to store their boards, a lending box with beach supplies, and free hula shows three days per week add nice touches to the stay.