Fodor's Expert Review Halekulani
2199 Kalia Rd., Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice
The luxurious Halekulani exemplifies the translation of its name—the "house befitting heaven"—and from the moment you step into the lobby, the attention to detail and impeccable service wrap you in privilege at this beachfront location away from Waikiki's bustle. It begins with private in-room registration and extends to the tiniest of details, such as complimentary tickets to the Honolulu Museum of Art. Spacious guest rooms, artfully appointed in marble and wood, have ocean views and an extra large lanai. You'll also find fine dining options at Orchids, which hosts a popular Sunday brunch, and at La Mer with its Belle Epoque bar, L'Aperitif. Don't forget to sip a handcrafted cocktail and listen to live jazz at the chic Lewers Lounge. For a day of divine pampering, check into the award-winning SpaHalekulani. Outside, the resort's freshwater, heated pool has an orchid design created from more than 1½ million glass mosaic tiles; small and intimate Gray's Beach fronts the hotel just beyond the pool.
Rooms at Halekulani include standard hotel rooms, along with a large variety of suites. The color palette is primarily the hotel’s signature seven shades of white, with linens, decor, and furnishings in light, beachy colors so that the outdoor views are the focal point, rather than elements of the rooms. Views include garden, pool, ocean, and Diamond Head in these comfortable rooms that include air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and furnished lanais.
Not all rooms have an ocean view, even though it may appear that way. Ocean view rooms are critical at this beautiful locale.
The bright color scheme continues into the spacious bathrooms where guests can find standing showers, deep soaking tubs, and marble vanities. Toiletries include Halekulani signature shampoo, conditioner, and more.
The spacious, circular lobby is the hub through which guests access other locations in the hotel. Upon entering, a gorgeous flower arrangement greets guests. From there, check in is quick and easy at one of the reception desks, then guests are “roomed” (taken to their room and shown around) by a member of the reception staff.
The pool area is certainly a popular place to hang out at the Halekulani. The lovely, round pool has plenty of loungers (that also extend to the nearby lawn to give guests more options), pool valet service, poolside dining, and ocean views. The pool is heated and downright gorgeous, with the hotel’s signature orchid as the focal point of the tile inside the pool, making it very nice to look at from the surrounding rooms.
SpaHalekulani combines indigenous healing practices with modern products and techniques to create an absolutely relaxing and unforgettable experience. The spa has a special Embracing the East service menu that includes Japanese cosmo facelift and acupuncture (a rarity among Oahu spas), as well as a variety of massage, facial, and body work choices.
The fitness center is large, spacious, and bright, with plenty of modern weight and cardio machines.
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests will get to know Orchids, a more casual (but not too casual), oceanfront option with signature dishes and special dining options like Sunday brunch and afternoon tea. La Mer stands as the hotel’s loveliest fine dining option, the only five diamond (designated by AAA) restaurant on Oahu, French and Hawaiian foods are fused for an elegant dinner dining experience. At House Without a Key guests find fun upscale island ambiance along with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails. The restaurant has a dedicated portion of its service area for those looking to enjoy a drink and an appetizer along with their nightly music and hula performances.
In addition to seated dining the hotel has the International Marketplace & Patisserie and a branded ice cream cart.
YOU SHOULD KNOW If you’re planning to eat or drink at La Mer, be sure that you’ve packed appropriate evening wear. Even elegant resort wear may not be quite enough.
Enjoy live jazz music with your cocktails at Lewers Lounge inside Halekulani Hotel. Music happens every night of the week from 8:30 p.m. to midnight (and until 12:30 on weekends). It’s a great option for dessert and a nightcap. Be sure to try the “Lost Passion,” a tequila/passionfruit/champagne concoction that will get you in the island spirit. Inside La Mer guests will find the high end cocktail bar L’Aperitif, an incredibly elegant getaway that requires evening attire and is open nightly.
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.
Have a picky group with you? Stop by Honolulu’s newest Whole Foods Market Queen (12-min drive) to pick up a variety of groceries, or stop by one of the variety of eateries inside this two-story complex. Options include their classic salad and hot bars, a banh mi counter, poke bar, and a non-dairy frozen banana stand. Don’t leave without loading up on ice cream mochi from Bubbie’s -- but good luck making out of the store before eating all of them! Pro tip: Though you can find Bubbie’s all over the island, Whole Foods manages to keep it perfectly stored so that the mochi exterior is as soft and luscious as possible. Try as many as you can here, you’ll fall in love with most of them. One of Chinatown’s standout spots is trendy The Pig and the Lady (18-min drive), a Vietnamese/Asian fusion restaurant with creative dishes that appeal to a variety of palates. They are even able to modify many of their menu items to meet the dietary needs of vegetarians. Their dessert menu is quite stunning, featuring island flavors and a rotating soft serve program, as is their cocktail menu full of quirky drink names and ingredients.
While Tiki’s Grill and Bar (7-min walk) has a pretty delicious Pacific Rim 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 (6-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.
WHY WE LIKE IT
In addition to all of the wonderful things about this beautiful place, beloved by brides and honeymooners, locals and visitors, it’s a place to be social at one of the many places to relax with a crowd or by the pool, or to be more solitary at the spa or relaxing on the nearly-private strip of beach in front of the hotel. The option to be totally elegant or a little more casual brings a true resort, vacation feel, and it gives visitors a lovely taste of the islands.