A $30 million renovation and rebranding of Maile Sky Court in 2017 brought a Holiday Inn Express to Waikiki, and with it the bragging rights as the largest of its kind in the Americas. Though this version of the popular chain typically caters to business travelers, the affordable rates, daily free continental breakfast, and expansive 5th-floor fun deck make this new hotel have strong appeal for families. The modern rooms are very well-appointed, though a bit small, with contemporary decor and linens.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Though the room prices are great, there is a $25 per day resort fee and $25 per day valet parking, so be sure to factor those costs into your decision.
A recent renovation sees brand new rooms at the Holiday Inn Express, with upgraded furnishings, linens, and decor to give a more chic look, with a beach-inspired color palette. Each room comes with microwave, mini fridge, individual heating and air conditioning, in-room Wi-Fi, and Keurig coffee/tea machine. The rooms are quite small, but guests can choose between rooms with one or two beds and city, partial ocean, or full ocean views.
The price difference between city view and ocean view make this upgrade a no-brainer -- you’ll want to pay the extra for a beautiful view of the Pacific.
You’ll find a bathtub with separate walk-in shower in the King rooms, and shower/tub combos in the rooms with two beds. Bathrooms are fairly small, but bright, well-lit, and look nice after the renovation.
The bright and spacious lobby is very welcoming and open, with a surprising bit of chic island luxury, thanks to the recent renovation. There are plenty of couches and seating areas scattered about, making it a great place to wait for other members of your group or a cab.
The pool isn’t particularly large, but the pool area has lots of loungers, a few cabanas, and some covered tables. Adjacent to the pool is a large hot tub.
The fitness center is fairly spacious and includes a variety of cardio machines and free weights that looks out onto the skydeck.
Though there is no on-site restaurant, guests can take advantage of the daily complimentary Express Start breakfast, a hot breakfast buffet, from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.
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 (10-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.
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 (13-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.
While Tiki’s Grill and Bar (6-min drive) 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.
Though MAC 24/7 (6-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
Almost everything about this recently renovated hotel makes it a great pick, especially for the extra perks that come along with the great price. The 5th floor skydeck is a parent’s dream, with plenty of activities like a 9-hole mini golf course, giant chess set, shuffleboard, ping pong, and more, and of course pool with plenty of loungers. If the kids would rather escape the heat for a bit, there’s also a game room with TVs and Wii consoles, and there’s a snack and sundry store on the lower level for items to stock your room’s fridge with.