At the ewa (western) edge of Waikiki overlooking the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, this iconic high-rise resort stands at the entrance to Waikiki and is a Honolulu landmark, having celebrated its 50th birthday in 2014. The resort is a mix of renovated luxury units on floors 22 through 25 and standard units on other floors; individually owned condo units are sprinkled throughout. The Chart House restaurant anchors the building by the harbor (though not technically part of the hotel), Honolulu's longest running singly owned and operated restaurant. The atmosphere here is casual thanks to an open-air lobby, cascading waterfalls, and torch-lit walkways perfect for evening strolls above the harbor. At sunset the lighting of the torches and blowing of the conch prepare you for a romantic evening in paradise. Despite recent renovations, the property still shows its age in places and can seem busy in the lobby. Unfortunately, the nearest beach, at Ala Moana Beach Park, is a five-minute walk. Most rooms have lanai, and there's a 24-hour fitness center. While riding the glass elevator to the top of the "I," note the uppermost penthouse balcony to the west—it's where Jack Lord's character Det. Steve McGarrett turned to face the camera at the beginning of the original Hawaii Five-0. Special offers abound, so be sure to shop carefully, and look for promotions.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The mix of hotel rooms and privately rented condos means there can be construction and noise. We recommend booking directly through the hotel rather than a beach rental company so that you aren’t placed in a room where work may be happening that you aren’t aware of.
The contemporary and chic accommodations at the Ilikai Hotel & Suites provide all the comforts of home plus magnificent views of the mountains, ocean or ocean sunset. With spacious sunny rooms, large lanais, free Wi-Fi, and premium linens, all rooms are equipped with re-designed and remodeled full-sized kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and Italian cabinetry.
If you’re there over a Friday, book an ocean view room and you’ll have a beautiful view of the Waikiki fireworks from your private lanai.
Though the bathroom is laid out in a traditional fashion, they do feature upgraded glass, tile, and granite déco.
Designed by legendary architect John Graham, Jr. and made famous in the opening credits of “Hawaii Five-O,” the open spacious lobby and fragrance of fresh flowers remind you that you are in paradise and it’s time to relax.
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and Beach is the perfect spot for water activities and sunbathing. Or, you can take spend a relaxing afternoon at one of two heated outdoor swimming pools. The pools are not huge, but one does feature in-water chairs.
At Ilikai Massage Spa guests can indulge in an extensive array of treatments and therapeutic services. From hot stone massage, lomi lomi massage therapy, and slimming wraps, to facials, aromatherapy, special packages, and more, the Ilikai Spa gives guests all kinds of opportunities to refresh and revitalize.
Guests looking to sweat out the toxins at the gym can hit the hotel’s bright fitness center which includes mounted TVs above various equipment and machines.
Cinnamon’s Restaurant serves up decadent breakfast delights ranging from cinnamon rolls and red velvet pancakes to Hawaiian omelets and other local delicacies. The restaurant also offers lunch and dinner options. Aroma Caffe is available for coffee in the hotel courtyard.
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.
One of Chinatown’s standout spots is trendy The Pig and the Lady (13-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.
If you’re in or around the Ala Moana Center, the Hawaiian take on the gastropub is not to be missed. At The Brilliant Ox (11-min drive), guests will find an all-day menu with incredible shared bites, lunch specials that include amazing ingredients on a bun, and a vibrant brunch menu. Late night hours on the weekend make it a great spot to linger and enjoy their handcrafted cocktails and beer menu while grazing through their menu.
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 (5-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.
Enjoy live jazz music with your cocktails at Lewers Lounge (5-min drive) 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.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Besides the fact that the hotel is iconic for its placement in the opening credits of “Hawaii Five-0,” we love that the hotel offers Waikiki shuttle service, WiFi internet access throughout the hotel, and a five-minute walk to the waterfront. There’s also a a torch-lighting ceremony in the courtyard just before sunset each night, and on Fridays, guests will have front seats to fireworks over the city. It’s also close to shopping and nightlife, with a walkway that leads directly to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and the beautiful white sands of the beach.