If you have deep pockets for your Hawaii vacation, finding a well-situated hotel isn’t a problem, but when you’ve got to keep an eye on the bottom line – yet still want a great location and nice amenities – affordable luxury travelers turn to the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach.
Located in the heart of Waikiki, the 623 room Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach went through a complete remodel a couple years ago (frequent Hawaii visitors may remember it as the Ohana Waikiki West) and now presents a fresh, contemporary look with classic Hawaiian touches. The hotel has a prime location, directly across the street from the International Marketplace (and continue on through to the beach), but offers an affordable option compared with so many other properties located in the area.
Although the entrance is plain and nondescript, it opens into a bright and airy lobby with a high-ceilinged living room-style, communal seating, and a Hawaiian aesthetic. This is the heart of Waikiki, with lots of traffic outside – vehicular and pedestrian – and the hotel does as good a job as most in keeping the noise out. Because of its mid-range pricing, the hotel is home to many school groups and flight crew.
Rooms are fairly ordinary for this level of the Hilton brand and run toward the small side. Walk out lanais help expand the living space, but face it, you’re choosing this property for the location, not the room. Many of the rooms have city and partial ocean views, but I was stuck with a view of a back alley. Not horrible, especially at this price range, but consider if the view is worth an upgrade. The rooms are tech-friendly, with convenient plug-ins, including USB ports, next to the bed as well as in the desk area. Wi-fi is complimentary throughout the property.
While the room may seem a little standard compared to a luxury property like the Royal Hawaiian or the hipster Surfjack, I appreciated some of the affordable touches the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach provided. I used the hospitality center which included a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker, every single day. Whether it’s microwave popcorn and a movie at night, warming up leftovers, or keeping breakfast items handy, this was a great way to stretch a vacation budget without compromising on the experience.
There are dozens of restaurants within a short walk of the hotel, but if you don’t want to leave the property, you can choose between the TR Fire Grill and the Holoholo Cafe and Market. The former is a full-service restaurant and bar, the latter is a huge cafe and market that’s perfect for picking up to-go items or snacks and is open until midnight (remember, you have a microwave and refrigerator in your room).
While the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach may seem ordinary, it still offers plenty of amenities including a rooftop pool and bar, two work out rooms, business center, restaurant, large market, complimentary wi-fi, and concierge and tour desk. And it offers it all without a resort fee (try to find another hotel in the area that doesn’t charge one)!
Directly across the street from the hotel is the International Marketplace. If you haven’t been to Hawaii for awhile, you may not realize that the original marketplace was closed some years back and this is the new – and arguably improved – version. You will hardly recognize it, although the 100-year old banyan tree is still there and there is still nightly live music. 75 retails shops can be found here, including a huge Saks Fifth Avenue anchor store, along with about a dozen restaurants most of which are found on the third floor Grand Lanai.
A personal recommendation: Try 1849, owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Roy Yamaguchi for lunch. I’m a big fan of Chef Roy but often can’t budget in a visit to his signature Roy’s restaurant, also in Waikiki, or his Humble Market Kitchin at the Marriott Wailea. 1849 provided excellent food at a more budget-friendly price, and the spicy edamame, served right after you are seated, is delicious.
To get to the beach, walk through the International Marketplace and exit through the opposite side, then cross the street to Waikiki Beach. You’ll spend longer waiting for the light to change at the crosswalks than it will take to walk there.
Make no mistake about it, though, this is expensive, prime real estate in the middle of Waikiki. Everywhere you turn are high-end restaurants, stores, and beautiful looking people. Staying at the Hilton Garden Inn just gives you a sample of the high life without the corresponding cost, and while it may be an affordable luxury option, this neighborhood is still not cheap.
The Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach is located at 2330 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu. Prices start around $180 per night, with no resort fee. This is a fabulous bargain in the heart of Waikiki. You can also compare rates on Travelocity or Expedia. Parking is $35 night, valet only. Staying in this location means you don’t really need a car. You can get around walking just fine, Uber for the occasional trip a bit farther away, or do a day rental if you want to go off exploring the rest of Oahu.
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