Get the Royal Treatment at the Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki


Ocean front room at Royal Hawaiian Mailani TowerOften referred to as the “pink hotel” or the “pink palace,” the Royal Hawaiian hotel is a historic luxury resort located on sacred ground along Waikiki Beach. In its nearly 90 year history, the Pink Palace has been the preferred stay for celebrities and the rich and famous.

Pink? Celebrities? Luxury on the beach? You know it’s going to be a great stay!

Upon arrival, I was met in the lobby with a chilled towel to freshen up, followed by a lei, and refreshing tropical punch. After a full day of travel to get to the islands, these small touches were greatly appreciated. The Royal Hawaiian is a SPG property, and loyalty members are escorted to a desk and chair for check in.

There are two sections to the 528 room Royal Hawaiian, the historic main hotel and the newer Mailani Tower. The former is older, and still lovely; the latter has slightly larger rooms with lanais overlooking the beach. I stayed in a King oceanview room in the Mailani Tower.

The room was spacious and well laid out, with a comfortable lounge chair, desk/workspace, and coffee area. Bathrooms are spacious and full of signature amenities, most of which are pink. Japanese-style toilets, with heated seats and a variety of other features, are a treat. Everywhere you look there is something pink – decor items, robes, packaging, stationery, and even the writing pen – but it seems warm and fun, rather than garish. All rooms feature nightly turn down service.


view of beach from lanai of Royal Hawaiian

The lanai overlooking Waikiki Beach is a significant selling point in deciding to stay in the Mailani Tower. The beach can be noisy at times, but there’s nothing like the sounds of the surf to lull you to sleep. Additional services and amenities provided to Mailani Tower guests include continental breakfast, evening happy hour with complimentary beer, wine, and appetizers, and a complimentary cocktail at the Mai Tai bar. While those can be an added value, I found the Tower food to be underwhelming.

My favorite treat at the Royal Hawaiian is resort made banana bread, packaged in pink, and left on your bed for your arrival. It will be tempting to eat it right away, but my recommendation is to save it for a bedtime snack. Delicious!

mai tai at Royal Hawaiian

The resort is sprawling and extensive, rife with activity options from numerous restaurants and bars – yes, you should try the Mai Tai – to pools, cultural classes, and workshops. You can learn to play the ukulele, try your hand at lei making, or give the hula and whirl. For those wanting a luau experience, the hotel offers one of the better ones in the area. Service is impeccable at all guest touch points.

Don’t forget the beach! All beaches in Hawaii are public by law, but there is a hotel area marked off solely for guest use. Many of the loungers and beach beds are available by reservation for a daily fee. There are three other SPG properties in the Waikiki area (Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani), all offering reciprocal privileges for signing charges to your room.

When you’re ready to leave the resort, you’ll appreciate the Royal Hawaiian’s convenient location on the main street along the water. It’s an easy walk to other restaurants and bars, shopping, and attractions at price points that are likely cheaper than the hotel.

All this luxury and attention to detail doesn’t come cheap. Careful shopping for shoulder season turns up rates starting at $335/night. Package rates, which roll in a variety of experiences, may present a good value, depending on your interests. Children five and under eat free at designated restaurants with selections from a children’s menu. Check the hotel website for rates. You can also compare rates and make reservations through or Expedia.

The Royal Hawaiian imposes a resort fee (currently $36.65/day). I despise resort fees; if it’s mandatory, just add it into the room rate and don’t beat me up with add ons every time I turn around. But, I know that I’m tilting at windmills with that argument. At least the Royal Hawaiian’s resort fee includes some decent benefits:  wifi, valet parking, unlimited local and toll-free calls, up to 60 minutes of long distance, morning coffee and tea service, cultural classes and activities, and a variety of seasonal activities which may change throughout the year.

The Royal Hawaiian is located at 2259 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, right on Waikiki Beach.

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