Old School Hawaiian Hospitality at The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Located on the south shore of Honolulu, Hawaii’s iconic Waikiki neighborhood is home to shopping, restaurants, and the majority of Oahu’s hotels and resorts. But it’s certainly not the only spot to call home when visiting the island often referred to as “The Gathering Place.”

The Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu

Less than a 5-mile drive from bustling Waikiki, The Kahala Hotel & Resort could be one of Oahu’s best kept secrets. Tucked away on a secluded beach in Honolulu’s upscale and quiet Kahala district, it feels a world away from Waikiki, but when you crave a night on the town, it’s a quick and easy trip to get your dose of city living.

Long History with Hollywood

Since opening in 1964, the beachfront hideaway has welcomed a star-studded lineup of entertainers, royalty, and world leaders. Steps away from the front desk, a hallway of fame boasts photographs of some of The Kahala’s most famous guests. Dolly Parton and Pat Sajak, Rosalyn Carter, Sting, and George Clooney have all stayed at the celebrity haven.

And though you may not have a star sighting during your stay, you just might experience a feeling of déjà vu. The resort is used time and time again as a Hollywood backdrop. Fans of the original Magnum P.I. television series starring Tom Selleck, might recognize the space that sometimes served as the King Kamehameha Club. (The bar is now The Kahala O Ke Kai, a space used for special functions. A plaque pays tribute to the site’s Hollywood history.)

During my spring stay, a film crew from an undisclosed television show was setting up Christmas decorations throughout the property, in preparation to shoot a holiday episode.

Guestroom blacony at The Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu

Rooms with a View

A member of Leading Hotels of the World, The Kahala Hotel & Resort features 338 luxurious rooms. I stayed in a Beach Front Lanai room with my daughter. The star attraction of this room is its location — it couldn’t get much closer to the beach. The recently refreshed room was generous in size and offered an old-school Hawaiian warmth. The two double beds topped with crisp white linens popped against the colorful tropical carpeting.

Sleeping area in guestroom at The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The bathroom layout is unique, and likely reflective of the property’s age, but it worked. Two single vanities, paired with their own closets, were located on each end of the space. In between was a shower, bathtub, and mini bar with refrigerator, Nespresso machine, and electric tea kettle. The Toto toilet was located behind a door, making it easier for two people to share the space and still have some privacy.

Bathroom at The Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu

Resort Grounds

Beach lovers will be thrilled with The Kahala’s location.

It’s oh so easy to happily lose a vacation day lounging on the quiet stretch of beach that is the resort’s backyard. Staff set up loungers, or you can grab a spot in one of the swinging hammocks. For folks who don’t like the idea of sand in between their toes, there is small, understated pool, as well as a shallow kiddie pool.

Overview of the grounds at The Kahala Hotel & Resort on Oahu

Guests seeking a bit of pampering can book a variety of services at the onsite spa, including facials, massages, and body treatments. In addition to a 24-hour fitness center, wellness seekers have access to daily beachside yoga classes.

Varied Dining Choices

The resort is home to an impressive five restaurants. Comfortable and casual, Plumeria Beach House is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An added perk, whether you sit at a table inside or out, you’ll still likely have a seaside view. At breakfast, guests can try a bit of everything from the buffet, or order from a varied a la carte menu with selections including a Hawaiian Style Acai Bowl, and Sweet Butter Poached Lobster Benedict.

In addition to a traditional menu, Plumeria Beach House also offers dinner buffets on select evenings. Every Sunday, the Pāʻina, Hawaiian-Inspired Buffet offers a delicious opportunity to try classic Hawaiian dishes including poke, salted pork lau lau, furikake rice, Kalua pig, and more. Save room for the lilikoi tapioca dessert.

At Upscale Hoku’s, diners can opt for a four- or seven-course experience Tuesday through Saturday evenings. On Sunday, an elaborate brunch buffet is offered. Arancino is open nightly for folks craving Italian. The Veranda features a seafood-centric dinner menu and afternoon tea every Friday and Saturday. Sandwiched between the beach and pool, Seaside Grill offers lunch and cocktails in a casual setting.

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is a 12-mile drive from The Kahala Hotel & Resort.

Beach Front Lanai rooms start at $975. There is refreshingly no resort fee; amenities including Wi-Fi, housekeeping, turndown service, (with chocolate from Maui Ku’ia Estate) and Hawaiian cultural experiences including lei making and hula lessons are included in the nightly rate. Compare rates at Booking.com or your favorite online hotel booking site to see if you can score a better deal.

Another rarity, The Kahala Hotel & Resort offers a dedicated hospitality suite and luggage storage for guests arriving early or departing late.

Dogs under 25 pounds are allowed for an additional $150 fee. Guests are required to sign a waiver at check-in.

Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by The Kahala Hotel & Resort, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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