It's been almost a year since we stayed here, and I contemplated the decision to write a review, but I decided it might help somebody out there make en educated decision about where to stay in Waikiki.
My fiance and I stayed at the Halekulani for four nights/five days in June 2011. It was our five year anniversary and we decided to take a short getaway to Hawaii to celebrate. My fiance chose the Halekulani hotel for us and, after looking at the beautiful pictures and reading spectacular reviews, I decided it was an amazing choice.
We chose an ocean view room to stay in (it's Hawaii...who wants the garden view?) and were super excited to say the very least. We paid around $600 a night, but after looking at pictures and reading the reviews, we decided it was well worth it (this is a great deal of money to us, lol, considering we mostly stay at La Quinta and Holiday Inn types). We also had saved up about a thousand bucks for spending cash..
We arrived in Hawaii after an exhausting eight hour flight. We rode the shuttle bus to the hotel and on our way there we saw our first Hawaii rainbow! Silly, I know, but I loved it. There was a "tour guide" of sorts on the shuttle who pointed out a few things on the way. We finally arrived at the hotel about 25-30 minutes later (if you can afford it, I would arrange for private transportation to the hotel so you don't have to stop at EVERY hotel on the way to drop people off - it gets annoying after the second hotel). When we pulled up, I noticed how relaxed and open everything was - it was nice.
Now, this is where things started to go downhill, and really set the tone for the rest of our vacation. Remember, we had never stayed in anything remotely as "luxurious" or "grand" as this hotel. At the front desk, they asked for a credit card. I didn't know what they needed it for so I asked if it needed to be the same one we booked the hotel with and they said no. We didn't bring any credit cards with us so as to keep us from overspending - which is easy to do on vacation. I gave them my debit card from our Hawaii spending account which had $1000 on it - it's all we had brought (our bad!). They swipe it - I'm assuming it must be needed for damages to the room or security or whatever. We get up to the room, they do the final check-in, and then they leave. My fiance decided to check our account - not sure why - but as soon as he did, he asked me, "What's this $600 charge from the Halekulani?" I had no idea, but sure enough there was a pending charge from the Halekulani for $600. I called the front desk to ask what it was and they said it was a security deposit and when we checked out of the hotel the charge would drop off. Well that would be fantastic if we had used an actual credit card instead of our debit card. There was a hold placed on 600 bucks of our spending money. So bottom line, we only had $400 left. DO NOT USE A DEBIT CARD FOR THE SECURITY DEPOSIT IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON USING THAT MONEY WHILE YOU ARE STAYING AT THE HOTEL. This was definitely our fault, but we still had no idea they charged that kind of deposit and were caught off guard. Fancy hotel lesson learned the hard way..ugh. Over half of our money was gone, so to speak, and we hadn't even been there 2 hours!
There was fresh fruit waiting on us which my fiance at ALL of while I was in the shower (I still can't believe he did that). There has been a lot of humbug about the rooms on this site and well, it's all true. The rooms do look very outdated. For how much they charge you per night, you expect something special about the rooms, but it's about the size of your average hotel room, and the amenities are very UNDER-average for the price. There is absolutely nothing special about the room or the bathroom. I give the rooms a 4/10. Our room was clean though and didn't have a musty odor like some other reviewers. The bed was clean and comfortable also and we had a fantastic view of the hotel pool and the ocean.
The first morning we went to the hotel beach. Incredibly disappointing. It was TINY, I'm serious, TINY. Very few loungers (like 8) and just the tiniest spot of beach I'd ever seen. I give the beach a 2/10. I had a nice time watching my fiance though because he'd never been in the ocean before and was having a great time.
Over the course of the next few days, our experience with this hotel was "just okay." I didn't find anything special about it. Everything was over-priced (a bagel with cream cheese for seven bucks?! And a pitcher of ice tea for $23?! Are they being serious right now?). We had room service quite a bit because we could use that $600 that they had a hold on. We had the Traditional Japanese breakfast the first morning. It was fresh fish with rice and miso soup and some other odds and ends. It was pretty good, and the presentation was excellent. Room service was very expensive though (see bagel and ice tea above). We ate breakfast at House Without a Key one day and it was 30 bucks per person..for breakfast..60 bucks for breakfast..ridiculous and average. We had reservations at Orchids the last night of our vacation and we got the fish for two plate. It was expensive and average. We didn't dine at La Mer - their premiere restaurant - but I felt like it was going to be average as well.
HOWEVER, The Lewer's Lounge was one of our favorite parts of our vacation. It had such a great atmosphere and wonderful drinks and service. We went there twice and loved it both times. The waiters and waitresses were very attentive when they needed to be and no one bothered you. They had comfortable couches to sit on and we just chatted and drank - it was perfect.
We didn't do very much while we were there because we didn't have access to our money, but we had prepaid for a few things. We did the Star of Honolulu dinner cruise. There was a steak and lobster dinner and it was a WHOLE lobster with EYES! Yikes! I let my fiance eat both of our lobsters haha. It was kinda cheesy and there were some stupid drunk people on the boat but we got some great pictures. We also did The Royal Hawaiian Luau. If I could have a redo, I would have chosen a different luau. It was kinda boring and the food was so-so. Plus it was at the Royal Hawaiian hotel in their "backyard" which bordered the beach area so everyone on the beach stayed and watched the entire show for FREE and we paid $150 per person for it. Granted they didn't get any food or drinks from the open bar but it was still irritating. They should block off that section of the beach or figure out something to prevent people from doing that. We got a few good pictures there.
So all in all - it was an average and sometimes disappointing vacation. Our view was a little skewered from the beginning, but I think even if we had all the money in the world, this hotel STILL wouldn't have been up to par for me considering we paid over two grand for just the hotel. Average rooms, overly expensive restaurants and room service for somewhat average food and drink (with the exception of The Lewer's Lounge), tiny beach..eh. So like the title of my review..this hotel is okay. Not great, not terrible, but just okay - average.
I would love to go back and get a do-over. I would not stay in Waikiki and would definitely not stay at the Halekulani. I would probably stay at Turtle Bay if I had to stay on Oahu, but when we go back, we have already decided we are staying at the Four Seasons on Maui. Can't wait!! Sorry the review is so long - if you stayed and endured with me through the whole thing thank you! :)
Definitely get an ocean view room - it's nice waking up to the sounds of the ocean! And don'...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC