A historic, private strip of Waikiki Beach
528 Rooms / 33 Suites
Steeped in history and situated on 14 acres of prime oceanfront real estate in Waikiki, it’s no surprise The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort is considered an icon in Hawaii. The Spanish-Moorish-style hotel opened in 1927 on a site where Hawaiian royalty once vacationed. Over the decades, the “Pink Palace of the Pacific,” with its distinctive rosy hue, has remained a standard for luxury in the islands. It recently underwent a $70 million refresh, with a newly transformed Mailani Beach Tower, new guest programs that offer authentic and enriching experiences, and improved ambiance throughout the property, from its inviting open-air lobby to the luxe amenities in each guest room.
You are greeted with an orchid or kukui nut lei, and a freshly baked loaf of banana bread awaits in each room. The Royal is the only hotel that has a private section of the world-famous Waikiki Beach, with chaise lounge chairs and refreshments just steps from the ocean. The resort runs a private beach concession, which offers a variety of ocean activities, including stand-up paddle-boarding lessons and surfing in a traditional outrigger canoe. The 7,000-squre-foot indoor/outdoor Abhasa Spa is the only one on Oahu that offers treatments in a private cabana amid a lush tropical garden. And the new Mailani Tower, which opened in early 2015, provides an intimate haven with its own separate check-in, personalized itineraries for guests, and complimentary breakfast spreads that feature island fruits, freshly baked pastries, an assortment of coffees and teas, and mimosas. A daily signature evening cocktail in the lobby is prepared by the resort’s mixologists and is served alongside Armenian breads with assorted olive oils and dips.
When the Waikiki hotel was first built in 1927, the only way for visitors from the mainland to get here was by steamship. The voyage from the West Coast took five days. By the time these passengers arrived in Waikiki, they weren’t interested in seeing more of the ocean, so the hotel was built facing gardens and the mountains. With the advent of air travel, of course, that all changed. In 1969, the luxury hotel added oceanview rooms to its inventory. Today, these guest rooms — all recently updated — are outfitted with vintage koa wood seating, contemporary furnishings, historic photographs and sophisticated pops of tropical colors. The spacious and modern bathrooms feature sable-colored stone and dark-stained millwork with locally made Malie Organics bath products.
In 2015, the Mailani Tower opened as the new modern counterpoint to the resort’s historic wing, with an airy, beach-inspired vibe that still feels chic. These rooms have boudoir pillows and Frette-brand bathrooms — pink, of course — with original artwork commissioned by celebrated local artists. Every room in this tower has views of the ocean, giving you a reason to linger here a bit longer before venturing out.
To say the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian is famous is not an understatement. The original mai tai — a combination of rum, lime, orgeat and curacao or triple sec — was first created in 1944 and was brought to the Royal Hawaiian in 1953. Today, the Royal’s beachfront bar still serves the original two drinks — the Royal Mai Tai and the Scratch Mai Tai — along with a few new versions and a slew of handcrafted cocktails.
The oceanfront Azure is the resort’s signature, dinner-only restaurant serving fresh-caught seafood from the local fish auction in nearby Kakaako. Recently, the hotel acquired the talented chef Colin Hazama, who updated the menus at the resort’s restaurants to reflect the unique flavors and ingredients of the islands. And every Monday night, the hotel’s ocean lawn is transformed into a traditional luau called ‘Aha‘aina, complete with music, hula and, of course, lots and lots of Hawaiian food.