During our time in Hawaii, we snorkeled, hiked, surf-watched, whale-watched, and wholly explored our little hearts out. Each day, we’d set out in a different direction on a new adventure. Regardless of how much fun we had while out and about, we’d so relish circling back to our home base at night. After much research into the various Honolulu hotels, we chose to spend our six days at The Royal Hawaiian, a.k.a. the “Pink Palace of the Pacific.”
Do ya see it there, nestled among the more modern high rises that make up the Honolulu skyline? This historic resort, built in 1927 & a flagship hotel in Hawaiian tourism, has an understated luxury and iconic old Hollywood glamour about it. The open-air lobby (smelling of sea air & flowers), lush gardens, and proximity to both beach and world-class shopping are definitely brag-worthy. It’s not every trip that you get to stay in a hotel with such a legendary past, so my second cousin and I partook in the hotel’s history tour. A rep from the hotel serves as the group’s guide, escorting you to all corners of the resort and sharing behind-the-scenes stories of their most hi-profile guests. And honey, they’ll dish on everyone from the likes of Marilyn Monroe & Dean Martin to Justin Bieber & a funny “sorry, but we’re booked” aside on Michael Jackson. It’s rather interesting — I’d recommend it. As a current hotel guest, hearing about all those famous people sleeping right where you’re sleeping — well, it feels kinda fabulous knowing your leisure time is enjoyed in the same former playground of royalty, dahhhling!
Living up to its moniker, the hotel is very VERY pink! Although, not as pink as it was before the renovation, I hear. See, the Historic Wing (where we stayed) went through a huge renovation just a few years ago. Although management kept the intricate hand-carved wooden room doors, the floor-to-ceiling PINK was toned down quite a bit in a complete decor revamp. Even so, the place still stands as an epitome of Royal Pinkness: the bellman’s uniforms are pink, the hibiscus juice they offer you at check-in is pink, the ceiling is pink, the bathrobes are pink, and so on. Contrary to what one might infer, the plethora of pink decor is actually not nauseating or tacky; the hued touches are all quite tastefully & elegantly pretty-in-pink.
The beach towels, chairs & umbrellas are pink, too. The hotel boasts owning a “private beach” but it’s really only a stretch of sand farthest from the water, backing up to the resort. Um, not exactly what I was picturing in my mind when I read about a private beach. Preferring a closer view of the Pacific, we had to search for a patch of sand among the crowd at Waikiki Beach, nonetheless. Even more of a let down: they charge hotel guests for use of beach chairs & umbrellas. Daily resort fee is $35, I think, and that’s about right, in accordance to what you’ll see at nice beachfront resorts. What I’m not used to seeing, however, is a daily resort charge AND requiring rental charges for hotel guests’ use of beach furniture. If I’m recalling correctly, two lounge chairs & an umbrella was $50 for the day. That’s a little steep, in my opinion. Second row from the water line, at that. Plus, I opted-in on the $30-an-hour Stand Up Paddleboard charge…I would totally expect to fork over a fee for a board rental, though. –What a delight it was to SUP in clear water & waves instead of the murky, flat Lady Bird Lake back at home! I paddled out pretty far and although deep, the water was still the most luscious shade of bright teal. I saw a sea turtle out there, too. 🙂
The first 24 hours were probably the most memorable span of time we spent at the hotel. I say this because the rest of the vacation we were off swimming in waterfalls and hiking up Diamond Head and everything else under the sun. Upon arrival, you’re greeted with a welcome lei of strung orchids for ladies and kukui nut necklaces for the gentlemen. After sitting down for a personal check-in, you’re offered a warm towel and fresh chilled juice. Our rooms weren’t ready right away, so a girlfriend and I changed in the hotel’s hospitality suite and headed straight to the beach. That first glimpse of Waikiki Beach was to die for! We found the perfect al fresco table at Surf Lanai Restaurant which is upscale yet beachside, so it’s exactly the calm cool atmosphere our jet-lagged souls were looking for. We ordered a variety of menu items, including a ceviche trio, margarita pizza, and salad…um, hate to say it but honestly I didn’t care for the food. It was one of those menus where you can’t decide what you want, ya know? Overpriced, too. What WAS amazing, however: their original recipe Scratch Mai Tai! Utilizing fresh squeezed pineapple & orange juices and served in the most picturesque setting, it was the perfect entre’ into vacation.
Initially, there was some going back-n-forth on our Honolulu hotel choice. It was a toss-up between Halekulani, Moana Surfrider, and The Royal Hawaiian. We ended up going with the Pink Palace due to its boutique atmosphere, its history, and the fact that it’s been around since luxury travel arrived to the Hawaiian islands. Although we enjoyed the best dining of the trip at Halekulani’s restaurants, the best sunsets & live music at Sheraton’s RumFire, and original-recipe Blue Hawaiians at the Hilton; lodging at the Pink Palace was a no-brainer for that classic Hawaiian experience. When you’re talking iconic architecture, a legend of hosting royalty/presidents/celebrities, good service and prime location — I’m convinced we made the best choice for my first visit to Hawaii!