Updated: September 1, 2023
If you’ve been hunting for a place to stay in Waikiki, chances are you’ve stumbled across The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort.
Known by travelers and locals as The Pink Palace, Royal Hawaiian features pink walls and cultural amenities that really immerse you in the Hawaiian lifestyle.
But beyond those walls, what else is there to know about this hotel and what’s a stay at the resort really like? Keep reading to find out everything you should know about this historic hotel before booking.
A Brief Background on The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Royal Hawaiian hotel first opened back in 1927, and since then, it’s played host to a number of famous visitors. Iconic individuals, such as Franklin Roosevelt, Kevin Coster, and Shirley Temple, have enjoyed stays in this hotel.
Although the hotel has modernized somewhat since its opening, you can still see Hawaii’s history in the hotel’s classical design. Its interior features stained glass Art Deco chandeliers, cloth-corded telephones, multi-toned walls, and mail chutes.
The hotel’s history also goes farther back than its opening. This hotel actually sits on the site of the former home of Hawaii’s first ruler. Today, the hotel is committed to continuing its luxury legacy.
Getting to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is located right in the center of town along the public Waikiki beach. It’s between the Sheraton Waikiki and The Moana Surfrider, two other Marriott properties. If you’re coming from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu International Airport), it’s a 25-minute ride by car to get to the pink palace.
The hotel’s location puts it next to shopping centers and local restaurants. For instance, a full-sized grocery store is only a six-minute walk from the hotel, and you can find restaurants within a two-minute distance.
Behind the Royal Hawaiian is Kalakaua Avenue, where you can spot several designer boutiques and chain restaurants. Besides these shopping opportunities, visitors an also enjoy nearby attractions, such as:
- Diamond Head State Monument – 8-minute drive and 45-minute hike to reach the top
- Downtown Honolulu – 15-minute drive
- Chinatown – 15-minute drive
- Iolani Palace – 15-minute drive
- Pearl Harbor Monument – 25-minute drive
- Honolulu Zoo – 3-minute drive or a 15-minute walk.
Hawaii’s pristine beach, Hanauma Bay, is also within a 25-minute drive from the hotel.
Checking In At The Royal Hawaiian
When you arrive at the porte-cochere, a bellboy will help you unload your luggage. You’ll also be given a carved bead lei as a sign of the hotel’s welcome, which is a nice little touch.
Royal Hawaiian’s check-in time is at 4 pm, typical of most hotels in Waikiki. The process is quite quick and just involves signing for your room and providing proof of vaccination status.
You’ll also need to pay the resort fee, which covers wireless internet, valet parking, and cultural activities such as the Royal Hawaiian historical tour.
If you booked your room through Marriott free nights award, you can ask for a room upgrade, although the hotel doesn’t guarantee anything. Additionally, depending on your room, you’ll also get access to a complimentary breakfast buffet for your entire stay in the pink hotel.
Royal Hawaiian Hotel has a total of 528 rooms and 34 suites. The resort has two main locations: The Historic Wing and the Mailani Tower. Of the two, the tower is newer and features more modern guest rooms and suites.
Rooms in the historic part of the hotel feature earth-toned and elegant interiors. They feature tan walls decorated with pink flower paintings and round mirrors. Moreover, damask-patterned pink and silver accent walls that give off a sense of timeless luxury. If you’re with family, the spacious suites are also located in the historic part of the hotel.
The tower, on the other hand, features more luxurious rooms with a more contemporary style. Its interiors are brighter, and each room has floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies with views overlooking the private beach.
In terms of what’s in each room, you’ll find beds with Lucite lamps, rattan-accented cabinets, and a marble-wrapped bathroom. Each room is also equipped with a mini-fridge and a coffee maker inside the cabinets.
Other room amenities include:
- Illuminated beauty mirrors
- Scale for weighing
- Electrical outlets
- Striped pink robes
- Safety vault
- Alarm clocks
- iPads with hotel information
- Iron and ironing boards
All of the lodgings can fit a maximum of four people, and WiFi is included.
The amenities are a big part of what sets the pink palace apart. The hotel shares several amenities with the Sheraton Waikiki, such as its gorgeous beachfront, which overlooks Diamond Head and the beach.
Besides these, there are several other amenities that are worth knowing about.
This outdoor pool is 4.6 feet deep and filled with saltwater. It has an elegant design that looks a bit more like a plunge pool than a place to swing laps. Along the poolside are lounge chairs and complimentary towels.
Alternatively, those staying at the property can enjoy the next door Helumoa Playground at the Sheraton Waikiki, too. This area features waterslides and a splash zone, so it’s a great place for families with young children o explore.
The Bather’s Elevator
A unique feature of the Royal Hawaiian is The Bather’s Elevator. The Bather’s Elevator serves as a passageway for guests to reach the beach and return to their lodging without having to wear formal attires.
This is actually a nod to the history of the hotel, when people were expected to dress up for dinner. Although it may not have the same use today, the resort is probably the only Waikiki hotel with an elevator for bathing.
Probably the main attraction at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is Waikiki Beach. Because this part of the beach has no immediate foot and road access, it’s very quiet. There are lounge chairs available for rent right along the beach as well.
We recommend visiting the beach during sunset, where you can enjoy the gorgeous vistas of Diamond Head.
Besides these amenities, you can also get facial treatments and massages at abhasa spa.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel also features a 24-hour exercise center, complete with ellipticals, treadmills, resistance machines, stationary bicycles, and dumbbells. There are also free fitness classes and earbuds available to borrow while you work out.
Besides these sections of the hotel, you can also enjoy cultural activities included in your resort fee, such as:
- Flower lei making
- Hula lessons
- Shell bracelet making
Alternatively, you can engage in events such as the Royal Hawaiian Lū’au, Aha’aina. This Royal Hawaiian luau comes at an extra cost but is a dinner and show event that really immerses you in Hawaii’s culture.
You can also hold special events of your own at the hotel with its 12,000-foot indoor business center and event space.
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel has restaurants serving international and native Hawaiian cuisines, a beachfront bar, and a bakery in the main lobby.
Surf Lanai is the usual breakfast spot at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection hotel. Breakfast is buffet-style, but you can also order the continental option from the menu. This restaurant features outdoor seating, so it’s lovely on sunny days.
Azure Restaurant and bar is the main dinner spot on the property. This place serves up fresh seafood and other local meals for you to enjoy during your stay.
Mai Tai Bar
Adjacent to Surf Lanai is the Mai Tai Bar. It features an oceanfront location with outdoor seating and an outdoor lounge bar. Mai Tai Bar offers alcoholic drinks for adults as well non-alcoholic drinks for those who don’t wish to imbibe.
The Royal Hawaiian Bakery
The hotel has a bakery that overlooks the hotel’s gardens. At the Royal Hawaiian bakery, you can enjoy baked desserts, coffee, and even custom cakes. It’s only open in the mornings, and they also make the best banana bread in the entire State.
What We Love About Royal Hawaiian Hotel
This luxury collection resort in Waikiki has some of the best ocean views of the beach. Because it’s private property, the beach access it provides are much more peaceful than some other local properties can offer.
Another unique aspect of this hotel is the architecture. The Royal Hawaiian resort offers a taste of history and gives guests a chance to learn a bit more about the history of the island state, all while staying at a luxurious resort.
Lastly, the 24-hour fitness center is a plus. It’s rare to find a hotel in Waikiki with a gym that’s open 24/7. There’s also free WiFi throughout the entire hotel, even in the historic part of the resort.
What Could Be Improved
There isn’t much that this hotel could improve on. The only thing that guests might want to be aware of is that you can only enjoy an ocean-view room if you stay in the Mailani Tower.
Still, the rooms there are just as beautiful and comfortable as the historic part of the hotel, so you won’t be missing out on anything.
Our Thoughts on The Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort, is one of the most elegant hotels in Waikiki Beach. It has a wide range of cultural activities and numerous activities that guests can participate in.
The direct access to the peaceful stretch of Waikiki Beach is also notable. It lets visitors enjoy beautiful ocean views without the noise of public beaches nearby.
If you’re planning a trip to this hotel, the Mailani Tower is where we’d suggest staying. It’s modern, elegant, and minimalist, while still giving you a feel for the history of Hawaii.