The Royal Hawai'ian Hotel – A Review of the Pink Palace

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawai'i

Destination: Kahuku, HI on the island of O'ahu
Date: February 2017
Hotel: The Royal Hawai'ian
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Brand: Starwood
Elite Status: preferred (the absolute lowest)
# of travelers: 2
nights: 2

Making the Decision

I like to hotel hop but my husband does not. Ultimately, my decision was based on the pink-ness of the hotel and location rather than any superficial reason (like the size of the room or any particular benefits I would get from having status).

Getting There & Valet Parking

We flew into O'ahu from the island of Moloka'i on Hawai'ian Airlines arriving at the HNL airport. We then took a shuttle over to Alamo where we picked up the rental car we would be driving to our hotel and using during our time on O'ahu.

One thing of note: finding The Royal Hawai'ian can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you've never been to Honolulu before. The area The Royal Hawai'ian is in a big tourist district with shopping centers, hotels all over and tourists galore. Seriously I have never seen as many tourists in one place as I did my first day in Honolulu.

Royal Hawai'ian Shopping Center

So, you will drive into an area with a sign for "The Royal Hawai'ian Center" but that is a shopping center, not the hotel. The first hotel after you pass the sign is not the hotel you are looking for! That is the Sheraton. Don't make my mistake of valet parking your car at the Sheraton! Instead, drive a little bit further. The Royal Hawai'ian is found at the very end of the road. Plus, it's a pink hotel, so how can you mistake it for another? If you get out and aren't immediately "lei'd", you are at the wrong hotel!

Sheraton Waikiki

After confusing the Sheraton for The Royal Hawai'ian, my husband and I opted for valet parking at a cost of $40 per day (price at the time of this post). If you are more comfortable driving in Honolulu than myself and my husband, you could opt to self-park at a parking garage nearby. (We, obviously, did not use that option, so I'm not sure of the price.)

For Royal Hawai'ian diners, there is an option to valet park with the hotel for free for up to 4 hours if you purchase $35 or more at one of the hotel's restaurants. Otherwise, the price for valet parking for up to 12 hours is $15.

Checking-In & Customer Service

Did I mention how finding the hotel was stressful for us?

As we were checking in, the front desk noted that we were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary and offered us a coupon for a free banana bread (which we promptly lost), some Royal Hawai'ian sparkling pink rosé and chocolate macadamia nuts. We were doing this anniversary right!

A bit dazed and confused, we made it to our room leaving my husband's phone at the front desk. Luckily, they called us to let us know and everything was made right.

As we waited for our luggage, a young man came by to drop off our rosé and chocolate macadamia nuts. We asked him where he would go for delicious Hawai'ian food and he recommended Roy's. YUM!

So, service at this hotel was pretty amazing. They didn't provide us with an upgrade to an ocean view or suite, but we appreciated the little things, the sparkling rosé, calling to let us know about my husband's phone, offering suggestions on where to eat…

The Royal Hawai'ian bathroom

The Royal Hawai'ian bedroom

Our Room & Bathroom

The room was pretty standard. It was very pink. We did love the iPad they had in the room for ordering room service, though.

The Royal Hawai'ian soaps

The bathroom offered a hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, and a vanity set. If you really like their lotion/shampoo, you can buy it at a nearby gift shop for a lot of money. I believe the prices we were looking at were in the $90 range. (So stock up if you are staying more than one night at the hotel!)

The Royal Hawai'ian letter

Other Amenities

As a customer of the Royal Hawai'ian, you can enjoy room service, a pool, air conditioning, a fridge in the room (no minibar), laundry service, dry cleaning, and beach towels and chairs (for a fee).

On Friday mornings, you can participate in a ritual chant as the sun is rising to welcome the day. Other options include a yoga class, a tour of the historic Royal Palace, an intro to surfing class, lei making, a luau, shell bracelet making, Hawai'ian quilting, and live music at the Mai Tai Bar. They offer a shuttle bus from the airport (for a fee) and an in-house physician for whatever you need.

The Royal Hawai'ian has a pool and jacuzzi, salon and spa, and plenty of on-site stores to keep you busy and your wallet empty.

Food Options

As far as food goes?

Take your pick!

My husband and I only indulged in some banana bread and a pink snowball that we bought from the Royal Hawai'ian Bakery, but there are many, many options both on the property and off. The on property options include a beachside bar (Mai Tai Bar), an upscale restaurant overlooking the ocean (Azure, serving just dinner), an upscale beachside restaurant (Surf Lanai, serving breakfast and lunch), a luau (because what visit to Hawai'i would be complete without one?) and, of course, in-room dining.

Check Out

We checked out early in the morning and headed out for a view of sunrise at a blowhole on the south-east side of the island. You would think that few people would have been up at that hour, but it seems we weren't the only ones with that plan. It took a bit for the valet to get our car, but when do valets get vehicles quickly? … And, just like that, we were checked out and on the road! Super simple and quick, just like it's supposed to be.

Overall Review
★★★ (average)

The Royal Hawai'ian is located in a great part of Honolulu. It's really easy to get around without a car should you want to and your travel plans allow for it. Of course, The Royal Hawai'ian is a pretty expensive hotel to stay at if you are on a budget. Not only should you be considering the price of your hotel room but also the $37 resort fee (at the time of this posting) and, if you rent a vehicle, the cost of parking that vehicle. The food that I tried on the property was mediocre at best, bad at worst. We had much better food off the property. And we were a little disappointed to not get upgraded and that the room itself was on the small side. However, we loved having our fifth anniversary recognized by hotel staff. The service at The Pink Palace was superb! I would definitely stay again for that! As well as for the pretty pink-ness of the hotel and all of the hotel's history.

So, should you go?

Maybe.

What are you looking for in a hotel? History? Pinkness? Great service? Great location? YES, absolutely! (Though there are, from what I can tell, other fantastic hotels in the area!)

If you are looking for upgrades, a secluded resort (like those that Hawai'i is known for), a good price? Maybe go somewhere else. (Honolulu should probably be out if you are looking for calm and quiet, though, to be fair.)


Your Turn

Has the color of a hotel ever appealed to you in such a way that you decided to book? … Have you ever stayed at a hotel with a lot of history?

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It's day eighteen in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was R for the Royal Hawai'ian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawai'i on O'ahu Island!


ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) FGHIJ • K (pt 1, pt 2) • LM • N • O • P • Q

Making the Most of Lāna‘i City


A precurser for all travel plans you make using tour guides: always have a backup plan!

This was pretty important when we got to Lāna‘i. Up until the day of our arrival on Lāna‘i, we thought we were going to be given a tour of the island. Turns out, with all of the rain they had been having, that wasn't going to happen.

Without a vehicle, without a tour, we were left to tour Lāna‘i with our own two feet. Luckily, the B&B host had left us a few maps to help us navigate the island…


One of the first things we did was to walk to Lāna‘i City. We were too late to see the History and Cultural Center, but we made dinner reservations using OpenTable and then explored Dole Park and the surrounding area. Mainly we walked through the Lāna‘i Hula Hut, Richard's Market, sat and ate a Lāna‘i pineapple teriyaki burger from Café 565, then, with nothing else to do, continued on to Lāna‘i Hotel where we ate a second dinner at Lana'i Grille. Before the night had come to an end we walked down the street to The Lodge at Koele where they were doing some work on the hotel. We enjoyed how dark the island got and our walk back listening to all of the bugs that inhabit Lāna‘i before curling up on the front porch swing at Dreams Come True listening to the rain before settling in for the night.

Lana'i Hotel

Dole Park

Lāna‘i History and Cultural Center
Address: 730 Lanai Ave # 126, Lāna‘i City, HI 96763
Hours:
Mon-Fri 8:30am-3:30pm
Sat 9am-1pm

Lāna‘i History and Cultural Center



Address: Hula Hut PO#631492, 418 8th St, Lanai City, HI 96763
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm

Hula Hut – a clothing and jewelry store

Cafe 565
Address: 408 8th St, Lāna‘i City, HI 96763
Hours:
Mon 10am-3pm, 5-8pm
Tues-Wed 10am-8pm
Thurs-Fri 10am-3pm, 5-8pm
Sat 10am-3pm




Lāna‘i pineapple teriyaki burger

Richard's Market
Address: 434 8th St, Lāna‘i City, HI 96763
Hours: 6am-10pm (everyday)

Richard's Market – a grocery store

Lāna‘i City Bar and Grill
Address: 828 Lanai Ave, Lāna‘i City, HI 96763
Hours: Tues-Sun 5pm-9pm (closed Monday)

Pohole Fern Namasu
chickpeas



Lana‘i Signature Venison Loin

Mango Kiwi Island

Would I recommend Lāna‘i as a place to visit?

No, not so much.

We had a very relaxing experience on the island, but we felt that most of the tourism industry was focused on the two main, large, and expensive hotels: The Lodge at Koele and Four Seasons Resort Lāna‘i. Since my husband and I don't have a thousand to spend per night at a hotel, unless we can garner up some mega hotel points, we will probably leave this island to the rich and famous.

However, if you are looking for some solitude, Lāna‘i Island could be perfect. It seemed like a great location to reconnect with nature. Just make sure to book a rental car along with a tour, if you are going that route! Being stuck in a single location isn't so much fun.

Have you ever had that happen to you? Where you book a tour or event and it gets canceled? How did you handle it? Or, if that hasn't happened to you, how would you handle it?
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It's day nine in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was M for Making the Most of our time in Lāna‘i City, Hawai'i on Lāna‘i Island!


ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) • FGHIJ • K (pt 1, 2)L

Dreams Come True – Lāna‘i Hotel Review

Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i

Destination: Lāna‘i City, Hawai'i on the island of Lāna‘i
Date: February 2017
Hotel: Dreams Come True
Address: 1168 Lana'i Ave, Lāna‘i City, HI 96763
Brand: none
Elite Status: none
# of travelers: 2
nights: 1

Making the Decision

There aren't many options on the Lāna‘i island and the big hotel chains are expensive, so we stuck with a smaller B&B, Dreams Come True.

Getting There

On Lāna‘i Island, you don't have too many options for getting to a place, especially when you haven't rented a vehicle. We ended up using Neil Rabaca's taxi service to get to and from our hotel. It was easy and the people who work for the company are friendly. We used Expeditions Ferry to get to the island even though you could also fly there.

Getting around the island is pretty easy if you are staying at a hotel close to town. If you are staying closer to the coast, you will have better views of the coastline and ocean, but access to town won't be as easy without a vehicle.

Booking & Checking-In

If you aren't a people person, you will love the check-in process we went through!

We called to make our reservation when we were ready, so the family that owns this small bed and breakfast were well aware we were coming. As part of the process, we paid in advance and confirmed we would not get any money back upon arrival.

When we arrived, no one was there to check us in. Instead, we found our keys in an envelope on the front door with instructions about which room was ours. It was requested that we sign the guestbook and call a listed phone number if we had any questions. Given that our biggest concern was that we left one of our bags on the shuttle and that our tour had been canceled, we had a lot more to worry about than asking the b&b staff anything.

Dreams Come True interior on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
Add caption

The House & Our Room

Dreams Come True was a nice little house and perfect for our stay on Lāna‘i. It was central to Lāna‘i City and our room was a good size. We had two queen-sized beds located in the front of the house with a small bathroom. There was no air conditioning, so we needed to open a window the one night we were there, but we were totally okay with that since it was raining outside. It's very relaxing to fall asleep to the sound of rain at night.

Other rooms in the house include a kitchen with food available, a laundry room for doing laundry (but don't put sandy clothes in the washing machine/dryer!), a communal living room, a front porch, and a garden for relaxing. The property is great for getting to know fellow travelers. In fact, while we were there, fellow travelers who had been hunting returned and asked if we wanted to have a beer on the front porch with them. Unfortunately, with our early departure the next morning, we didn't have enough time for it.

queen bed in Bedroom 2 at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
Bedroom 2

Bedroom 2 at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i

bathroom for Bedroom 2 at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i

Food Options

Once again, while the hotel does offer free breakfast, we were not able to take advantage of the offering because of our early departure. (This was one of the things I was going to talk to the "front desk" about, but there ended up being no "front desk.) We will have to take the word of other TripAdvisor visitors in assuming that the breakfast available at Dreams Come True is good. Maybe next time we visit, we will get to partake.

Check Out

Remember how simple check-in was? Check out is also pretty simple. Grab your belongings, lock the door, and leave the key in the door.

Also, remember to contact the taxi service in advance (i.e. the day before) if you have an early departure.

Furthermore, the Lāna‘i City airport is absolutely tiny and it will do you no good to get to the airport any earlier than an hour before your flight. I know that it's been ingrained in you that you have to arrive two hours before the flight. While that is all well and good, if the airport isn't open, you won't be able to check-in or go through security. But the good news is, when security does open up, you will fly through that and check-in! There were all of three people in line ahead of us as we went through security, all locals to the Hawai'ian islands.

Overall Review:
★★★ (average)

We did not have the best experience getting to Dreams Come True, despite the fact that the drivers for the shuttle service were very kind about helping us get around the island and managed to get our lost bag back to us after we left it on the shuttle. Oops! Perhaps you will have a different experience using a rental car? I also had mixed feelings when no one was around for check-in. Couldn't they have called or texted to ask if everything was alright? … What about asking if there was anything else they could do for us? The end result was that the owners were so incredibly hands-off that it made Dreams Come True feel like a way to make money/take money rather than providing a service for visitors.

That being said, I did very much enjoy the "cabin in the woods" experience. I loved how easy it was to walk to Lāna‘i City from the b&b. I also liked the cheap price. My favorite part was the covered front porch where we could sit and enjoy the rain without getting wet. But honestly, I could sit on a swing on a front porch for hours listening to the rain and insects just about anywhere!

If you are looking for a calm, relaxing getaway on Lāna‘i that won't break the bank, Dreams Come True is an awesome bed and breakfast. If you enjoy cities, though, you may want to consider a different island or, at the very least, one of the more expensive, larger hotels.

Your Turn

Have you ever stayed somewhere so peaceful and quiet that you could hear yourself think? Are you a fan of that type of solitude? Or do you tend to prefer places with more noise and activity?

What are your thoughts on the hands-off approach the owners of the Dreams Come True b&b use? Would it make you happier to not have to deal with any hotel staff directly? Or do you prefer knowing there is a front desk staff member you can approach with any problems you come across immediately when those problems occur?

Bedroom 1 at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
Bedroom 1

dining area at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
dining area

kitchen at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
kitchen

garden at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
garden

living room at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
living room
living room at Dreams Come True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
living room
rules for Dreams Comes True on Lana'i Island in Hawai'i
Dreams Come True rules


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It's day eight of the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was L for Lazing around At Dreams Come True in Lāna‘i City, Hawai'i on Lāna‘i Island!


ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) • FGHIJ • K (pt 1, pt 2)

Expeditions Ferry

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Maui Island

One of the biggest surprises I had when planning my trip to Hawai'i regarded transportation. I had booked my flights arriving and leaving from two different islands, so I needed to figure out how to get between islands.

You just take a boat, right?

Only not so much.

I started planning my trip in October 2016 and we didn't leave until February 2017. Over the course of those four months, our transportation options shrunk as we considered where to go. At the end of 2016, the Expeditions Ferry was the only ferry that went between the islands and it only went between Maui and Lāna‘i and Lāna‘i and Moloka'i. Well, as luck would have it, they ended the transportation between Lāna‘i and Moloka'i as I was in the process of booking. My options were to either give up Moloka'i altogether or find another way to the island. I wasn't too certain about visiting Lāna‘i, but onward we went. A boat ride was definitely on my bucketlist! My hope was to see whales as we moved between islands. (We ended up booking a flight between Lāna‘i and Moloka'i and between Moloka'i and O'ahu, but that will be saved for another blog post.)

Expeditions Ferry tickets

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Maui

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Maui

view from the Expeditions Ferry

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Maui and a cruise ship

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Maui and a cruise ship

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Lana'i

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Lana'i

view from the Expeditions Ferry of Lana'i

If you are considering taking the Expeditios Ferry between Maui and Lāna‘i, here's what you need to know:

+ The current cost is $30 for adults, $20 for children.
+ The ferry leaves from Lahaina four times a day beginning at 6:45am with the last departure at 5:45pm.
+ They ask that you arrive an hour prior to departure, but we arrived only about 15 minutes prior to boarding and were still allowed on. If you are running late, call to confirm that the late arrival will be ok. Don't take my word!
+ It takes the ferry approximately 45 minutes to get across to Lāna‘i Island.
+ Depending on the day and weather conditions, the ocean can be a bit choppy and cause motion sickness. If you get sick easily, you may want to consider taking Dramamine prior to your ferry ride.
+ Dolphins and whales can be seen during the winter months!
+ There is no food or drink available for purchase on the boat, so be sure to bring your own!
+ The return ferry leaves from Lāna‘i five times a day beginning at 8am with the last departure at 6:45pm.

Most importantly! While you can use this post to help plan your trip, be sure to check the Expeditions Ferry website for the most current and up to date information. Call if you have any questions. The people that work for Expeditions Ferry are kind and will help you in any way if they can.

What do you think of those views from the boat? Would a boat trip be a must for you if you visit Hawai'i?

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It's day twelve in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was K for the kickass views we saw our last day on Maui Island and during our boat ride to Lāna‘i! (See part 1 here.)




ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) FGHIJ