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?


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?


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

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