A big thanks to the Halekulani Hotel for hosting our stay so we could provide this detailed review of our experience. Also, this post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Disclosure, visit this page.

If you subscribe to my daily newsletter or follow me on social media, then you know that my family and I recently returned home from an incredible family trip to the island of Oahu. Our six-hour flight from Los Angeles took twice the amount of time it should have due to mechanical issues with our first two planes. I wrote all about the experience because it was the first time I’d even had a pilot refuse an aircraft … and passengers applauded his bold decision. Here’s that story.

View of Diamond Head in Waikiki.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Hawaii close to 30 times since I have both friends and family there and I love it so much. Some people don’t like all the tourists and the hustle and bustle of Waikiki but I’m not one of them. I love that you can walk anywhere and that there are all kinds of restaurants and hotels at almost every price range. But what I love most is the incredible view of Diamond Head from the beach, the soft sand and the warm turquoise waters. It’s one of the best views in the world, if you ask me.

I’ve stayed at and reviewed almost every upscale hotel on Oahu but the one hotel I hadn’t stayed at but always wanted to was the Halekulani, certainly one of the oldest, most beautiful and well-known hotels on the island. I finally had the opportunity to stay there with my family. Here’s what it was like and why it’s such a great option for families.

Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki.
1. Location

One of the main reasons to stay at the Halekulani is its unbeatable location in the heart of Waikiki. First of all, it’s right on the beach, making it a prime, beautiful, oceanfront location. But it’s also right in the middle of Waikiki, which means you’ll have endless options for restaurants and shopping. You’ll find everything from the locally owned ABC stores (for quick snacks, souvenirs and toiletries) to high-end luxury shopping and everything in between. It’s just a four-minute walk to the Royal Hawaiian Centre where you can find food, shopping and cultural events and classes.

Acai bowl from Island Vintage in Waikiki.
Of course, you can always enjoy the food on property (which we did and I’ll get to shortly) but I always love checking out great local food when I travel, which I did every morning by taking a pleasant stroll to Island Vintage in the Royal Hawaiian Center and picking up an acai bowl. TIP: Island Vintage is an extremely popular choice and the lines are very long. The secret to avoiding those long lines is to order in advance. Here’s how I do it.

2. History

The original property opened in 1907 as a residential hotel with a beachfront home and five bungalows. It was purchased in 1917 and expanded as a vacation resort and given the name Halekulani, a name the locals bestowed upon it.

Today, the hotel’s owner is Mitsui Fudosan, who purchased Halekulani’s five-acre lot in 1980. The original bungalows were torn down and the current structure added. It reopened in the spring of 1984, which means they are currently celebrating 40 years under the stewardship of Mitsui Fudosan. FYI: Halekulani’s sister property (which was originally part of Halekulani), Waikiki Parc Hotel (now Halepuna Waikiki), opened in 1987. Read our review of Halepuna Waikiki here.

Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki.3. No resort fee

Like most travelers, I don’t like having to pay a resort fee and fortunately, the Halekulani does not charge one. Guests can enjoy the property’s amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi, the business center, fitness room access, pool and turndown service, all with no resort fees.

4. Friendly staff that went above and beyond

The hotel staff are all very friendly and are obviously well taken care of because 20% of the staff have been there for 25 years or more. Thirty-three staff members have been there for 40 years or more, which is incredible for an island with so many hotel options for employees to choose to work.

Naupaka flowers
I can share plenty of examples of how the staff went the extra mile during our short stay but here are two that come immediately to mind. One morning, we thought our son had been stung by a jellyfish. This was the first time I thought I’d seen one in Waikiki but when we mentioned it to the pool attendant, he immediately went and picked some naupaka flowers, which were all around the property, and told my wife to rub it on our son’s leg. A common traditional remedy, naupaka flowers are used for a number of medicinal purposes, including healing cuts, stings and rashes. It did the trick.

Another example: The waiters at the on-property restaurants took my son’s food allergies very seriously and went back and forth to double check and confirm that anything he ordered would be safe for him to eat. Any parent of a child with food allergies can appreciate how special that is.

Open-air corridors at the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki.

5. Wide open spaces

One of my favorite things about landing at HNL is that it’s an open-air airport. And the same goes for the Halekuklani. I love that the common areas and the corridors leading to the rooms, shops and restaurants are all open-air. White curtains throughout the hallways billow in the breeze and you can always hear the sound of the ocean as you walk around the property.

6. Fast elevators

Some hotels in Waikiki have old, slow elevators but not at the Halekulani. I never had to wait more than 20 seconds for an elevator, which was nice. It can be irritating waiting for slow elevators, especially in large hotels, so I appreciated this.

Bedroom at the Halekulani hotel.
7. Rooms

When we walked into our room, there’s no question that the showstopper was the spectacular view of Diamond Head from the living room and the adjoining bedroom. Our room had the best view in Waikiki!

Extra large lanai in our room at the Halekulani.
With separate living and bedroom spaces, the room was spacious and had two extra large private lanais, one off the living room and another off the bedroom.

Design inside Halekulani hotel room.
The design of the room is interesting – instead of walls, the rooms are separated by shutters which looks lovely but doesn’t eliminate noise from one room to the next. It wasn’t really a problem unless both TVs were on at the same time.

There was plenty of closet storage and the walk-through closet connected the ensuite to the primary bedroom. The refreshment bar had a mini fridge, which we always appreciate when traveling with little kids because we can store cold drinks, milk and leftovers for later, and a sink for washing up.

Tablet at Halekulani hotel.
Beside the bed is a tablet device that can be used to request housekeeping, order room service and more.

The bathroom inside our room at the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki.
8. Bathrooms

The bathroom was large and spacious with a separate glassed-in shower and Kohler deep soaking tub, which I’ll elaborate on below. As always, I appreciated the strong water pressure in the shower, the marble vanities and all the amenities you’d expect like 100% cotton robes, designer shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, toothbrush and sewing kit. There was also an additional powder room off the main entrance into the room.

Halekulani toilet
9. Toilets

It’s not often that I write about a hotel’s toilets but the Halekulani has those luxurious Japanese toilets, which, if you’ve ever used one before, you know is a real treat. Even my kids loved it. In fact, after my daughter used it for the first time, she asked if we could get her one for her upcoming birthday LOL.

Halekulani turndown service.

10. Turn down service

Like many luxury hotels, the Halekulani doesn’t just have once daily housekeeping but twice daily thanks to their nightly turn down service. It’s so nice to return from dinner and the trash is taken out, the curtains are shut, the lights are dimmed, the beds are turned down, the dolls are tucked in and the slippers are neatly placed bedside. Plus, each night, they replenished the boxed water.

Bathtub at the Halekulani hotel.

11.  Amenities for kids

As you can see from the photo above, when we arrived, the bath toys around the tub were arranged to read ‘Jack and Olivia’s pond’. There were plenty of other bath toys like magnetic fish and a magnetic fishing pole. Every afternoon when we returned to the hotel from the beach, the kids never wanted to get out of the bath because of the fun toys.

Tent for kids at Halekulani hotel.
But perhaps the best kids’ amenity of all, and the one that made the kids gasp with delight as soon as we entered the room, was the rocket ship tent. My wife put blankets, sheets and pillows inside and my son said it was the most fun sleep he’d ever had, especially because he woke up every morning to a view of Diamond Head. Those tents don’t cost a lot of money but they deliver a huge return on investment when measured by the joy they bring children.

The pool at the Halekulani hotel.

12. Pool

The iconic, oval 82-foot heated pool at the Halekulani overlooks the beautiful waters of Waikiki. The bottom of the pool is covered in a beautiful mosaic of a Cattleya orchid, which is made from 1.2 million pieces of glass tiles. The pool service was great and exactly what you’d expect at a luxury hotel, which can’t be said about all hotels in Waikiki. One of my biggest pet peeves is when hotels (ahem, the Royal Hawaiian) allow guests to run down at 6am to throw a book or towel down on a pool chair to reserve it, then run back upstairs to bed or to go have breakfast and saunter down to the pool and their ‘reserved’ chair whenever they’re ready. We did not encounter this at the Halekulani; there are plenty of chairs and attendants ready to prepare your chairs and umbrellas. And when you enter the pool area, there are fresh baked mini muffins in the morning and cookies in the afternoon – a very nice touch!

The beach at Halekulani.

13. Beach

The beach directly in front of the Halekulani is small, made even smaller during high tide, but there’s still plenty of room to sit down and relax and there’s a tree to provide some shade, which is nice and not easy to find on Waikiki beaches. Our kids LOVED this part of the beach but if it’s too small for you, just walk along the shore until you find a part of the beach you want to stay at. I liked that the Halekulani beach is removed from the jam-packed heart of Waikiki so it’s quieter and more peaceful.

The lagoon outside of Hilton Hawaiian Village.
If you have kids like we do, the Halekulani is also close to the lagoon in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village so it’s an easy walk to get there if you’re looking for warm shallow waters.

House Without a Key in Waikiki.
14. House Without a Key

Ask someone about the Halekulani and one of the first things they’re bound to mention is how amazing House Without a Key is. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the property. House Without a Key is the hotel’s beachfront restaurant and every night at 5pm, they have live music and at 6pm, hula dancers. A solo artist performs from 8:15pm until closing. Between the entertainment, the food and the incredible sunset views over the ocean, dining at House Without a Key is an experience you’ll never forget.

There are also other on-property dining options. Halekulani has three restaurants including La Mer, which is Hawaii’s longest AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Five Star Restaurant. Explore all the dining options at Halekulani here.

Lahaina Shave IceGood to know:

Thanks to the woman at the hotel’s front desk for turning me on to Lahaina Shave Ice (808-773-7012). It’s a block and a half away from the hotel and I’m sorry we only discovered it on the last day because their shave ice is amazing (and huge!) The photo above is of the keiki (kids) size for $6.50.

Overall, we had a wonderful stay at the Halekulani and can’t wait to go back. It lived up to its reputation as one of the best luxury hotels on the island, from the luxurious accommodations and amenities to the level of service. I was impressed that every time I called down to the front desk, my call was answered promptly, a sure sign of good service and a luxury hotel, which surprisingly, doesn’t happen at all luxury hotels. The location and perhaps most unforgettable of all, the view from our room, made this one of the best hotels we’ve stayed at on the island and we can’t wait to return! Book your stay at the Halekulani here.

Read some of our other Hawaii hotel reviews:
Hotel review: The Ritz-Carlton Waikiki
Hotel review: The Four Seasons Oahu
Hotel review: Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hotel Review: Wailea Beach Resort, A Marriott in Maui
Hotel Review: Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui

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1 Comment On "Hotel review: The Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki"
  1. Robin|

    I’ve been to Hawaii 37 times in the last 33 years and stayed at the “Halekulani over 30 times. In my opinion, it is thee top hotel in all of Oahu. The location is ideal, and the staff is wonderful. A few years ago, when flying in from Tahiti at 6am, we were told that our room was all ready for us. Didn’t have to wait until 3pm to check in. Whenever I return to the Halekulani, the valet guys (who I love) say ‘welcome home’. There are times when I stayed in the magnificent pool all day. At 2pm every day, the pool guys pass around delicious Korean popsicles. I haven’t been to Hawaii since Covid, but before that, there was an evening reception for the guests every Wednesday, with drinks and hors d’ oeuvres. It was fabulous. I’m always sad when I leave there and I can’t wait to go back to the “House Befitting Heaven”!

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