In June, the 700th Hilton Garden Inn opened as the largest Hilton Garden Inn in the world. The 623-room Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach (2330 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815; 808-892-1820) is located on the south shore of Oahu in Waikiki, a beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu.
The brand has hit a lot of exciting milestones recently! If you recall, last week I wrote about the first Hilton Garden Inn to open in Kauai. What a month for these guys! During my trip to Hawaii with Hilton, I was also able to check out this new Waikiki property, attend the ribbon-cutting and spend some time on Waikiki Beach. I left Oahu feeling that this beach city is one of my favorite in the US. I can’t wait to go back!
The 700th Hilton Garden Inn: brand new!
Have you ever read the words new property on a hotel website and booked the hotel because of that? Only to show up at the hotel and realize it’s not really that new anymore? Yep. I hear stories like that all the time.
Well, this place is brand new. In fact, it’s so new that the very room I stayed in had never been used by another person since the hotel’s transformation into a Hilton Garden Inn!
There’s something really amazing about a new hotel room. All 623 rooms, including the lobby, had a Hawaiian style but an urban feel. The high ceilings and Hawaiian kapa prints on reclaimed wood made for a beautiful, relaxing environment.
Extra value and proximity to beach
If you’re willing to sacrifice literal oceanfront proximity, you can save an extra $100-200 by choosing to stay at this new Hilton Garden Inn. While the hotel is a few blocks from the beach, it’s not a far walk at all. And you can still see the ocean from some of the rooms. In my room, I loved the extra couch beside the TV for extra luggage space, and looking out the window to the ocean. In my opinion, the savings are well worth being a slightly longer walk to the beach. And I hear that once the Saks Fifth Avenue is open across the street from the hotel, you can easily cut through the store to get to the beach (there are already lots of close shopping opportunities!).
Holoholo Café & Market
In Hawaiian, holoholo means “to go out for pleasure,” and the Hilton Garden Inn’s coffee bar in particular brought me a lot of pleasure! You can stop by the Holoholo Café & Market for a coconut latte (featuring beans from the islands) at the coffee bar or skip the coffee and go straight for a tropical mimosa. Snack on the ahi poke of the day or fill up on local fruits, sandwiches, salads, and wraps when you feel the hunger strike (al are perfect for taking to the beach as well!). The market also has beer, wine and a gift shop with some unique items.
Coming soon will be another food option for guests when TR Fire Grill opens inside the hotel. TR Fire Grill will have craft beer, cocktails and locally sourced artisanal dishes.
The pool and bar are located on the third floor. You can visit the pool without a daily resort fee unlike at other hotels nearby. The drinks are yummy and the happy hour crowd featured some fun locals, which made for a chill afternoon of chatting and taking in the sun.
Near the hotel: Waikiki action
The beaches in Waikiki are massive, with easy waves. High-rises and hotels surround the beach area. The water is a good temperature (for those of us that are used to cold California beaches!). I loved Waikiki Beach best because of the pretty views up to Diamond Head and the long rolling surf break that made it perfect for beginners to learn.
Check out the iconic Duke’s on the sand for a day drink and 80s dancing or a laid-back night spot for a cocktail. And you won’t get tired of shopping on the main street, Kalakaua Avenue. High-end stores like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, and Dior as well as cute gift and surf shops grace the street.
I found some great restaurants like BUHO Cantina, a rooftop Mexican restaurant with excellent ceviche. Try their “award-winning” BUHO ceviche with fresh yellowtail, serrano pepper and watermelon. The other main street, Kuhio Avenue, is better known for cafes and markets and nightlife.
The best udon in the US
A few doors down from the hotel, you can taste some of the best udon that you’ve probably ever tasted in the US at Marukame Udon. I tried the chilled “Ontama Udon” and I could not believe how incredible it tasted. I want more now just thinking about it!!
Hawaii Hot Spots Surf School in Waikiki gave me my very first surfing lesson on the Kaiser Bowls in front of the Hilton Waikiki. The Kaiser Bowls spot is just a 15-minute Uber away from the hotel. I’ve been waiting for the perfect chance to actually learn to surf, and I thought there was no place better than the refreshing (not too cold!) water of Waikiki! The area is known as a great place for beginners to learn since waves don’t get too out of control and you can actually stay lined up in the water next to the waves while you wait your turn to be pushed out by an instructor.
The two-hour lesson began with an instruction in the basics of standing up on a board. The rest of the lesson was getting in the water…and failing or succeeding. I was lucky enough to stand three of my five times that I was sent out onto the waves! It was such a cool feeling to be in the wave ready to stand up. It almost seemed easy in the moment, but then reality set in once I got too comfortable (I had an epic wipeout or two).
I have to credit the guys at the school for flinging us out onto the waves at the right time. While they didn’t practice technique with us as much as I would have liked, they were good at getting me in the best position to catch a wave. If you’re new to surfing, I recommend learning somewhere in Waikiki because of the warmer water and easy-to-catch waves. Next time, I may look at a one-on-one surf lesson so they can critique my sweet moves on the board and give me more personalized pointers on how to do better on my next wave.
Thank you to the Hilton Garden Inn for allowing me to share in the fabulous grand opening festivities for this exciting milestone for the brand!