In this review, we ask, which is the best Bonvoy hotel in Waikiki? Royal Hawaiian vs. Westin Moana Surfrider vs. Sheraton vs. Marriott. If you fly into Honolulu (HNL), you will probably head straight to the resort of Waikiki for your stay in Hawaii. If you collect Marriott or Sheraton Starwood (SPG), now Bonvoy points, then it’s worth knowing where you can spend them and earn them and which hotels are in the Bonvoy portfolio on Oahu and, in fact, across the Hawaiian islands.
Your choices of Bonvoy earning and burning hotels
The Royal Hawaiian, Luxury Collection, Honolulu, Hawaii, was last renovated in 2009 and is one of the best hotels in Waikiki and is THE best Bonvoy hotel in Waikiki. The Westin Moana Surfrider is our second choice and the second-best Bonvoy hotel in Waikiki, followed by the Sheraton Waikiki, which comes in at number three. All three hotels are beachfront, and the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Surfrider both have incredible histories and stunning lobbies and grounds. Both have modern wings where you can enjoy rooms with balconies whilst still enjoying the historic main buildings and grounds. The Sheraton Waikiki is all modern and massively high rise, a truly enormous hotel.
For club lounge, you have to choose between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Moana Surfrider, we prefer the latter, and you can find out which Waikiki hotels have the best club or executive lounges.
Your remaining choices are between the Courtyard Waikiki and Marriott Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and The Laylow Autograph Collection.
Best Way To Book
Book any of these hotels with our luxury travel concierge to get free benefits such as free upgrades, free club lounge access, free VIP gifts, and more. We also apply your Bonvoy loyalty number to your bookings so you can still collect your points and miles when you book with us (if you book a discounted deal via a third party like Expedia, you will not get your loyalty points).
Royal Hawaiian vs. Westin Moana Surfrider vs. Sheraton vs. Marriott
We have reviewed your best and most luxurious options below. A few points worth noting before we start are that the Moana tends to offer the best opportunity to score a good upgrade, whereas the Sheraton Waikiki Marriott and the Princess Kaiulani, which are are massive highrises with an old and dated design, hold the risk of getting a bad room if you don’t get an upgrade.
Base rooms at the Royal Hawaiian, the Sheraton, and the Moana Surfrider, for that matter, can be musty, small, and dated. We would always recommend booking at least one room up from the base room to avoid risking a poor stay.
The Royal Hawaiian is the best hotel of the lot, but it does not have rooms overlooking the beach, well, not hanging right over the beach. The Surfrider also has rooms overlooking or even hanging directly over the beach. This hotel offers a great way of scoring an oceanfront room where you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves!
The Royal Hawaiian just doesn’t have the direct-facing, hanging-out-over-the-water feel on the lanai that the suites in the Moana Surfrider Tower Wing offer. Ocean-facing suites at the Moana Surfrider here have been recently renovated and are truly stunning. Wall-to-wall ocean.
The private beach at the Moana Surfrider is a thin strip of overcrowded beach with a small “private” area cordoned off by a rope, where you can use hotel beach chairs. This part of the beach isn’t great, but then there isn’t a Starwood or Bonvoy option in Waikiki on Oahu with anything close to a secluded, private beach feel. The Royal Hawaiian has a larger stretch of beach with its iconic pink umbrellas, so it is a better choice, but don’t go to Waikiki for seclusion!
The Sheraton Waikiki also has a nice stretch of beach and is a good choice for families, but it is worth knowing that the Marriott does not have direct beach access and is instead across the road from the beach, so not such a great choice.
The pools are best at the Royal Hawaiian and the Sheraton Waikiki. The Moana Surfrider pool is rather small. In fact, for the pool alone, the Sheraton Waikiki is probably your best bet which is why it is such a family orientated hotel. The Marriott pool is concrete and on a roof. I didn’t like this pool when I stayed here. The Marriott offers the worst pool of the four hotels due to the concrete ambiance.
The Moana Surfrider and the Sheraton both have club lounges. There are great views from the Sheraton, but the lounge is enclosed on a very high floor. The lounge at the Moana has an open-air section right by the beach, so it is the better choice. Find out the best club lounges in Waikiki.
All four hotels we have focused on in this article charge a resort fee.
All these hotels are within walking distance of each other, with only the Marriott not being directly on the beach.
Royal Hawaiian vs. Westin Moana Surfrider vs. Sheraton vs. Marriott
I have reviewed the Royal Hawaiian vs. Westin Moana Surfrider vs. Sheraton vs. Marriott below. Each hotel is written about separately so you can judge the best option for you. Wherever you decide to stay, here or anywhere else in the world, book with our luxury travel concierge for a better deal!
Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki
For any avid Bonvoy points collectors or spenders, this hotel, which is also part of the Marriott and Sheraton SPG group, is undoubtedly a fantastic choice! In fact, this hotel is one of three great beachfront Starwood properties, and if you are looking for chain hotels, there is also a well-located Hyatt Regency with a club lounge in Waikiki, as outlined below.
The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927. This “Pink Palace of the Pacific” is located slap band in the center of the famed Waikiki Beach. With 528 rooms and suites, The Royal Hawaiian features modern comfort, indigenous accents, and refined luxury. In the Royal Beach Tower, each room provides an intimate lanai for a private vantage point of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. In the Historic Building, fresh and elegant guest rooms. The resort’s signature restaurant, Azure Restaurant, is perched along the Waikiki beachfront and serves some of the best seafood in Waikiki and in Honolulu.
This is my second favourite hotel in Waikiki and is the ninth best hotel in Hawaii. It is part of the Sheraton Luxury Collection, and you can get upgrades and free breakfast at all Luxury Collection Starwood Hotels if you book with our luxury travel concierge.
Moana Surfrider Hotel, A Westin Resort
The last time I stayed in this hotel was just before Christmas, and there was a charming Christmas train set in the foyer with sparkling snow and a train making its way around tiny mountains and through petite tunnels. It is one of three main memories of my stay here. The other two moments that stick with me are sitting on the rocking chairs on the balcony to the front of the hotel, looking out to the main street, watching people walk by, and just relaxing in the heat.
And my third memorable moment was sipping a cocktail in the gardens overlooking the beach on the first night. The sunsets quite early here, so we continued to sip as the and stars came out. I had terrible jet lag, but the swishing of the waves on the shore and the distant Hawaiian tunes made that particular evening rather lovely, regardless of my poorly head and body!
It is the historic setting and the old-fashioned architecture that makes the Moana Surfrider such a special choice in Waikiki. The hotel was actually built in 1901, and the lobby is in the original colonial building. You enter, bypassing the decked front porch lined with white wooden rocking chairs, and you step into the perfectly restored lobby.
Enormous tropical flower displays scent the lobby, and guests are greeted with a lei and a glass of fruit juice. Rooms are, unfortunately, less noteworthy.
The historic and diamond rooms lack a balcony, and although pleasant, they don’t enable you to sit out and enjoy the views. The best rooms here are the more modern Tower Ocean Front and Ocean View Rooms with incredible vistas. If you are not bothered about a balcony, the Historic Banyan Ocean rooms are also cute. Of note, the Royal Hawaiian does not have rooms overlooking the beach like the Halekulani, but for a cheaper option, the Surfrider also has rooms overlooking or even hang over the beach. Of course, the ones at the Moana Surfrider come in at a cheaper price than those at the Halekulani, so this can be a great way of scoring an oceanfront room where you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves, for less!
A couple of points worth noting for the luxury traveler. Base rooms here are small and can be musty. You really need to upgrade to a room with a balcony and views for a luxury experience. Many “City View” rooms overlook the International Marketplace to the right of the hotel from the back. The view is great, but the music can be loud and can continue well past midnight.
The location, right in the center of Waikiki beach with direct beach access, means that you couldn’t be more central. The pool is small, but the location and overall upkeep of the hotel is superb, making it a great hotel choice in Waikiki. The private beach at the Moana Surfrider is a thin strip of over-crowded beach with a small area closest to the hotel property cordoned off by a rope, where you can use hotel beach chairs. But then there isn’t a Starwood or Bonvoy option in Waikiki on Oahu with anything close to a secluded, private beach feel. Book with our Luxury Travel Concierge for advice, discounts and offers at this hotel.
Moana Surfrider Club Lounge
Access to the beach club lounge may actually save you cash even though there is a steep price tag of around $100 USD/room. This lounge does actually feel a bit like a beach club. The lounge is on the ground floor and has an outdoor seating area which is great for breakfast and alfresco or drinks in the evening. You are just a few feet above the beach! The Moana has a popcorn machine which is popular. There tend to be fewer children at this hotel than at the Sheraton Waikiki up the beach, so usually, this lounge is the more peaceful lounge of the two if your loyalty sits with the Marriott/Westin/Sheraton brand and you collect Bonvoy points.
There is a great selection at breakfast; scrambled eggs, fruit, cheese, and porridge, a nice variety along with coffee, espresso, and bottled water (Bottled water is not available at the equivalent club lounge at the Hyatt across the road, so the Moana beach club lounge offers a much better choice is the hotel lounge is a deal-breaker at your hotel). There are also soft drinks available throughout the day.
In the evening, there is free wine/beer they serve you, but your glass will never be empty. There is also a decent spread of food and excellent service.
This hotel is right on the beach with a fantastic pool, beachfront with super beach, and a great if slightly soul-less club lounge (if you are after a character beach club-style club lounge, head over to the Moana Surfrider for a more child-free experience with outdoor seating).
The downside of this hotel is that it is huge, so don’t expect the personal touch, it’s too big for that! But with huge and enormously high blocks comes incredible views! The view from the Club Lounge is also excellent, although it is just a crowded room (often full of kids) with a decent breakfast and light dinner with snacks and free-flowing self-serve wine and beer in the evening. A great spread but lacking in much of a Hawaiian feel.
If you come here to enjoy the pools and beach, right on your doorstep, and a location right in the center of the action, this hotel is a great choice!
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
I have to admit this is one of my least favorite Marriott Bonvoy related hotels on Waikiki beach. I stayed here a few years ago and found that although the resort offers a friendly staff and great views, the location is across the road from the beach rather than on the beach is a problem (no direct beach access), and I found the pools to be on the concrete side and crowded. Add to this that, because of the size of the surrounding buildings, the sun doesn’t get on the main pool till about lunchtime.
The rooms are large but a little dingy, but the spectacular views can make up for this. With 1,310 refurbished guest rooms and suites, all with private lanai, you can’t go wrong if you want to be near the beach, but please note that although this hotel is described as a resort, it is really a hotel across the road from Waikiki beach.
Amenities include Kuhio Beach Grill, featuring the best in Pacific Rim cuisine; Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar and d.k Steak House; Arancino di Mare Italian Restaurant; newly redesigned Moana Terrace, offering live Hawaiian entertainment nightly; two Starbucks; Royal Kaila Spa AVEDA; a surf school; two freshwaters, heated swimming pools (concrete-y); 10-person whirlpool; 3,000 sq. ft. 24-hour fitness center; business center with 24-hour Internet access; high-speed and wireless Internet access throughout the resort’s guest rooms and public spaces; shops and boutiques; and Hawaiian cultural activities.
The daily resort fee here is around $37 USD per night which may upset you, but most hotels in Waikiki charge a resort fee (the Four Seasons below doesn’t), so you may feel a little nickel and dimed considering the hotel isn’t really a resort. This Marriott doesn’t have a club lounge either, but elite reward members get vouchers upon check-in for the complete breakfast in the newly refurbished and expanded dining room. It’s a good breakfast, but there is no club lounge here. Again, book via our luxury travel concierge for extra benefits.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.