Which Is The Best Hotel In Waikiki? Halekulani Vs Royal Hawaiian


Waikiki is a popular destination on the Hawaiian islands, but what is the best luxury hotel in Waikiki? Halekulani vs. Royal Hawaiian?

Both these hotels offer the most luxury hotel option in Waikiki. If you travel further out of Waikiki but remain on Oahu, the Four Seasons Oahu is worth a stay as well, but within Waikiki, these are definitely both your best options.

Book either hotel with our luxury travel concierge to get exclusive free benefits at both these hotels or at any other hotel in Waikiki and beyond. Drop our friendly agents a message with your plans, and they should be able to offer you a better deal wherever you are heading.

Halekulani vs. Royal Hawaiian

The Halekulani is more modern and feels the more exclusive of the two hotels. As a result, it gets a huge number of return guests. The Diamond Head rooms have a very large lanai with beautiful views and are very comfortable. You will not be disappointed by the amenities or the service here. This is the most luxurious of luxury resorts in Waikiki.

Halekulani is often described as “an oasis within Waikiki” and believe it! It’s so quiet, peaceful, and exclusive, like an island in the vibrant Waikiki.

By comparison, the Royal Hawaiian, or the Pink Palace, has the edge on history. It also offers refined and elegant luxury steeped in Honolulu history.

Unfortunately, the result of the Royal Hawaiian’s historic status is crowds of non-guests or non-residents congregating in the lobby. In fact, these “tourists” have been described as a “steady stream of gawkers parading through the lobby” by many. Not ideal! This means that the hotel feels more like a tourist attraction than private space.

The Tower rooms at the Royal Hawaiian are large. They have a better view and larger bathrooms than the historic rooms at this hotel which have some very nice original features and a nice feel, but no lanai, which is a major disadvantage as you are “stuck inside” when you return to your room.


There is really no beach in front of Halekulani, but there is a nice beach, part of which is roped off for the guests at the Royal Hawaiian. If you want a beach, we recommend the Royal Hawaiian. If you are happy sitting in beautiful grounds, the Halekulani is for you. Both hotels’ places are beautiful.


The Halekulani has a beautiful pool area, very quiet and private, with excellent service around the pool, much like you would expect from a Four Seasons resort, but their beach is no good. Virtually non-existent. The waterside path which takes you from one end of Waikiki to the other does exist at the edge of this property, but there is no beach beyond.

The Royal Hawaiian has the beach, but the pool is too cramped. In fact, the Royal Hawaiian signature pink umbrellas probably sit on one of the best bits of Waikiki beach, so if you are a beach bum, this is the hotel for you! But the pool is not half as good here.

IMHO the most high-end luxury of these two hotels in Waikiki is the Halekulani and little beats sitting out by their pool, sitting out on their balconies, and having a drink in their “House without a Key”, but if you want to sit out on the beach, the Royal Hawaiian is the only one to choose.

Have a read of our more in-depth reviews of these two hotels below for a fuller picture of the offering at each hotel.

Halekulani Waikiki

The Halekulani is the best luxury resort on Waikiki Beach, with a beautiful pool and direct waterside access. Halekulani actually means “House Befitting Heaven”, originally built in 1907 and now completely refurbished. This is a large hotel, but it’s not large by Waikiki standards. All 410 guest rooms are excellent, with plenty of space and large lanais. They range between 415 and 485 ft.², and pricing depends on the view. The standard rooms overlook the gardens. Crucially 90% of all rooms offer an ocean view.

There are also 43 suites at the Halekulani, which tend to overlook the resort pool and beach. The lowest level suites only offer a Romeo and Juliet balcony, so don’t get caught out if you like to sit out on a lounger with the privacy of your own balcony all day. The larger suites have larger balconies, and some even have a terrace. All are beautifully decorated in creams and greys and light blues, which evoke the colors of the beach, the sea, and Diamond Head in the distance. Technology includes a 46-inch flat-screen TV, a DVD/CD entertainment center, and complimentary wireless Internet access. Bathrooms feature a deep soaking tub, a separate glassed-in shower, and a marble basin.

The place to spend the evening is the iconic “House without a Key”. It is the perfect place for early evening cocktails and live music as the sunsets. Follow your cocktail with an exclusive meal. Orchids and La Mer are two of the best restaurants in Hawaii, and they both reside in the Halekulani.

Luxury Travel Concierge

Book with our luxury travel concierge to get the following exclusive free benefits at the Halekulani hotel:

  • Upgrade at the time of booking (subject to availability and are valid in select categories only Partial Ocean View upgrade to Ocean View or Ocean View upgrade to Ocean Front)
  • Daily breakfast for up to two in-room guests, at either House Without a Key (buffet breakfast) or Orchids (full American breakfast). On Sundays, breakfast will only be offered at House Without a Key
  • $100 USD Hotel Credit for bookings confirmed in Garden Courtyard View, Poolside Room, Partial Ocean View, Ocean View, Ocean Front, Diamond Head Ocean Front, Garden Junior Suite, Ocean View Junior Suite, and Diamond Head Ocean Junior Suite
  • $200.00 USD Hotel Credit for bookings confirmed in Pool View Suite, Poolside Suite, Sunset Suite, Ocean Suite, Ocean Terrace Suite, Diamond Head Suite, Diamond Head Prime Suite, Executive Luxury Suite, Orchid Suite, Halekulani Suite, and Royal Suite
  • Early check-in / late check-out (subject to availability)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The hotel also offers an award-winning spa embracing the healing culture of the Pacific, a wide range of water sports, including outrigger canoe rides, surfing, snorkeling, sailing, or you can just take in Waikiki’s world-famous beach culture. A kids’ program is also provided for families traveling with children during the summer months and at Christmas.

With its beautiful glass mosaic tiles, the freshwater pool provides one of the most relaxing places for a swim in Waikiki.

It’s worth noting that there isn’t much beach bordering this hotel. The best stretch of beach in Waikiki is in front of the Hilton Village, which is just a couple of minutes’ walk away, or down by the Moana Surfrider, a short walk in the other direction. Here you can hire sun loungers and umbrellas but having to walk up the coastline to use a beach is far from ideal.

At the Halekulani, you can enjoy the pool and the grounds, but not sunbathing on the beach as the hotel simply does not have much of a beach. On the bright side, you can take up free surf lessons here and paddle out to sea. It’s a great place to start this exciting sport!

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. Each room in the Royal Beach Tower 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.

Luxury Travel Concierge

Book with our luxury travel concierge to get the following exclusive free benefits at the Royal Hawaiian:

  • Upgrade on arrival (subject to availability)
  • Full breakfast daily for two guests at Surf Lanai restaurant
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full, excludes alcohol and retail shops, may be used toward food charges at Azure, Surf Lanai, & Mai Tai Bar, Aha’aina Luau, Abhasa Spa, Beach Services)
  • Daily resort charge waived, benefits included
  • Early check-in / late check-out (subject to availability)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Best Hotel On Oahu?

Of course, the best hotel on Oahu is The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina which is not in Waikiki but is a short drive away, it is probably the best and most luxurious hotel choice on Oahu.

Stay here, and you have the option of enjoying the best of Waikiki by taxi-ing or uber-ing into town. You can also escape the crowds to the glorious and luxurious isolation of this Four Seasons hotel. This is also probably the most convenient of all the Four Seasons hotels on the Hawaiian Islands. It is located on Oahu, around a half-hour drive from Honolulu Airport (HNL), and you can fly direct into HNL from mainland USA and Canada.

I reviewed the best way to get deals and special offers at Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, Hawaii. The key is to book your next Four Seasons stay via our luxury travel concierge, and we can give you free loyalty-style benefits, room upgrades, and perks, at no extra cost.

Find out the best airline to fly to Hawaii in First to get there in style!

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.