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1. Best Location: Four Seasons Oahu Vs. Ritz-Carlton Waikiki Vs. Halekulani Vs. Royal Hawaiian
These four hotels are in quite different locations. Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is not in Waikiki or Honolulu. Four Seasons is in Ko Olina, which is a good hours drive from Honolulu, depending on traffic. So if you want to explore Honolulu and Waikiki, then Four Seasons isn’t a great choice. What Four Seasons does have is larger grounds, a better beach, a more stylish pool area, and a fantastic tropical resort feel. Better than any of the hotels in Waikiki.
Ritz-Carlton Waikiki is one of the best Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Waikiki but is not on the beach, so while the hotel is brilliant and stylish with decent-sized rooms, you can’t step out onto the sands from this hotel.
Halekulani is right on the waterfront of central Waikiki, but there is no beach in front of this hotel, so if you are looking for a beach, this isn’t the best choice.
The Royal Hawaiian is also on the waterfront in central Waikiki, just a few hotels up the beach from the Halekulani, but this hotel is on a sandy patch of beach. There is little to choose between the location of the Halekulani Vs. Royal Hawaiian.
2. Best Beach
As I outlined above, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina has a gorgeous beach and is easily the best beach of these four hotels. This area does not seem to attract as much surf as the beaches in Waikiki, but in all other respects, the Four Seasons beach is the best.
The Royal Hawaiian also has a sandy beach area, but it is not a patch on the Four Seasons. The Ritz-Carlton and Halekulani don’t have beaches adjacent to their hotels.
The Halekulani beach is 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.
3. Best Pools
The Four Seasons wins again with excellent and numerous pools spread out over magnificent beachfront grounds.
Halekulani has a lovely pool on its small patch of land, which is a very enjoyable place to hang out. The Halekulani’s beautiful pool area is very quiet and private, with excellent service around the pool, much like you would expect from a Four Seasons resort.
The pool at the Ritz-Carlton is stylish but urban. The pools at the Royal Hawaiian are OK but probably the least appealing of these three hotels as they can get crowded. Royal Hawaiian, of course, has the beach as another outdoor option.
4. Best For Kids
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is fabulous for children offering a Kids For All Seasons activity program. If money is not a barrier to booking here, then Four Seasons is the best hotel for children.
5. Best Style
For glitz and glam, you have to choose the Four Seasons, which is regularly featured in movies (including Sonic 2 which my son watched just yesterday!). The Four Seasons is immaculate and beautiful.
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. This hotel comes second for best style in our opinion.
The Ritz-Carlton is a modern hotel but it loses my vote because it is a walk from the beach or water’s edge.
By comparison, the Royal Hawaiian, or the Pink Palace, has the edge in 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 a private space.
6. Best Rooms
Four Seasons rooms are stylish and immaculate and the best and largest of these hotels. With either privileged views of the resort or ocean, Guest Rooms are bathed in natural light by floor-to-ceiling windows and feature a refreshing color palette. We like the deluxe rooms with the private outdoor spa tub. Size-wise, they start at an average of 640 sq. ft. (59 m2) with a balcony of 86 sq. ft. (8 m2) so offer plenty of room.
The Ritz-Carlton rooms are stylish with great views and are large for Waikiki, starting at 400 sq. ft. At the Halekulani rooms start at 419 sq. ft. so they are again generous and face the ocean or resort.
The Royal Hawaiian has a range of rooms, from the tower rooms, which have a better view and larger bathrooms, to the historic rooms, 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.
7. Club Lounge
None of these three hotels offers a club lounge.
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