5 important points to consider before booking a Waikiki hotel


As you’re planning your Waikiki vacation, we want you to be able to find the best room that fits your budget. We all know that rate shopping is a major consideration, but we wanted to list other important points to consider before you book a room.

1. Location

Ideally, we’d all love to book a room with an oceanfront view, but there’s not enough of a supply of oceanfront rooms in Waikiki to fit everyone’s budget. There are only eight oceanfront hotels in the heart of Waikiki Beach. I’ll list these hotels in order from west to east:

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village (not to be confused with the other Hilton hotel, Hilton Waikiki Beach)
  • Hale Koa (Military only hotel)
  • Outrigger Reef on the Beach
  • Halekulani
  • Sheraton Waikiki (not to be confused with the other Sheraton property, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani)
  • Royal Hawaiian
  • Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
  • Moana Surfrider

On our where to stay on Oahu page, we list other hotels with very good or partially obstructed ocean views of Waikiki Beach.

Bear in mind that even though you might choose an oceanfront hotel, depending on the room category you choose, you might not even have an ocean view at all. Just about every oceanfront Waikiki hotel has room categories described as “city view” that don’t have any ocean view what so ever.

When you’re searching for a hotel room, remember that the hotels will usually show photos of rooms with their very best view in the background. Marketing materials used on their websites and with online travel agencies (like Expedia and Travelocity) show specially angled photos to make the hotel look its best. Some photos can be carefully cropped to make hotels that are not oceanfront look like they are. Some friends of ours booked a Waikiki hotel thinking it was oceanfront based on the photos they reviewed, but they were disappointed to discover the hotel was actually across the road from the beach when they checked in. A quick and easy way to check the location of a hotel is to go to Google Maps and search for the hotel’s address. Be sure to look at the maps in multiple views including street view.

While we’re on the topic of location, it’s worth mentioning that where you stay depends on how much peace and quiet you enjoy. As previously mentioned, oceanfront rooms are ideal for their amazing views, but they are also some of the quietest rooms. I’m a light sleeper, so we try to choose hotels/rooms that are away from street noise, which is quite a challenge in Waikiki. It’s best to stay on the highest floor possible to minimize street noise if you select an ocean view, partial ocean view or city view room category.

2. Resort/Amenity Fees

As you compare hotels and rates, make sure you know if the hotels you are considering charge resort or amenity fees so that you are accurately comparing costs. Resort and amenity fees are charged daily and generally cost in the range of $20 to $35 per day.

We will say that resort fees are not always evil. Just make sure you know what you get for your money. For example, if a $25 resort fee includes a newspaper, in-room coffee, local telephone calls and access to a fitness center, that seems way overpriced. However, if the resort fee includes parking and other perks that are typically charged a la carte at most hotels, then the fee might be worth paying.

3. Parking options and fees

If you plan to rent a car for your stay, beware that finding easy, affordable parking can be a challenge. (Read our article to help you decide if you want to rent car in for your Waikiki stay.) As you compare hotel options, be sure and consider the parking options and fees. Does the hotel offer parking? Can you self park or is parking valet-only? Are there any affordable garages near your hotel?  Some hotels only offer valet parking and it’s not unusual to pay $35 per day for this convenience.

4. Do you prefer to spend more time on the beach or at a pool? 

Since Waikiki Beach is highly developed, the hotels have nowhere to expand. The hotels were also built in an era before spacious, fancy schmancy pools were in demand. If you are a “pool person”, you’ll want to check out our list of the Waikiki hotels with the best pools.

5. Reviews

Spend some time sifting through reviews. Do reviewers rave about the rooms and amenities or complain about them? No review site is perfect, but TripAdvisor is the best source. Our caution is to take five and one-star reviews by members with low review counts with a grain of salt. Here’s the link to TripAdvisor’s list of Honolulu hotels.

What are the most important factors you consider before booking a hotel room?

  1. We have stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel a few times. It’s not a resort, not even a restaurant, but is a fabulous place to stay. Free parking, excellent and friendly staff. Condos are very nice and it’s at the end of the busy section right across the street from the beach. The park is near with concerts and movies on the beach. Another we stayed at is The New Otani Hotel at the opposite side of the park. Right on a very quiet and private beach. Both Hotels are top notch.

  2. Great list. I thought of a couple more.

    6) Cleaning Fees:
    Condos and VRBO units sometimes charge pretty steep cleaning fees that are due upon checkout. It looks like they’re a lot cheaper until you check out and find out you have a $125 to $150 cleaning fee.

    7) Parking:
    Some places are way more expensive than others. Sometimes it’s a lot cheaper to get parking down the street instead of the building you’re staying in. It pays to shop around.

  3. I recommend staying on the north shore of Oahu!!! I lived on Oahu for 8 years and Waikiki is fun to visit once in a while, but the north shore has the beautiful, uncrowded beaches and laid back atmosphere that Hawaii is known for!!!

  4. When I moved here for he second time from Ohio in the dead of winter for work my hotel was $150/night it had 3 twin size cots! People were glad to have these rooms, I don’t get it….anyway, it pays to look around on multiple sites when booking a hotel. Most importantly, find out if there is any events going on because that will make a huge impact on the availability of rooms. I learned the hard way:(

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