Updated July 1, 2021.
If you’ve ever been to Waikiki, you’ve definitely seen “the Pink Hotel,” which is the Royal Hawaiian! It’s one of the oldest resorts in the world, and of course one of the first in Hawaii. Steve suggested we should stay here for our 5th anniversary, and it was really something special!
*This is not a sponsored post. We chose to stay at the Royal Hawaiian and paid for all expenses ourselves. As always, all opinions are my own!
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The Royal Hawaiian originally opened in February 1927, and it’s been an iconic fixture on Waikiki Beach ever since. It’s always been pink (you can even get “Royal Hawaiian Pink” at your local paint store), and the hotel welcomed 1200 people that first night!
Travel was different in the 1920s. Today we can fly 10.5 hours from the U.S. East Coast non-stop to Honolulu. Way back when, the same trip would take multiple forms of transportation and months of travel! No trip was a quick trip, and a “weekender” was not a thing! Enter the Royal Hawaiian, the perfect pit-stop in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
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After knowing great success, Pearl Harbor changed everything. After December 7, 1941, the Navy recreation and morale office rented the entire hotel for use as a rest and relaxation center. They actually put canons on the top of the hotel (and the other hotels around at the time, and on Diamond Head!). Afterward it was refreshed and reopened as a beautiful hotel in 1947.
Over the years the Pink Palace of the Pacific has welcomed the likes of Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Amelia Erhart, and now the O’Haleks! Will you be putting your name in the guest book?
Want more? Check out the history page on their website. Staying? They have a guided history tour every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00pm!
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This perfectly pink hotel is located right on Waikiki Beach. You can’t miss it! What you might not know, however, is that it’s also on the site of King Kamehameha I’s home, and Queen Kaahumanu’s Summer Palace was once located in the nearby Coconut Grove. Waikiki’s southwest-facing orientation makes it the perfect place to watch the sunset, and while people occasionally groan about the commercialism in and around Waikiki and O’ahu in general, its proximity to shopping, dining, and activities makes it ideal for those who want it all!
More here: What to Pack for O’ahu
If you’re hoping to be greeted with a lei upon arrival, you’ve come to the right place! Men receive a kuikuinut lei and ladies receive an orchid one. The woman who checked us in kindly went through our benefits and inclusions, gave us a schedule of events for our time there, and made sure we knew how to log into the wifi!
We arrived quite early, so we were able to leave our luggage with the gentlemen up front and pick it up when our room was ready.
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What’s almost better than a lei? Welcome muffins! We were given a voucher to redeem at the Royal Hawaiian Bakery for banana-macadamia muffins at any time during our stay. It didn’t take long for us to cash that in! To our delight, the package actually contained three soft and tasty muffins! Since our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived in the morning, we took a run to Diamond Head and hiked to the top. By the time we got back we were very hungry—and thirsty! And what goes better with muffins than an iced macadamia nut latte and guava juice?
More here: What to Eat in Waikiki
We chose a Garden View room in the historic part of the hotel (as opposed to the high-rise addition from the 90’s—more views, less charm!). It was gorgeous! We had a corner room, and it was beautifully decorated. There are six floors in the historic building, and we were on the fifth. The room was quiet, private, and surprisingly spacious, especially for a historic property!
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We thoroughly enjoyed our room! The bed was very comfortable, and I love that both sides of the bed had power outlets, lamps, and bed-side tables. There was also comfortable seating, a large closet, a mini-fridge, plenty of drawers and storage, and water bottles replenished daily.
Historic hotels are not known for large rooms and bathrooms, but this one has them! I was pleased to find a walk-in shower, counter-top sink instead of pedestal-style, and truly luxurious toiletries. Not to mention the large, soft towels!
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So many hotels, even luxury hotels, tend to skimp on the little things that make a difference, namely toiletries and toilet paper. Other hotels save a few cents per guest by using inferior products, but not the Royal Hawaiian. The sand, salt, sea water, sunscreen, bug repellent, and more really do a number on a person’s skin and hair, so it’s wonderful to come in and use truly luxurious products!
And then to slip into a comfortable robe is the ultimate icing on the cake! It was terrycloth inside and pink-and-white pinstripe seersucker on the outside. I almost bought one at the gift shop, but $165 was a bit much for me!
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Royal Hawaiian Bakery
I love having a bakery and coffee shop in my hotel! This is increasingly popular in recent years. Steve and I aren’t really into fancy dinners every night (though we do indulge once in a while!), but the smell of baked goods and coffee are irresistible to me! To be able to just scoot down to the hotel’s bakery for a pastry, iced coffee, and a comfortable place to sit and read or chat with my husband is so much better than a fancy dinner, at least sometimes!
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The best part of staying at one of the first ever Hawaiian resorts? It sits on truly prime real estate! Staying here, you’re just steps from one of the most famous beaches in the world: Waikiki! You can learn to surf, row with a team on a traditional canoe, or do what we like to do: read and soak up the sun with a view of Diamond Head!
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That’s right, pools! The one at the Royal Hawaiian is on the smaller side, which is nice because that means there are not a ton of people milling around. However, guests at the Royal Hawaiian also have access to the larger, more kid-friendly pool, next door at the Sheraton! The two hotels are now part of the same Marriott-BonVoy family of hotels, and that comes with other benefits as well…
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In addition to an extra pool (with a slide!) guests at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel can also use the Sheraton fitness center. The Royal Hawaiian’s fitness center is on the small side, but given the choice of a large room or a large fitness center, I’ll choose the large room any day! We ended up working out at beach parks instead anyway—we were in Hawaii after all!
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I’ll have to be honest with you, this was a waste of our time. I was really excited about it at first because this was our fifth anniversary, and I thought it would be so nice to have some beautiful shots around the historic property and Waikiki! We would get a complimentary photo to take home with us, and we could purchase as many photos as we liked on top of that. It sounded like a special thing to do!
You may have also noticed I don’t post a lot of pictures of myself because I’m really terrible at posing, and I’m often traveling alone. I thought it would be wonderful to get professional pictures that I could use on the blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc. However, it felt much more like an awkward pre-prom photo shoot than a romantic anniversary photo session. The photographer put me in the most unflattering, unnatural poses.
Long story short, the pictures were terrible (I was wearing a flattering black dress, but you couldn’t tell from the photos!) and we didn’t even get to choose our own complimentary photo. The photographer told us after the session that the hotel chooses our commemorative photo. It was not wonderful:
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If you’re at a loss for what to do on O’ahu (of all places!), the Royal Hawaiian offers activities like shell bracelet making, flower lei making, lauhala bracelet weaving, hula dancing lessons, and even Hawaiian quilting!
Prefer more active activities? The Royal Hawaiian offers complimentary GoPro rental! Take it with you on hikes, chasing waterfalls, or under the sea to capture your amazing adventures! We did not take advantage of the GoPro because the rental time began at 9:00am, and we were always out before then!
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Want more about O’ahu and all the Hawaiian Islands? Check out my Hawaiian Islands Page!
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