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The best hotels in Oahu

From capital Honolulu to the charm of the North Shore, here are the best hotels in Oahu. A good night's sleep, guaranteed

Written by
Martha Cheng
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Where would we be without hotels? Sure, the main reasons for travel usually focus on the culture, history, nature, and flavors, but we all need to lay our head somewhere once the sun goes down. Luckily for travelers all around the globe, some magnificent hotels are waiting for us all.

Oahu is no different. As the most-visited of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu lives up to its billing with a tremendous roster of exclusive resorts and down-to-earth sleeping spots, very much fulfilling the "something for everyone" stereotype that tourism thrives on. “The Gathering Place” is full of exciting things to do (including some of the best restaurants going), and these are the best hotels in Oahu.

The best hotels in Oahu

This is where Joan Didion once stayed, when she and her husband came to Hawaii in lieu of a divorce. There are worse places to put one’s life back together than at what’s colloquially known as the pink palace, where the soothing rose façade, Spanish-Moorish arches and cerulean blue of Waikiki’s waters will gently wash your cares away. Opt for a room in the historic wing, which dates back to 1927, with flourishes that call to mind the opulence of the hotel’s heyday.

The Surfjack has recently been transformed from a drab, nondescript Waikiki hotel into one of Honolulu’s hippest gathering places. The mid-century modern-meets-aloha atmosphere is certainly part of its new-found appeal, with much of the interior designed by local artists, from the shaka wallpaper print to the now Instagram-iconic ‘Wish You Were Here’ tiling in the pool. Other draws include the Mahina and Sun’s restaurant, and the frequent events at the hotel, from art exhibitions to talks on the poke bowl trend.

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Lay low, indeed. This recent addition to the Oahu hotel scene provides a contemporary oasis right in the middle of Waikiki. When you tire of the hubbub, retire to the open-air Hideout restaurant, where you can lounge around the fire pits and overlook the streets below, or head up to your bright room, its stylish mid-century minimalism offset with cheery, modern-chic tropical wallpaper.

One of the best budget options in Waikiki, the boutique Hotel Renew offers Zen-like tranquil rooms and an ‘aroma concierge’ (a choice of scents for your room). The rooms are small and there aren’t many amenities, though a buffet breakfast and free Wi-Fi are included. But with lots of restaurants in the neighborhood and the beach a block away, it’s perfect for those who don’t need a lot. Though if you need your pooch along for the vacation, dog-friendly rooms are available.

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5. Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

Outrigger Waikiki Beach resort offers the best of everything, with proximity to Kalakaua Avenue boutique shops and eateries, plus immediate beach access. The only tough choice is deciding between dipping in the oceanfront pool or surfing the waves in front of the resort. Add that to jacuzzi suite options and spacious balconies, and this resort is paradise. Top off your stay with a tasty meal at Duke’s Waikiki, an onsite restaurant that pays tribute to local surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku. 

6. Vive Hotel Waikiki

This boutique property is youthful and chill, with a coastal contemporary aesthetic and super cozy beds. Guestrooms offer a tablet concierge, multiple outlets for all your gadgets, and – more importantly – complimentary boogie boards and beach gear. After enjoying the included island breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries, take a short stroll to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue on Waikiki Beach. Here you can swim, splash, surf and sunbathe, then return to Vive for unlimited 24-hour coffee and tea. 

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Lotus Honolulu sits on the quiet end of Waikiki, adjacent to Kaimana, one of the city’s best beaches. Choose a corner room facing Diamond Head and open up the lanai doors to Hawaii’s cooling trade winds: this is one of the few properties in Waikiki where you can leave your windows open and not be bombarded by city noise.

All of the rooms at Turtle Bay offer a view of the ocean, which is something that few hotels at this price range (sub-$300) can boast. Add to that spacious rooms, a sprawling 800-acre property filled with trails to explore on foot or horseback, and a beachside location on the North Shore and you have the perfect launchpad for your vacation in Hawaii.  

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The Alohilani was renovated completely in 2017, with the rooms lightened and modernized to create a chic-white beach aesthetic with shots of bright color and wood details. Don’t miss sunset at the fifth-floor infinity pool, which seems to stretch all the way to the ocean, where you can toast the end of the day with a cocktail from the adjacent Swell Bar. Next to hip hangout spot the O Bar, the Oceanarium houses more than 1,000 indigenous marine animals.

The Kahala is just a ten-minute drive away from Waikiki, but here, on the other side of Diamond Head, it feels like it’s on its own island. It’s because of this seclusion – and, of course, the Kahala’s hospitality – that everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Prince Charles and Princess Diana have stayed here. Right in front is a quiet beach, so uncrowded that it feels like it could be private.

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11. Prince Waikiki

Prince Waikiki is a high-class gem by the water without a luxury price tag. This boutique property offers a complimentary shuttle and free self-parking, along with unlimited Wi-Fi. Every single room comes with an ocean view thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and you’ll get an even more impressive panorama from the rooftop infinity pool. Its sleek contemporary appeal is accented by hand-painted Nai‘o flowers on guestroom walls and local art throughout. 

More of the best in Oahu

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