Mention Halekulani to anyone who has ever stayed at the Waikiki mainstay, and the response is invariably that of unadulterated affection. Maybe it’s the beachfront location with views of Diamondhead. Perhaps it’s the gracious service defined by a welcoming tenor, a hallmark since its opening years ago. Or maybe it’s the mixologist perfected mai tai, one of the best on the island, and served with a side of evening hula entertainment. Whatever the reason for the fondness engendered by the mere sight of the hotel’s distinctive logo script, Halekulani is more than an Oahu resort—it’s a feeling, one which its fans desire to carry with them between visits.
House Without A Key features evening entertainment
The hotel makes this more than possible with its logoed goods, sold in the breezeway gift shop. Here, guests will find bath towels, slippers, robes, tote bags, and assorted other items embroidered with the engaging blue logo, making it easy to take home a bit of Halekulani. But anyone knows these remembrances are not nearly as good as the real thing, and it’s not at all uncommon for guests to schedule their next visit immediately upon departure.
Halekulani Royal Suite
Halekulani's stunning Italian tile-lined swimming pool
Established more than 100 years ago as one of the first hospitality ventures on Oahu, the hotel has undergone a number of changes through the years. But one thing remains steadfast: the prime Waikiki location with unobstructed views of the Pacific and of Diamondhead. Nearly every elegantly appointed guest room and suite feature furnished, ocean-facing lanais, poised towards the sea and overlooking the stunning swimming pool that glistens with a central cattleya orchid made of more than a million Italian glass tiles of varying blue hues.
Orchids at Halekulani features stunning ocean views
Lewers Lounge jazz club
The hotel’s three restaurants also take full advantage of this panorama. House Without A Key (the name is a nod to the Charlie Chan novel by one time resident author Earl Derr Biggers) offers scenic, al fresco, all day dining. At sunset, Hawaiian song and hula are performed under the canopy of the property’s star kiawe tree. Orchids is the sophisticated, seaside main dining room, and La Mer is destination dining defined. Located on the second floor of the hotel’s historic main building, the AAA Five Diamond Awarded restaurant offers fine French cuisine and an array of freshly caught fish. The hotel’s one ocean-view outlier is Lewers Lounge, an interior jazz club bar as sultry and swanky as any found in New York City, and an ideal spot to enjoy a nightcap while serenaded by noted Oahu jazz artists. And Earl’s at House Without A Key (also named for author Earl Derr Biggers), the new pool adjacent bar, is where you’ll find that crafted Mai Tai as well as other creative concoctions imagined by lead mixologist Tuda Grehan.
Also steadfast is Halekulani’s warm hospitality. Guests are welcomed (and welcomed back) like family. Preferences are noted and remembered, and gracious, small touches make a big impact, such as housekeeping staff’s observant gift of an eyeglasses cleaning kit, and a departure offering of a small vial of Waikiki sand for which to fondly remember the visit.
Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani entrance
And when Halekulani is at full capacity, neighboring Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani is the next best thing. Located directly across the street from Halekulani, the award-winning Halepuna is Halekulani’s boutique “little sister.” Guests here are welcome to share restaurant facilities with Halekulani, but with UMI by Vikram Garg located within the gracious and spacious lobby, many find no need to venture across the street. Offering a bountiful breakfast and a sublime dinner menu, UMI by Vikram Garg is the creation of the Indian born, French trained, and Japanese inspired global restauranteur and chef innovator. Inspired by the ocean’s harvest, Garg has created a captivating, seafood centric menu of the finest seasonal ingredients. A la carte dishes such as scallop carpaccio and kampachi with shishito vinaigrette are as enchantingly delicious as they are picturesque. Two set tasting menus allow for full enjoyment of Garg’s talent, and he displays his aptitude with Indian cuisine in his Curry Dinner offering, the house made hot sauce of which has become a customer favorite. The foie gras gyoza and the prime ribeye both belong on anyone’s “best tastes ever” list, and the private collection caviar & roe is not to be missed, as are the selected wine pairings that perfectly enhance every dish.
UMI by Vikram Garg interior
UMI by Vikram Garg Kona Abalone
Also deserving a spot on a “best tastes ever” list is the salted caramel croissant, found just outside Halepuna’s front door at Halekulani Bakery. This sweet, sticky, and flaky pastry is as Instagram-worthy as it is delicious, as is nearly every pastry featured within the exalted coffee shop.
Halepuna's rooftop swimming pool
Guest rooms at Halepuna feature every comfort: marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, plush beds and bedding, coffee machines, and furnished balconies. A fitness room overlooks downtown Waikiki, and a rooftop pool with reservable cabanas affords stunning ocean vistas. While remodeled and opened just a few years ago, Halepuna maintains the same warm and welcoming vibe as the more established Halekulani, making it too an ideal Waikiki choice.