Overwhelmed by the choices of where to stay in Waikiki? Me too. With so many options, price points, and locations available, it can be difficult to decide. On my last trip to Oahu, I had a chance to take peek in a variety of hotels and scope out where I might want to stay on a return visit. Whether you're looking for a high-rise efficiency, relaxed comfort, a slice of history, or a total retreat, Waikiki (and nearby) holds that for you. Keep reading to take a peek into four diverse hotels in Honolulu.
What does it mean to go to the beach? As you move across the globe a trip to the beach can conjure up many types of memories. Deserted ones in Hawaii, boardwalks and caloric snacks on Coney Island, Caribbean resorts with rum drinks just steps from the ocean, and well groomed Italian beaches where you pay for your own cordoned off section to bronze.
Regardless of their incarnation, my favorite beach experiences, however, are those where the context remains. Where my experience feels just as similar as those who have come years before to get away, to hear the ocean, smell the salt air, and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them. In the Pacific Northwest, I recently discovered Iron Springs Resort, a place that allows you to experience a trip to the coast in the way it has been done for decades. Where you can retreat into nature and enjoy the relaxed Pacific Northwest spirit.
On our recent roadtrip through the southern United States, we made sure we spent a few days in New Orleans, home of po-boys, funky jazz, and perfect beignets. Our temporary home in the Big Easy was the Chimes Bed and Breakfast, a wonderful old house tucked near the Garden District and the St. Charles Streetcar line. We chose Chimes for it's location, but soon discovered oodles of other reasons it's a great place to stay. From well designed rooms to an affable host, it left no question in my mind that the Chimes is where I'll be the next time I'm in town.
"When you get a chance, go on Tripadvisor and leave me a review" Charlie, the owner of Las Palmas Hotel asked. "Postive, negative, I don't care. Just leave something." I bristled at his audacity, momentarily, but as Charlie began to tell us about the few reviews he did have on the ubiquitous site, I soon understood. "One person, they complained that we were roaming the property at night. Hell, of course we were, we wanted to make sure you were safe." "And then there's another complaining about the hotel not having any hot water," he said. He then went on to explain how he uses solar tanks to heat the water and while it might not be the warmest, it's certainly not cold. I could hear the exasperation in his voice and immediately recognized a kindred spirit, a fellow American that doesn't get our people. Why is it that when we leave home, we expect, dare say demand, to find the comforts of home elsewhere? How quickly do we forget that we're in another country and that despite what chain hotels have led us to believe, not everywhere is the same.
We weren't sure what to expect from Kauai. We had heard about the gorgeous landscape, warned that there were chickens everywhere and that everything moved at a slower pace. And after a few days of frantically running around Oahu searching for the best eats, we were ready for a break. We felt the slower pace immediately when we arrived at the airport, picked up our rental car and set out a leisurely hour long drive to the north side of the island. We stopped briefly in Kappa for a snack at Mermaids Cafe and then again in Princeville to pick up some groceries. After that it was all single lane bridges, taro fields, a pause in the funky town of Hanalei to make sure we hadn't driven too far and then a few more single lane bridges until we reached Hanalei Colony Resort.
As we stepped out of the car, we realized we had indeed slowed down our pace. We made our way to the office, picked up our keys and wandered the grounds until we found our two bedroom unit. When we walked in the door, we dropped our bags, past the kitchen, the beds and immediately to the ocean right outside. Walls of windows in every direction filled with aquamarine water. What was this place? Did we have to leave?
The first stop on our Hawaii trip was Waikiki, where we stayed at the Aqua Waikiki Pearl. I was interested to check out this local chain, who prides itself on their hip, budget-friendly properties that won't break the bank. Before we left, I spotted great promotional deals online for the Pearl. With rates as low as $79 a night, we knew this was the kind of place we'd seek out on our own. (Our stay, however, was complimentary.)
As you might have noticed, my recent trip to Aruba was sponsored by the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. As such, I thought it only fitting to give you my thoughts and experiences on the resort itself. When I travel, I don't discriminate against any kind of establishment (although admittedly, cost is usually my deciding factor.) Sometimes I stay in a "mom and pop" B&B and sometimes it's the chain hotel. It all depends on my travel needs and desires for the trip. Price might be my deciding vote, but there are many other factors that come into play when choosing a hotel, and as such, I've chosen a few things to discuss about the Aruba Marriott. I'll break it down, as follows: the room (cause you're sleeping there), the amenities (they can often rationalize the added cost), check-in (it's a good barometer for how your stay will be), and problems (problems, always give you insight, on the hotel or the traveler).
So, you're heading to New York and you've made the difficult decision of what airport to fly into and you're starting to get excited about all the eating, shopping, and sightseeing to be had. The only detail left to figure out is deciding where to stay. I know you're tempted to stay in Midtown, it's just so convenient, you say. Don't get me wrong, Midtown makes sense for a lot of people. At least if you plan on spending your entire trip on Broadway, gawking in Times Square, taking a carriage ride through Central Park or on top of the Empire State Building. But, that's just not New York to me, that's the rest of the world's vision of New York.
Austin and I have talked about this before, we LOVE staying in neighborhoods. (See here or here.) Places where people want to live, eat, and exist. Our usual New York haunt is somewhere between the East Village and Gramercy. We have our favorite breakfast spot, streets to window shop on, and even a favorite late night deli. However, on my latest trip to NYC, I got to try out living in the West Village for a few days while attending the Travel Blog Exchange (or TBEX) and stayed in a sponsored apartment rental from HomeAway.
Apartments are my favorite option when traveling and having the comforts of home always makes for a more pleasant stay. I love having a full kitchen, a communal space to relax in and a closet; those are ALL wonderful things to have when traveling. Our rental from HomeAway was an absolutely lovely apartment, huge by New York standards with two bedrooms, TWO bathrooms and we even had a garden patio, where my roommates and I spent countless hours people watching, relaxing and swapping stories about the day over a glass of wine or a cheese plate from Murray's Cheese. This kind of luxury can come with a high price tag, our West Village digs ran around $600 per night. However, the West Village isn't exactly known for being cheap, and if that's out of your price range, you could easily find an equally vibrant neighborhood to fit any budget. Another point to be made is that said apartment slept up to six people and if you've got a crowd, it's not so far offbase from New York hotel price standards. (Although, pick a crowd you like, cause this apartment was New York City big, but not THAT big.) But, perhaps what I liked best about staying in the apartment was not the apartment and the amenities it offered, but, the ability to stay in an awesome neighborhood and not a Midtown hotel. Getting a taste of living in New York made me fall in love with New York all over again.
If you love vintage Americana, especially in the form of cool, restored trailers from the 1940s and 50s, a night at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona needs to be added to your to do list. With nine trailers to choose (including an Airstream, a boat, and the Tiki Bus seen above) decorated with vintage mid-century modern decor, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time.