The Pink Palace of Waikiki Continues to Captivate Guests with Royal History and Modern Luxury

Soaring above the Waikiki shoreline is an unmistakable pink landmark whose presence has been known by locals and tourists alike for nearly a century. The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, is set upon 14 acres of beachfront land, once the site of famously powerful Queen Kaahumanu’s summer palace. Fondly nicknamed the “Pink Palace” for its whimsical luxury, the resort attracts guests worldwide for its charming façade alone.

In addition to boasting a royal history that dates back to the rule of King Kamehameha I of the 18th century, the site of the Royal Hawaiian was also previously a recreational center for the Pacific Fleet of the U.S. Navy during World War II. But in 1947, the property re-opened to the public and quickly cemented its place as one of the foremost luxury properties along Waikiki. 

Built to resemble a sweeping Spanish manor, the Royal Hawaiian immediately transports you to a different time, lifestyle, and ethos. You can reach the indoor/outdoor lobby of the hotel either via the beach or by wandering through a lush, verdant coconut grove. Either way, you can’t miss the soaring pink structure that emerges almost as though by surprise from its surroundings. 

The sprawling property boasts a whopping 528 rooms spread across two towers: the aptly named Historic Wing screams old-world luxury with textured wallpapers, dark wood finishes, and palm leaf-inspired fans (don’t worry, there’s also modern AC). The newer Mailani Tower, on the other hand, offers more spacious rooms with stunning views of the beach and ocean just below. Vintage koa seating and various Indigenous art objects offer unique reminders of the historical setting, while more contemporary paintings bring the Tower into the 21st century. All rooms feature large bathrooms with Malie bath products, and we’re particular fans of the hibiscus-scented shampoo and conditioner. 

With direct access to the beach (and complimentary towel service), you don’t necessarily need any other bodies of water. Still, families with younger children may appreciate the two pools on the property. When you do head to the beach, however, you’ll find a whole host of activities that can be booked directly through the hotel. Two absolute standouts include the Maita’i Catamaran (which features an open bar on certain sailings) and surf lessons from the Waikiki Beach Services. However, you can’t go wrong with the hotel’s water-based activities. 

If, however, the water is not for you, the Royal Hawaiian also offers a host of terrestrial ongoings, including morning yoga by the beach, hula lessons, ukelele lessons, and traditional Hawaiian crafts such as lei making, shell bracelet making, and Lauhala weaving. 

After a long day of adventures, you can relax at one of the hotel’s many bars and restaurants. We love Azure’s four-course Spanish-inspired menu for a fancier dinner or a cold beverage from RumFire at the next-door Sheraton Waikiki, with whom the Royal Hawaiian shares many amenities. And if your stay includes either a Monday or Thursday evening, experience the Aha’aina Luau, which pays homage to a traditional royal Hawaiian celebration. 

It’ll be hard to leave the Royal Hawaiian, but with a staying power that has lasted this iconic property decades, it’s safe to say that it’ll be eagerly awaiting your next return. 

Top Takeaways

Location: Oahu, Hawaii 

Rating: Five-Star

The Vibe: A whimsical, family-friendly beachfront resort.

Food + Drink: There are five beverage and dining options spread across the property. 

Amenities: Spas; Pools; Fitness center; Restaurants; Bars; Meeting Spaces; Water activities, Daily cultural activities

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: If you don’t know how to surf, learn how at the Royal Hawaiian for an unforgettable experience 

What’s Nearby? Kapiolani Park, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Ala Moana Center

Rooms: 528 rooms, including 33 suites

Pricing: Rooms start at $415/night  

Closest Airport: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)

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