This is one of Waikiki’s most luxurious hotels; its name means “house befitting heaven.” The history of the Halekulani tracks that of Waikiki itself: At its inception at the turn of the 20th century, it was just a beachfront house and a few bungalows, and Waikiki was an undeveloped stretch of sand and drained marshland. By the 1980s, Waikiki was a different place, and so was the Halekulani, which was relaunched by its new Japanese owners as an oasis of mostly oceanfront hotel rooms, marble foyers, and beautifully landscaped courtyards—and so it remains. It’s all very understated—it actually doesn’t look like much from the outside. But what it lacks in splashy grandeur, a la Royal Hawaiian, it makes up with a quiet elegance.
The large rooms are done in what the Halekulani calls its signature “seven shades of white.” Generously sized tile-and-marble bathrooms and louver shutter doors separating the lanais contribute to the spare yet luxe feel. Of all the hotels in Waikiki, this one feels the most peaceful, abetted by lovely, personable service. It’s a true escape.