Guest Reviewer: Chris
An avid traveler and obsessive points and miles hound, Chris is my travel buddy extraordinaire. I love him for his enthusiasm, his sense of adventure, and his American Airlines Executive Platinum status benefits. Hope you enjoy his perspective!
While Jen was toiling away in China on a business trip a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make a quick weekend trip to Honolulu to take advantage of a cheap American Airlines flight I found. I would only be in Hawaii for 24 hours, so I looked for a hotel that was both reasonably priced and not too far from the airport. The Hilton Hawaiian Village fit the bill, and while I’m normally not a fan of mega resorts, in this case it made sense.
I booked the hotel through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, which is an online booking site available to Platinum and Centurion cardholders. Its rate that was about $25 higher than the one on Hilton’s own website, but it came with a bunch of extra benefits such as a $100 dining credit, free breakfast (about a $40 value per day), a subject-to-availability room upgrade, 12pm check in, and 4pm check out. On top of that, I got a $10 dining credit for being having HHonors Gold status. So in total, my $204/night room rate came with $150 in credits, which made it quite a good deal.
My Uber dropped me off at the hotel just before noon, and the main check-in area was hustling and bustling with a horde of people. After making my way to the front of the check-in line, I was told that the tower I was in (Ali’i Tower) had a separate reception desk, so I had to go there instead. It wasn’t too far away, so I was soon able to check in for real. They offered me an upgrade to an ocean view room, but that room wasn’t ready yet, so I declined the upgrade in favor of the basic resort view room, which was ready. Had I been staying longer than a day, I would have waited for the better room, but in this case I figured I wouldn’t be spending much time in the room anyway, so would rather have something available immediately. I appreciated being given the choice - sometimes hotels just assume you want the upgraded room, and make you wait for ages.
The room was on the 14th floor and was fairly basic, with two beds, a desk, a coffee maker, a TV with a PlayStation 3, and a balcony with two chairs. It looked a bit worn, but I’ve certainly seen worse. The balcony view consisted of some concrete buildings and bird-poop-covered beams, so I didn’t feel the need to spend much time there. The bathroom had Coconut brand toiletries and a western toilet (I was hoping for a Japanese one, given how many Japanese tourists visit Honolulu!).
The resort is large and has five pools (one of which is exclusive to Ali’i Tower guests), a lagoon, and is also just a few steps away from Waikiki Beach. The pools were all busy while I was there, and finding an empty lounge chair required a bit of effort.
In addition to the many bodies of water, there are a plethora of restaurants onsite, including several chains (Starbucks, Dairy Queen, Round Table). Unfortunately, the Amex FHR dining credit only applies to a few select restaurants, so I couldn’t use it to expense any frappuccinos. Instead, I used all the credit toward a nice dinner at Bali, a seafood and steak house. It didn’t cover the whole meal (my steak alone was $60), but it took care of most of it.
The free breakfast was good for any breakfast option at Tropics Bar and Grill (including juice and coffee). I opted for the Big Kahuna, which came with eggs, potatoes, sausage, toast, and pancakes. It definitely hit the spot. It’s also worth noting that both restaurants can be reserved through OpenTable, so I never had to wait for a table.
Overall I had a pleasant enough time at the Hilton, but it’s not a place I feel a strong need to return to. It’s extremely crowded (which makes relaxing difficult), and feels overly commercialized, even by Waikiki Beach standards. On the plus side, it was relatively inexpensive, and its beachfront location can’t be beat.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.