Background:

On my trip to Hawaii, I started my visit to Oahu Island with a one night stay at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach, and then booked a five night stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I’ve stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village twice in 2014 and 2015. I had positive experiences back then, so I was excited to give the resort a try again.

The original Hawaiian Village resort opened back in 1955 by Henry Kaiser, founder of the Kaiser Permanente healthcare system. Conrad Hilton bought half of the resort from Henry Kaiser in 1961 and from there Hilton Hotels & Resorts assumed management on February 1, 1961, renaming the resort the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Booking:

I used my Hilton Honors points for the stay and took advantage of the fifth night being free on award redemptions. The property was going for 70,000 points per night in the standard redemptions options which were in the “Resort View” and “Coastal View” categories. So, I paid a total of 280,000 points for my five night stay. Cash rates for the standard rooms were going for about $380 including taxes and the resort fee during my Spring Break stay. The great thing about Hilton redemptions is that the resort fee ($50+tax) is waived.

Towers + Room Options at the Hilton Hawaiian Village:

There are many different room types at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and quite a bit of variation between each one, which can definitely make or break your experience. The resort is almost like its own little city, with 2,860 guest rooms and suites (not counting the 3 timeshare towers), making it the largest Hilton hotel in the world.

There are 5 hotel towers, the Ali’i Tower, Rainbow Tower, Tapa Tower, Kalia Tower and Diamond Head Tower.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The best hotel towers are probably the Ali’i, Rainbow and Tapa Collection portion of the Tapa Tower. During my stays in 2014 and 2015, I stayed in the Rainbow Tower. This tower is closest to the beach, and offers rooms with the best views. I stayed in the “Ocean Front” room on the 30th floor, and that was an amazing view.

Rainbow Tower 30th floor Deluxe Ocean Front

If you want a bit more exclusiveness, boutique feel and larger rooms, the Ali’i might be best for you. Second closest tower to the beach, Ali’i has a separate check-in desk and private pool. It’s only 15 floors, so if views are important to you, they may be more limited unless you’re near the top.

Map of Property

Check-In + Great Diamond Upgrade:

I did a quick walk from the Ritz to the Hilton Hawaiian Village around 10am to try and check-in early in hopes for a better room. Given that it was peak season as many schools were on spring break, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to secure a Diamond upgrade. I read online that some Diamond Members were able to secure upgrades up to 4 days in advance, but nothing happened for me quite yet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While I loved my Ocean Front room in the Rainbow Tower from previous stays, since I was travelling with my parents and they would be sharing a bed, I actually wanted the newly renovated Tapa Collection Rooms in the Tapa Tower as they offer Queen sized beds rather than Double beds in the other towers. Plus since my last visit, the only rooms that looked like they have been renovated so far are the Tapa Collection ones.

I was helped by a super friendly agent, and asked if there were any Tapa Collection rooms available. She worked really hard and was able to find one for us! I was so thankful for her help, and I asked if this week was crowded and she said many nights this week were sold out. She stated our room wasn’t ready yet, but we would get a text when it was. It ended up being ready at 1pm, a good 3 hours before the standard check-in time which was quite nice.

We ended up receiving a Tapa Collection Ocean View room on the 30th floor. Considering I booked one of the lowest categories during a packed spring break week, I was very grateful for the multi-category Hilton Honors Diamond Upgrade. For reference, the Tapa Collection Ocean View rooms were selling for over $300 more a night versus the standard room type I was booked into. I think this was due to the demand during Spring Break, as I checked some random dates in May, and the difference between the standard entry-level room type and the Tapa Collection Ocean View was about $100 more a night.

Tapa Collection:

It seems like the top floors 25-35 in the Tapa Tower are part of the newly renovated Tapa Collection, and I noticed floors 24 and below were not renovated based on what I saw from the elevator landings.

Tapa Collection Elevator Landing

The biggest issue I faced during my stay was the elevator situation. The Tapa Tower has 8 elevators, and split up evenly with 4 serving floors 1-19 and the other 4 serving 19-35. The line for the elevators serving 19-35 was not fun at all. One day, I think 2 of the elevators were out of service, so we had to wait in a really long line, or we decided to take the other set of elevators up to 19, and walk 11 flights of stairs to our room on the 30th floor. I’m not sure if this issue was just because of the high occupancy levels due to spring break, but it was definitely not enjoyable. Due to this, I timed my entry/exits to the room. The worst times for the elevator were at 3-4pm for check-in, and around 6pm for dinner.

Tapa Collection Two Queens Ocean View Room:

Upon entering the room, the first thing I noticed were the crystal blue waters coming from the balcony. Such a nice first impression when entering the room!

Additionally, I noticed the room was quite roomy and the carpeting looked quite fresh. The rooms are approximately 435 square feet. Tapa Collection rooms were unveiled in 2020, and they felt really new. The two queen beds were very roomy, and a good size for sharing. Beds felt new and were comfortable and solid.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Tapa Collection 2 Queens Ocean View

The furnishings were nice as well, with a new side table, and chairs.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Table + Chairs

The television was quite large, and there is a mini-fridge for personal use located in the TV stand cabinet. On the other table next to the bathroom features a coffee maker, and the closet area has a large safe for your belongings. Power plugs are plentiful, and are in good locations around the room. Also, a Playstation 3 is provided as a DVD player or to play games.

TV

Bathroom:

The bathroom is on the smaller side, but is quite functional. The shower water pressure was solid, so no issues on that front. The fan in the bathroom is good to keep it from getting too damp.

Toiletries are their own brand, called Anuenue Rainbow, in a Coconut Papaya scent. It was actually quite a nice scent. They gave a lot of toiletries due to their current housekeeping policy.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Bathroom

At this time, before every 5th night you will receive housekeeping, unless you request a day in advance. I texted between my 2nd and 3rd night for a housekeeping service and they cleaned my room well. I do think 5 days is a bit long to wait, perhaps they should drop the number of days to 2 or 3.

In regards to housekeeping, while our room and towels were all pretty clean, we noticed that about half of the pillows had a strong mildew smell when we checked-in. We requested new pillows and thankfully the new ones were fine, but I wonder if the 5 day housekeeping rule contributed to the mildew pillows. Additionally, with regards to mildew scent, it seemed that the AC air sometimes had that unpleasant scent from time to time as well.

In terms of other service levels, all the staff encountered was friendly! Of course, since it is a mega-resort, it does take a bit of time for requests to be delivered. I asked for an extra luggage rack and it did take about 1.5 hours for it to be delivered. Not a big issue for me, but you have to go in with the right expectations.

Balcony + View:

The balcony was quite large, and featured 2 chairs and a small table. The chairs were in excellent condition, so I assume they were replaced with the rest of the furniture during the renovation. There was a lot of empty space on the right side of the balcony.

Balcony

The view was great, and you could see the water, as well as the city. And, a nice view of Diamond Head in the background.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Tapa Collection 30th Floor Ocean View

Diamond Benefits:

For Hilton Honors Diamond and Gold, you do get the $18/night ($36/night for 2 people) credit. You can only use it at select outlets and those currently include:

  • Tropics Bar and Grill
  • Bali Oceanfront
  • Hau Tree Cantina
  • Wiki Wiki Market
  • Starbucks (two locations)
  • Tapa Bar
  • Waikiki Starlight Luau

Unlike at some other Hilton properties, the credit is not cumulative, and you have to use the $36/night credit each day. I ended up buying fruits and pastries from both the Wiki Wiki Market and Starbucks for snacks and breakfast bites. The fresh fruit from the Wiki Wiki Market was quite fresh. Fresh cut papaya, pineapple and watermelon bowls were about $8, and pastries were about $4/$5 each. I noticed the lines in the breakfast mornings were quite long, so I visited them the afternoon to avoid them.

Resort Fee Inclusions:

A Daily Resort Charge of $50 (plus tax) is assessed per room, per night. Included in the resort fee is:

  • WiFi
  • PlayStation® 3 access with unlimited movies and games (DVD Now card given to you at check-in can only be used in your specified tower. One movie/game can be removed at a time.)
  • Hawaiian Village Cultural Activities (Yoga, Hula Classes, Lei Making and more)
  • Discounts on Rental Cars, Aloha Catamaran, etc
  • Outdoor Morning Exercise Classes.
  • 10% off at Waikiki Beach Activities’ for beach chairs & umbrellas, kayaks, pedal boats, stand-up paddle boards and aqua cycles. (20% off Elite Beach Package).

I used the DVD Now once (think of it like Redbox) and rented the movie Dune to watch.

Restaurants and Bars:

There are 15 restaurants and bars in the village. Some choices include the Bali Oceanfront which is the flagship oceanfront restaurant serving steak and seafood at dinner, and also serving breakfast in the morning. Tropics Bar and Grill is beachfront under the Ali’i Tower and is open breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, Aoki Teppanyaki, from the founder of Benihana is open for dinner as well. The Tapa Bar on the ground floor of my tower looked festive and they have drinks and bar bites. There’s a food court in the Rainbow Bazaar, and don’t forget about the famous Lapperts Hawaii Ice Cream there. On a prior visit, I enjoyed the ice cream from Lapperts!

There are two Starbucks’ on site, and two ABC Stores as well. ABC Store is like a better version of 7-11, and you’ll find them all over the city. For any drink and snack needs, definitely check out the ABC Stores as they are much better priced than the other grab and go options at the resort.

I only visited the Starbucks + Wiki Wiki Market to utilize my Diamond credit, so I cannot comment on the experience of the other dining offerings here.

Pools, Lagoon and Beach:

There are 5 total pools- the Super Pool, Tapa Pool, Paradise Pool (with slides), Kalia Pool and Ali’i Tower Pool (only for Ali’i guests). Also, there’s a Lagoon outside of the Rainbow Tower where you can rent paddleboards, aqua bikes, etc. All of the pools I walked by were quite packed throughout my stay, as it was Spring Break, so I opted for the beach.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The hotel advertises they have the “widest stretch of Waikiki Beach”. There’s a protected area that has a curved U shape that is directly in front of the Rainbow Tower which is Kahanamoku Beach, and Port Hilton where the catamarans and submarines depart from divides it to the other part of the beach which is Fort Derussy Beach. Both are open to the public so you can find whichever you like best. Just note that the area around Port Hilton is rockier, so you’d want to venture further down Fort Derussy Beach or stay inside the Kahanamoku Beach’s curved portion.

Since I was staying during Spring Break, Kahanamoku Beach was quite crowded, but many parts of Fort Derussy Beach had plenty of space.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other Amenities:

There’s a fitness center that’s open from 5am-9pm located in the Kalia Tower. Additionally, the Mandara Spa is also located in the Kalia Tower and is open daily from 10am-6pm.

The Diamond Head Tower has a business center and even its own post office.

Car Rentals on site are offered through Enterprise, and they have a desk in the Rainbow Bazaar. While I didn’t have a car this trip, daily self-parking is $55/night or valet parking is $65/night.

There is shopping on site, with a Louis Vuitton boutique, Honolulu Cookie Company and Martin & MacArthur to name a few. A wedding chapel is available as well!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Location:

I personally love the location of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Strategically located in between the central Waikiki area and the Ala Moana Mall, you are in walking distance to both! It’s about a 15 minute walk to the Ala Moana Mall, and 15 minutes to the Royal Hawaiian Center in central Waikiki. And on the walk to central Waikiki you can either walk along the beach, or through the Fort Derussy Park.

If you like Japanese food, Rokkaku Hamakatsu at the Ala Moana Mall is one of my favorite restaurants! And at the Royal Hawaiian Center, TsuruTonTan Udon is so good that I went twice on this trip for Happy Hour.

Since we didn’t have a car, we used Uber/Lyft quite a bit, and there’s a designated Uber pick up/drop off in the Diamond Head Tower porte-cochère which was quite convenient for us from the Tapa Tower. Additionally, we sometimes had the Aoki Teppanyaki restaurant set as our pick up/drop off spot as it was even closer to our tower.

The Verdict:

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a massive resort with beachfront access to Waikiki Beach. Due to the sheer size of the resort, it might not be the perfect fit if you are seeking a resort that is more intimate. But, if you enjoy the lively atmosphere and are travelling with a family, the resort can provide a very fun and entertaining stay on your visit to Honolulu. My third visit was still very enjoyable, but perhaps if I am travelling during Spring Break, I will stay at a quieter resort to avoid the crowds. But, during offseason, I will definitely consider coming back to the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

 

Have you stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village before? How was your stay? Comment below!

 

Safe travels,

Ty


Have any questions? I’ve also started working with a travel agency, Fora Travel, and can assist in booking hotel stays or planning trips. Comment below or email me at takeofftotravel@gmail.com. You can also view all my other posts here! Thanks for stopping by!