The twelve best hotels on Oahu, according to the experts

Stunning beaches and outstanding service await on Hawaii’s most-populated island.

Home to the famous Waikiki Beach, hidden waterfalls, and movie locations for epic films like “Jurassic Park,” the island of Oahu truly has something for everyone. Some of the oldest hotels in Waikiki date back to the early 1900’s, a delight to history and architecture lovers. Find sweeping coastal views on the Eastern side of the island, or head up to the North Shore for a surfer’s set of dream waves. Whichever area of Oahu you choose to stay on, let us help you decide on the very best hotel for your vacation or business trip.

If a celebrity is vacationing in Waikiki Beach, there’s a significant chance that they’ll be staying at the Halekulani. Its elegant grounds paired with a subtle intimacy makes it the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxed vacation. The Halekulani also boasts some of the best restaurants in the area. Orchids (90) is famous for its elevated Sunday brunch, and Fodor’s loves the romantic atmosphere at French restaurant La Mer (87).

It’s difficult traveling into Waikiki without marvelling at The Royal Hawaiian. The iconic pink building is one of the oldest hotels in the area, and recent renovations in 2009 made this establishment even more desirable to those travelling to Hawaii. The Spanish-Moorish style architecture makes one feel as if they’ve gone back in time while wandering the halls.

The Kahala is perfect for those wishing to stay close to the hustle and bustle of Honolulu without being right in the center. A top attraction here is their 26,000 square-foot lagoon that several bottlenose dolphins call home. The beach here is less crowded than the neighboring Waikiki area, and just a short drive to the most popular restaurants.

The majestic pillars that make up the front of this plantation-style structure are enough to take one’s breath away. Some of the best blue ocean views can be found from the rooms at the Moana, as well as a great authentic mai tai at their beach-side Mai Tai Bar. Take a short walk down the main strip to Waikiki Aquarium (82) to see some of Hawaii’s native fish, turtles, and monk seals.  

True to its name, The Modern Honolulu offers guests a hip, chic option nestled amongst the outskirts of Waikiki. The trendy rooftop pool and restaurant/bar area is one of the best places to watch both the sunset and Waikiki’s Friday night fireworks. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the hotel’s Addiction nightclub opens up at 10:30 p.m. and stays open until 3 a.m. There’s clearly a reason why Frommer’s called it “not your typical Waikiki hotel.”

This mega-hotel is indeed a “village,” with five towers, five pools, a plethora of shops and restaurants, and room for over 3,000 guests. The hotel puts on a weekly fireworks show on Friday nights right from the adjoining beach, so guests get a front row view of the spectacular display.

The Sheraton is the place to be for those who like to be right in the middle of the action. Its large number of meeting rooms attracts business-people from around the world, and the famous Sheraton hospitality keeps guests coming back. Spend the day relaxing with a pina colada in a cabana or float in the ocean-side infinity pool. One could even spend the day shopping in the numerous lobby shops without ever leaving the hotel.

The luxurious 38-story hotel may not be right on the beach (it’s only across the street) but it was good enough to bag the only five-star rating on Oahu for Forbes Travel Guide. The location is convenient, right on the outskirts of one of Waikiki’s busiest streets, Kalakaua Avenue, but still right around the corner from excellent eateries like Roy’s (80).

Hotel Renew offers a peaceful break from the resort atmosphere that most of its surrounding rivals are known for. Tropical flowers and Asian-inspired decor give this hotel an oasis-like feel that any fan of a zen atmosphere will enjoy. It may not have as many luxuries as a huge resort, but the trendy, tranquil atmosphere will undoubtedly make up for it.

If you’re staying on Oahu’s North Shore, it really doesn’t get much better than Turtle Bay. You may even recognize parts of the grounds from movies like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Choose from a guest room, spacious beach cottage, or ocean-side villa to enjoy the multitude of amenities and activities at Turtle Bay. They have their own stable for horseback riding, tennis courts, and one of the most famous championship golf courses in Hawaii. There are plenty of secluded beaches and short hiking trails around the property, which stretches on for over 800 acres.

Named for the famous Hawaiian canoe, the Outrigger Reef went through a recent remodel that left it with brand-new rooms, new restaurants, and a larger spa/pool area for its guests to enjoy. The price point is a bargain compared to some of its neighboring oceanfront properties, with no sacrifices of service or quality made.

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