Waikiki’s Hottest Retro-Chic Hotels

These updated properties blend classic island style with leading edge comforts


Oahu’s Waikiki Beach was America’s original island vacation destination, and for more than 70 years, it remained a go-to destination for everyone from honeymooners to baby boomers. Now, there’s a new wave of urban energy sweeping through the entire Waikiki district, from the iconic beach to the Ala Wai waterway. Trendy new shops, galleries and eateries are springing up, and some of the area’s established hotels have responded with updates and re-imaginings. Here are three of the latest properties sporting new looks and even new names.

Prince Waikiki

The biggest news on the Waikiki waterfront is the re-emergence of the Hawaii Prince Hotel as the Prince Waikiki. The eight-month, $55 million update of this waterfront landmark began with a fresh look to the hotel lobby, which now showcases original artworks such as the signature copper centerpiece sculpture created by Kaili Chun. Also on display through the hotel are a series of abstract paintings by native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos, and more than 800 original copper sculptures and ornamental fixtures created through the collaborative creation of artists, employees, and guests. The property-wide update includes the Prince Waikiki Club lounge and a new infinity pool with direct ocean views. The hotel’s 563 guest rooms and suites also enjoy expansive water views from floor-to-ceiling windows. Refreshed room decors feature natural materials, including marble, rich woods and fine fabrics, with a color palette chosen to reinforce the sand, sea and sunset environment.

Oahu Prince Waikiki Room Oceanfront

Floor-to-ceiling windows are a hallmark of guest rooms at the Prince Waikiki. The recent hotel-wide renovation included a complete re-imagining of guest room décor. Photo: Prince Waikiki

Diners enjoy sweeping sunset views at the hotel’s signature 100 Sails Restaurant & Bar, which focuses on fresh island cuisines created by Chef de Cuisine Joseph Almoguera. A new bar adjacent to the dining room offers craft cocktails and small bites. The Prince Waikiki’s location is convenient to Honolulu’s most iconic districts, including Chinatown, Kaka Ako, Ala Moana and Waikiki. Recreational amenities include the Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay- designed 27-hole Hawaii Prince Golf Club. The Ala Wai Yacht Harbor is adjacent to the hotel, and all the water sports of Waikiki Beach are nearby.

Prince Waikiki Pool

The teak decked pool area at the Prince Waikiki provides sweeping views of the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. The beach is a short walk away. Photo: Jim Doyle/Prince Waikiki

The Laylow, Autograph Collection

Honolulu’s Kuhio Avenue is enjoying a renaissance, with hip and trendy shops and restaurants popping up around the recently redeveloped International Market Place. In the middle of it all is the vintage hotel once known as the Aqua Waikiki Wave, which reemerged in early 2017 as the Laylow. The sweeping $60 million renovation represents both an update and a return to the property’s roots. The hotel’s revamped personality blends Hawaiian style with a mid-century aesthetic. The design team’s stated goal was “to create an urban oasis that evokes an experience you might have had in the ’50s or ’60s, yet at the same time is updated, hip and cool.” The lobby sets the stage with terracotta breezeblock walls sculpted in graphic patterns reminiscent of Hawaiian tapa designs and open to the trade winds. The theme continues throughout the hotel, with furnishings and accents created from refurbished antiques, reclaimed woods, and design accent pieces by midcentury modern classics.

Laylow Room Oahu

Rooms at the Laylow feature a mid-century Hawaiian modernist theme that makes use of natural fabrics and woods, while also offering cutting-edge amenities. Photo: Ramon Purcell/Laylow

The 186 guestrooms and 65 suites evoke a sense of laid-back luxury, with clean minimalist design and color palettes based on warm earth tones offset by cobalt and pink to reflect the tropical environment. Monstera leaf wallpaper, surf nostalgia and vintage memorabilia complete the scene. But while the design is mid- century, the amenities are cutting edge; as rooms feature high- speed Internet, smart TVs and full connectivity for personal electronic devices. Each room has one or two king beds and private lanais. The hotel includes a private pool sequestered in a garden setting, and a 24-hour fitness center. The Laylow’s signature restaurant, Hideout, showcases reimagined Pacific Rim classics based on locally sourced ingredients. The dining space extends to an open-air lanai overlooking Kuhio Avenue, where twin fire pits, pune`e beds and private cabanas provide an intimate setting for live musical performances.

Laylow Pool Oahu

The pool area at the Laylow creates an urban oasis in the heart of Waikiki’s trendiest district. The adjacent bar dispenses artisanal cocktails and craft beers. Photo: Ramon Purcell/Laylow

Coconut Waikiki

This boutique, off-beach property has long been a favorite with families and travelers who appreciate both value and the personal service and attention of a smaller resort. In 2016, the hotel underwent a series of design refreshments imagined by San Francisco based designer Anthony Laurino, who created an island- chic motif described as “warm, comfortable and fun”. The revamped lobby now features furniture and accents made from native Hawaiian monkey pod wood, and arriving guests are greeted with snacks and a personal welcome. Just off the lobby, a new game room stocked with board games and other social entertainment provides a gathering place where guests can meet and mingle.

Oahu Coconut Waikiki Room

All rooms at the Coconut Waikiki include private balconies and kitchen areas. The property delivers the convenience of central location combined with the casual intimacy of a smaller hotel. Photo: Coconut Waikiki

As part of the design refresh, guest rooms received fresh color schemes, along with new drapes, linens, patio furniture and furniture coverings. All rooms include private balconies and kitchenettes with a microwave, sink, refrigerator, cutlery and dishes. Daily complimentary breakfast is served around a pair of communal tables that encourage socialization. Just off the lobby, the heated pool enjoys new landscaping and updated deck furniture. Next to the pool deck, guests can make use of a new barbecue facility, which hotel staff will prep for use for those who want to stay in and cook out.

Oahu Coconut Waikiki Lobby

The lobby area at the Coconut Waikiki creates a bright and welcoming space for arrivals. Here the adjacent pool, barbecue deck and game room create spaces for gatherings and socialization. Photo: Coconut Waikiki