Last month, I used an Alaska Airlines companion pass to book two tickets to Honolulu for Mom and me for $524 total. Initially, I wanted to redeem Hilton points for four nights. However, two family friends also wanted to join. With four people, I decided to pay for the hotel using Citi Prestige at the Hilton Waikiki Beach and save the points for later trips.
How much did this cost?
Citi Prestige has a hefty annual fee of $450 but is actually one of my favorite cards. One of its benefits is a fourth night free on hotel reservations. The benefit used to cover the actual cost of the fourth night and taxes and fees (people used to be able to time it for something like New Year’s Eve) but now it is calculated as the average price of the four nights.
- I booked a double bed, ocean view room for $1,080.96.
- With the fourth night free benefit, the total actually worked out to be ($1,080.96-$235.07) $845.89
- Divide that by four and each person paid $212 for the entire stay. I paid for my mom so it was $424 total.
Hilton Waikiki Beach Details
It was our first time flying with Alaska Airlines. We were impressed with the service and ample leg room. Unfortunately, we weren’t fed a meal like our friends on the Hawaiian Airlines flight. After landing at HNL, we met up with our friends and took a Lyft to the hotel. Prior to the trip, my mom downloaded the Lyft app using Tran’s referral code. That gave her $5 off her first four rides.
When we got to the hotel, I wasn’t very impressed with the check in process.
- The valet didn’t offer to help us with our bags
- At the front desk, I wasn’t welcomed as a Diamond member
- Since the hotel was full, I didn’t get upgraded but the general manager gave me a card with a $5 voucher
There are 37 floors and we were assigned a room on the 33rd floor. It was smaller than expected.
To the right of the door was the bathroom. Its small size reminded me of rooms in San Francisco.
I thought the amenities were sparse for this caliber of hotel.
The shower head is small so the flow/pressure was not strong.
The double beds were comfortable.
The 42” flat screen HDTV is average sized. It has many channels. However, we were always tired after dinner and would play on our phones and iPads instead of turning on the TV. It also has a coffee machine that we never used. We did use the electric kettle to boil water for ramen on the last day.
Below the TV is the mini fridge. There were no water bottles as promised. Thinking the front desk clerk had forgotten, I went down to request for some. She told me housekeeping would bring them to my room, which they did in about ten minutes.
The private balcony offered a decent ocean view. There were a few high rises that obstructed the full view. We rarely turned on the AC and opened the balcony door instead. The cool ocean breezes and traffic noises reminded us of Vietnam.
As a Diamond member, I was able to get my group into the Executive Lounge for breakfast. Unlike other lounges, this one is located downstairs from the lobby.
Hilton Waikiki Beach, stairs to executive lounge
Here is a closer look at the operating hours.
On the left is a room with seating area. On the right is the business center.
After the hallway is the main seating area with multiple large screen TVs.
To avoid the crowd, we ate breakfast before 8am, after a morning stroll along the beach. Breakfast was quite good. We all enjoyed the variety of items.
Each day, we took some croissants and pound cake to snack on during our day excursions. That way, we didn’t have to waste money on lunch. We complemented the snacks with Dole pineapple ice cream or fresh coconuts. In the evenings, we had dinner at local restaurants.
The fresh fruits were amazing. There were pineapples, honeydews, and cantaloupes daily but the watermelons were alternated with strawberries.
The bacon alternated with breakfast sausage.
Scrambled eggs were a staple each day.
As were the roasted potatoes.
The waffles rotated with pancakes and French toast.
From 5-7pm, hot appetizers were available. We could have saved a lot of money by eating dinner in the lounge. However, we decided to go out for dinner nightly. We came back before 7 to get some fruits and snacks before heading back to our room.
Next to the check in area is the bar.
Every night, there is a live band playing.
Outside the bar is the garden, which is where wedding ceremonies are usually held.
The concierge is located next to the bar in the lobby. We didn’t utilize their services as everything was an easy Google search away. We also got a lot of recommendations from our friendly Lyft drivers.
Behind the concierge is the coffee shop. To save money, we used our Starbucks app to redeem free drinks during our trip.
Their onsite restaurant, MAC 24/7, is next to the coffeee shop. We preferred to try local restaurants so didn’t eat here.
Next to the restaurant is the gift shop.
We redeemed the $5 voucher from check-in on three flower hair clips. The sticker price was three for $10, but with the voucher I only paid $5.67. The fourth person in our party already had her own clip.
The gym is located on the second floor.
You can find the pool on the 10th floor. We checked it out on the first day. Since it was windy and cold due to the lack of sun, we didn’t stay long. With the beach only a short walk away, we never returned.
Only valet parking is available for $35/night. Before the trip, I thought about renting a car through Costco for $150. However, adding daily parking charges, valet tips, and gas together made taking Lyft the better alternative. There was no regret using Lyft as we were all tired in the afternoon. We usually slept while our drivers took us back to the hotel.
In 2017, I spent more than 220 nights in a hotel. That’s more than 60% of the year away from my loved ones. Therefore, I place customer service above everything else in my grading of a hotel. For a 4-star hotel, service here was severely lacking.
As I mentioned above, valet didn’t offer to help us with our bags and the front desk clerk didn’t greet me as a Diamond member. I like to give business to hotels that appreciate and acknowledge my loyalty. Housekeeping was the worst aspect. There were days that we didn’t have the fridge stocked with water bottles. For 5 days, they only serviced our room once. Since there were four of us and with going to the beach at least once daily, we went through towels quickly. We also showered everyday so had to call for replacements of shampoos, conditioners, and lotions multiple times. We even ran out of toilet paper and had to call housekeeping. Upon check out, I suggested to hotel management to hire more staff if they’re always busy.
On our last day, while eating breakfast, we received the infamous emergency alert that a ballistic missile was detected heading toward Hawaii. I showed the server the text. He said to seek shelter as suggested by the text. When asked, he couldn’t tell me where. There were no phones in the lounge so I went up to the front desk. I was told to take shelter down in the lounge. Isn’t it interesting that our server didn’t know that? How about the fact that there isn’t a phone in a lounge full of people? After 20 minutes of no communication, a security guard went down to confirm that it was a mistake. Ten minutes later, someone spoke on the PA system to confirm it.
When I complained to the management about the lack of communication and awareness of an emergency plan, I was told that they actually don’t have any for a missile or nuclear attack. It’s scary that the entire state has been on high alert for a few weeks and the hotel has yet to formulate a plan.
Overall, the hotel wasn’t horrible. It offered affordable room rates, no resort fees, and a good breakfast. However, the service left something to be desired. I’m unsure whether I would return to this hotel.
Because of the lack of preparation on the hotel’s part during the missile false alarm, I may go Sydney Bristow style in the future, scoping out exit routes and bomb shelter areas when I check in at hotels. At the very least I’ll ask and be curious to see what they say.
Which hotel would you recommend in Honolulu?