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The Kahala Hotel & Resort 5.0

Kahala, Oahu, Hawaii

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Serene location and a quiet beach away from Waikiki's bustle 
  • Luxe, classy rooms with flat-screen TVs and huge bathrooms 
  • Interactive swim-with-the dolphins experience 
  • Saltwater swimming pool and kid’s pool and hot tub
  • Four tasty restaurants with diverse cuisine and 24-hour room service
  • Veranda bar offers light bites, cocktails, and live music 
  • Hospitality suite with shower for guests pre- and post- checkout
  • Free introductory surfing or stand-up paddle board lessons
  • Spa provides beauty and relaxation treatments 
  • No resort fee 
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel grounds and all guest rooms 

Cons

  • Car or taxi needed to get around 
  • Pool closes early and is small compared to other Waikiki hotels 
  • Small beach compared to Waikiki 
  • Everything is pricey -- especially the restaurants and breakfast costs extra 
  • Fees for valet and self-parking 

Bottom Line

The Kahala Hotel and Resort is a five-pearl oceanfront property with a star-studded history and lush, sprawling grounds 15 minutes outside of Waikiki. The 338 tasteful rooms and suites have luxe, earth-toned interiors and floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen TVs, and huge granite-accented bathrooms with soaking tubs. Kahala’s four pricey (but tasty) restaurants serve Asian fusion, Italian, and international cuisines. Along with a small, serene beach there's a busy communal pool, kids' pool, and a hot tub. The hotel also has an interactive swim-with-the dolphins experience. Hotel freebies include surfing and stand-up paddle board lessons, bike rentals, a huge gym, and shuttle service. For an oceanfront stay in central Waikiki with elegant rooms, multiple restaurants, and an uncrowded beach, it’s worth comparing rates at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Resort

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Scene

Posh hotel with lush grounds and celebrity clientele -- but still appropriate for a family-friendly stay

The posh Kahala Hotel opened in 1964 as one of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton's pet projects, and the Kahala quickly became a Hawaiian icon -- Liz Taylor and Richard Burton hid out from the paparazzi in a cabana here after getting married (for the first time) in 1964. The hotel’s six-and-a-half acre gorgeous oceanfront  grounds are full of blossoming flowers, palm trees, a huge man-made waterfall, and ponds full of colorful reef fish and a green sea turtle. There’s also a huge lagoon with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (part of the on-site interactive dolphin experience). With this as its backdrop, it’s no surprise the hotel’s been a celebrity magnet since day one. A-listers like John Wayne, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and Snoop Dogg have stayed here. Every president since Lyndon B. Johnson (with the exception of President Trump) has been a Kahala guest. Even the '80s TV series "Magnum P.I."’s beach bar was set at the hotel. Cascading chandeliers hang from the bright, airy lobby’s double-high ceilings. Just past it is a long patio with panoramic views of the hotel grounds and beach. For a pricy property, the hotel has a calm, unpretentious atmosphere -- except at the pool. The hotel attracts quite a few families and while there is a dedicated kids' pool, it’s small and kids inevitably migrate to the bigger main pool right next door. The hotel attracts a mostly American and Japanese clientele.   

Location

Oceanfront location in Oahu’s tony Kahala neighborhood and a short drive to shops

Map of The Kahala Hotel & Resort

The oceanfront Kahala Hotel and Resort is situated in Oahu’s posh Kahala neighborhood, one of the island’s priciest. It’s roughly a 17-minute drive to Waikiki and 20 minutes to central Honolulu from the hotel. There’s not much within walking distance. The nearest mall has a grocery store, movie theater, and restaurants (fast food and middle eastern fare) and is a five-minute drive away. Diamond Head State Monument, a crater park that defines Oahu’s eastern shoreline, with fabulous views of Waikiki and Honolulu from its peak, is an eight-minute drive from The Kahala. The Hanauma Bay State Nature Preserve has a gorgeous sandy beach and a thriving snorkeling reef that take a 19-minute ride to reach. It's 24 minutes to Makapu‘u Point Lighthouse Trail (with its similarly-named lighthouse) that traces the side of a steep cliff for gorgeous ocean views and whale watching in season. Getting to Oahu’s North Shore, famous for laid-back surf culture and huge waves, takes 52 minutes in a car. Honolulu International Airport is about a 20-minute drive from the hotel.

Rooms

Classy rooms with earthy interiors, flat-screen TVs, and huge granite accented bathrooms

Kahala’s guest rooms are big and swish in an old-Hawaii kind of way. Their earth-toned interiors blend yellows, greens, and sky blues with white multi-tier crown molding. Beds are a mix of singular king beds or two double beds with fluted wood posts and plush tan headboards. Wood and herringbone patterned armchairs  are stately, but not so comfortable when sitting at the antique-style writing desks. All rooms feature air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, 42-inch flat-screen TVs with cable channels, iHome iPod dock alarm clocks, and bedside phones with connectors for cell phones. Other room standards include luggage stands, robes, slippers, irons, ironing boards, and hairdryers. Coffeemakers with free coffee and tea are included, as are mini-fridges and bottled water.

T-shaped bathrooms are huge with matching marble sinks on each side of the T. One end has a glass-walled stand-up shower while the other has a big soaking tub (but no jets). In addition to regular toiletries, expect vanity kits, shower caps, and bath salts. The hotel’s Japanese clientele is catered to with high-tech (and heated) Toto washlet toilet seats. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows let in lots of light and have either ocean, beach, dolphin lagoon, or mountain views -- some rooms have balconies. Bottled water and chocolates are left out during evening turndown service. 

Features

Gorgeous small beach, saltwater pool, ocean-view gym, interactive dolphin experience, and four restaurants

Features here focus squarely on vacationers. Hawaiian beaches are all public but since Kahala's beachfront location is partially secluded, it's rarely crowded. The small sandy beach is lined with loungers, and umbrellas are available for a fee. The oceanfront (and surprisingly small) saltwater pool is surround by loungers and umbrellas. Cabanas can be rented. Next to the pool is a small kids' pool and hot tub. A nearby shop sells sundries and rents out kayaks, boogie boards, ocean rafts, floats, and snorkeling equipment. The big ocean-view gym offers Life Fitness treadmills, stationary bicycles, recumbent bicycles, a rowing machine, dumbbells, free weights, and weight machines. Daily classes like yoga, Tai Chi, yoga, and personal training sessions are available (all for a fee). There’s also a steam room and sauna in the gym. Free introductory surf or stand-up paddle board lessons are included with all stays. The Kahala Spa offers standard spa services including facials, body wraps, massages, manicures, pedicures, and salon services.  

One of the hotel's most popular features is its Dolphin Quest. Guests (and the general public) can swim with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the hotel's protected lagoon, for a fee. Kahala’s four pricy restaurants get mostly positive reviews but be prepared for a wait (or make advanced reservations). The oceanfront (and casual) Plumeria Beach House serves an international breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also serves buffet breakfasts and buffet lunches and seafood dinners (on scheduled days). Also oceanfront, Seaside Grill serves sandwiches and quick bites. Hokus is the dinner (and weekend brunch spot) with a fusion of Hawaiian, Mediterranean, and European menus. Arancino is the Italian lunch and dinner eatery. The Veranda bar serves light bites and hosts evening music. Room service is available 24 hours. 

The Keiki Kids' club is for children between the ages of 5 and 12, and has daily activities like scavenger hunts, kite making, and treasure hunts (fee). Bicycles rentals and the hotel's free shuttle to nearby shopping centers are included (but the shuttle schedule isn’t the most convenient). The concierge can arrange babysitters, car rentals, dining reservations, taxis, tickets, tours, activities, and airport transfers. There’s a business center that rents out computers, mobile phones, and fax machines. Wi-Fi is free throughout the resort. Meeting and banquet rooms are available, and weddings are popular here. 

There’s also a shop that sells beach clothes and sundries. A nice plus is the hospitality suite, which guests can use before and after checking out. It has a shower and private rooms, for those who want to spend a little more time on the beach before a flight. There’s also valet and self-parking for a fee. 

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Things You Should Know About The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Address

5000 Kahala Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816-5411, United States

Phone

(808) 739-8888

Also Known As

  • Kahala Hotel Honolulu
  • Kahala Hotel & Resort
  • Kahala Mandarin Oriental
  • Kahala Resort Honolulu
  • Mandarin Oriental Oahu
  • The Kahala Hotel and Resort

Room Types

  • Beach Front Lanai
  • Beach Front Suite
  • Diamond Head Ocean View Lanai Room
  • Diamond Head Ocean View Room
  • Dolphin Lanai Room
  • Garden View Room
  • Kahala Suite
  • Koko Head Ocean Front Lanai Room
  • Koko Head Ocean Front Room
  • Koko Head Suite (Ocean Front Suite)
  • Ko'olau Suites (Partial Ocean View Suite)
  • Mountain Lanai Room
  • Mountain View Room
  • Partial Ocean View Lanai Room
  • Partial Ocean View Room
  • Presidential Suite

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