The Best Cultural Hotels to Book in Honolulu, Hawaii

Explore Hawaiis rich cultural heritage at these unique places to stay in Honolulu
Explore Hawaii's rich cultural heritage at these unique places to stay in Honolulu | Courtesy of the Royal Hawaiian / Expedia
Jonathan Stern

There’s no place in Hawaii quite like Honolulu to explore the state’s rich cultural heritage. From fascinating art museums to unsurpassed natural beauty and historic landmarks, the Polynesian capital has cultural experiences by the bucketload. This extends to the city’s hotels as well – read our guide to the best places to stay in Honolulu, all bookable on Culture Trip.

1. Prince Waikiki, for a true cultural connection


Overhead view of the swimming pool area with white lounge chairs at the Prince Waikiki, with the marina in the background
Courtesy of Prince Waikiki /
We like to think of Prince Waikiki as an art gallery charting the history of the area. Their collection was commissioned exclusively for the hotel, filling the lobby with the essence of hinana fish, naio flowers and other elements that once thrived here. You’ll feel in harmony with these elements when you step into the Naio Bliss spa, where island botanicals and massage traditions will banish jet lag. Neutral-toned rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, which open to allow in the cooling sea breeze as you look across to Ala Moana Beach Park while eating your fluffy breakfast taro pancakes.

2. Moana Surfrider, for Victorian elegance

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

Elegant lobby with columns, chandelier, fresh flowers and tropical-print rugs over wood floors at Moana Surfrider, Honolulu
Courtesy of Moana Surfrider / Expedia
Naturally, the Moana Surfrider sits atop our list. This grande dame known locally as the First Lady of Waikiki, opened in 1901 as the first hotel on the shores of Waikiki, the most famous beach in Hawaii. You’ll get used to this stellar view from the balcony of your room lined with natural colors and leaf motif prints. Historic photos of the hotel grace the walls in the lobby, and you can tour the property every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to learn about Moana’s interesting Waikiki story. Afterward, sip an artisan beer at Vintage 1901 overlooking the towering banyan tree.

3. The Royal Hawaiian, for rose-colored comfort

Resort, Hotel

Luxury living-dining space with couch, large dining table, artworks and views of ocean at the Royal Hawaiian, Honolulu
Courtesy of the Royal Hawaiian / Expedia
Another hotel so entrenched in Honolulu’s culture that it merits a nickname, the Royal Hawaiian is often called the Pink Palace of the Pacific. The flamingo-pink of the exterior is hard to miss and is repeated in umbrellas on the private beach, so you can enjoy a cooling mai tai in the shade. Rooms in the Historic Wing continue the colorful theme, with pops of pink and green and beautiful feature wallpaper. The hotel pays tribute to the island’s cultural history through a weekly celebration called an aha’aina. The evening event includes traditional food, song, dance (hula) and storytelling.

4. Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, for yoga on the beach

Resort, Hotel

Corner suite with comfy couch, dining table and wraparound balcony with ocean views at Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head
Courtesy of Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head /
Swap the hustle and bustle of Waikiki for an appreciation of Honolulu’s natural beauty when you book these light and airy rooms at the foot of the towering Diamond Head volcanic crater that faces Kapi’olani Park. The hotel encourages an appreciation of Hawaiian culture, as the daily resort price includes admission for two to the Honolulu Museum of Art, as well as on-site yoga classes and the use of beach cruiser bikes.

5. Queen Kapiolani Hotel, for art-lined spaces


Lobby lounge with wood columns and high ceilings, blue couches, yellow walls and large painting at Queen Kapiolani Hotel
Courtesy of Queen Kapiolani Hotel / Expedia
Named after the wife of Hawaii’s last king, this hotel blends heritage with a lovely location overlooking a sandy stretch of Waikiki Beach. Public spaces are lined with a collection of art, from posters and memorabilia of Waikiki’s Golden Age to paintings by local artists to original portraits of Hawaiian royalty, including the queen wearing her famous peacock dress during a visit to London in 1887. Colorfully decorated suites feel open and airy with ocean views from large lanais that are perfect for savoring your morning mint tea.

6. Shoreline Hotel, for contemporary culture


Brightly colored wall mural of tropical foliage reflected in pool with hot pink chairs at Shoreline Hotel, Honolulu
Courtesy of Shoreline Hotel / Expedia
Rooms at this ’70s tropical-modernist structure are as colorful as the plates of organic tropical fruit you’ll snack on at this chic hotel with playful and design-led touches such as Wegner wingback chairs, custom murals and ombre walls. The artwork is appropriately beach-inspired, and balconies are perfect for taking in one of those stunning Hawaiian sunsets. Don’t get so busy admiring the electric colors and rooftop pool you forget you’re just two blocks from Waikiki Beach.

7. Halekulani, for beachfront history

Resort, Hotel

Steps up to large opening revealing lobby with large painting over fireplace and elegant yellow chairs at Halekulani, Honolulu
Courtesy of Halekulani / Expedia
A beachfront hotel with a rich history, the Halekulani is part of the fabric of Honolulu, built on the site of a 19th-century home and surrounded by lush grounds running down to the beach. Cool off in the shade of a century-old kiawe tree or the swimming pool covered in 1.2 million South African glass mosaic tiles in the shape of an orchid. All guests staying in the bright rooms gain complimentary admission to Iolani Palace, the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Museum of Art and adjoining Spalding House. Sip chilled mai tais in the legendary House Without A Key restaurant, immortalized in a 1925 Charlie Chan novel.

8. Ilikai Hotel and Luxury Suites, for high-rise heaven


Bright corner suite with light-colored furnishings, off-white carpet and ocean and city views at Ilikai Hotel and Luxury Suites
Courtesy of Ilikai Hotel and Luxury Suites / Expedia
This harbor-front hotel juts 30 stories high into the Honolulu sky and was the first of its kind when it opened in 1964. Naturally, you’ll have a bird’s eye view over the southern coastline of Oahu in one of the best places in town to enjoy the regular Waikiki fireworks show. The interior design in the apartment-style rooms – geometric prints and grey/brown shades – nods to the building’s era, and second-floor rooms have access to the wading pool and deck. Don’t miss the Hawaiian language and hula lessons, then reward yourself with a latte topped with chocolate sauce and infused with blackberry syrup, concocted in the lobby cafe.

9. Ala Moana Hotel, for cultural tours


Outdoor deck with white couches around fire pit, rattan daybeds and city buildings view at Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu
Courtesy of Ala Moana Hotel / Expedia

Located just a block from Ala Moana Beach Park, with a swimmable beach, tennis courts and jogging paths, this 1970s high-rise hotel is connected to the largest open-air mall in the world. Don’t get so busy shopping that you forget to book an island tour of Honolulu to learn about the area’s history and culture, stopping at Pearl Harbor, Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and Waimea Falls. Dine well on Asian specialities at the Japanese and Chinese restaurants before sleeping it all off in rooms sharing a blue and green theme with mountain and ocean-view balconies.

Nick Dauk contributed additional reporting to this article.
Still not found your perfect stay? Treat yourself to a holiday at one of the best luxury hotels in Hawaii, now bookable on Culture Trip.

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