The 10 Best Cultural Hotels in Honolulu, Hawaii

Explore Hawaii's rich cultural heritage at these unique hotels
Explore Hawaii's rich cultural heritage at these unique hotels | Courtesy of the Royal Hawaiian / Expedia
Photo of Jonathan Stern
2 December 2020

There’s no place in Hawaii quite like Honolulu to explore the state’s rich cultural heritage. With everything from art museums to unsurpassed natural beauty and historic landmarks, the capital has it all. The cultural experience extends to the city’s hotels as well – read our guide to the best places to stay.

Moana Surfrider

It goes without saying that the Moana Surfrider, also known as “The First Lady of Waikiki,” sits atop our list. This renowned property opened its doors in 1901 as the first hotel on the shores of Waikiki, the most famous and vibrant beach in all of Hawaii. Historic photos of the hotel grace the walls in the lobby, and there is a tour of the property every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, during which you can learn about the Moana’s interesting Waikiki story.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
In-room accessibility
Full-service spa
Wheelchair accessible (may have limitations)
Express check-out
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Bar/lounge

The Royal Hawaiian

Another hotel so entrenched in Honolulu’s culture that it has a nickname, the Royal Hawaiian is often called the “Pink Palace of the Pacific.” The building’s flamingo pink exterior is hard to miss and is sure to leave an impression. The hotel was established in 1927, and today it continues to pay tribute to the island’s cultural history through a weekly celebration called an Aha’aina. The nighttime event includes traditional food, song, dance (hula) and storytelling.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Breakfast available (surcharge)
In-room accessibility
Full-service spa
Beach towels
Express check-out
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Limo or Town Car service available
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head

The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head is for travelers looking to get away from it all in a zen-like atmosphere. Situated next to Kapi’olani Park and at the foot of the towering Diamond Head volcanic crater, the hotel is a bit outside the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. The Lotus is a great option for those looking to explore and enjoy Hawaiian culture – the resort price includes admission for two to the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
In-room accessibility
Beach towels
Wheelchair accessible (may have limitations)
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Smoke-free property

Queen Kapiolani Hotel

Named after Hawaiian royalty, Queen Kapiolani Hotel has adopted the motto the queen herself lived by: “Strive to reach the highest.” Queen Kapi’olani stayed faithful to her Hawaiian culture while learning popular European dances of the time. In the hotel’s lobby, guests can view a painting of the queen wearing her famous peacock dress, which she debuted during a visit to London in 1887.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
Restaurant
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Shoreline Hotel

A recent renovation to this ’70s tropical-Modernist structure has given it an updated feel. Completed by the award-winning architect and designer Anthony Laurino, the Shoreline Hotel’s rooms feature chic touches, such as Wegner wingback chairs. The artwork on the walls is appropriately beach-inspired, and private balconies are perfect for taking in one of those stunning Hawaiian sunsets.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Restaurant
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Halekulani

A beachfront hotel with a storied history, the Halekulani has built quite the legacy in Honolulu. The hotel is located on the site of a house that was built by Robert Lewers in 1883. Back then, the local fishermen would use the beach out front as a relaxing respite from their hard days of work at sea. The plantation style of the main building was designed by renowned architect CW Dickey and has a high-pitched roof to catch the trade winds.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
In-room accessibility
Full-service spa
Wheelchair accessible (may have limitations)
Express check-out
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Limo or Town Car service available
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Terrace
Smoke-free property

Ilikai Hotel and Luxury Suites

The Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites soars high into the Honolulu sky – 30 stories, in fact. The panoramic views of the southern coastline of Oahu are breathtaking. This is one of the best places in town to enjoy the Waikiki fireworks show held every Tuesday and Friday. First opened in 1964, the Ilikai holds the distinction of being Honolulu’s first luxury high-rise.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Breakfast available (surcharge)
Restaurant
In-room accessibility
Full-service spa
Express check-out
Conference space
24-hour front desk
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

Pagoda Hotel

The Pagoda Hotel offers travelers a laid-back, tropical-inspired accommodation option smack dab in the center of downtown Honolulu. The hotel overlooks a Japanese garden, and there is a pond with daily koi feedings. Dining at the hotel’s eatery, called the Pagoda Floating restaurant, is an experience that combines Asian, Hawaiian and Western flavors. It even features three semi-private teahouses with views of the koi ponds.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
Restaurant
In-room accessibility
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service

Ala Moana Hotel

Located just a block from Ala Moana Beach Park, this high-rise hotel boasts Japanese and Chinese restaurants, rooms with private balconies that offer mountain and ocean views, an outdoor pool with a spacious sundeck, and sauna and steam rooms. Each room has been meticulously appointed with a blend of modern design and Hawaiian style. Ala Moana Hotel puts the onus on pleasing its guests – you can even request a private massage in the comfort of your own room.

Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
In-room accessibility
Express check-out
Conference space
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Limo or Town Car service available
Fitness facilities
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Multilingual staff
Bar/lounge
Smoke-free property

The Equus

It’s not often that you hear about a horse-themed hotel, but that’s precisely what the Equus is known for. This boutique hotel is the home of the Hawaii Polo Club, meaning guests have the opportunity to watch a polo match, take a polo lesson or go on a trail ride. The Equus is Waikiki’s only North Shore connection, as the ownership also manages a beautiful 100-acre (40ha) stretch of property on Oahu’s northern shorefront, also available for guests to explore on horseback.
Everything you need to know

At a Glance

Free WiFi
Outdoor pool
Breakfast available (surcharge)
Concierge services
24-hour front desk
Dry cleaning/laundry service
Terrace
Smoke-free property
These recommendations were updated on December 2, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.