Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
“Not every hotel that we stay at needs to be a fancy resort,” is what I kept telling myself as I was booking the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach.
After spending 2 weeks at some great Hawaiian resorts on O‘ahu and the Big Island, we were back in Honolulu with the intention of exploring the island and only using the room as a “crash pad.”
That meant that we didn’t need the amenities of a luxurious resort or beachfront access since we wouldn’t be around to take advantage of them. That also meant considerable savings.
After doing an excessive amount of research on budget and mid-range points hotels in Honolulu, I settled on the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach.
The location was excellent, it had a solid list of amenities for a limited-service hotel, there was no resort fee when paying with points, and there were a few benefits as a Hilton Honors Diamond member.
Let’s take a look at how my 5-night stay as a family of 4 with 2 young kids was in Waikīkī!
The 623-room Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach is housed in a 20-floor tower on the corner of the bustling Kūhiō Ave, just 2 blocks from Waikīkī Beach.
As long as you don’t have your heart set on being beachfront, this is an excellent location as you can explore the countless shopping and dining options that the neighborhood has to offer within walking distance. And, you’ll still be close to the beach without having to pay beachfront prices.
The main reason that I booked this hotel — besides its location — was the fact that I could redeem Hilton Honors points instead of paying cash.
And a great perk of the Hilton Honors program is that if you stay 4 nights on points, you’ll get the fifth night free — so we obviously stayed for 5 nights!
While certainly not an inexpensive hotel, it was a relative bargain compared to other options, including the Hilton Hawaiian Village that we had just checked out of.
Sure, it wasn’t the greatest redemption in history, but when you factor in the free fifth night and the fact that I kept almost $1,500 in my pocket, I consider that a solid redemption.
Here were the other award rates that were available for the week of our stay:
As you can see, there were plenty of room types to choose from, even including suites with ocean views.
However, I went with the economical option and selected a room with 2 double beds and a balcony, which was the same price as the same room on a lower floor.
Cash rates started around $250 plus tax and resort fees, so about $300 all-in per night.
While I generally like to use my points at more expensive hotels, paying with points was a good decision in my book, considering the fifth-night free benefit.
There are a lot of one-way streets in this area of Waikīkī and the car’s GPS ended up bringing us to the front of the building. However, the driveway is on a side street, so we went on a little tour before finally arriving.
Once we did a loop around the block, we pulled into the valet-only driveway and started unloading the car with the help of the bellmen.
It was a small driveway, so our arrival was a bit chaotic at first. But once we got our essentials, the bellman said he would take care of the rest and we could head inside to get checked in.
Since the driveway was on the side of the building, we had to meander our way through the hallways and elevators before arriving at the front desk. But it was a small area, so after the first time, it was pretty easy to get through.
The lobby area was modern and spacious with plenty of couches and sitting areas. This was also where the business center, morning coffee station, and Holoholo Cafe & Market were located.
The check-in process was straightforward. The front desk agent acknowledged my Hilton Honors Diamond status and even wished me a belated happy birthday, which was very kind. I started to get excited thinking that an upgrade was on its way (spoiler alert: it was not).
Although the room I booked did have a balcony, there were some ocean-view rooms and suites in the building as well. However, none were available for our entire stay, according to the agent.
Despite being a Diamond member, the top-tier elite status with Hilton, the perks leave a lot to be desired. Especially at mid-tier hotels.
At the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors members receive:
As I mentioned, we did not receive an upgrade, the Wi-Fi ended up being terrible, and 1,000 Hilton Honors points are worth about $5 according to our latest valuations, so the only real perk was the daily food and beverage credit, which doesn’t even cover breakfast for 2 people, let alone a family of 4.
One big benefit of being a Hilton Honors member paying with points is that resort fees are waived. And at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, the daily resort fee was $35.
The resort fee included:
As you can see, there are some … questionable … benefits included in the resort fee, but the beach gear credits and sunscreen are definitely valuable.
Keep in mind the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach hotel is not beachfront, so those credits need to be redeemed at The Twin Fin hotel, which is about a 10-minute walk, where guests can grab their gear.
For a city hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach had a pretty decent list of amenities.
I can’t say that I would stay here just to enjoy the hotel, but having options just an elevator ride away is always nice.
Besides the location, the biggest attraction at the hotel was the pool. Located on the third floor, the pool was relatively small, but there were a handful of lounge chairs and sofas for relaxing.
Being on the third floor, the pool was also at the same height as the palm trees from the street below. This also meant that the street noise kept you feeling like you were in the middle of the action as opposed to in a relaxing atmosphere.
My kids loved the pool, but it wasn’t heated, so when the shadows from the buildings started creeping in, the water got rather chilly.
The pool area also had a small bar, Shaka’s, which was nice and served up plenty of tropical drinks for the adults and mocktails for the kids.
There was also a pool table. So despite being a rather small area in a limited-service hotel, the pool deck was pretty entertaining.
This is also where guests could get their pool/beach towels by (theoretically) scanning their room key. That feature wasn’t working during our visit, so the locker just stayed open the entire time.
Around the corner from the towels was where the complimentary sunscreen and after-sun lotion were found. As a parent, this was a very appreciated amenity.
The pool was open daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Also on the third floor, near the pool area, was the hotel’s fitness center.
The fitness center was divided into 2 rooms. Both were well-lit with natural light, clean, and had updated equipment — all important aspects of a hotel gym for me.
The first room was dedicated to cardio and elliptical equipment.
It included a Peloton bike.
The second room was focused more on free weights and strength training.
There were plenty of dumbells, mats, and medicine balls to get a solid workout in.
And each room had a setup where you could grab a towel and some water.
The fitness center was open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach is not a beachfront hotel, but in the Waikīkī neighborhood, the beach is never far.
The hotel is located just 2 blocks from the white sand and warm water of the famous Waikīkī Beach. It’s an enjoyable walk, especially if you enjoy window shopping as there’s a large shopping mall you’ll pass along the way.
Guests could grab towels from the pool deck on the third floor and take them to the beach.
Redeeming the daily credits for chairs and other beach gear requires stopping by the surf shop at The Twin Fin hotel, which is located right in front of the beach. It was actually quite convenient since it eliminated the need to lug beach gear all the way from the Hilton Garden Inn.
Unfortunately, on the day we tried to use our credits, we got there too late. The surf shop doesn’t rent gear after 3:30 p.m.
Probably the biggest inconvenience during our 5-night stay was the awful wireless internet.
Hilton Honors members are supposed to get Premium Wi-Fi, which is an option to select when first logging in to the internet. However, no matter which internet I chose, the connection was dreadful. It was seriously slow — like, I couldn’t even open a webpage slow.
After a few chats with the front desk, they openly admitted that the Wi-Fi was a problem and there was no solution.
I ended up just using my cell service whenever I was on my phone, but when I needed to open my laptop, I would need to dedicate a solid 10 minutes to switching between the internet option, disabling firewalls, and trying VPNs in order to get a functioning signal.
This wasn’t ideal when I was trying to squeeze in some work before the kids woke up.
The only parking option at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach was valet, and it cost $55 per night.
We had a car for our entire stay, so that was a hefty part of the bill, but something we had budgeted for.
Except for 1 morning when the valet thought they lost our car, but then realized they never sent someone to get it, the service was fine.
The Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach was pet-friendly. There was a $125 non-refundable fee for a maximum of 2 pets per room. Only cats and dogs with a maximum weight of 75 pounds were allowed.
Technically there is a business center at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach. In reality, there are 3 desks alongside the front desk in the main lobby.
Positioned in this way, anyone sitting at the desk (which also had a computer) immediately appears to be working at the hotel.
I was on a video call with some Upgraded Points coworkers one morning and multiple guests came to ask me questions thinking that I was the concierge. I gave some great advice, but the layout could use some tweaking.
Plus, the TVs directly behind the desk force people to stare at/over anyone working, and if you’re on a video call, your background is at the mercy of whoever has the remote control.
One perk I really liked at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach was the free coffee in the lobby each morning.
As someone who enjoys a cup or 2 in the morning, being able to grab a fresh cup instead of making it in the room and waking the kids was nice.
The coffee and tea station was located next to the “business center,” which was convenient when working from the lobby.
The room I booked was the room we needed — one with 2 beds.
Of course, as a Hilton Diamond member, I was hoping for some sort of upgrade, whether that be a suite or at least an ocean view. Unfortunately, I got neither.
We were assigned room 2049 on the 20th floor. With the hallway being open air, the height could be a little unsettling, but the view of the ocean peaking between the buildings was a beautiful sight.
The bedroom area featured 2 double beds, which were incredibly uncomfortable. They were very lumpy and unsupportive.
We had just stayed at 2 other Hiltons in Hawai’i and loved the beds, so this was a disappointment.
Across from the beds were a small desk, flat-screen TV, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, minifridge, and closet.
Having a balcony in Hawai’i is (almost) always a good idea. However, the balcony in our room made us (as parents) more nervous than anything else.
The balcony was very narrow, with barely enough room for someone to stand, and the railing felt pretty low for the height of the building. I’m sure it was up to code, I just didn’t feel comfortable enough to let my kids use it.
Needless to say, we left the door to the balcony closed. But the city view was very nice. It made having the high floor worth it.
The room opened immediately into the bathroom area with the sink on the left and the toilet and shower separated to the right.
At first, the layout felt weird, but it turned out to be a good place to dump all of our beach gear without getting the entire room sandy.
The toilet, shower, and bathtub were closed off by a sliding door. And besides the fabric curtain (which I hated), the whole setup worked fine. There was even decent water pressure 20 floors up.
Amenities were the standard Neutrogena and Almond & Olive soaps that you’ll find at Hilton Garden Inns across the country.
The Hilton Garden Inn is a limited-service hotel, so there was no room service or a long list of restaurants to choose from. Quite the opposite experience from the Hilton Hawaiian Village down the road that we had just stayed at.
But that was not a big deal, because the location was excellent and we were within walking distance to countless dining options seemingly open 24 hours per day in the Waikīkī neighborhood.
That being said, there were some options at the property as well, making things even more convenient.
Located just off the lobby, with an entrance from the street as well, was Holoholo Cafe & Market.
This was a small market that had a little bit of everything, including souvenirs, snacks, fruits, sandwiches, musubi, coffee, beer, wine, and more.
Prices were fair and the variety was great, so this was an excellent option for stocking up before heading out for the day or when we wanted something sweet before bed.
The only negative was that you couldn’t charge to the room to trigger the daily dining credit.
Holoholo Cafe & Market was open daily from 6 a.m. until midnight.
A proper Hawaiian hotel deserves a decent pool bar; fortunately, there was one at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach.
Shaka’s is located on the third floor by the pool and was surprisingly good.
For a rather simple pool area in a limited-service hotel, Shaka’s was impressive. With comfortable seating, a pool table, a TV, friendly service, daily happy hours, and the buzz of Waikīkī below, this was a nice spot to grab a mai tai.
Shaka’s was open daily from 1:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
If you are looking for a proper breakfast, lunch, or dinner without leaving the hotel, TR Fire Grill is your (only) option.
Located just off the main lobby, also with its own separate street entrance, TR Fire Grill had a little bit of everything, from BBQ baby-back ribs to seafood and pizza. With a full bar and street-level windows, this was a busy spot in the evenings.
To be honest, the menu didn’t do much for us, so we explored other options for dinner, but since we had $30 in daily dining credits, we did pop in for breakfast on most mornings.
As a family of 4, I’m not pleased that Hilton has shifted to dining credits that rarely cover 2 guests, let alone everyone who is staying in the room.
Depending on how hungry we were, we would order 1 or 2 main entrees and then add on the cereal/fruit station for the kids for $9 each. That would cost about $45 before tip each morning, so $15 plus tip after discounting the Diamond dining credit.
The food was good, but nothing special. The kids enjoyed the french toast sticks, which were admittedly quite addictive.
But, if we didn’t have the daily credit, we would not have eaten here. In fact, on our last morning, we opted to ditch the credit and grab something from a local cafe instead.
With so many fresh fruits and açai bowls available, it felt like a sin to eat the same dry scrambled eggs and bacon to start our days.
With free coffee in the lobby and a well-stocked market, it was easy to put together a decent breakfast for less money. This is what I would do if I were to visit again. That way I could save the dining credits for happy hour by the pool!
TR Fire Grill was open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and you can find the menu online.
Overall, the service we encountered was quite good. In fact, the housekeeping was great.
We received daily housekeeping and the housekeepers were some of the friendliest hospitality workers I have encountered in years.
Each morning they would cheerfully ask our kids if they needed anything and always made sure we had extra towels and Keurig coffee pods.
Besides that, it was just standard interactions with the valet and restaurant staff. Nothing negative, but nothing memorable.
Our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach was a mixed bag. It was far from perfect, but it wasn’t bad enough to keep us from staying there again.
No, we didn’t get an upgrade, the Hilton Honors elite benefits were weak, the beds were uncomfortable, and the wireless internet was terrible. But, the hotel was clean, it served its purpose and my family and I loved the location.
The Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach is an average hotel in an above-average location. So, despite all the negatives (which could be fixed), I would probably stay there again if the price was right.
There is no self-parking option and the valet costs $55 per night.
Yes, there is a Peloton bike in the fitness center on the third floor.
Yes, The Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach is pet friendly. Dogs and cats are welcome.
No, breakfast isn’t included. However, select Hilton Honors elite members will receive a daily dining credit.
Was this page helpful?
Travel is changing fast... Stay on top of all the points strategies, exclusive offers & pivotal news - and lock in huge savings along the way.
Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.