Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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After spending 5 nights running around Las Vegas with my family, I was tasked with ensuring the first part of our Hawaiian vacation was genuinely relaxing.
My wife has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), so while she loves traveling, the logistics of long flights, checking in and out of hotels, packing, and unpacking can be stressful and lead to flare-ups for her. Plus, jet lag doesn’t help.
Relaxing for us means staying in 1 hotel for more than 5 nights, having the option of pools and/or a beach for the kids, and just going with the flow with no real plans. Fortunately, Hawaii is a great option for a relaxing vacation.
We chose Honolulu as our first stop because we had been there before and knew that if we went somewhere new, we would have the urge to fill up our itinerary and not really relax. Plus, we had scheduled a week at the end of our trip dedicated to exploring the island of Oʻahu, so there was no pressure to do anything besides go with the flow at a resort.
After plenty of research, analyzing pools and reviews, and pricing options in points and cash, I finally settled on the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village.
This massive resort has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, and more, and (on paper) had everything we were looking for for our 1-week stay.
Let’s look at how my 7-night stay as a family of 4 with 2 young kids was!
The 3,386-room Hilton Hawaiian Village sits on 22 acres of beachfront property in the Waikīkī area of Honolulu.
While the property may feel distant from the hustle and bustle of the main Waikīkī area, it is an easy and enjoyable walk in either direction to attractions like the Ala Moana Center or the shops and restaurants along Kalākaua Avenue.
The resort is about 8 miles from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), and it took us about 20 minutes to arrive by taxi since we arrived late at night and there was no traffic.
Initially, I booked the Hilton Hawaiian Village because it was a good use of my Hilton Honors points.
However, shortly before our trip, my dad offered to give us some of his Hilton Grand Vacation Club points as a Christmas gift. Merry Christmas, indeed!
So I canceled our original reservation, my points were instantly redeposited into my account, and I rebooked into an HGVC suite.
HGVC points work entirely differently than Hilton Honors points, and I won’t pretend that I know the program too well.
However, we booked a 2-bedroom suite for 7 nights during the busy season for 15,360 HGVC points. From what I’m told, that was a pretty good deal for early January.
Hilton Grand Vacation Club suites are located throughout the property in different towers. We ended up in the Lagoon Tower.
My original award reservation was for 5 nights at 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which was the lowest rate available with points at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
With Hilton’s fifth night free when paying with points, the total was going to be 280,000 points or 56,000 Hilton Honors points per night — also a very good deal.
Cash rates were around $450 per night plus tax and resort fees, depending on the room type, so paying with points was definitely the way to go.
However, after comparing rates for the regular room we had booked originally with the 2-bedroom HGVC suite we ended up with, the difference wasn’t that far off.
For a small amount more per night, you could book a suite that can hold more people and have a full kitchen … something to consider!Hot Tip:
If you plan on paying cash and want a suite, search on the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Hilton Hawaiian Village website directly. The prices are similar to normal hotel rooms, but you get more space, and you still get access to all of the same resort amenities.
I’d heard that checking in at the Hilton Hawaiian Village can be a bit of a nightmare when it’s busy. Fortunately, based on the tower name on my reservation, the taxi driver knew to take us to the HGVC check-in desk, which was empty.
To be fair, it was also around midnight after our Hawaiian Airlines flight from Vegas, so there weren’t many people around, but it was a nice touch.
The resort has 5 high-rise towers, so it would have been a pain to roll all of our stuff (and kids) to a different part of the property had we not been specific.
Since it was so late, there was no bellman available. We just unloaded our stuff, and I went to check in while my wife waited with the bags and tired kids.
The check-in process was quick and painless. I was given wristbands that functioned as room keys, and we were on our way.
But, to be honest, there wasn’t much to miss anyways.
At the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors members receive:
Certainly better than nothing, but $18 is pretty weak for a top-tier elite benefit. But that is a Hilton issue and not necessarily the property’s fault.
For guests not paying with points, there was a $50 daily resort charge to be aware of.
The resort fee includes:
Since we were staying with HGVC points, we did not have to pay the resort fee. However, we were subject to the Hawaii Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) which was $19.11 per day.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village has been a popular destination since the 1950s for good reason. There is a lot to do!
Whether you just want to relax by a pool, ride down a waterslide, surf on the beach, paddleboard in the lagoon, or use the hotel as a base for exploring the island of Oʻahu, you can do it all at this Waikīkī resort.
There are 5 pools throughout the resort, each with its own vibe. So if you don’t want to be around screaming kids going down waterslides all day, fear not, you have other options.
The pools were open from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Ali’i Pool is an exclusive pool reserved for guests staying in the swanky Ali’i Tower.
It is smaller and quieter than the other pools, so guests have a nice option without needing to leave their tower.
The Kalia Adult Pool is located on the fourth floor of Kalia Tower.
This is also where you will find the spa and fitness center, so if you’re looking for some wellness activities, this is the tower to be in.
If you’re looking for some peace and tranquility during your pool time, Tapa Pool will be your best option.
Nestled between the Tapa Tower and Diamond Head Tower, this small(er) pool felt more like a secret courtyard garden, especially compared to the other options.
The Super Pool is where the fun begins.
Located right in front of the Ali’i Tower and just steps from Waikīkī Beach, this 10,000-square-foot aquatic playground is a great place to spend the day.
With the Keiki Pool (Kids’ Pool) right next to it, the whole family can enjoy themselves while the palm trees wave in the breeze and the ocean crashes in the distance.
The Paradise Pool is where me and my family spent most of our time.
Located right next to the Lagoon Tower, where our suite was, this pool had multiple levels, hot tubs, and waterslides. So it was fun and convenient!
Whether just floating in the 5,000-square-foot pool or adventuring down the lava tube, the Paradise Pool was a big hit with my kids.
That said, there were some negatives …
The pool area got very busy and chairs were hard to come by, and it got dirty quickly.
It was clear that staffing was an issue, as there was only 1 lifeguard who could barely keep up with watching the pool and monitoring people sneaking in from the beach.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the most recognizable hotels in the world, mostly thanks to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon that extends into the property.
This manmade saltwater lagoon is situated between Waikīkī Beach, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and the marina next door. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
The lagoon was open to the public, and there were water activities available to rent, including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and kayaks.
With soft sand, shallow waters, and no waves, this was a great spot for families with young kids. And the fish in the water certainly kept them entertained!Hot Tip:
Guests of the Hilton Hawaiian Village get 10% off water activity rentals.
If you’re looking for a little extra comfort by the pool, cabanas were available at the Tapa Pool and Super Pool.
At the Tapa Pool, there were 12-by-12-foot covered cabanas available that seated up to 4 guests and included 2 chaise lounges, 2 chairs, 2 tables, towels, and 2 bottles of water.
Tapa Pool cabanas started at $295 per day.
The Super Pool cabanas were not as luxurious — just some cushioned chaise lounge chairs with a retractable top.
Super Pool cabanas started at $249 per day.
Cabana reservations can be booked online.
One of my family’s favorite parts of visiting Hawaii is learning about the culture and taking part in cultural activities that hotels often provide for free.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village had an activity calendar full of activities including hula lessons, lei making, kukui nut bracelet making, and surf lessons.
My wife and daughter really enjoyed the hula lesson that they attended.
The activity schedule was available online, so we just chose whatever fit into our (very relaxed) schedule and showed up at the start time.
Speaking of cultural activities, there is nothing quite like a Hawaiian lūʻau, and there is a great one at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The Waikiki Starlight Luau tells the story of the Pacific Islands through music, dancing, and, of course, a delicious feast.
During our visit, the lūʻau was held Sunday through Thursday on the Great Lawn (which our bedrooms overlooked), so we got some obstructed views and great music from the Samoan, Tahitian, and Hawaiian dances.
Since then, the lūʻau has been moved back to its original home on the Rooftop of the Mid-Pacific Conference Center, which is right in the middle of the resort, just a few steps from the Great Lawn.
We did not attend any lūʻau during our visit because we were planning on saving that experience for our next stop at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island and lūʻaus aren’t cheap!
The Waikiki Starlight Luau starts at $185 for adults and $120 for children. Reservations can be booked online.
Every Friday evening at 8 p.m., guests and anyone nearby are treated to a beautiful fireworks display over the lagoon.
Since our room overlooked the lagoon, we had great seats — which was a nice surprise!
Despite trying to relax as much as possible, both my wife and I needed to work during our stay, so we relied a lot on the Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the wireless internet was not that great at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
In the room, it was perfectly fine. Our laptops and phones connected easily and had a strong signal. But anytime we left the room, especially hanging by the pool, getting a strong signal was an issue.
I like working out on vacation. It helps with all the junk food I inevitably eat, plus it helps with jet lag. So having a good hotel gym is important.
The fitness center at the Hilton Hawaiian Village was pretty good, though it could definitely be improved.
Located on the fourth floor of the Kalia Tower, the same floor as the Mandara Spa and Kalia Adult Pool, the fitness center was a popular spot and very busy each morning I visited.
There was plenty of Life Fitness equipment and free weights.
It also featured a Gym Rax system.
I found a couple dozen elliptical machines, but no Peloton bikes.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village fitness center was open daily from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m.
If you are looking for a spa treatment while in Hawaii, the Mandara Spa has got you covered.
The Mandara Spa is the largest spa in Waikīkī and specializes in Balinese-style services and Hawaiian spa treatments.
Whether solo or as a couple, you can book your treatment online.
Mandara Spa was open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
One of the benefits of staying in an HGVC tower is that there were laundry facilities — and they are free!
As a parent with 2 young kids, traveling for a month, free laundry is like finding a pot of gold.
On each floor of the Lagoon Tower, there was a large washing machine and dryer near the housekeeping closet, which also had detergent available.
In a rare move for my travel style, I did not rent a car for this portion of the trip.
I knew that we would be spending most of our time at the resort and that we would be exploring the island by car later in the month, so we opted for taxis to the airport and pretty much walked anywhere else.
That, and I saw the parking prices.
Valet costs $75.39 and self-parking costs $64.92 per day. Both come with in and out privileges.
It is clear this is a very large resort, but I am still shocked at how many retail outlets there are.
There are over 80 little shops throughout the resort, so you can find pretty much everything you need.
Most nights we would stop by the Rainbow Bazaar village for dinner and the ABC Store for supplies and snacks.
To get an idea of the variety, here is the full list of retail shops:
Pets are not allowed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, only service animals are.Hot Tip:
If you are looking for another family-friendly hotel in Honolulu that you can book with points, check out my review of the Sheraton Waikiki.
Although we were very happy with our original reservation of a standard room with 2 double beds, the Christmas gift which turned into a 2-bedroom suite with a kitchen and 2 balconies was WAY better!
We were assigned room 566 on the fifth floor, which was a corner suite with views over the lagoon and ocean in the background.
Entering the 1,265-square-foot suite, there was a small hallway with a closet on the side and a table which made a nice catchall throughout the week.
To the right was the living room which featured 2 armchairs, a sofa, an ottoman, and a 42-inch TV with a DVD player and a PlayStation 3. Games were available for free in the lobby.
The couch was a full-sized sofa bed that could sleep 2 people, for a total of 6 comfortably in the suite.
Off of the living room were the dining room table and kitchen.
We used this table for work and family meals, which was great.
The kitchen was fully stocked with a full-sized refrigerator and freezer with an ice maker, oven, dishwasher, all utensils, and plenty of appliances tucked away.
The bedrooms were to the left when you enter the suite.
The first bedroom was where our 2 kids slept. There were 2 twin beds, an armchair, a TV, an armoire, and a closet. It was a very comfortable setup.
The second bedroom was the master suite which had a king-sized bed, TV, armoire, bench, closet, and a lot of space!
You could easily fit a cot or an inflatable mattress in this room with no issue (space-wise).
There were 2 bathrooms: 1 in the hallway across from the kid’s bedroom, and 1 inside the master bedroom.
Both were pretty standard and there was hardly a difference between them.
The only big difference was that the master bathroom had a TOTO washlet toilet seat, which is a common amenity at many Hawaiian hotels.
One of the best features of the suite was the 2 balconies overlooking the water.
Enjoying a coffee in the morning or watching the fireworks at night was a real treat.
Both balconies had the same view, but 1 entrance was via the living room while the other was next to the dining room table.
You will not go hungry at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. With more than 18 dining options, you have plenty of really good options for all of your meals without needing to leave the resort.
Depending on your personality, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. A lot of people enjoy leaving the property to explore the local area and try some of the popular restaurants — we loved going out for udon noodles in Waikīkī.
But having options just a few steps from your room is also nice, especially for travelers who are looking for convenience on their relaxing Hawaiian vacation — also us!
After a long day of pools and waterslides, being able to run down to and grab some takeout and a bottle of wine was a nice option. And based on the lines, I wasn’t alone in that thinking!
Here are the main dining options at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikīkī:
If you’ve been to Hawaii (or even Las Vegas, now), you are probably familiar with ABC Stores.
There are 3 of these convenience stores on the property and they have everything from souvenirs to snacks, sushi, salads, fine wine, and more.
Needless to say, we spent a lot of money here! One upside to spending money at ABC Stores at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is that if you save your receipts, you can trade them in for gifts based on the total value.
So after a week, I was able to trade for 2 beach towels and a coffee mug. Not bad!
The ABC Stores were open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Eating fresh and healthy food in Hawaii is easy with so many options.
Aloha Bowls & Tea had plenty of açaí bowls, poke bowls, smoothies, teas, and more right by the Tapa Pool.
Aloha Bowls & Tea was open daily from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Fans of teppanyaki don’t need to go far to get a good meal.
Aoki Teppanyaki is located in the Rainbow Bazaar market area, close to the Kalia Tower, and is dinner and a show!
You can find the Aoki Teppanyaki menu online and it was open daily from 12 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Bali Oceanfront is one of the hotel’s main restaurants that serves breakfast and dinner.
Located in the Rainbow Tower with oceanfront views, the cuisine is focused on local harvests in partnership with island farmers, ranchers, and fishermen.
Bail Oceanfront reservations can be made online. It’s open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., dinner Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
I don’t like eating at the same restaurant more than once while on vacation, but I couldn’t help myself. Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood was SO good!
This family-run restaurant started as a food truck and serves no-frill, fresh, delicious seafood at a fair price. Big portions, too!
Our kids shared the $10 BBQ chicken with rice and corn for dinner a few times. Yeah, a $5 dinner in a Hawaiian resort — crazy.
This was our go-to spot when we were too tired to go out or if we wanted takeout.
You can check out the Blue Water menu online. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
If you are looking for a thick deli sandwich, some pasta, or burgers, CJ’s New York-Style Deli has you covered.
Located in the Rainbow Bazaar with most of the other restaurants, this was also a good option for breakfast.
You can find CJ’s New York-Style Deli menu online. It’s open daily from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Fresco Italian brings a white tablecloth atmosphere to feature Italian cuisine with a Hawaiian flair.
Also located in the Rainbow Bazaar, there were seatings for breakfast and dinner.
You can find the Fresco menu online. It’s open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. and for dinner from 4 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
You can’t have all of these restaurants without a proper Japanese restaurant. Don’t worry, Hatuhana has all of your sushi needs covered.
Located in the Rainbow Bazaar, this place was always busy and the rolls looked great.
You can find the Hatsuana menu online and they were open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and then from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Nestled in the shadows of the Rainbow Tower, between the beach and the Super Pool, was the Hua Tree Bar.
This cute little beach bar serves up drinks and snacks all day to guests at the pool or passersby on the boardwalk.
The Hua Tree Bar was open daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The Lagoon Grill is your standard Hilton poolside grill which was conveniently located at the Paradise Pool where we spent a lot of time.
They had all the usuals, including sandwiches, chips, burgers, and hot dogs. But the real highlight (for us) was the adult beverages.
The mai tais were solid and you can’t go wrong with a piña colada on vacation in Hawaii!
The Lagoon Grill was open daily from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
With ice cream, coffee, and pastries, it was no surprise Lappert’s Hawaii had a line out the door every night.
We had to try the ice cream for ourselves and we were not disappointed. Located in the Rainbow Bazaar, it was dangerously close to our tower!
You can check out Lappert’s menu online. It’s open daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Self-proclaimed as “Waikīkī’s Best Pizza,” if you want a slice of pizza without going far, this is the place.
Round Table Pizza was open daily from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Tapa Bar is the go-to hotel bar, but Hawaiian-style.
Located near the Tapa Pool and Tapa Tower, there was a lot of foot traffic here, so the bar was always busy.
With bar bites and live music every night, the outdoor bar was always a fun scene.
Fun fact: the Blue Hawaii tropical drink was invented at the Tapa Bar in 1957!
Tapa Bar was open daily from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Tropics Bar & Grill is located right outside the Ali’i Tower and sits beachfront so guests can enjoy the magic of Waikīkī Beach with their meal.
Tropics serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with everything from açaí bowls to fresh fish and big burgers. This spot was busy every time we walked by, and the plates looked good!
Tropics Bar & Grill was open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.
For a quick sandwich or salad, or even a shave ice, stop by the Wiki Wiki Market.
Located in the Ali’i Tower, right in front of the Super Pool, this is an easy grab-and-go spot.
The Wiki Wiki Market was open daily from 6:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Throughout our stay, we only had positive interactions with the staff at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
There were moments when we could tell that they were understaffed, but everyone that was working was cheerful and professional.
Overall, we really enjoyed our weeklong stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Yes, it’s a large very resort, especially for a city location. Still, it’s not so big that it is overwhelming as long as you have a day or 2 to get familiar with it.
With plenty of options on the property, plus easy access to all of what Waikīkī and the Oʻahu have to offer, I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again.
Of course, having a big suite right next to our preferred pool made things a bit more enjoyable, there’s no doubting that.
Although it’s certainly not a luxury boutique hotel, it gave us exactly what we were looking for to kick off our trip. It was relaxing while adjusting to jet lag and time changes from Las Vegas and Rio de Janeiro, where we started from!
No, pets are not allowed. Only service animals.
The resort fee is $50 per night and is waived for members staying on award nights.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village is located in Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.
There are 5 separate pools at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, plus the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and the ocean!
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