Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

Whoa. Prepare thyself. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is no ordinary hotel. It’s a compound.

With 3,000+ rooms, thousands of employees, dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars, and 5 towers spread across 22 acres, it’s legit a village.

Hilton must looove this property, because the occupancy rates here are extremely low.

The check-in area has multiple lines, and is set next to the main service road going through the village.

There are lines for:

  • Regular check-in
  • Hilton HHonors members
  • Digital check-in

The regular check-in line was around 50 deep (!), but the Hilton desk only had about 10 people. I’d already checked-in via the Hilton app and was given a room in Diamond Head Tower, but wanted to see if we could get an upgrade to the Ali’i Tower or Rainbow Tower. After a few minutes, I was up.

The desk agent was very friendly and thorough – impressive given the volume here.

I’d originally booked the cheapest resort view room. But both me and my mom were upgraded to an Ocean View room in Rainbow Tower. I paid for my mom’s 4 nights with Citi Prestige. And my 5 nights were booked with Hilton points (with the 5th night free).

My 200,000 Hilton points got me a room worth well over $2,000

My 200,000 Hilton points got me a room worth well over $2,000

Considering the upgraded rooms often go for ~$400 a night, that’s a great deal. And it means my Hilton points were worth a cent each, which is a good rate.

They also gave us 2 dining credits because I booked as a Hilton Diamond elite member. Both rooms got $20 a day to spend at certain restaurants on-site. You can use them all in one go or spread them across a few days.

My mom got $80 to spend and I got $100. This was instead of getting free breakfast (which I would’ve preferred), but definitely better than nothing. This was also a value-add to the Hilton points booking.

All-in-all, an excellent check-in experience. Hilton really took care of us with the upgrade to Ocean View rooms, dining credit, and quick service.

The room

I liked being in Rainbow Tower. It’s the one nearest the ocean, and most rooms have spectacular views.

Rainbow Tower

Rainbow Tower

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We were on the West-facing side

I got room 1524, and my mom got room 2010. Both rooms faced west – with excellent views of the sunset in the evening.

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Hallways of the Rainbow Tower

My room, 1524

My room, 1524

View upon walking in

View upon walking in

TV, bench, desk

TV, bench, desk

Coffee, tea, ice bucket, cups

Coffee, tea, ice bucket, cups

Double beds

Double beds

Closet with safe, extra pillows, iron, hangers

Closet with safe, extra pillows, iron, hangers

Desk

Desk

View from the balcony

View from the balcony

View from the window

View from the window

Boys in my bed(s)!

Boys in my bed(s)!

The room was bright, clean, and cozy. Not too big, but not tiny either.

The double beds were a bit on the small side, but nothing unmanageable.

The closet was nicely sized, and there was a fridge to store our drinks and keep them cool.

And the view from the balcony…

Day view

Day view

Evening/sunset view

Evening/sunset view

Incredible. I spent many moments out there, absorbing the views and feeling the ocean.

I asked my bro what he thought of the view. This was his reaction:

About sums it up :)

About sums it up 🙂

The bathroom was also well-stocked with plenty of towels and bath products.

Bathroom

Bathroom

Shower

Shower

Products

Peter Thomas Roth toiletries

Each day, the cleaning staff came ’round and stocked us up on everything, replaced the towels, and refreshed the beds.

Like any popular resort, the room had its battle scars: chipped paint, scuffs on the door frames, stains beat into the carpet. That’s not a criticism, so much as a fact of life at places like these. I do think they did a good job of keeping the rooms updated.

Pool-ready in Oahu

Pool-ready in Oahu

Last time, I stayed at the Ali’i Tower. I honestly don’t have a preference between Rainbow or Ali’i. I liked being close to the beach and loved the view from Rainbow Tower.

I suppose the major plus with Ali’i is the rooms are a bit more modern (think more dark wood and white and not beachy-themed colors) and there’s a private pool only accessible to peeps staying there.

But all else being equal, I loved the room and Rainbow Tower this time: clean, quiet, fast wifi, comfy beds, and very close to everything that makes the resort a destination.

What HHV is and what it isn’t

When you stay at a place like Hilton Hawaiian Village, you have to know going into it to expect:

  • Lots of crowds
  • Long lines
  • People everywhere
  • Kids everywhere
  • Noisy in the common areas
  • Long wait for elevators at times

In short, it can be a circus. This isn’t some quaint hotel with a lazy hammock tied around two palm trees with an ocean breeze.

It’s is a full-on resort, and you should expect people to be crawling through every square inch of the place at all times. That’s at its peak during the sunny midday.

Landon in the Super Pool

Landon in the Super Pool

All that to say, we had no trouble getting 5 beach chairs IN A ROW, dipping in the pool, getting sat at the restaurants, or getting around in general. In fact, we found ourselves with patches of complete peacefulness around the lagoon and occasionally around the pools.

We also had the screaming babies, pushy people in the elevators, and general tourist malaise – you know what I’m talkin’ about. But taken for what it is, there’s no reason you can’t have a perfectly lovely time here – relaxing, even!

My mom and bro at The Tropics restaurant

My mom and bro at The Tropics restaurant

After my last visit there in 2013, I went back again. And after a second go-round, you know what?, I’d go back again… in a few more years.

View of the lagoon

View of the lagoon

It’s set up to where you don’t have to leave the premises.

If you want to fly to Honolulu, take a cab in, and plant yourself next to a pool for a few days, it’s totally possible to have that experience. And, if you want to see more of Honolulu, it’s so centrally located that you won’t have trouble doing that, either.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

A bit more on the property

We ate at The Tropics and Bali restaurants with our dining credits. And took advantage of the various happy hours throughout the resort.

Grabbed pizza and bought a few trinkets.

Sampled the Super Pool, Tapa Pool, Paradise pool, the lagoon, and of course the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Even attended the Waikiki Starlight Luau. I could’ve skipped it, but mama wanted to do it, so… can’t say no to mama!

We ate breakfast off-site every day at these places:

All were great in their own way. We took Lyft everywhere because Uber had surge pricing ALL THE TIME. But each time, we were picked up at the check-in area. And the fares were reasonable – about $8 or $9 to most places in town.

And after the first $12 Mai Thai at the Super Pool, we wised up, headed to the ABC Store on-site, bought rum, mixer, and some plastic cups and loaded up with ice from the ice machines and called it a day. Much more economical than paying for each drink.

This is, of course, discouraged, but no one checked and we didn’t hear anything about it. We weren’t exactly flashing it around, either.

There is plenty to do within the resort itself. Try each pool, visit the happy hours, and believe it or not, some of the souvenirs were well-priced. I also love the stretch of Waikiki Beach in front of the property.

Bottom line

I gotta say, Hilton has treated me very well this year as a Diamond elite member.

And even though it’s a little schmaltzy, I think the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a special resort – there’s just nothing else quite like it.

I’ve been to other beach resorts, but none are as well-rounded, affordable, and easy to reach as this one.

My goal was to get to the pool, sip a drink, and unwind for 5 whole days. During that time, I thought of nothing. Nothing! And it was perfect.

Of course, we spent a little time dealing with the crowds and the physical experience of getting around the huge grounds. But all-in-all, it was exactly what I had in mind – but you should be aware of what you’re getting into here.

I’d say if you can find a cheap room (~$200 a night or less), cheap flights, or if you have points (see Part 1 and Part 2 of my Booking Hawaii series) – and you want a dead cheap vacation to Hawaii – it’s hard to top this.

Honolulu is also a great base for island-hopping to see more of Hawaii – and you can get to other parts of Polynesia and even Asia from here.

It’s an easy jaunt from the West Coast, a longer one from other locales, but after visiting the Caribbean for the first time this year, I gotta say: I like Hawaii better.

Yes, I’ll go again in a few more years. And next time I want to revisit Maui and see Kauai for the first time.

Have you stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or another hotel in Honolulu? How does your experience compare? 

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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  1. We spent a few days there last New Years, and while it was very crowded, the kids had a great time. Lots of pools, hula lessons, lei making, fireworks on the beach. We rented a car and drove to Walmart for groceries and a trip to Diamond Head. All booked with points, so a very inexpensive vacation!

    • I’m so glad you had a good time there – and got out and about, too!

      We did the same thing – took a Lyft to Walmart to stock up on sunscreen, flip-flops, and poolside snacks – saved a ton of money by doing that.

      Points are the BEST – especially when you can share them with family. Sounds like a fun NYE. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. Thanks Son! It was so much fun and memories made that will always be with me! I couldn’t have gone if it hadn’t been for you! You are amazing!

  3. We are going to Kauai in a few months and after booking the flights (with points of course) I feel like 3 flights each way to/from Dallas is kind of a whooping. I might prefer the ease of Honolulu better when all is said and done!

    • It will be a whooping for sure lol. Even the flight to HNL was like… whoa. Bring snacks and neck pillows if in coach. And plan to spend a little extra on drinks en route. The daytime flight (landing at HNL around 2pm their time) was pretty humane timing, I thought.

      It’ll be worth it though cuz waiting on the other end of the journey is wild & wonderful Kauai – I have always wanted to go. Congrats on getting 3 flights with points – that’s an achievement! Have you booked a hotel yet or waiting until closer to time?

  4. I have been to Maui a couple of times and the flights were easier there too! It’s this dang Kauai that is so much harder to get to! I booked our flights over via AA months ago for the 4 of us-Yep! 4 flights on AA to Kauai were actually available at saver rate once upon a time. But getting back has been a bit tougher. Waiting on Singapore transfer to show up is no fun plus United only offered a 3 flight 22 hour itinerary-pass. So I checked on every west coast flight to LIH with Avios and was just going to connect with my Southwest companion pass, but no Avios awards from the west coast or PHX. So then I thought all right I’ll just hit up my companion pass voucher code for paid flights via our Alaskan cards from the west coast as even one ways will allow use of the companion voucher, but I waited too long and the price jumped back up on my dates. So I’m down to Thank You points and dear old Delta via Flying Blue, but I will have to pay for flights from LIH-HNL on Hawaiian that depart at 6am and I hope we arrive on time. I have had an easier time getting the 4 of us in Business Class to Europe multiple times than booking this dang LIH-DFW flight!

    My in-laws own a timeshare so we will be spending a week at their place, but I may not be able to resist staying a night or two at the Grand Hyatt! Looks like your trip was super fun!

    By the way, when I met you before I did not know at the time that the blog I had read prior to our visit to Ireland was you! Your Club Carlson reviews were very helpful to me when I was planning that trip! Thanks!

    • Sounds like you went through every scenario! It is kind of exhausting, isn’t it? But also kind of fun in a “find the best deal” light.

      I gotta say, Citi TY points transferred to Flying Blue for flights on Delta saved me for my trip – and the prices are very reasonable. You may have to call to get it ticketed with a connex. But it’s worth it, they booked mine in under 10 minutes.

      Also feel you on the United 22-hour itin – BIG PASS lol.

      If you wanna risk it, you could always wait for the price on Alaska to drop again (they tend to fluctuate a lot for the Hawaii routes).

      Timeshare sounds amaze! But yeah, if you can get to the Hyatt for a night, I’ve heard great things.

      How exciting, I’m living vicariously now lol. Hope you have an amazing time! Would be curious to hear how you end up booking, too! 🙂

      • Booked flights yesterday on Delta with Flying Blue. Given we will have just been on Kauai for a week and are having to book HNL-DFW because I was unable to find any decent routing from LIH, I am kicking around the idea of staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for a day rather than taking the same day 6am LIH-HNL flight. So If I go the day before instead is this a good property for just one day? It looks pretty close to the airport for catching an 8am flight. The in-law’s timeshare that we will be staying at for a week on Kauai does not have a fancy pool, so I would like for the kids to have a bit of incredible pool time at the beginning of the trip at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and then maybe at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We will definitely spend plenty of time zip-lining and exploring waterfalls, but I have to say that no place builds pools like the ones I have experienced in Hawaii. So when people say “you don’t go to Hawaii to go to the pool” well uh, yeah, I kinda do actually, but not everyday of the trip.

        • LOLOL, I love that!

          Me and my fam flew out on 3 different flights – my mom and stepdad to Memphis via Phoenix on American, my bother to Memphis via Minneapolis on Delta, and me to Dallas via Phoenix. ALL of us reported getting to the airport and through security in under 30 minutes. So I’d say yes, it’s an easy jaunt to the airport. And if you do stay at the HHV, check out the Paradise Pool – kids will love. It has 2 fun waterslides. And one of them, I could only face doing once! Lol.

          Glad your trip worked out after all. Yup, LIH is definitely the toughest to get to. Maybe there’s still a way, closer to time…?

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