Hot Hotels – Royal Hawaiian Hotel
This 529-room landmark spent the past couple of decades chugging along on the fumes of nostalgia. When the iconic property opened in 1927, it became a retreat for film stars, presidents, and the early jet-set. Now, after a much-needed $50 million restoration, the so-called Pink Palace has reclaimed its past glory. Although not every problem can be resolved – it's still incongruously wedged between a sprawling Sheraton (Waikiki) Resort and the depressing Royal Hawaiian shopping pavilion – the façade has been refinished, and the impeccable interiors are an inspired blend of textiles, artwork, and woodwork that pay tribute to the hotel's heritage while remaining fresh and contemporary. Indeed, the renovation's greatest triumph may be its restraint; while the rooms (and particularly the bathrooms) may be small, they're also boldly outfitted with Art Deco-inspired metallic wallpapers and color-blocked curtains.
When to go: Year-round, but late spring and early summer bring big waves and sunny skies.
Which room to book: Be sure you're in the historic wing, in a Beachview room
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