Last updated on August 8th, 2023 at 06:31 pm
Recently, I completed my Ultimate Guide to Marriott Hotels in Waikiki, which is something that’s been years in the making. But now, I want to go over my preferred Waikiki Marriotts split up by different stay styles.
My very first solo (not family or school trip) hotel stay was at the Waikiki Beach Marriott many years ago. And ever since, we’ve typically stayed at a Waikiki Marriott, Hyatt, or Hilton every year – typically a Marriott. Thanks to its sheer size in the area, Marriott has a large variety of properties to choose from and, at least pre-COVID, had a great diversity of price points, too. So, while I hope my ultimate guide helps, choosing a property can still be daunting. That’s why I’m now following it up with a post about my preferred Waikiki Marriotts.
I know many people visiting Hawaii want a beachfront property. I get it. Being able to look straight out over the water and then walk downstairs and straight out onto a beach? What’s better than that? And, for me, the beachfront property in Marriott’s Waikiki portfolio is the Westin Moana Surfrider. Sure, parking is a pain if you refuse to do valet (or can’t), but the Moana is one of only two beachfront properties in Marriott’s Waikiki portfolio, the other being the Royal Hawaiian.
While the Pink Palace seems like a better option – and perhaps it is if you can afford their premium Mailani Tower rooms – the service and historic rooms (even suites) are a complete letdown. To me, the Moana Surfrider has superior service, better on-site dining, and better rooms. The tower rooms, specifically, are the ones you want. Sure, ocean-view ones are hard to nab, you’re going to pay extra, and they’re not as stylish, but I found my experience at the Moana to be far superior to the Royal.
The Sheraton Waikiki is technically beachfront, too, but the beach is in front of the Royal and isn’t always accessible, depending on the tide and surf. So, really, the Moana and Royal are your only two options.
While the Sheraton Waikiki, Moana, and Royal are all in central Waikiki, the most convenient property, in my opinion, is The Laylow. Tucked away along Kuhio Ave., this my preferred Waikiki Marriotts when I want to be within easy walking distance to all the shops and restaurants in the area. In this case, I don’t care about being oceanfront and prefer the convenience and style of The Laylow. But seriously, you aren’t going to get an ocean view here – partial ocean views only!
Even if you aren’t going for the location, this one is worth considering just for its vibe, too. I love the mid-century modern design, along with its modern comforts and chich restaurant!
This one is a no-brainer. Of my preferred Waikiki Marriotts, the Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach is my automatic go-to. Unfortunately, it’s so pricy that I’ve only stayed here once. But the service, the dining, and the apartment-style rooms (residences) all make it worthwhile. Sure, you’re on Kuhio Ave, not far from the far less glamorous Courtyard, but every room still has lovely ocean views. Plus, the sound isolation here is so good that street noise won’t bother you at all.
And when I say the dining here is great, I’m not kidding. La Vi Waikiki is one of my favorite upscale spots on the island, while Sushi Sho is, quite literally, one of the best sushi experiences you can have in or outside of Japan.
The Budget Option
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani earns its place as the budget option for my preferred Waikiki Marriotts list. Why? Because the rooms are far more comfortable than the Courtyard Waikiki. The parking garage is a nightmare but is still better than the valet-only Courtyard. Of course, the location is better, you have the option of getting ocean views, I think the service is superior, and the pricing can be similar enough. Yes, you have to pay a resort fee at the Princess Kaiulani, but, at times, the difference in rack rate, plus the Courtyard’s HIGH parking fee, can kind of level it out. Plus, the Princess Kaiulani sometimes has certificate-eligible rates!
While I like staying at the Moana, the Ritz, and The Laylow, my go-to Marriott remains the Waikiki Beach Marriott. Of my preferred Waikiki Marriotts, this one provides the best balance of beach access, comfort, views, and price. This Marriott isn’t beachfront, but it might as well be. Oceanfront rooms here truly are oceanfront, though you need to cross Kalakaua Ave to actually get to the beach. That’s likely why the Waikiki Beach Marriott is often far cheaper than the Sheraton, Royal, and Moana.
While room comfort here is good, noise can be an issue – both street and corridor. Lower floor rooms can be quite unpleasant, but I’ve NEVER not received an elite upgrade at this property. And while the Waikiki Beach Marriott is far from central Waikiki (10 to 15 minutes by foot), there are excellent dining options on-site and in the general area.
Like the Princess Kaiulani, expect to pay a heft resort fee here. But it’s still going to be far cheaper than many of the other mid and upper-tier properties in the area. And for those of you looking for a place to rest before the Honolulu Marathon, this Marriott is hard to beat.
My Preferred Waikiki Marriotts, Final Thoughts
There you have it. These are my preferred Waikiki Marriotts and the circumstances under which I choose to stay at them. I’m sure some of you already knew this from my reviews, while I’m willing to bet many will disagree with me. But I hope that my preference list, along with my ultimate guide, can help at least some of you figure out where to stay when your goal is to be in a Marriott in Waikiki.