Waikiki, the prime location choice for travelers to Oahu, was once dominated by large expensive hotels and budget bare-bones ones. But in recent years, several boutique chains have been upgrading the older, small properties – meaning travelers can enjoy more personal service as well as good value so long as they’re willing to pass up some frills like the spa, room service, or a lobby bar. If you appreciate a good boutique but don’t want to break the bank, consider these properties on your next visit. (Only one of them charges a resort fee -- and all offer free wifi.)
1. Vive Hotel Waikiki
One of the coolest new hotels, Vive Hotel Waikiki is located just two blocks from the beach. It’s got a sophisticated vibe that’s ideal for cosmopolitan couples and singles. Complimentary perks include beach chairs, mats, and air mattresses that can be borrowed from the front desk. Continental breakfast with pastries and fresh tropical fruit, and round-the-clock coffee and tea in the huge lobby, are also included in your stay. From $153 in October.
2. Coconut Waikiki Hotel
This bright, colorful Joie De Vivre property is located along the Ala Wai canal, with views of the mountains, just three blocks from the beach. For those who want to take it easy, there’s a pool and outdoor grill right on property. Every room features balconies and both a mini fridge and a microwave oven. From $159 in October.
3. The Modern Honolulu
Closer to Ala Moana beach park and shopping center, The Moden Honolulu is a hip luxury hotel with an arts focus. While not directly on the beach, it’s a 90-second walk to the lagoon, and the actual beach is just a few hundred yards further. You’ll find more amenities here, including a great bar, restaurant, and two pools, one of which is adults-only. Rates are closer to high-end hotels, but there are significant specials such as the “4th night free” promotion. From $269 in October.
4. The Equus
For a thrifty but budget-conscious option, this family-owned property affiliated with Choice Hotels offers a welcoming, equestrian-themed atmosphere right across the street from The Modern. The rooms here might not be as hip as others, but hotel does boast a small pool and patio area for relaxation. That's not to mention the warm service and the Thursday mai tai meet-and-greets with the general manager, the third-generation family member in the business. From $103 in October.
5. Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head
If you want to be right on the beach but prefer to avoid the crowds, this property offers a quiet spot on the far end of Waikiki. While there is a resort fee of $25, it covers valet parking, beach cruiser bicycles rentals, outdoor yoga classes and mats, daily wine hour, shuttle service, and admission for up to two people per stay at the Honolulu Museum of Art. From $195 in October.