Halekulani translates as “house befitting heaven” – and it’s easy to see why. Stepping foot into any good hotel should give you that same feeling as shutting the door of your own home firmly behind you after a busy day – and Halekulani is quite literally an oasis of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. With impeccable service and attention to detail that it has spent the last century perfecting, Halekulani proudly celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
We’re all too familiar with the colourful tropical fruit platters from the Instagram accounts of our jet-setting friends, and you won’t be disappointed upon entering your room at Halekulani, where you’re met with the most delicious array of juicy and sweet Hawaiian watermelon, mangos and bananas.
The understated, elegant interiors feature dark wood furnishings combined with their signature “7 shades of white” design scheme, including the most luxurious bedding – complete with huge feather pillows that create a cloud soft enough to ease the most sun-tired shoulders. Choose from a tropical garden or sparkling ocean-view room. The Halekulani Suite has been personally designed by Vera Wang and is adorned with various hand-selected pieces from the designer’s homeware collections.
Whichever view you opt for, make sure you are back at your balcony (cold glass of wine in hand) in time to watch the sun set behind the infamous Diamond Head crater, before heading down to enjoy the daily Hoola show at 6pm.
This postcard-picture hotel is comfortably nestled within five acres of lush tropical gardens, which play host to some beautifully intimate weddings. You’ll also find a tempting freshwater pool, which quite literally sparkles under the sun thanks to the 1.2 million pieces of imported South African glass tiles which have been cleverly hand crafted into the shape of an orchid.
Once positioned poolside, you won’t ever need to pause your (probably not so discreet) people watching from under your floppy brimmed Missoni Mare sun hat, as the pool attendants are on hand to cater to your every need, offering sunscreen, towels, ice-cold water and cocktails throughout the day.
If people-watching by the pool isn’t quite your scene then you are a simply a few steps from your very own exclusive private beach access, to cool off and take a dip in the ocean.
Snap yourself polishing your holiday halo and squeeze in a quick workout at the gym, which boasts an incredible ocean view (every little helps get through those squats, right?) And if you are mixing business with pleasure, fear not, as they offer free WiFi as well as a full-service business centre. But those who are there for pleasure won’t want to miss the spa. Be sure to indulge in the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage – you won’t be disappointed.
Arts and culture
Simply being a guest of the hotel allows you a complimentary key to the thriving arts and culture scene in Oahu, including Hawaii’s International Film Festival in spring and autumn. Everything on offer is part of a melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities bound together by the spirit of Aloha.
If you can bring yourself to spend time away from the hotel then you might like to explore the island of Pearl Harbour, one of the most significant World War 2 sites in the world; experience the extensive collection of Asian and Pan-Pacific Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art; or even take a stroll around Doris Duke’s Shangri-La Estate of Islamic Art before enjoying an evening at Hawaii’s Symphony Orchestra.
Food and drink
Before dinner, make sure to discover L’Aperetif – a tucked-away1920s Parisian-style cocktail bar at La Mer, appointed with priceless Belle Époque objects d’art acquired in Paris by Halekulani. Every exquisite cocktail has been perfected over the course of 20 years by L’Aperitif’s resident bartender and is paired with its very own amuse bouche – certainly not an experience to be missed. (Open daily from 5.15 – 9.30pm).
For dining, choose from not one, not two, but three award-winning restaurants, all combining Hawaii’s freshest local ingredients with their own unique twist and offering incredible views of the sea – along with an award-winning wine list to boot.
If there was a ever a place to show off those new Manolos its at Honolulu’s most sought-after restaurant – La Mer – the only restaurant in Hawaii to receive the Forbes Travel Guide 5 star designation. The internationally acclaimed menu features local tropical ingredients inspired by flavours from the South of France.
Or, perhaps you are looking for more relaxed elegance, in which case Orchid not only offers the best brunch in Honolulu but also one of most time-honoured activities in Hawaii – afternoon tea on the veranda for exquisite freshly baked cakes and pastries from their in-house bakery and a wealthy selection of tea and coffee (and let’s not forget champagne of course). After the sun has set, witness Chef de Cuisine as he whips up some Italian magic with a Hawaiian twist from tantalising local Kahuku prawns to homemade Lasangette (and take it from us, it would be a crime to give the cheese platter a miss.)
Last but not least, if you fancy kicking off your heels for one night in exchange for a more relaxed ambience then House Without a Key is the place for you, offering informal eats and delicious cocktails (their signature Mai Tai is a must try) as well as Hawaiian music under the century-old Kiawe tree which is faithfully preserved here.
Finally, don’t forget to swing by Lewers lounge for a nightcap and some live jazz.
The Red Nichols Manhattan, the signature cocktail served at the exclusive L’Aperetif is a must-order. It is smoked for 10 minutes before being served.
Rooms from £380 a night. For more information visit halekulani.com.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK