***At the time of my stay, this hotel was branded as a Best Western Property. It has since moved into the Joie de Vivre family as the Coconut Waikiki Hotel.***
Back in May, I took advantage of some relatively low-priced tickets on American Airlines from Chicago to Honolulu over the Memorial Day weekend. The low price required me to take a rather circuitous routing, which might have put some people off this itinerary. I, on the other hand, took this as an opportunity to enjoy a day of flying and even ended up writing a blog post about eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in First class on AA.
While a cheap ticket to paradise is always welcome, the problem that I always run into after the ecstasy of purchasing a plane ticket has worn off is where I can park my butt over the course that trip. After years of traveling and having adventures across the globe, I’ve learned that securing low airfare is the easy part. The hard part of planning travel is finding a bed that balances price, comfort, and cleanliness. Cleanliness and comfort is rarely an issue when Honolulu is your destination. Price, on the other hand, can really put a dent in your wallet.
While I’ve been dabbling with hotel loyalty for most of 2012, none of the hotels in Honolulu under the Starwood or Hyatt umbrellas had price tags that were speaking my language. Holiday weekends can be more than a pain when it comes to affordable prices, so I knew my choices for low-cost lodgings weren’t going to increase as time ticked on. With the help of TripAdvisor and Kayak I finally landed on a property that appeared to jive with my needs – the Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki.
Now I know what you’re thinking… “Best Western!? That place must be a dump.” The hotel chain doesn’t exactly have the most sparkling reputation within the United States. I have, however, enjoyed several Best Western properties while on vacation overseas. My interest started with a unique stay at the Best Western Katajanokka in Helsinki, Finland (it’s located in a converted prison!) and prior to my stay in Honolulu had continued that good luck with a stay at the Best Western Amber in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul this January. Having enjoyed both of those bookings, I decided to give Best Western a shot domestically.
Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki (BW) advertises a location in Waikiki and they do live up to that promise, even if just barely. While many of the major hotels in Waikiki can be found along Kalakaua Avenue, BW is a few blocks removed from the main drag on the corner of Lewers St and Ala Wai Boulevard. While not an ideal location when staying in Waikiki, it’s only a 5 minute walk down Lewers till you’re in the thick of things. Being tucked away allows BW to remain relatively quiet when compared to bigger properties like the Moana Surfrider or the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort. When I hopped in my cab at Honolulu International Airport, the driver knew exactly where the property was, no need to call dispatch or ask me to look up the address.
Check-in was easy and efficient. Friendly, casual Aloha service was in full effect. The agent apologized to me and said that they did not have the room type I’d booked available (2 double beds) and asked if I would be okay accepting a room with one king bed. I happily accepted, since I had only booked the 2 double beds for a lower price. Within 2 minutes of arriving I was handed my key and was on my way to catching up on sleep after a long day of travel.
Housekeeping was neither amazing nor disappointing. Each day my room was cleaned, toiletries were replenished, and all dirty towels were replaced. The room was clean when I arrived and remained so my entire stay.
Check-out on my final day went off without a hitch. BW has a noon check out time and offered to hold my luggage during the day since my flight back to Chicago did not leave until around 9 PM that evening. I asked the gentleman manning the front desk to call a taxi for me and within 5 minutes a friendly cabbie had arrived and I was headed toward the airport.
Let me begin by apologizing for the low quality of some of the room picutres. I arrived after 3 flights from Chicago and it was after 10 PM by this point. The light in the room wasn’t ideal for photos and the following is what I walked away with!
The room, at first glance, looks very nice. The bright paint on the walls and linens channel the aloha mood in to the room. The headboard is playful and the bright orange lamps on the night stands add a fun pop of color to the room. A closer inspection revealed that the furniture is a bit dated. The dresser and chair against the far wall had certainly seen better days, though they were in no way a major detraction from the room. The door to the closet did not close properly and the green curtains over the television set had a bit of dust caked on them.
One of the nice features of the room was that it contained a dinner table (in lieu of a desk) with space to seat two people. Additionally, there was a kitchenette set up along the wall with a mini-fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and small sink. While the sink seemed a bit out-of-place in the room without a stove, the table was frequently utilized when I was using my computer or on several nights when I brought food back from a local restaurant.
The bathroom, again, appeared a bit dated but certainly held up well for the price that was being paid. There was no bathtub in this room, only a shower head with a small raised wall to keep water in the appropriate area. Towels were plentiful and clean.
The major problem I had with the bathroom were the products provided by BW for use by guests. While I’ve never heard of Aromae Botanicals (and being a BW I don’t expect to have heard of these products either), I do desire shampoos and soaps that leave me feeling clean and refreshed after use. Sadly I felt neither after using the products featured below. The shampoo left my hair feeling dry and brittle. The body wash, which smelled nice, seemed to leave what felt like a thin film on top of my skin. I ended up buying travel-sized shampoo and body wash at an ABC Store down the road.
Finally, the room featured a sizable balcony. The view was rather bland considering it looked out over Ala Wai Blvd and the drainage basin, but still nicer than having nothing at all. The evening view was much better than the morning view, since the sunset cast a nice glow up on the mountains north of Honolulu and the mid-rise buildings around the BW start to twinkle.
WiFi is free for all guests. The password for access is provided by the front desk upon check-in. It was a bit difficult to use the internet since inactivity on your connected device in excess of 10 minutes caused the connection to be terminated. While I found this annoying, the password was short enough that it was easily memorized and this allowed me to reconnect immediately.
Breakfast in the morning was also provided free of charge. If you are a late riser (like me) the free food ends at 9:30 AM, which can be problematic for those of us who enjoys sleeping in. The quality of food is decent and includes fresh fruits, sausage, scrambled eggs (powder), pastries, and even a do-it-yourself waffle machine.
There is a concierge to assist guests with island activities on site in the lobby, however I did not use any of their services. Like most tourist hot spots, I’m willing to bet you can find the same activities for much less if you put a little work into researching what to do on your own. For those who do enjoy the services of a concierge, one is never far away at BW.
Overall, the BW was fantastic value for the price I paid ($65/night). The location off Waikiki keeps the property quiet yet close enough to all the action just a few blocks south. The staff were friendly and competent and made me feel welcomed as a guest. The room, while certainly dated and lacking in quality bathroom amenities, was more than adequate and even a bit nicer than some of the other low-budget offerings I’ve seen and experienced around Waikiki.
If given the choice again, I would definitely consider staying at the Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki.