Across from Kapiolani Park, Honolulu Zoo and one short block from the surf of Waikiki Beach, the Queen Kapiolani Hotel is enjoying a $35 million dollar renovation. As one of the first modernistic hotels built in mid 1960s, its becoming one of the most authentic, engaging and unique properties in the Waikiki Beach area.


There is a story behind this 19 floors and 315 room hotel offering ocean and Diamond Head views. In honor of the rich history of the Hawaii’s most beloved royal, Queen Kapiolani, the property is celebrating her deep commitment to health, education, and well-being of the Hawaiian people. Not only did she establish the Kapiolani Home for Girls and the Kapiolani Maternity Home in the late 1800s, her lasting legacy was The Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. The Queen’s motto “Strive for the Highest” is how this hotel strives to give its guest a memorable Hawaiian experience.


Hawaiian designer Mary Philpotts of Philpotts Interiors was hired to help provide a splash of Hawaiian colors in the lobby, guest rooms and other pubic spaces to create a modern, hip and trendy vacation destination.  


Meeting Joy Shinobu Tomita, the Director of Sales and Marketing at the onsite Knot’s Coffee Roaster and Bar for Mai Tais on Tap served in clear pineapple glasses, she showed me renderings and took me on a tour of the large open-air lobby that fronts Kapiolani Park, the fitness center and an 8,000-square-foot third-floor lanai offering a lively outdoor restaurant named DECK that blends seamlessly with a relaxing lounge area and sparkling new pool.


In the reception area and corridors, the artwork theme is Waikiki’s Golden Age with classic posters from “The Good Old Days of Waikiki.” The hotel is helping local artists Mike Field, Nick Kuchar and Katie Borden by commissioning them to display wall-sized pieces. Each floor is enhanced with vintage artwork of a different airline and cruise ships that have visited the islands.

Another visual experience is the Royal Art Gallery on the second floor with original portraits of royals including the namesake of the hotel. I learned the hotel curated with the Honolulu Bishop Museum to provide this gallery. “It’s also named Green Room Gallery in honor of the photo of our famous Queen Kapiolani peacock gown she wore to the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria of England in 1887” Tomita said.


For more memorable guest experiences, the staff will offer Hawaiian Coffee tastings after a day sightseeing or day at the beach. “Everyone needs a little pick me up around 3 p.m. We will give guests an educational experience about Hawaiian coffee,” said Tomita.

The newest feature is the 8,000 sq. ft. outdoor lounge at Deck. It’s perched above Kapiolani Park with Waikiki’s best view of Diamond Head. This area will showcase Honolulu’s most sought-after talent in the Hawaiian music scene. Guests can listen to contemporary music while sipping poolside cocktails and enjoying a variety of pupu’s. For dinner, the new Deck restaurant is sexy, sleek and chic offering an al fresco take on Modern American cuisine with a slight Hawaiian flair.  (Opening in September).

IMG_7582Tomita led me up to the 18th floor to look at one of their suites. Walking into #1816 I was in awe of  how light and bright the living area was due to a wall of windows overlooking Waikiki Beach. The small kitchenette is ideal for making breakfast or lunch to take out on the large lanai with outdoor furniture. This upgraded unit offers two bathrooms and a separate bedroom with a king size Serta Dream Mattress bed with extra comfort linens and array of Hawaiian Tropics bathroom amenities.

To maintain guests health, the Queen Kapiolani offer a new fitness center and Hans Hedemann Surf School and shop (Opening Sept. 15). The property will also have an Aloha Whip Confectionery and retail shops offering fun Hawaiian lifestyle, art and gifts.

For a true Hawaiian vacation, the Queen Kapiolani offers comfort, enriching experiences and unobstructed views like no other hotel in Waikiki.

To book a reservation, go to 

Queen Kapiolani Hotel