Who doesn’t love Waikiki? Honolulu’s most famous beach area is one of the Hawaiian island of Oahu’s largest tourist draws. That means it can also be super expensive. And who wants to pay $400-500 per night for a hotel room? No need at the affordable Vive Hotel Waikiki, a newly re-imagined hotel that’s super hip and conveniently located just a few blocks from sugar sand Waikiki beach, shopping, and restaurants.
Vive Hotel Waikiki is a slim, 22-story hotel on Kuhio Street, just a block from popular Kalakaua Avenue (and from the recently shuttered International Market). The hotel offers 100 regular guestrooms (called Cosmopolitan Rooms) plus Junior Guest Suites, and, on the top floor, a penthouse with a meeting room and commanding views of the ocean and beach.
When we pull off Kuhio Avenue and turn into the hotel’s compact driveway (they can’t accommodate tall or very large vehicles), a friendly young valet greets us, promptly taking our keys and assuring us he’d “take care of everything.” There’s no self-park; valet parking costs an additional $25/night with unlimited entries/exits. (Our bags, including rollaboards, backpacks, and miscellaneous sacks and coats, arrived in our room within a few minutes.)
Freed from schlepping our bags, we take the elevator to the sleek ground floor that houses the front desk, the concierge desk, the business center, and the “living room,” where morning continental breakfast is served. There’s no fussiness or uptightness at this hotel. The style is cool and modern with a variety of low profile couches and modern upholstered chairs that fit perfectly with the hot Waikiki beach vibe.
The front desk staff is as young and accommodating as our valet. They give us a sheet with the latest happenings in the area, the code for free WiFi, offer complimentary beach towels and gear, and direct us to our Junior Suite on the 20th floor.
Re-Imagined, Huge Suites, Convenient Location
Vive has been completely remodeled and that is evident in the Junior Suites. They are the size of two guest rooms, complete with three operable windows and two air conditioners. Our suite was oblong with a small sitting area with two barrel chairs and a small coffee table, a comfy king bed with luxurious linens, a freestanding closet with a small safe, a modest sized writing desk and chair and a small refrigerator. My one complaint about the linens: they offered a duvet and had no lighter-weight blanket available. Duvets are popular among hotels, but they’re warm and, in tropical climates like Hawaii, not particularly appropriate.
The bathroom was generous with walk-in shower roomy enough for two, a big rain shower head and elegant toiletries.
Rooms and suites on the west side have views of the ocean. Our suite faced north and offered a crane-your-neck ocean view out a side window and interesting views of a park and the apartments and balconies of nearby apartments. But views hardly matter when you’re this close to Waikiki and this convenient location was a big plus for us. Off the main drag by a few streets, Vive Hotel Waikiki was quiet, yet we could walk nearly everywhere. Sometimes we didn’t move our car at all and strolled to the beach, shops, or to nearby restaurants like Tiki’s Grill and Bar (delicious!). (See our full review of Tiki’s.)
All guests are offered complimentary continental breakfast at the scattering of casual communal tables and chairs in the first floor living room. However, the fruit and small pastries are forgettable. (On the second day, we helped ourselves to coffee and enjoyed leftovers from our dinner the night before at Tiki’s.) If Vive is going to offer a continental breakfast, they could greatly improve it with selections of local fruits, breads and pastries from local bakers, hard boiled farm fresh eggs, and some locally-made granola and yogurt.
In addition to the convenience of Vive Hotel, we appreciated the friendly attentiveness of all the Vive staff from the parking valets to the housekeeper to the front desk staff. In this era of lackluster service, it’s refreshing to find hotel staff that truly cares about their guests. When you find this in a tourist area like Waikiki at a price that’s under $200/night, you know you’ve found an aloha gem. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor; photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor and Vive Hotel.