For those that have dreamed of tropical oasis’ and a perfect relaxing getaway, look no further than Hawaii. I decided before the start of the Autumn semester I would take my horrifically untravelled boyfriend to Honolulu with me for a much needed break. Having visited 3 times previously, I thought there was no better place to take a travel virgin as the 9 hour flight is pretty tame compared to some of the longer treks to Europe I’ve endured.
We flew with Hawaiian Airlines, which typically offer incredible service but this time unfortunately they were lacking. I was most confused about the ‘extra-comfort’ seating which boasted pillows, blankets and entertainment packages which made it seem like none of those things would be offered in regular economy, so we forked over the money for lacklustre premium economy which was right behind the galley which stay’s lit all night….big tip, never sit behind the galley. After the nine and a half hour flight we arrived to a chaos of four or so other international flights arriving at the same time, which meant customs took about 2 hours.
After arguing with our Roberts tour bus operator, trying to prove we were apart of the shuttle we arrived at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Residences in Waikiki. We were greeted with lei’s, a pineapple and rum cocktail and a 3 hour wait for our room, which was fine as we were starving anyway. The hotel was at the very start of the ‘main street’ of Waikiki, which made it about a five to ten minute walk to restaurants and shops which was a pleasant surprise as I was assuming it was a bit of a further walk. No surprises, our first stop was cheesecake factory because cheesecake factory is my version of heaven.
We finally got into our room at 3pm, and I was Shook by how beautiful this room was, we got an incredible deal with a non-refundable booking which meant that we got a room upgrade for a cheaper amount than the original studio apartment. It included a huge bathroom with separate bathtub, double sinks and the worlds best toilet. You wouldn’t think that a toilet would be that good, but this was a high tech device with a seat warmer and it’s own dedicated remote…can someone import these?
Considering we were both exhausted, a nap was much needed so we slept for hours until dinner time and then braved the streets. Forgetting it was lunar new year, the streets were packed with tourists, the busiest I’ve ever seen it. This was a bit of an issue when it came to getting tables at dinner time but avoiding the most popular restaurants like cheesecake factory, dukes bar and the hard rock cafe will help beat the crowds. We decided on the California Pizza Kitchen which is a great taste of “American Food” but less busy than some other restaurants on the main street as it’s above the street level.
After a peaceful sleep, the next day was filled with pool, pool and more pool. The pool facilities at the hotel were amazing, with the ability to hire out small cabanas (for $300USD a day…a bit pricey I must say) or just lounge on the beds by the pool while the pool attendants brought you water and fruit all day. The pool is quite a long, infinity lap pool with two spa’s on each end as well as being wheelchair accessible also.
The next day we decided to get up at a decent hour, before 1pm and go and get some breakfast at Il Lupino in the Royal Hawaiian Centre. This restaurant is a little pricey, but it’s location right next to cultural activities and surrounded by lush vegetation makes it one of the best places to get breakfast on the main street, but if you’re looking for a beach view head to the express eggs and things past the Statue of Duke on Waikiki Beach.
That day I also headed to the spa at the hotel, there are a number of hotel spas in Waikiki which all offer roughly the same prices although some have better beach facilities. The Ritz Spa had a number of packages and facial options, I opted for the scrub/massage option which was lovely. The locker-room was equipped with everything you need including a rain shower, a steam room, sauna, change rooms and various other amenities which you were able to use as long as you wanted before or after your treatment. Just a little tip, if you haven’t been to the states before, remember that spa prices don’t include the tip to the beautician so make sure you have an extra 40-50USD on hand for the tip.
That night we headed to one of my favourite restaurants of the trip, wolf gangs steak house which is on the top floor of the Royal Hawaiian Centre, the service was incredible and the menu is truly a meat lovers dream.
The next day was dedicated to shopping, so the Waikele outlets were a must stop. Our concierge organised the shuttle trip for us, which was $18 per person, round trip and they picked us up right at the hotel which was a nice touch. The trip takes about half and hour by bus and you’re greeted with a little passport full of deals and sales on the already reduced prices. Before you go though, make sure you check out which stores are available as there isn’t a very wide selection and you may find yourself getting bored if you’re not interested in some of the stores. This time around, I was on the lookout for shoes and was sadly disappointed. The only good shoe offer were in Bloomingdale’s and they really didn’t have a very wide selection. Overall I was quite disappointed, but I did get to go into a pet store and buy Edgar a Hawaiian shirt, see it on his Instagram @edgarthejug.
It was this night that I also treated Andy to Cheese Burger in Paradise, the best place to get burgers in Waikiki. It’s a bit of a gimmicky restaurant but food lovers and burger appreciators will adore it, it’s also not too busy as it’s off the main street and above street level.
On the last day we decided to just relax at the hotel and get some good shots for the blog which also included laying around the pool when it wasn’t raining. This particular day there was flash flooding in the area and the wind was insane…so insane that it picked up one of the pool umbrellas and flew it to the neighbouring hotel’s roof. But it was a lovely end to the trip.
Overall our trip was amazing, and we couldn’t recommend Hawaii enough and had such an amazing time. The hotel was definitely a highlight and for anyone looking to splash out on a nicer hotel, the Ritz is the place to be. Also below is a travel vlog with plenty of footage from our trip if you’re after some more shots of this gorgeous place.