These 7 Waikiki Boutique Hotels Are So Chic You’ll Forget You Saved a Fortune

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Wayfinder Waikiki Budget Boutique Hotels Waikiki Hawaii

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With retro aloha vibes, trendy bars, and Instagram-worthy pools, these 7 hotels define Waikiki’s latest hotel craze, budget-friendly-boutique.

A cool retro boutique hotel scene has emerged here in Waikiki in recent years and, I have to say, I’m a fan. These cozy charmers dot the heart of Waikiki with 70s-inspired pools, vintage design, and Instagram magnetism. 

If mega-resorts like the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Sheraton Waikiki aren’t your scene, listen up. 

Waikiki’s got a whole new category of hotel for you.

When it comes to Hawaii hotels, bigger isn’t always better. These trendy properties offer an affordable touch of style and luxury in a more compact package. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to book through these links, I receive a small commission, which I will likely blow on mai tais, poke, and shave ice.  All of this internet voodoo takes place at no additional cost to you. 

​Even better? They’re half the price of Waikiki’s popular beachfront resorts.

But before I get to my list, a few disclaimers:

Are these hotels on the beach? 

No. Most of them can be found scattered among the blocks between the International Marketplace and the Ala Wai Canal. Just a few blocks from the beach and steps away from Waikiki’s best shopping and dining. 

Do I still have to pay a resort fee?

Yes (with one exception noted below). Even though these hotels have an average price well below Waikiki’s major resorts, most of them still come with pesky resort fees and high parking rates. So don’t forget to factor that into your overall trip budget.  

What is “budget-friendly-boutique?”

Okay fine, I made that up. But for the purposes of this list, I’ll define the term “budget-friendly boutique” as a property that feels chic and glamorous yet has a nightly rate that typically falls under $250. 

I checked Fall rates for all of the properties on this list and they all met the “under $250” requirement with most falling under $200 per night. But do keep in mind that like the rest of Hawaii’s hotels, those rates can increase during peak times. 

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything under $250 a night on any of the other Hawaiian islands. But some of Waikiki’s trendiest new hotels are just that. 

So let’s dive in! 

Waikiki’s Best Budget-Friendly Boutique Hotels:

1. Romer Waikiki at The Ambassador

Once the dated hotel known as the Ambassador Hotel Waikiki, this trendy yet unpretentious hotel emerged from a multi-million dollar “Romer reinvention” in late 2023.

Home to the ocean view Waikiki Swim & Social Club (that’s code for the pool), this family-friendly property also has rooms with bunkbeds perfect for families. 

Romer Waikiki at the Ambassador Boutique Hotel Lobby Waikiki Hawaii
Romer Waikiki at the Ambassador Lobby

What’s the Vibe?

Minimalist lobby spaces are open and airy and feature seating areas stocked with board games, plants, and books about Hawaiian culture.

Complimentary perks like a welcome beer each day at 4:00pm from Waikiki Brewing Company and Hawaii-grown coffee in the lobby each morning add to the hotel’s homey feel.

And thanks to a partnership with Hawaii’s oldest music store (Hungry Ear Records), some rooms even include a record player complete with a vinyl LP collection. 

What You’ll Love

I adore the pool at this hotel with its creamsicle pin-striped color scheme. It’s the only pool on this list that gets full sun all day and it’s a lovely spot to relax with drinks and appetizers later in the day.

Romer Waikiki at the Ambassador Pool Waikiki Hawaii
The pool deck at Romer Waikiki at the Ambassador

This is also one of the only hotels on this list that has ocean-view rooms (though you’ll pay a bit more, of course). Guest keycards include a QR code that unlocks access to dozens of neighborhood discounts. 

What You Might Not

The daily Resort Fee is $45 which is on par with most of the beachfront resort hotels in the neighborhood. The fee includes Wi-Fi, a nightly Pau Hana welcome hour, poolside wellness activities, towels, a refillable water bottle, and more.

But to me, it’s a bit high for a boutique property without all of the amenities of the big guys. Parking will run you another $51 a night.

Where to Find It: 2040 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

2. White Sands Hotel

Turn back the clock to the 1950’s with the retro Tiki style of this cozy oasis in central Waikiki. With 94 rooms and suites, the White Sands Hotel is a vintage gem.

Originally built in 1957, it underwent a total retro redesign in 2021 and has since become one of Waikiki’s most popular affordable boutique hotels.

White Sands Hotel Waikiki Boutique Hotel Waikiki Hawaii
White Sands Hotel Waikiki

What’s the Vibe? 

As someone of the Friends/90210 generation, this one has total Melrose Place vibes. Rooms are whimsical and tropically-themed and a sundrenched courtyard features a show-stopping vintage pool.

Poolside, the circular bamboo bar replaced stools with swings and is the only place in town where you can swing while sipping island-inspired cocktails.

What You’ll Love

The adorable pool is shining star of this walk-up hotel. Rooms are spacious by Waikiki standards and all feature a mini fridge, a microwave, and a balcony with either city or pool views.

White Sands Hotel Waikiki Pool Area Boutique Hotel Waikiki Hawaii
This chic pool area at the White Sands

What You Might Not

On my recent visit to the hotel, I spoke to a family traveling with an 8-year-old. They thought the pool was a little “too lively” late into the evening for a family traveling with younger children.

The nightly Resort Fee is $25 and includes poolside yoga classes, beach gear, and the use of a GoPro camera (among other things). Overnight parking is $45.

Where to Find It: 431 Nohonani St, Honolulu, HI 96815

3. The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

With 112 vintage-inspired rooms, the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club has been collecting awards since it opened its doors in 2016.

The hotel’s wild success and popularity with travelers is perhaps a large factor in the recent emergence of so many other budget-friendly boutique properties in Waikiki. 

Surfjack Hotel Budget Boutique Hotel Pool Deck Waikiki Hawaii
The Surfjack’s pool

What’s the Vibe?

Laid Back Modern Aloha” is the name of the game at the Surfjack. It’s a comfortable mix of modern rooms and amenities with old-school retro-Hawaiian charm. If you’re an Instagram junkie, you’ve probably seen the pool with its cheeky “Wish You Were Here!” phrase at the bottom.

And it’s not just the hotel winning awards, the excellent in-house restaurant Mahina & Sun’s has won accolades as well. 

What You’ll Love

This is one of the few hotels in Waikiki with NO resort fee! Even better, parking is only $10 (completely unheard of in Waikiki). So while the nightly rates are often a bit north of $200, this is one hotel where the additional fees don’t stack up.

Every room features a private balcony with city views and penthouse suites come with huge sunny lanais. 

Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club Bar Budget Boutique Hotel Pool Deck Waikiki Hawaii
The Surfjack’s pool bar

What You Might Not

While the parking is ridiculously cheap, it’s also located off-site at the nearby Hyatt Centric Parking Garage (about a 3-block walk). Also, if you’re not a fan of dogs (or if you’re allergic) this might not be the best choice for you.

The Surfjack is VERY dog-friendly. In fact, the hotel’s mascot is a dog named Jack who can often be spotted lounging in the lobby welcoming guests and soliciting belly rubs.

Where to Find It:  412 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815

4. Romer House Waikiki (Adults Only) 

Located between the Ala Wai Canal and the International Marketplace, this is the latest entrant into Waikiki’s booming budget-friendly boutique brand. Oahu’s first adults-only hotel, Romer House just opened on June 1st.

A sister property to the colorful Romer Ambassador, the 179 hotel rooms here pay tribute to the Mid-Century charm of the neighborhood.  

Romer House Budget Boutique Hotel Lobby Waikiki Hawaii
Romer House Waikiki

What’s the Vibe? 

If you’re trying to get away from the kids (all kids, not just yours) this is the place for you. Romer House is a modern, grown-up sanctuary in the heart of Waikiki.

The lobby level is a lively Japanese-style “izakaya” with Japanese-Hawaiian dishes and a stylish bar. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a cocktail after a day of exploring the island. And the sleek pool deck is the newest Waikiki waterside spot to see and be seen. 

Tip: If you’re staying elsewhere and just want to come by to check out Waikiki’s latest boutique beauty, the outdoor pool area is open to non-guests (and locals!) with a $50 spend at the bar.

What You’ll Love

This shiny new Waikiki property is fully renovated from top to bottom and feels like a luxury boutique hotel (but with a budget-friendly price). That means new carpet, bedding, furnishings, the works.

Romer House Budget Boutique Hotel Pool Deck Waikiki Hawaii
Romer House pool deck

I love that new hotel smell and you will, too. The design inspiration for the rooms is “urban-surf-lodge,” a blend of light woods with black accents and chic woven textiles. 

The location is directly behind the International Marketplace so you’re just steps away from dozens of dining and shopping options. For a room with a balcony, be sure to book a “Neighborhood” room. 

What You Might Not

Since this is a brand-new hotel, expect some growing pains. But that’s the norm with any new hotel while hotel staff are still being trained. Room sizes are on the small side here with the standard (and most economical) option clocking in at just 168sq ft. 

The Resort Fee is $45 and includes a variety of things like Wi-Fi, a nightly Pau Hana welcome hour, poolside wellness activities, bikes, and more. Parking is valet only and will run you $51/day.

Where to Find It: 415 Nahua Street, Honolulu, HI 96815

5. Wayfinder Waikiki

What this hotel lacks in appeal from the outside it more than makes up for on the inside. With a gorgeous outdoor pool and hot tub, there’s plenty to love about the Wayfinder Waikiki.

Wayfinder Waikiki Lobby Budget Boutique Hotel Waikiki Hawaii
Wayfinder Waikiki’s Lobby

What’s the Vibe?

Perhaps the most design-forward of the hotels on this list, Vogue called it “The most beautiful hotel opening in 2023.”  The lobby is pure tropical chic with a coffee shop, gift shop, and a comfy common area.

The lobby restaurant and bar, Redfish, serves modern Hawaiian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

What You’ll Love

The spacious outdoor swimming pool area is truly an oasis and I could spend hours there reading a book under a bright blue umbrella. The rooms are beautifully designed with a classic blend of textures, patterns, and colors.

Rooms feature local art, custom robes, and locally produced Grown Alchemist bath products. 

Wayfinder Waikiki Budget Boutique Hotels Waikiki Hawaii
The Wayfinder’s beautiful pool area

Many rooms have balconies with lovely views over Diamond Head or the Ala Wai Canal and the mountains (we have the same mountain view from our condo and I love it – who needs an ocean view?). 

What You Might Not

Located right across the street from the Ala Wai, this hotel feels a bit more remote than the others on my list. But it’s still within easy walking distance of the beach and plenty of restaurants.

My least favorite thing about the rooms here is the bathroom, it’s small and a bit underwhelming. 

The nightly resort fee is $30 and includes the typical beach chairs, towels, and the use of a GoPro. But it also includes admission to the excellent Bishop Museum (a great activity on a rainy day or any day!). Valet parking is available for $45 a night. 

Where to Find It: 2375 Ala Wai Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96815 

6. Queen Kapi’olani Hotel

Nestled at the edge of Waikiki across the street from the Honolulu Zoo, this hotel has long been my favorite budget hotel option in Waikiki. But in 2018, this hotel underwent a massive renovation leaving no corner untouched.

The updated, stylish lobby features artwork by talented local artist Nick Kuchar and the 2nd Floor Royal Club Lounge is a great place to relax and unwind.

Queen Kapiolani Hotel Waikiki Hawaii
The Queen Kapiolani Hotel

What’s the Vibe? 

This historic hotel is named after the beloved Queen Kapiʻolani and there’s no doubt it has Royal vibes throughout. The Grand Staircase and Club Lounge areas pay tribute to Waikiki’s Golden Age and Queen Kapio’olani with floor-to-ceiling artwork. 

What You’ll Love

With unobstructed views of Lēʻahi (aka Diamond Head), many rooms here have spectacular views. The third-floor “Outdoor Living Room” terrace and pool feature those postcard-perfect views as well.

And the pool bar, called DECK, is one of my favorite Happy Hour spots in town.

Queen Kapiolani Hotel Pool Views Waikiki Hawaii
Views from the pool deck

What You Might Not

They’ve wrapped their Resort Fee in something called a “Hospitality Fee” and at $50 a night, it’s the highest fee of any of the hotels on my list. And while it does include some of the mega-resort amenities like lei making and hula lessons, I have a hard time believing it all adds up to $50 a night.

But unfortunately, resort fees are a necessary evil in Waikiki and nearly impossible to avoid (except at the Surfjack, of course!). Parking will run you another $50 a night.

Where to Find It: 150 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

7. Hotel Renew

This locally owned and operated boutique hotel is ideal for active travelers—and it’s less than a block from the beach. If you’re looking for a good deal with easy access to Waikiki Beach, Hotel Renew is a terrific choice.

Hotel Renew Lobby Waikiki Hawaii
Hotel Renew lobby

What’s the Vibe? 

The lobby area is small and no-frills. There’s a small shop near the reception desk and a cafe where you can grab a coffee on your way to the beach in the morning.

There’s no restaurant or bar but the cafe has a “Grab Bar” cooler with drinks and cocktails that can be purchased at the front desk. The hotel’s 72 guest rooms have clean lines and a modern, tranquil vibe. 

Hotel Renew Lobby Grab Bar Waikiki Hawaii
Hotel Renew Grab Bar

What You’ll Love

Location, location, location. Since this hotel’s perfect location is so close to the ocean, many are ocean-view rooms and some also have private balconies with ocean views (for a reasonable upcharge).

While the amenities are few, this minimalist hotel is all about what’s outside the hotel, not what’s inside. 

What You Might Not

This is the only hotel on my list that doesn’t have a pool. But since it’s also the closest to the beach, you won’t miss it.

The Resort Fee (called an “Amenity Fee“) is $33 per day and includes a weekly yoga class, in-room workout equipment, and use of beach chairs, boogie boards, and snorkel gear. Valet parking is available for $49 a night.

Where to Find It: 129 Paoakalani Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

A few more “Honorable Mentions”

That covers my favorite of the affordable boutique options in Waikiki, but there are a few more hotels worth mentioning if you’re looking for a good deal and a cool vibe:

Shoreline Hotel Waikiki

If you like bright, primary colors you will love the design at the Shoreline Hotel. Embracing the building’s classic 1970’s architectural style, this hotel’s complete overhaul in 2013 celebrates the traditional bold shapes and colors of the 70’s.

Shoreline Hotel Budget Boutique Hotel Pool Deck Waikiki Hawaii
The Shoreline’s lobby

Like the lobby spaces, rooms are modern and colorful. And the rooftop pool is an Instagram favorite. 

Aqua Palms Waikiki

Just across the street from the massive Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, this hotel has convenient access to all the same neighborhood amenities as the Hilton. For example, the fabulous Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon.

Aqua Palms Hotel Lobby Waikiki Hawaii
Aqua Palms Hotel lobby

There’s a rooftop pool but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s also attached to an IHOP but I forbid you to go there for breakfast when three of my 7 favorite breakfast places in Waikiki are within a one-block radius from this hotel.

Waikiki Malia

Located in the heart of Kuhio Avenue, the Waikiki Malia’s location is exceptional for access to restaurants, shops, and the beach. The newly renovated rooms are crisp, clean, and comfortable but the pool area is small, shaded, and a bit claustrophobic.

Waikiki Malia Budget Boutique Hotel Waikiki Hawaii
Waikiki Malia’s lobby

Luckily, with everything else in Waikiki at your fingertips, you won’t need to spend any time there.

Coconut Waikiki Hotel

This family-friendly hotel is located on Lewers Street, facing the Ala Wai Canal. The rooms are clean and comfortable with private lanais and kitchenettes. It’s well worth the upgrade for a spectacular mountain view room facing the Ala Wai.

Coconut Waikiki Hotel Pool Waikiki Hawaii
The pool area at Coconut Waikiki

The pool is small and unremarkable but the lobby is stocked with books and board games. There’s complimentary coffee and tea all day and a popcorn machine in the afternoon. 

VIVE Hotel Waikiki

Billed as a “modern refuge for travelers craving an authentic island experience,” VIVE Hotel offers modern and stylish rooms with free breakfast (an infrequent amenity in Waikiki). There’s no pool or fitness center here but if you’re looking for a comfortable modern room at a great price, this one’s for you. 

The bottom line?

You’re not going to spend your Oahu vacation in your room. So why spend $400-600 a night for a place to sleep? 

Waikiki’s best boutique hotels offer beautiful, clean, modern rooms that feel special and remind you you’re on vacation in Hawaii. 

So while it’s not hard to find a cheap hotel in Waikiki, it IS hard to find a cheap Waikiki hotel that’s as chic and stylish as those on this list. 

When you’re looking for the perfect Waikiki hotel for your vacation, don’t forget to look beyond the beachfront mega-resorts and consider some of Waikiki’s best budget-friendly boutiques.

Looking for more money-saving ideas when you visit Oahu? Start Here:

The 10 Best Cheap Eats in Waikiki (#1 is a beachfront gem!)

25 Awesome Things to Do on Oahu That Won’t Cost You a Dime🌺

Waikiki Best Boutique Hotels Honolulu Hawaii
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