Hawaii Travelogue: A Japan away from Japan [Ch.2: Hotel]

By | July 4, 2017

This article is a part of series of articles about my 2017 trip to Hawaii. Please see the table of contents that contains links to other chapters.


When I had told a friend I was going to Hawaii, he immediately responded in surprise, saying something like, “Wow, the hotel must have been really expensive!”. I think his impression was probably on the mark, however after several hours of searching we eventually found a hotel with a reasonable price without compromising too much. It was the Ilima hotel in Waikiki, and ran around $200 a day, with the total bill for a week approximately $1300.

The Ilima was right in the heart of Waikiki, or at least it felt like it, with a bunch of shopping centers, convenience stores, and restaurants only a few blocks away. It was situated right next to an intercostal river, and was only about a 10 minute walk to the beach (~3 blocks). Across the intracoastal river was actually one of the most memorable views on our whole trip where there was a distant mountain dotted with thousands of houses, high up enough so that part of it was partially obscured by grey rain clouds. The sight brought to mind a cityscape somewhere in Europe, maybe Italy or even Greece. I was stunned by the beauty of this view not just the night we arrived, but each day as the weather conditions changed little by little.  

Given the price, the amenities were pretty reasonable, with a small kitchen built in that included a sink, refrigerator, and one of the tiniest 4-burner stoves I’ve seen in my life. While we had planned to do some cooking (自炊) to save money, we didn’t end up really using the kitchen much. We were on the top floor (the 16th), which had a nice view of a portion of Waikiki where we could see torches burning on one of the restaurants, and even a good view of Fireworks on Friday (we were told they do them every Friday night). The TV wasn’t particularly big but seemed to have a large set of channels, only a few of which we actually cycled through. The were washers and dryers on a separate floor that only took coins and costed around $2-$3 for a full load. There was a small pool which we played around in once during the trip.

We didn’t see any bugs except for tiny ants, although for some reason I noticed I began to cough after being in the room for a little while. It seems the blanket and/or carpet was a bit dusty, or perhaps there was something else I was allergic to in the room. We didn’t have any problems with noise from adjacent rooms; the only noise issue was in certain hours in the night when people were partying a little harder than usual outside.

On the 2nd or 3rd day our keycards suddenly stopped working, but fortunately the front desk sent someone to come up and take a look within 20 minutes. The entire lock had to be replaced, and they issued us new keycards later that day.

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5 thoughts on “Hawaii Travelogue: A Japan away from Japan [Ch.2: Hotel]

  1. Kurt

    Had to look up the hotel and to be honest I’m surprised a hotel that close to Ala Wai (that “intercoastal river”, actually a canal) was that expensive. Probably too late but maybe this will help someone later: we (me, wife, teenage son) stay at the Royal Grove where you can get a room with kitchenette for around $99 a night. Granted, almost zero amenities but literally takes 2 minutes to walk to the beach. But that view of the mountains you describe, I can picture it so clearly that reading that made me bitterly homesick for a moment there.

    1. locksleyu Post author

      Good to know there are much cheaper options out there. However I assume from what you said there was no washing machine, which was pretty key for us and we ended up using it several times.

      Also, we didn’t go to the beach too many times so the 10 minute walk wasn’t that bad.

      Glad that my description of the mountains was effective (:

      1. Kurt

        Sorry, seeing this late — that hotel I mention does have washer/dryers. The hotel is mainly used by “sunbird” retirees who stay for weeks at a time, so they need them.


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