Following a languid spring weekend here, I’m convinced that all recounts of staying at this famed resort begin with "Once upon a time at the Halekulani Hotel… "
Even with its check-all-the-boxes dedication to service—a personal property tour led by the concierge upon receiving your room key, a shoe-shining service to ready your footwear for a lavish dinner at La Mer—it’s the Halekulani’s comforting ambiance that’s the most unexpected, a classic, lived-in feel, without feeling tired or overworked after all these decades.
Because of it, quite a few scenes left me spellbound here, each softened by the cozy white robes and matching in-room slippers, and the Hawaiian mele (music) that seems to perpetually waltz through the air. On a Friday evening, I wrapped myself up in all the above from my hotel lanai, overlooking the stage of House Without a Key. From above, I watched one of its nightly performances. Tonight's is from hula idol Kanoe Kaumeheiwa Miller, accompanied by The Hiram Olsen Trio, where it undoubtedly felt like the best seat in the house—the nostalgic chords of Hawaiian slack-key guitar delivered right to my room, carried on nothing more than a late night breeze.
This lullaby followed me to the restaurant’s brunch the following morning by the water, where I buttered tropical jams on sesame lavosh crackers and taro sweet rolls. Though I’ve lived in Hawaii for most of my life, seeing a kupuna (elder) so moved by the band’s harmonies she leapt to her feet amid the afternoon crowd of diners to dance hula beside her table will always feel magical to me. Such is the elegance of the Halekulani—where people feel at home, myself included.
Halekulani, 2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, Oahu, (808) 923-2311, halekulani.com.
This article originally appeared in our July/August print issue, Our 50 Favorite Hotels.
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