These Vintage-Inspired Hotels Will Transport You to Waikīkī’s Golden Age

Where retro meets modern Hawaiʻi.
White Sands Hotel, retro Waikiki Hotel
Photo: Courtesy of White Sands Hotel

With its golden beaches, turquoise waters and exciting surf culture, the world fell in love with Waikīkī in the 1960s. Even Elvis Presley was enthralled, filming three movies in the Islands during the decade. It was during this time that Hawaiʻi became a romanticized getaway with postcards sent from paradise. In recent years, an emerging class of Waikīki hotels are revitalizing this dreamy era. From vintage surf photos to mid-century modern furniture, these hotels are where guests can find themselves in the glory days of Waikīkī.  

White Sands Hotel  


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From the bamboo entry to the white and orange umbrellas, as soon as guests enter White Sands Hotel, it will feel like a step back in time. Originally built in 1957, the hotel recently elevated its look to become a vintage gem with modern amenities. Throughout the hotel’s 94 rooms, there is a breezy island aesthetic with golden yellow and aqua blue décor, as well as tropical wallpaper and artwork by local artists. With its refreshing upgrade, the hotel also introduced its new restaurant, Heyday. The restaurant is an ode to a bygone era with a bamboo bar featuring swing seating. That’s right—Heyday is the only restaurant on Oʻahu with swing seating. Guests can swing while sipping on cocktails inspired by the tropical flavors of Hawaiʻi.  

431 Nohonani St., Waikīkī, (808) 924-7263,  

Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club 

Paying tribute to the retro spirit of Waikīkī, the Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club is reminiscent of the city’s exciting ’60s culture with mid-century décor, pops of color and infectious island vibes. Collaborating with Honolulu’s rising artists, guests can expect to stay in rooms adorned with hand-crafted furniture, surf photography and vintage Hawaiian postcards. And guests can also lounge at one of the most Instagram-worthy pools on the island where they can also partake in weekly aqua Zumba classes. In addition to aqua workouts, the hotel hosts monthly events including a silent disco coined “Old School by the Pool.” Located on Lewers Street, the Surfjack is just a few blocks from the iconic beaches and waves that make Waikīkī so beloved.  

412 Lewers St., Waikīkī, (808) 923-8882,  

Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel 

Built in the mid-1960s, the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel captures the golden days of this era with retro-chic styling and art throughout its halls and 315 rooms. In 2018, the hotel completed a $35 million renovation, revitalizing the classic aloha spirit and hospitality that make the Islands a tropical getaway. Inside, the guest rooms are elevated with coastal color palettes and modern amenities. The common spaces are also reimagined, including the hotel’s open-air lobby. Across the street from the Honolulu Zoo, a block from Waikīkī Beach and with unobstructed views of Lēʻahi (aka Diamond Head), the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel is just steps away from Oʻahu’s iconic landmarks. 

150 Kapahulu Ave., Waikīkī, (808) 922-1941,  

Kaimana Beach Hotel 


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Formerly the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, the refreshed Kaimana Beach Hotel unveiled a new look in February 2021. Originally built in 1963 on Oʻahu’s Gold Coast, the beachfront is an idyllic escape from the busy streets of Waikīki. Throughout the 122-room hotel, there is an eclectic yet curated mix of photos, artwork and tropical wallpaper. Pops of flamingo pink and turquoise create splashes of color in the bright, sunny guest rooms and shared spaces. Along with its new look, Kaimana Beach Hotel also elevated Hau Tree, its casual beach-centric restaurant. For years it has been a local favorite for beachside brunch. With its new menu, guests can leisurely start their day with creative dishes like lobster Benedict or lemon ricotta pancakes.

2863 Kālakaua Ave., Waikīkī, (808) 923-1555, 

Categories: Couples, First-Time, Hotels, Luxury, Oʻahu, O‘ahu Where To Stay