The Hilton DoubleTree Hilo (Grand Naniloa) is one of the premier national chain hotels located on the eastern side of the Big Island. It has a lot going for it in terms of great views of the water and a good location close by to other tourist hotspots.
But would it be worth it for you to stay at this hotel?
Below, I’ll give you a comprehensive review of the property so that you can know exactly what to expect before you book.
Table of Contents
DoubleTree Hilo Location
The DoubleTree Hilo is ideally located in Hilo, a picturesque city nestled on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Hilo offers a distinct vibe compared to Kona on the west side, as it boasts a wetter and lusher landscape. In addition, Hilo is less touristy and provides a more authentic and local experience, for better and for worse.
You’ll find some notable nearby attractions like the amazing banyan trees, Liliʻuokalani Gardens, and nearby snorkeling hotspots like the black sand beach at Richardson Ocean Park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also only about 40 minutes away and the summit of Mauna Kea is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes away. So it’s a great launching point for exploring this side of the island.
The hotel property itself is located directly on the black lava rock coast although it is protected by Hilo Bay so it’s not directly hit by ocean waves which could be a good or bad thing depending on your tastes.
The good thing is that because the waters are protected they are calmer and that makes the area along the coast a decent snorkeling spot in addition to things like stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. There’s also easy access into the water and you can rent your snorkeling gear from the hotel.
If you don’t want to get in the water, you can still find ways to relax nearby with lounge chairs and an interesting paved walkway that runs along the property.
Some of the scenery along the coast is pretty interesting with beautiful lava rock outcroppings and vegetation growing out of it. It’s definitely worth at least checking out for a little while.
I will say that there were some people who were clearly not hotel guests hanging out around these areas. We didn’t have any issues with anybody but we were approached by a couple of somewhat suspect people who were prodding into details of our stay which was a little bit odd and I kept my guard up.
The hotel premises
The hotel does boast a pretty beautiful lobby. It’s not particularly large or equipped but it’s an open-air design and there is a beautiful hula dancer statue found in the lobby with a nice ocean view in the background. It’s very well done.
The premises of the hotel are also well-kept.
There is an open lawn between the property and the coast which I believe is where they put on some events such as luaus.
With under 400 rooms, this also is not a very big hotel relative to Hawaiian resorts which is a very good thing if you like to easily get in and out of a property. If you have a vehicle, you can also take advantage of free parking which is really nice.
Checking at the DoubleTree Hilo
Check in at the DoubleTree Hilo wasn’t quite as smooth as I would have preferred. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived and we watched as several other guests were able to check in while we were forced to wait.
That wasn’t too terrible and is understandable, but what was a bit frustrating is that the agent assured us they would send a text message when our room was ready, which they never did. Consequently, a few hours later, we arrived only to discover that our room had been ready for some time.
One more thing that is a little annoying is that the front desk agent did not go into any detail about the dining credit we were eligible for via Diamond status. Because I know Hilton well, I knew we were entitled to a dining credit but plenty of people out there are not so familiar with the policy, especially because it is relatively new.
Someone like that could easily miss out on a good amount of savings so I think the front desk should be obligated to mention the credit when you check in.
DoubleTree Hilo oceanfront junior suite
The oceanfront junior suite was a really spacious junior suite and from what I can tell it’s the top room offered by the hotel, at least in terms of balcony views.
What truly makes these rooms special is undoubtedly the breathtaking corner view and the expansive wraparound balcony. If you have a fondness for being close to the water, you’ll absolutely adore these rooms, with the serene emerald-hued waters shimmering below.
From the living area, you’ll have a nice corner view of the bay along with a view of the resort as the pool area is directly beneath you. You can get some nice breezes that sweep over the bay making it really comfortable to sit out on the balcony.
There’s also a lot of space in the bed area, which comes equipped with a nightstand on either side along with power outlets and USB ports.
Just next to the bed is a balcony that has some great ocean views but it also offers more privacy than the wraparound balcony.
It’s also a bit quieter since you don’t get all of the noise directly from the pool area, making it a perfect place to relax around sunset and perhaps enjoy a meal.
Between the bed area and the living area, there is a nice workstation complete with the phone, lamp, and some branded stationary. You’ll have outlets on the side of the desk to keep things charged.
With the curtains open, you have a nice ocean view that you can enjoy while working. Definitely my type of workstation.
The kitchenette comes equipped with a mini fridge, sink area, microwave, and range. It also came with plenty of cups, glasses, and plates and bowls, along with cutlery. One unique feature was the additional TV screen above the sink.
The bathroom was accessible with a pretty spacious shower with railing and a sliding curtain but beware: the sliding door to get into the bathroom can be difficult to work with.
The toilet had some of the same accessible features.
And I also believe the sink was at a lower level.
I don’t necessarily mind getting put in an accessible room but there are two things I’d say about it.
For one, usually a hotel will ask you if you are comfortable with that type of room before they assign it to you because it can make people uncomfortable to take a room like that.
Second, I was kind of surprised that they put us in an accessible room considering that it took extra time for us to get checked in. I typically only get put in these rooms when I want early check-in so something just didn’t feel quite right.
In the closet, we had a hotel safe and extra towels, and I believe the shelves were extra low in the closet for accessibility.
DoubleTree Hilo pool area
The pool, which is heated, sits right on the coast and is definitely a smaller hotel pool, although it has great views. There are some lounging options around the pool but it’s a pretty compact area and stayed pretty busy with lots of kids.
DoubleTree Hilo breakfast
For breakfast, you have two options. The first is a continental style breakfast which is located in the hotel lobby. It’s basically served up in the bar area and has limited options.
For the second option, you can head to the Hula Hulas restaurant which is what we did.
Prices at the Hula Hulas restaurant were pretty high but with the dining credit, they were able to be knocked down to much more reasonable levels. And the good thing is the quality of the breakfast food was very high and I really enjoyed my meals down there.
We considered eating lunch here as well although some of the high prices for basic items like burgers were a turn off.
DoubleTree Hilo Fitness center
As far as the fitness center goes, it’s a pretty well equipped gym with the cardio machines and free weights you would expect to find at a hotel this size.
One thing I really like about it is that it features large windows that open up too nice views of the property. There’s nothing more disappointing than a hotel that fails to capitalize on its scenic location in its architectural design!
Overall, I mostly enjoyed this hotel stay.
The ocean views were fantastic and it’s hard to beat having an expansive wraparound balcony to relax on when visiting Hawaii. At the same time, the service did fall a little bit short with some of the details surrounding check in and getting situated in our room.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.