Glacier Bay Lodge Review: What You Need to Know Before Visiting

Glacier Bay National Park is a stunning stretch of North America home to a vast amount of wildlife and fascinating native culture.

The park is one of the most remote national parks in the US though and is therefore one of the most difficult to visit. But perhaps the best way to spend time in this park is to stay at the Glacier Bay Lodge.

In this thorough review article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Glacier Bay Lodge. I’ll cover what the experience is like, the dining, airport logistics, and also give you a full breakdown of the famous boat tour.

Location overview: Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay Lodge is located within Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, which is a vast area covering many islands and inlets and one of the largest national parks in the US. Its local airport can be reached by aircraft from Juneau in about 30 minutes.

Glacier Bay Lodge overlooks Bartlett Cove and is about 20 minutes from Gustavus Airport (GST), although the lodge definitely feels far removed from anything resembling a small city.

Its remoteness makes it a great spot for outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, birdwatching, and just enjoying the peaceful Alaskan wilderness.

But the #1 of all things to do out here is the amazing Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour. Check out my full review of the tour here along with a ton of photos!


We booked a stay for two nights and the total cost with all taxes and fees came out to $1,063.

That was for a standard room with two full beds but premium rooms can be much more expensive during peak season ($700+/night).

During peak season, inventory can be limited for the roughly 56 cabins that they have available. So you probably want to book as early as possible if you’re coming during July and August.

You can make your booking online here.

Note that they have somewhat of a strict change policy requiring a 10% fee and they also have a 72 hour cut off for changes and cancellations.

Reservations made 30 or more days prior to arrival have a 10 day grace period to change or cancel the itinerary at no charge.

Glacier Bay Lodge sign

Getting to Glacier Bay Lodge

If you’re headed to Glacier Bay Lodge, chances are that you will be arriving in Gustavus, Alaska.

Glacier Bay Lodge is located about 20 minutes from the GST airport, which is a very small “airport.”

We chose to fly in on Alaska Airlines from Juneau which offers a single daily flight. But you could also book with Alaska Seaplanes, which I heard would be much more scenic.

Related: How to Get to Gustavus, Alaska (Glacier Bay)

Arriving was one of the most interesting airport experiences I’ve seen especially when they brought out the bags at the baggage claim station. But everything actually went very smoothly (mostly because it wasn’t raining).

Anyway, before I knew it we were loading a bus and on our way to Glacier Bay Lodge!

Glacier Bay Lodge bus

It’s a very green, tree-lined ride between the lodge and the airport and if you’re lucky you might even spot some wildlife, including brown bears at the Salmon River. And be sure not to miss the pre-WWII replica Mobil gas station!

Your bus driver should stop at the park’s entrance sign for a quick photo op, so be ready.

Glacier Bay Lodge will provide all airport transportation for you (just make sure that you verify your flight details with the hotel).

Here’s a pro tip: You can book the boat day tour on the same day that you are flying out.

The lodge is well aware of your flight times and they coordinate it so that guests on the boat tour easily make it to the airport in time for early evening flights. This is the case even when the boat tour is running a little bit late.

If you go this route, you will simply store your bags with the front desk before you leave on the tour and they will load your bags onto the bus so that you can quickly transfer to the airport shuttle bus after your tour.

So don’t be afraid to “push” things a little bit if you are in a time crunch.

Glacier Bay Lodge sign

Glacier Bay Lodge Property

The entire campus has 56 cabins and most of them are on the north side of the property. Navigating the property is relatively easy especially because they give you a very user-friendly map at check-in.

With that said, you can utilize some (steep) trails to get down to the beach area quicker and not all of those are on the map.

In addition, it looked like there were some off the beaten path trails that one could explore with a little bit of bushwhacking.

Glacier Bay Lodge

Boardwalks take you through the property so you don’t ever have to worry about stepping on a muddy path when getting around. Steps can be a slight issue with heavy luggage but still manageable (and they do have a couple of accessible rooms).

Many segments of the boardwalk are covered so if it’s raining you can get a bit of an escape although I would always carry around a rain jacket on those days.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabins
Glacier Bay Lodge cabins

Personally, I loved just strolling through the lodge. It’s as if you’ve been dropped into a secluded rainforest with spruce trees towering over you and Devil’s Club leaves blanketing the forest floor.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabins

Seriously, it’s hard to not instantly fall in love with this place.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabins
Glacier Bay Lodge cabins

The lodge offers several different room types including:

  • Single double bed
  • Two double beds
  • King bed
  • Double bed + bunk beds
  • ADA rooms

Initially, we booked a room with two double beds but after we had to make a change to our itinerary we were moved to a cabin with a single double bed.

Thankfully, at check-in they were able to move us to a room with two beds because sharing a double bed would not have been a great experience. Huge shout out to the front desk for doing that!

The cabin was pretty basic but the beds were comfortable enough.

One issue we did experience was the headboards knocking against the wall which seemed to happen no matter how many times we repositioned the bed. (This would happen when getting in and out of the bed for those of you wondering.)

Glacier Bay Lodge cabins double beds

Each room has a heater that runs along the wall and you can adjust the heat using the dial at the end of the heater.

We kept the window open during the entire stay which was really nice especially during the rain showers as there is nothing more relaxing than light raindrops falling on a thick forest canopy.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin

Between the beds we had a small nightstand with a lamp.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin double

The bed closest to the wall had a nice little shelf that came in handy.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin double

There’s a small table with two chairs for you to relax on inside your room. You’ll also have a coffee maker along with some teas and coffee packs. As usual, we brought our own portable tea kettle.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin

If you’re hoping to get some work done in your cabin you should be aware that there is no Wi-Fi in the rooms. In addition, you probably will not have cell phone service here.

So this is a great opportunity to step away from the day-to-day connectivity but just make sure you are aware that that’s something you’re gonna have to do.

If you do want to connect to Wi-Fi, there is free Wi-Fi in the main lobby/visitor center and the restaurant area.

I was able to connect without many issues and get some work done but the speed is not always very good. If you’re planning on downloading or streaming that might be an issue.

Anyway, back to the room, there are two outlets below your table and a couple more on a different wall.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin

There is no TV in the room and no mini fridge, either. Your in-room entertainment will consist of window views and some cool glacier photography.

The bathroom is also pretty basic but is equipped enough and does the trick. A vented window allows for circulation and for cool air to get in if needed.

There is also a heat lamp/bulb used in the bathroom that warms up the bathroom in a hurry. If you’re tall, you’ll really feel the warmth on your neck!

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin bathroom

Water pressure, temperature, and everything else works just fine with the shower and sink. I thought the bathroom mirror was a nice touch to an otherwise ordinary bathroom.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin bathroom
Glacier Bay Lodge cabin bathroom
Glacier Bay Lodge cabin bathroom

Also, if you need an extra blanket to warm up there is a closet in the bathroom behind the curtain with one.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin bathroom

We were located in cabin 47 which has a pretty private feel to it thanks to all of the spruce forest surrounding the cabin. Large windows provide an up close view of this forest and it’s hard to take your eyes off its beauty.

The premium rooms feature a view of the bay which would be great but honestly I loved the secluded feeling of this view.

Glacier Bay Lodge cabin forest view

Here’s a look at some of the premium cabins with the open bay view.

Glacier Bay Lodge premium cabin

Glacier Bay Lodge Lobby

The lodge features a small lobby lounge with a nice and cozy environment. You’ll find a few comfy sofas along with a huge fireplace and some nice views of Bartlett Cove.

The lounge spills into the restaurant area which is nice because you can use those restaurant tables to get work done.

There is at least one table that has an outlet by it and so you can use that to power your device if needed. Otherwise, there is only one other outlet in the lounge area.

Glacier Bay Lodge Lobby
Glacier Bay Lodge Lobby

In the corner of the lobby, you’ll find restrooms and there is also a rack to hang your wet coats.

Glacier Bay Lodge Lobby

Next to the restroom is the bulletin board where you can find information regarding all of the different events taking place.

Glacier Bay Lodge events

Glacier Bay Lodge Dining

We tried out basically every type of dining you could try at the Fairweather restaurant and I’m happy to report that overall you can expect quality items served at every meal (although the restaurant does not serve lunch).

Let’s take a deep dive and see what both breakfast and dinner have to offer.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant


Breakfast hours are from 6AM to 9AM. This is perfect for people going on the day boat tour because that starts boarding at around 7AM to 7:30AM.

On the day of our boat tour we showed up for breakfast right at 6AM and had plenty of time to eat, relax, and make it down to the dock for boarding. It only takes a few minutes to walk down to the Bartlett Cove Public Use Dock.

For breakfast, you can choose the continental breakfast ($14) or the more expensive breakfast buffet ($21). We chose to go with the breakfast buffet since we wanted a pretty complete breakfast.

The way it works is you simply tell them the type of breakfast you want whenever you arrive at the restaurant and then a server will serve you up whatever selection you’d like.

You’ll have your selection of eggs, potatoes, sausage, or bacon. I would rate all of the above as medium quality hotel breakfast food but the biscuits and gravy were truly great. They definitely knew what they were doing with the country gravy.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast

You can also select items from the continental breakfast table which could be something like a muffin.

I didn’t care too much for the apple-cinnamon muffins but the blueberry and strawberry ones were quite good, especially the ultra-moist strawberry rhubarb muffin.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast
Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast
Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast
Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast

Feel free to fix yourself up with some tea, hot chocolate, orange juice, or water. And of course coffee is available.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast

Here’s a look at the full breakfast spread — definitely enough to get your day started right.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant breakfast


Dinner is served from 5PM to 8PM and it is recommended that you make reservations for dinner.

You probably want to make reservations as soon as you arrive at the property for each night of your stay just to get that out of the way.

But I would suggest that you first check out the activities schedule because there are some activities that go on during the late afternoon and evening and you may want to plan dinner around those.

As for how dinner went, let’s jump in.

The first night I chose the grilled sockeye salmon with a basalmic reduction and garlic mash. The salmon was well cooked and delicious although not quite the spectacular burst of flavor I was imagining being in Alaska and all.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant salmon dinner

Brad went with the draper valley chicken that was juicy and packed with flavor thanks to the mushrooms. The chefs also know how to serve up asparagus the right way (not too firm or too mushy).

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant draper valley chicken dinner

The next night we mixed things up a little bit and went with the fish and chips and baked halibut along with a side of chowder.

I enjoyed the crispy fish and chips although they were not quite as good as the ones I had recently tried in Juneau at the renowned Sandbar (dive bar).

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant fish and chips

Brad enjoyed the tender and flaky baked halibut with just the right touch of herb flavor.

They do a great job with their presentation here as well.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather restaurant halibut

And we both had high remarks for the creamy chowder, which was perfect with the rainy afternoon.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather chowder

And of course there’s a dessert menu, too.

We tried something called the brownie special which was not on the menu at the time but it absolutely hit the spot. Super fudgy and smothered in caramel sauce, this dessert stole the show.

Glacier Bay Lodge Fairweather dessert

Gift shop (lunch)

Since lunch is not officially served at the restaurant your options for lunch will be found at the gift shop.

There is a small selection of chilled wraps and a lot of different snacks that you can purchase ranging from healthy to very much unhealthy.

Glacier Bay Lodge gift shop
Glacier Bay Lodge gift shop

I really liked the berry flavored candy bars. They also had lots of other worthy sweet options, despite their propensity to name them after every type of animal dropping you can imagine.

Glacier Bay Lodge gift shop

For such a small gift shop I thought they had a pretty good selection of souvenirs. I walked away with a nice decorative Tlingit mug but they also had lots of other things including apparel, soaps, etc.

Glacier Bay Lodge gift shop

They offer a wide selection of drinks including water bottles, soda, and even alcoholic beverages.

To avoid spending a lot of money on water bottles, you may request for the hotel to fill up your water bottles for free.

You can do this yourself at the ranger station which is a short walk away from the lobby but if that option is not available you can simply ask someone at the front desk or at the restaurant to do it for you.

Adjacent to the restaurant and gift shop is the Fairweather Deck, which is a great deck to relax and check out the view.

If you’re close enough to the restaurant you can also connect to Wi-Fi. They may serve food out there whenever it is nice outside but I’m not sure.

Our view was entirely shrouded by clouds but I do believe there are mountains behind those trees somewhere!

Glacier Bay Lodge deck view

Visitor center

The visitor center is located just above the lobby and it is open from 11 AM to 4:30 PM.

Up there you can find a lot of interesting exhibits related to the region and local wildlife. A park ranger hangs out up there so you can ask them any of questions you might have about basically anything.

Glacier Bay Lodge Visitor Center
Glacier Bay Lodge Visitor Center
Glacier Bay Lodge Visitor Center
Glacier Bay Lodge Visitor Center


The Glacier Bay boat tour

As mentioned already, the big kahuna here is the boat tour that takes you through Glacier Bay.

It’s a stunning stretch of scenery and you have the opportunity to see tons of wildlife. Absolute bucket list material.

I’m going to put together a full review of the experience very soon but for now I’ll just tell you that I was 100% satisfied.

Whale watching and kayaking

As far as other activities you can do, you can look into tours for things like whale watching and kayaking.

This area is one of the best places to whale watch for humpback whales. And I was told by a local that it’s much better than Juneau due to the currents. Considering all of the whales that we saw in the area, I would not be surprised if that’s true.

You can do both guided and unguided kayaking tours and choose half day or full day tours. The boat tour does a drop off and pick up for kayakers that you can also look into.

Some people also enjoy fishing out here.


There are a number of hiking trails nearby that will take you through breathtaking rainforest terrain and maybe give you a chance to encounter moose, bears, porcupine, river otters, and all kinds of birds including bald eagles.

We did the Tlingit Trail which is a very easy and flat trail about 1 mile long there and back.

Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail
Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail
Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail
Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail
Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail

In addition to some great views and beautiful rainforest scenery, you can also find blueberries in the wild along with other wild berries.

Pick them right out of the bushes like natives have done for centuries but make sure you know what you’re doing because some of these berries like the red banberries can be poisonous!

You’ll also find edible berries throughout the property (if you look for them).

Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail blueberries

The Tlingit Trail also has a number of interpretive panels along the way and some cool things to see like the skeleton of a large humpback whale, named Snow, that was once beloved in the area. She frequented the bay for decades until she was struck by a cruise ship in 2001.

While her death was sad, it also led to advancing our knowledge of humpback whales, including better understanding of their maximum age which is believed to be 96 years.

Glacier Bay Lodge hiking trail whale

Another cool site along the path is the 20-foot Yaa Naa Néx Kootéeyaa, the healing totem pole.

It tells the story of the at times difficult relationship between the National Park Service and the Hoonah Indian Association, the federally recognized tribal government of the Huna Tlingit clans.

healing totem pole

One thing you for sure want to check out before you leave is the Xunaa Shuká Hít – The Huna Tribal House. It’s a tribal house where you can learn all about the Tlingit who have lived in this area since anyone can remember.

They put on videos and have special talks that you can attend and it’s just a really cool an interesting venue to check out.

Xunaa Shuká Hít - The Huna Tribal House

If you want to do more extensive hiking, other trails like the Bartlett River Trail take you even farther.

Just remember that there are brown bears out here so be prepared with knowledge or bear spray. Also, some of these trails can get quite slick or even flooded after rains.

How to know what’s going on w/events

You should not struggle to find out what is going on because they make it easy to find out about the Ranger programs.

You can find this information along with other helpful things like the weather by taking a look at the whiteboard located by the stairs in the lobby.

There also is a bulletin board with information about the different programs offered and that’s located near the check-in desk.

Final word

I can’t think of a better way to experience Glacier Bay National Park than to stay at this lodge. It’s a picturesque setting and there are many fun things to do including the famous boat tour. The dining also did not disappoint, making this one of the best lodge stays we’ve ever had.

Arizona Biltmore Dining Options (Recommendations & Prices) (Waldorf Astoria)

The Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria is one of the premier resorts in Phoenix. It boasts a lot of history, fun pool areas, and quality dining options for you to choose from.

In this article, I’ll walk you through all of the different dining options at the Arizona Biltmore. I’ll give you some insight into the menu and prices and also provide you with some suggestions that we really enjoyed.

Arizona Biltmore Dining overview

You’ll find many dining options at the Arizona Biltmore including:

  • McArthur’s
  • Renata’s Hearth
  • The Wright Bar
  • The Spire Bar
  • Saguaro Pool
  • Paradise Pool
  • The Cafe
  • In-room Dining

Below, I’ll talk about what each of these has to offer.

Related: Full Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort Review

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!


This restaurant once went by the name of Frank and Albert’s but is now called McArthur’s (named in honor of Albert Chase McArthur, the hotel’s architect).

Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

It’s a restaurant with a cool vibe and is home to a bar along with a pool table, shuffleboard, and foosball table. Large flatscreen TVs also aren’t hard to find.

Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar inside pool table.
Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and during our stay we tried them for both breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast did not disappoint at all.

I would highly, highly recommend you to try out their lemon cream pancakes with blueberry compote. The lemon flavor is subtle and paired nicely with the compote. Warm maple syrup is provided but use it sparingly (or not at all).

Related: Tips for Planning Your Dining When Traveling

Lemon cream cheese pancakes at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

It’s an amazing breakfast dish and if you want something savory consider going with a classic like eggs Benedict which also lived up to expectations. It came with a choice of a hash brown slab or seasonal fruit.

Tip: If ordering for two, ask them to split up the pancakes and savory dish so that you can each have your own plate of each dish.

Breakfast at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar

On another morning we tried the breakfast sandwich and the Belgian waffle, which came loaded with freshly cut strawberries, whipped cream, and a drizzling of Nutella.

I felt Day 2 breakfast options were pretty good but not quite as good as what we chose the first day.

Belgian waffle at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.
Eggs Benedict at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

Brad also decided to give the loopy milk a try which was essentially a twist on a white Russian but in a gnarly saguaro glass dressed in nothing other than Fruity Pebbles. It hits light with only a hint of vodka balanced out with a bit of creaminess and Fruity Pebble sweetness.

They also offered other cocktails with breakfast including mimosas and bloody Marys.

Loopy Cereal Milk at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

If you’re curious about prices here is a look at some of the prices:

  • Greek Yogurt & Berries – $17
  • Bakery Basket – $18
  • Belgian Waffle – $18
  • Lemon Cream Cheese Pancakes – $19
  • Classic Breakfast – $18
  • Biltmore Benedict – $23
  • Breakfast Sandwich – $19
  • Smoked Salmon & Bagel – $26
  • Huevos Rancheros – $24
  • Loopy Cereal Milk – $18

You can find the full menu here.

For lunch, we went with the Nashville style chicken sandwich and the fish tacos. Both of these meals were very enjoyable.

The juicy chicken sandwich was fresh with a nice spicy kick and came with crispy, well-seasoned fries. Think of it as a gourmet Popeyes chicken sandwich. Very mouthwatering.

Nashville Style Chicken Sandwich at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.
Nashville Style Chicken Sandwich at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

The fish tacos were bursting with flavor and fresh cilantro goodness. They are on the smaller and lighter side so if you have a larger appetite you might want to supplement these with an appetizer or go with something heavier.

Ensenada Fish Tacos at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

After the smashing success of our lunch entrées we decided it would be worth giving desert a try. We definitely made the right decision because the chocolate cookie skillet with ice cream was a major hit. The cookie was perfect: warm with a crisp outside and chewy center. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Chocolate Cookie Skillet at Arizona Biltmore McArthurs restaurant and bar.

If you’re curious about prices here is a look at some of the prices:


  • Spinach Cream Dip – $18
  • Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail – $24
  • Parmesan Fries – $20

Hot Sandwiches

  • Grilled Cheese – $19
  • Impossible Burger – $25
  • The Big BLT – $21
  • Nashville Style Chicken Sandwich – $24


  • Lobster Mac & Cheese – $38
  • Steak Frites – $58
  • Ensenada Fish Tacos – $25

You can find the full menu here.

Renata’s Hearth

Renata’s Hearth is an upscale and Old World Latin eatery with a smoky focus.

The first thing you need to know about eating at Renata’s Hearth is that you might want to make reservations.

We showed up around 6:45 PM on a Tuesday evening in non-peak times (during the summer) expecting that we would be able to just walk in and get a table. But there was a small wait.

Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.

They do take your number and will text you when your table is ready. It was kind of perfect because it gave us some time to check out other areas of the resort without the fear of missing our name being called.

I could imagine that things pick up a lot during peak season so I would consider making a reservation for dinner. Reservations can also be made for McArthurs.

Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.
Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.
Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.

After making our way past the guacamole and Spanish charcuterie cart, the craft cocktail cart, and the beautiful hanging lanterns, we were seated at a table tucked away at the end of the restaurant.

We started off with the flight of salsa that offered totopos, chicharrones, smoked cashew salsa, salsa verde, Renata’s pico, salsa roja, and San Marzano salsa.

It was the perfect starter at a restaurant like this and I loved the smoky undertones in some of the flavors. The chicharrones also stood out, light and crunchy with a little bit of tang.

Housemade Salsa Flight at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth

We definitely wanted to try out the Los Muertos cocktail which is a margarita served with serrano-infused reposado tequila, activated charcoal, agave, lime juice, black lava salt, and smoke. It came with a lot of smokiness and a heck of a presentation, too.

Los Muertos cocktail at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth
Los Muertos cocktail at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.
Los Muertos cocktail at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.

For our main dishes, we ordered the Chilean Seabass and the Prime New York Strip

The Seabass was fluffy and buttery and did not disappoint. The fish had a near perfect balance of crispiness on top with tenderness on the inside. It was easily one of the best entrées I’ve had at a hotel restaurant in quite a while.

Roasted Chilean Seabass at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth

Meanwhile the pre-cut New York strip was paired with salsa verde and perfectly cooked. The steak, finished off with a light sprinkling of flaky salt, just melted in the mouth.

Overall, the dinner items were extremely pleasing and we felt great about our dinner selections.

Prime New York Strip at Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth

If you’re curious about prices here is a look at some of the prices:


  • Guacamole – $16
  • Spanish Cured Meats & Cheeses – $32
  • Homemade Salsa Flight – $19


  • Steelhead Trout – $34
  • Chile Relleno – $26
  • Roasted Chilean Seabass – $44
  • Prime New York Strip – $58

For The Table

  • Mesquite-Smoked Whole Jidori Chicken – $55
  • Tomahawk – $120
  • Crispy Slow Cooked Pork Belly Roast – $46

You can find the full menu here.

Later on, we decided to order dessert from the restaurant and pick it up instead of ordering from room service. We went with the churros and the chocolate cake.

The churros were warm and tasty, especially with the cream sauce that came along side.

Churros from Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.

On the other hand, the chocolate cake was pretty underwhelming. It’s one of those “chocolate cakes” that have only the faintest hint of chocolate in them. Not really the best selection for chocolate lovers.

Chocolate cake from Arizona Biltmore Renatas Hearth.

The Wright Bar

The Wright Bar is one of the iconic features of the hotel and just a beautiful bar.

The bar itself is a bit small and so it likely gets very crowded during peak times. But there is lounge seating in the adjacent area in the lobby and also outside so you can probably easily find a place to sit.

The servers in these areas were very attentive so it was not hard to put an order in.

Arizona Biltmore The Wright Bar

Here’s a look at the extended seating area which is where we decided to hang out for a while.

Arizona Biltmore The Wright Bar.
Arizona Biltmore The Wright Bar menu.

Since this bar is known for inventing the Tequila Sunrise ordering one from here was a must. These are old school Tequila Sunrises, though. They hit harder and are more straight to the point than more modern iterations.

Drinks and menu at Arizona Biltmore The Wright Bar

You can find the full menu here.

Spire Bar

The other main attraction when it comes to drinking and eating venues here is the Spire Bar, located in the center of the resort. You can almost feel yourself getting pulled towards the Spire Bar as you make your way through the hotel premises.

Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar.

The name is inspired by the 30 foot spire that stands next to the bar and pays tribute to Wright’s legacy via scallop-patterned mosaics. Look at it lit up brilliantly below.

Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar at night.

This outdoor bar has a cool vibe with lots of blue mood lighting, water features, cozy fire pits, and plenty of open lounge seating. The bartenders were also very nice and attentive as well.

Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar at night
Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar mood lighting

This would be a great place to catch a game with the large TVs hanging from the center of the bar as if you were in an arena. Good views are offered for everyone.

Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar.

Brad ordered up a Pink Eldorado cocktail and if you like grapefruit juice this is your drink.

Pink Eldorado drink at Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar.

I was feeling a little bit crazy so I ordered up a mocktail called the Tiki Take Away. If you like ginger, it’s the perfect alternative to the more ginger-intense Mule drink and strikes a good balance thanks to the addition of lime juice and cool coconut water.

Tiki Take Away drink at Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar.

We were curious as to how good the bar food would be so we decided to order a margarita pizza for dinner from the Spire Bar. It was a tasty pizza on the lighter side with a satisfying crunchy crust. Perfect for folding or rolling up your slice.

Margarita pizza at Arizona Biltmore Spire Bar

You can find the full menu here.

The Saguaro Pool

We didn’t get a chance to try out the food or drinks at the Saguaro Pool but here is the menu that you can choose from.

Related: Arizona Biltmore Pools Review (Crazy Slide!)

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro pool.

Paradise pool

The paradise pool also will offer a selection of food and drink and you can find the menu here.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise pool.

In-room dining (room service)

Although we did not try the in-room dining, below are the menus with prices.

Arizona Biltmore In-Room dining menu.
Arizona Biltmore In-Room dining menu.

Final word

It’s honestly kind of rare to have dining at a 4-star hotel meet your expectations at every corner and every meal.

But that’s exactly what happened during our stay at the Arizona Biltmore.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all delivered on a high level and so did all of the drinks and cocktails.

So if you’re looking for a resort that will deliver a quality dining experience, I doubt you will be let down by the Arizona Biltmore.

Arizona Biltmore Pools Review (Crazy Slide!) [2022]

The Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria by Hilton is a fun and historic resort located in Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition to its history, it’s known for housing several pools including one special pool that houses a large, winding waterslide fittingly known as the “The Twist.”

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the Arizona Biltmore pools including what to expect, your food and drink options, and how you can go about renting things like cabanas.

Arizona Biltmore Pools overview

The Arizona Biltmore is home to a total of six pools which include:

  • The Paradise Pool (with The Twist slide)
  • Saguaro Pool (Adult’s only)
  • Catalina Pool
  • Ocatilla Pool
  • Bougainvillea Pool
  • Terrace Court Pool

I’ll provide more detail about each of these pools below and give you some insight into visiting them even if you are not a hotel guest.

Related: Full Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort Review

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

The main Arizona Biltmore pools

Although there are a total of six pools here, the main pools that people visit are the: Paradise Pool (with The Twist slide) and Saguaro Pool (Adult’s only). That’s because these are the two larger pools that are also more equipped with things like cabanas and food and drink options.

Let’s take a look up with these pools have to offer.

The Paradise Pool and The Twist slide

The main pool of the resort is the family-oriented Paradise Pool.

The pool is open 24 hours a day and features temperature controlled water, food and drink services, a splash pad, swim up bar, hot tub, and even air conditioned cabanas for rent.

There’s also a shop near the entrance where you can purchase things like hats, sunglasses, and take care of things like extra towels.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool
The entrance to the Paradise Pool.
Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool

It’s a pretty large and wide pool area lined with pool chairs and umbrellas, which will allow you to get some reprieve from the sun. (Each chair has a towel already on it so you don’t have to bring your room towel with you to the pool.)

In total there are three adjacent pools that make up the Paradise Pool, with one of those being a small splash pool.

You can see some of the private cabana suites in the middle of the image below.

The prices for renting these can differ based on the day of the week or season but for a weekend in the summer you would be paying $500 for one of the smaller cabanas that suit up to six people and $750 for one of the larger suite cabanas that suit up to 10 people. Non-hotel guests may be paying up to $1,000 for the larger suite.

The larger air-conditioned cabanas come equipped with a restroom, shower, pool attendant, and complimentary items like snacks, water bottles, and a fruit plate.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool

Here’s an aerial image of the Paradise Pool pool area with a good look of the swim up bar on the bottom left.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool
Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool

If you want to order food or drinks you can also do this at the restaurant and bar that is located poolside. Food and drinks are available 11 AM to 4 PM on weekdays and 11 AM to 5 PM on weekends. You can check out the menu here.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool

If you head towards the back of the pool, that’s where you’ll find the entrance to the waterslide known as “The Twist.”

I don’t think I’ve seen any hotel with a legit 6-story waterslide like this so this is definitely a unique attraction that adds a lot of value to this resort, especially for families with kids.

Tip: If you think you will be into the slide, consider booking a poolside room which lets you out only steps away from the slide.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist

If you want to ride the slide you simply head to this back area when the slide is open which should be 10 AM to 4 PM weekdays and 10 AM to 6 PM on weekends.

You’ll need to abide by the rules of the slide which basically state that you just can’t bring any loose items up there with you.

For example, they state no watches, jewelry, and if you have eyeglasses they need to be attached with some type of head strap.

Therefore, I would keep all of your valuables in your room unless you have someone that can watch over them while you enjoy the slide.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist

You’ll take the spiral stairs up to one of two slide decks. There are some mister fans to help cool you down on the way up but on a really hot day your feet might still get a little toasted so walk quickly.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist

The lower slide deck is a dual competition slide where two people can compete by trying to beat the other person down since the two slides mirror each other. You’ll simply wait in line and then once you see the light go green, that means you are good to go down the 45-foot slide.

Arizona Biltmore racing slide the twist

Be sure to use the steel bar to give yourself a good boost so that you catch some speed.

This is a relatively tame slide so I think it’s a good option even for people who are a little bit weary about a high flying waterslide.

But you definitely spend some time corkscrewing so if you are prone to dizziness get ready to feel a little bit wobbly when you finish. I certainly developed a case of the spins after a few rides.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist

The second slide, which is a 65-foot drop slide, is about two stories higher.

Once you’re up there, you actually have some pretty good views of the resort and some of the surrounding mountains, which can take your mind off the fact that you’re about to go virtually free falling down an enclosed wet tube.

This is a drop slide which is something that I had never tried until my stay at the hotel. Whenever it is your turn you will step into a pod that closes and then an anxiety-inducing countdown will begin.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist drop

Once you hit “one,” the floor will give out beneath you and you will drop nearly vertical into the 65 foot slide. This thing is fast and a whole lot of fun — but the drop is a little bit intense. While kids certainly will have fun on this, this is also suited for adults as well.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist

Although the slide closes at night it does look pretty cool lit up. During the winter months, when the sunsets earlier in the day you might be able to ride this with the lights on when visiting on the weekend.

Arizona Biltmore slide the twist night

Here’s a look at the walk-up up poolside rooms near the slide and the splash pool. There’s a little fountain area with water that shoots from saguaros near these rooms, making these rooms a good selection for families with small children.

Arizona Biltmore Paradise Pool

The Saguaro pool

The Saguaro Pool is the adults only pool that is meant for people 21 and up. It’s located in the middle of the resort behind the open field next to the Spire Bar. You really can’t miss it.

The pool is open 24 hours and is temperature regulated, staying around 82°.

Compared to the Paradise Pool, this pool is much smaller and narrower but has more of a luxurious feel to it. It was hardly ever busy during our stay but that almost certainly had to do with the temperatures soaring close to 115°.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool

A large 140-year-old Saguaro cactus, known as Lloyd, stands guard over the Saguaro Pool, which I assume is where the pool gets its name from.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool

I liked that they had umbrellas set up near the steps of the Saguaro Pool so that you can get a little bit of relief from the sun even when in the water. As for the pool depth, you’re looking at about 3 feet to 3 1/2 feet.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool

The cabanas, complete with TVs and chaise lounge chairs, looked pretty tempting.

They also had mister fans to help cool you down, a mini-fridge, and a private safe which could really come in handy when securing your valuables. Renting one of these also comes with the complimentary fruit plate and bottled water.

These cabanas are made to suit up to six people. Expect to pay about $500 to rent these for a weekend day. Non-hotel guests may have to pay $750.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool  cabana

You can also rent day beds for two people that you can see in the photo below on the far side of the pool.

The price to rent these is about $250 for a summer weekend day but those prices may drop to about $150 for a weekday, although I’m not sure if that price only applies to non-guests.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool

You can also find a bar and poolside dining at this pool as well.

Not many hotel pools are open 24 hours so that was a nice surprise. Considering how hot it gets in Phoenix in the summer, this also allows you to enjoy the pool without worrying about getting cooked.

I also really liked the vibe of the Saguaro Pool at night. With the mood lighting and fountains gently pouring in the water, it was very relaxing. And I dare say that with a little bit of breeze, it even got a little cool while hanging out in the pool, despite triple digit temperatures.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool  night

They have a pretty spacious hot tub tucked away in the corner of the pool area.

Arizona Biltmore Saguaro Pool  hottub

The secondary pools

The Arizona Biltmore has four smaller pool areas located throughout the property. Fewer people visit these pools so some of them can be a lot quieter and more laid-back than the two larger pools shown above.

These smaller pools are tucked away inside of select villa areas. We tried to access a couple of these to check them out but our key card did not give us access through the gate so we assumed these were private pools.

But later whenever we checked with the front desk they told us that any guest could have access to those pools so I think there was just an issue with our key card. Oh well.

The pools that you may want to check out include:

  • Catalina Pool (a personal favorite of Marilyn Monroe)
  • Ocatilla Pool
  • Bougainvillea Pool
  • Terrace Court Pool
Catalina Pool. Image via Arizona Biltmore.

Visiting the pool without being a hotel guest

If you want to visit the pools at the Arizona Biltmore you can do so even if you are not a hotel guest. You can head to ResortPass and purchase different types of day passes that will give you access to the pools. You can also use that platform to reserve things like cabanas and daybeds.

The website does a really good job of outlining everything included in your booking. For example, if you booked the Saguaro Pool Daybed, which starts at $150 you could have the option of getting:

  • Cushioned daybed for up to 2 people
  • Outdoor adults-only pool kept at 82-84 degrees
  • Towel service
  • Personal pool attendant
  • Poolside food and drink service from Saguaro Pool bar
  • Access to resort retail and dining, including The Biltmore Shops, Spire Bar, Wright Bar, Renata’s Hearth, and McArthur’s Restaurant & Bar
  • Live DJ entertainment Fridays and Saturdays through Labor Day weekend
  • Complimentary chef’s daily fruit selection plate
  • Complimentary water
  • Complimentary wifi
  • Complimentary valet parking

Based on what the hotel told me, it seems that non-guests will have to pay more for the rentals which makes sense. The price increase varies based on the product and timing but you could be paying a couple hundred dollars more than a hotel guest.

Final word

The pools at this resort are definitely a major highlight of the property.

I think when it comes to families, this resort has a lot to offer because of the many different pools and especially the mega waterslide.

The fact that these pools are open 24 hours a day is also a major plus especially if you visit during the summer when temperatures can reach 115°.

If you think you will be spending a lot of time in the pool I would highly consider a poolside room so that you can have a quick and easy access to the pool without having to store your belongings far away in your hotel room.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Review

If you’re looking for a decent airport hotel near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) you may want to consider the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix.

And even if you are not needing to be close to the airport, this property just might be a great base location for visiting Phoenix and the surrounding area.

In this review, I’ll take a close look at the hotel and tell you everything you need to know to prepare for your stay.

Location: PHX

The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix is located just outside of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

If you have your own vehicle it should only take you about five minutes to get to one of the parking garages at the airport. Like you would expect at a good airport hotel, there is also a 24-hour PHX airport shuttle.

The other great thing about this hotel is it is like a 10 minute straight shot on E Van Buren St into Downtown Phoenix. It’s also really close to Tempe and Arizona State University and not far from Mesa or Scottsdale. So this is definitely an airport hotel that you can use to easily explore the surrounding Phoenix metro area.

But I would be careful in the immediate surrounding area. Like some other airport hotels, there may be some sketchy parts in the immediate vicinity around the airport.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix exterior

Check in

We arrived around sunset so we did not need to utilize early check in but the check in process went very smoothly.

hotel lobby

One thing I always look forward to at DoubleTrees is the famous chocolate chip cookie. It’s almost impossible to turn this thing down!

Related: The Hilton Doubletree Cookie: The Ultimate Sweet Guide

Doubletree chocolate chip cookie

We were assigned a room on the sixth floor which is the top level of this hotel. These are known as “Business Class suite rooms” and I believe we were upgraded to one because of our Hilton Diamond status.

There are a couple of different elevators you can use to get up and because it was a little bit dark we struggled to find one of them.

But once we made our way up on the sixth floor it was a really beautiful sight.

Watching the glow from the sunset out over the city and the mountains is one of my favorite things about the desert and we caught it just in time.

I have not seen many DoubleTree hotels with exterior hallway layouts but in this case it was nice because of the cool breeze hitting in the evening. On a hot summer day though I’m not sure I would be so happy with it.

Related: Do You Have to Check Out of Your Hotel?

View of the sunset from sixth floor
View of the sunset from sixth floor

From the top, we had a good look at the pool area, which for an airport hotel is actually a pretty big area complete with a hot tub. This airport hotel definitely has some resort vibes going on, which is why it is a good fit for people who don’t just need proximity to the airport.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix pool

Here’s a look at the pool area in the daytime to give you a different view.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Phoenix pool

The suite

The business class suite was pretty spacious and overall a pretty quality room. Remember, this is an all-suite hotel so everyone will be provided with a suite.

My only complaints were that there was a bad scent and some of the furniture was a little bit stained.

In terms of the scent there was a faint almost cigarette-type odor I picked up as soon as II entered.

And you’ll see what I’m talking about with the stains…. Those factors, combined with the dated appearance of the hotel, knocked it down a notch for me although it still was not that bad.

In one corner of the living area you have an L sofa with an oval coffee table.

And on the other side of the room you have a large flatscreen TV.

Near that you have a workstation with an ergonomic chair and phone.

Behind the workstation is the small kitchenette area with a small sink, microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge. It’s kind of an odd layout to have a workstation so close to a kitchen area but I guess it works.

Related: Are Hotel Coffee Makers Safe & Clean? (YIKES!)

The bed was pretty comfy and I did not have any complaints.

On each side of the bed there will be a nightstand with two power outlets and two USB ports.

The outlets don’t really blend in with the furniture piece at all but I don’t mind that since it makes it even easier to locate the outlets. You also have standard nightstand features like an alarm clock, phone, and lamp.

Related: Should You Use USB Ports In Hotel Rooms? (Stay Away!?)

There is another pretty good size TV in the bedroom.

Here is the stained cushion I was referring to earlier. It’s not that bad considering this cushion is meant to be utilized for luggage bags but it’s still nothing you ever want to see.

And again, combined with the unpleasant scent, this just knocked my enjoyment of the stay down a peg or two.

The bathroom was quite nice and featured a large and decorative mirror. Counter space for the sink was a bit limited but still doable. Also, the quarters for the toilet were a bit cramped.

They provided EST bathroom amenities, which is a collection “created with luxurious resorts, boutiques, and high-end hotel establishments (hence, EST!) in mind.” I found them to be pretty high-quality and it was kind of a surprise that they would be used at a three-star airport hotel. But again, it makes sense given the resort style approach of this hotel.

The hotel features a very nice fitness center with a beautiful blow up of Monument Valley on the wall. You’ll find a good number of cardio stations including treadmill’s, recumbent bike, etc.

They also have a nice set up for free weights.

We decided to try out the bar and restaurant “Brix” since we had some time to kill in the evening and had worked up a bit of an appetite.

We each ordered sandwiches which were actually not bad. The service was really good as well making this a worthwhile meal.

Final word

I enjoyed our short stay at the Hilton Doubletree.

It had a much different vibe from other Doubletree hotels (which was both good and bad) but I really appreciated the views from the sixth floor, especially around sunset.

The location made arriving at the airport for an early flight the next day very easy and I would say that this could be a good property even for people who don’t need to close proximity to the airport.

The only thing is they need to work on the condition of the rooms in order to deliver an experience more in line with what you would expect at a Doubletree.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Review

Waikiki is filled with many resorts and hotels but you don’t have to break the bank to stay at a quality hotel.

One property that will offer you a quality experience without too steep of a price is the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. (It can also be a great place to stay when using points or free nights certificates.)

In this review article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the Hyatt Place Waikiki based on our recent stay.

Booking Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach

We used a free night certificate to book one free night at the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach.

It’s a category three property so we could have used the free night on a higher category but from the value perspective it was still a great redemption considering that rooms were going for around $200+ w/taxes and fees.

Related: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Review 

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location Overview

The Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach is located on the southern part of Waikiki. It’s just a couple of blocks from Kūhiō Beach and it’s also very close to the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.

You’ll have an ABC store right next to you for your every day needs and potentially some snacks souvenirs.

You also have a number of highly rated restaurants nearby (Mami’s Empanadas, JR Gourmet Franks & Links, d.k Steak House) and some cool places like a food cart that serves up ice cream rolls.

Related: Using Turo in Hawaii (Prices & Tips)

Something interesting about the property is that there is a Domino’s Pizza connected to the lobby so it doesn’t get more convenient than that for your pizza needs.

Check out: Using Uber at HNL Guide (Tips & Photos) 

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Dominos


Check-in went smoothly and we were able to utilize early check-in which was great. We decided to simply valet our rental vehicle which would run $45 a night.

That’s a pretty steep price but it is in line with the other hotels and resorts in Waikiki.

Related: Hawaiian Airlines First Class Guide

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach

As part of our welcome gifts, we received a special Hyatt Place branded mask and water bottle.

I think these are items paid for by the resort fee (or “destination fee”) but since we booked our points we did not have to pay it.

The room

The first thing that stuck out to me at this property was the size of the room. Having stayed at the Holiday Inn Express about a week prior to this stay, this two queen bed room was considerably more spacious!

Our stay at this property came at the very end of a 10 night trip so it was very refreshing to have so much room to relax in. The room and all of the furniture also felt pretty modern, clean, and kept up very well. I was pretty impressed.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach double queen
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach two queen beds

Across from the bed is the workstation which also contains the coffee maker and all of the teas, coffees, and cups.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach two queen bed desk
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach tea coffee
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Coffee maker

There’s also a decently sized flatscreen TV. It sits atop a dresser which is where you can also find the mini fridge.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach tv

Then there is the sofa in the corner with an ottoman for you to relax on.

The bathroom was very basic but clean which is all that really matters to me at a property like this.

There was a single sink with a fair amount of counter space.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach bathroom

The shower was very standard and maybe a little bit cramped but just about what I would expect.

The other thing I really liked about this room that was better than the Holiday Inn Express was that they had a nice balcony. On the balcony, you’ll find a couple of chairs and a small table which allow you to relax and take in the view.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach balcony view

The side walls of the balcony protrude out far so it’s a very private feel.

They do have rooms with ocean views but I believe we were given a city view.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach balcony view

It still gave us a nice view of Diamondhead whenever we looked off to the side.

Check out: Jurassic World & Fallen Kingdom Filming Sites & Tours (Hawaii Guide)

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach balcony view
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach balcony view

Breakfast/pool area

The pandemic rules were still in effect during our visit so we had to experience the pandemic version of their breakfast.

Basically, you wait in line and then tell the servers what you would like included in your breakfast and then they stuff a container for you.

I never really look forward to these type of breakfasts but sometimes there are certain menu items that I find edible like bacon or maybe a muffin. In this case, they had some pretty decent French toast.

Check out: How to (Legally) Bring Pineapples From Hawaii to the Mainland

They had a variety of teas and a lineup of coffee.

You could also find orange juice and apple juice.

They had a decent set up on a rooftop terrace which is also where the pool was located. We arrived at breakfast very early since we had plans and it felt great out on the terrace, maybe even a little bit chilly.

The pool area and rooftop terrace was not as nice as at the Holiday Inn Express where you also have miniature golf and different activities along with bigger pools. Still, at least you have a pool to enjoy on a rooftop in Hawaii.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach pool

The hotel gym is also located on this terrace and it actually looks out to the eating area.

It’s kind of odd but while you are chowing down on the French toast you can watch people burning hundreds of calories during their cardio session.

We roamed around the property and checked out some other areas. It’s worth pointing out that they do have a laundry room with a few different machines.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach laundry room

Down on the main floor of the lobby, they have a little market station where you can purchase some cold food items, desserts, and pick up water bottles, juice, soda, etc.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach market

They also have a little bar area.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach bar

And you’ll find a decent amount of areas to set up for work or lounging around.

Finally, I also noticed a couple of gift shops on the main floor.

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach gift shop

Final word

I really enjoyed my stay at the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach.

The free night redemption was great value and the hotel felt very well-kept and I loved the spacious room. Considering all the jumping around we had been doing over the past 10 days this was a perfect hotel to finish up the trip.

It’s interesting comparing it to the Holiday Inn Express because I liked the rooms here way better but it was nice having a better pool area and rooftop terrace at the Holiday Inn Express.

Mount Lemmon Hotel Review (Summerhaven) [2022]

The Mount Lemmon Hotel is one of the newest places to stay on beautiful Mount Lemmon.

It’s a small row of small cabins found right in the heart of Summerhaven, offering superb location to guests.

In this article, I’ll give you a detailed review of our recent hotel stay so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Booking the Mount Lemmon Hotel

The base rate for the Mount Lemmon Hotel in the summer is around $145 per night. But with the cleaning fee and taxes and fees you’re looking at closer to about $217 per night.

If you’re staying on a weekend there is a minimum two night stay requirement so you need to keep that in mind. Also, these cabins booked pretty quickly for weekends in the summer so that is something else to know.

They do offer a few pet friendly cabins (that come with mini pet yards) but those were filled up by the time we made a booking so our pup had to stay home for this one.

Check out the Mount Lemmon Ultimate Guide!

Mount Lemmon Hotel

The area: Summerhaven

The Mount Lemmon Hotel is located in Summerhaven, which is the main “town” on top of Mount Lemmon.

It’s more of a neighborhood which works in favor of the hotel because you are only a minute or two walk away from places like the:

  • Sawmill Run Restaurant
  • General Store
  • Cookie Cabin

Also, on weekends in the summer they have the Summerhaven Fair which goes on next door to the hotel. You can find different types of crafts, souvenirs, and some light bites like kettle corn, roasted corn, and various types of fungi. It’s definitely worth a stroll.

And just five minutes away in Ski Valley you’ve got the Iron Door where you can dine under aspens while taking in a big breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Be sure to catch the ski lift when you’re there, too.

Tip: Pretty much all of the stores and restaurants close relatively early in Summerhaven so make sure you are aware of open and close times.

As for hiking, you’re only minutes away from some amazing hiking trails like the Sunset Trail, Marshal Gulch and Aspen Loop, and others.

While Mount Lemmon is much cooler than the city of Tucson below some of the trails can still get a little warm during the day so I think morning and evening hikes are fantastic out here during the summer.

Some of the trails have been impacted by recent fires so there still may be some large burn zones and maybe even some trail closures but there is no shortage of amazing scenery found along the trails near the top of Mount Lemmon.

Mount Lemmon hiking sunset trail

This is also the perfect hotel to stay at if you were doing one of the astronomy nights at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. You’ll only have to drive about six or seven minutes back to your cabin late at night as opposed to driving all the way back down the mountain.

Mount Lemmon SkyCenter moon

Mount Lemmon Hotel cabin

There is parking located behind the cabins and each cabin has a single parking space available to it.

You’ll know which parking space is yours because it will be marked on the curb. There are also are a couple of guest parking spots which can be occupied by anyone.

Having your own exclusive parking space is extremely valuable on a busy weekend when parking can be a little difficult to find.

The drawback is that they still don’t have a way to enforce when members of the public take your parking spot which is something that happened to us a couple of times.

The good thing about this hotel is that you can always text them and you’ll receive a response very quickly. So if an issue ever arises like you can’t find parking or you have an issue with your cabin you have a bit of a hotline to customer service which is really great.

Mount Lemmon Hotel parkiing

You have a little bit of breathing room between the cabins and you have access to a grill if needed.

I loved the baby pine and fir trees growing on the side of the cabins and can’t wait for them to get bigger over the years.

Each cabin has a nice little shaded patio with a bench, table, and a handy shovel which you may need to use if you’re staying in the winter.

Mount Lemmon Hotel patio

There is no lobby to check in and instead you will be given a pass code to use to lock and unlock your door.

Basically, you just enter the code and then hit the check mark and that is how you unlock it. And then to lock it you hit another button in the corner. It’s a very convenient system.

Mount Lemmon Hotel patio

Inside, you’ll find a coat rack and a mat to put your snowy or muddy boots on.

Mount Lemmon Hotel

You have a little table with four chairs which is also the maximum number of guests you can have.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior

In the corner by the table you’ll find a power outlet that also has USB ports.

There’s another power outlet near the sofa but no open power outlets by the main bed (only USB ports on the alarm clock).

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior

On the opposite side is the sofa with the pull out bed. In some cabins, this will be a bunkbed.

The cabin is pretty open with the bed folded up but it does get a bit cramped whenever you unfold the queen bed which is expected.

As far as comfort, I found the pull out bed to be pretty standard with what you would expect but I was still able to get some decent sleep for a couple of nights on it.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior

There is a heater which comes in the form of an artificial fireplace. While temperatures did drop into the 40s at night, we did not feel the need to use the heater but this would certainly come in handy in the winter.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior heater

There’s also a ceiling fan you can use to help you keep cool in the summer. The temperature controls are on the wall and you can always open your windows for a breeze if you’d like as well.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior

The bed is definitely on the firm side so if that is the type of mattress you like you will really love your bed. There’s also a large armoire for you to hang up your clothes or fold them up right next to the bed.

If you brought suitcases you can probably slide them under the bed.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior

You have a good sized TV to watch in your room and you can extend the TV out so that people in the bed have a better view.

They currently have it set up with a Roku and they have accounts you can access for Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.

It also has a connection to DIRECTV so you’ll have plenty of TV options. If you don’t know how to navigate these things, they have some instructions which come in handy.

The cabin also comes equipped with Wi-Fi and you’ll see your password for connecting once you get in the cabin.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior tv

Here’s a look at the TV extended out.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior alarm clock

Each cabin has a well equipped kitchen area complete with a refrigerator/freezer, microwave, and oven.

The only thing missing from the mix would be a dishwasher but there is still plenty of counter space and a large enough sink to easily wash dishes by hand.

Inside the cabinets you can find cups, bowls, plates, mugs, etc.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen

You can also find a coffee maker, electric can opener, and toaster, along with a couple of packets of hot chocolate and coffee.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior kitchen

The bathroom area is pretty spacious and well designed.

The toilet room has some cabinets inside with storage capacity and has a private door partition from the rest of the bathroom which also has a door that divides the main cabin from the bathroom. So despite the tight space, you can get plenty of privacy in the bathroom.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior bathroom
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior bathroom

There’s a large counter area with an outlet and the bathroom is well lit thanks to a large window that looks out to the mountain top above.

Mount Lemmon Hotel interior bathroom shower
Mount Lemmon Hotel interior bathroom

The shower is very spacious although the showerhead is a bit small (a waterfall showerhead would’ve been amazing here). The hot water did start cooling down quicker than we anticipated so you may not want to take super long showers on your stay.

Mount Lemmon Hotel shower

They provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I don’t think I have ever used green conditioner before but these are pretty quality amenities so you don’t feel the need to bring your own.

Final word

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed staying two nights at the Mount Lemmon Hotel.

It’s really hard to beat the location which is in walking distance of everything you need and just a short drive away from key attractions like the best trailheads and Ski Valley/the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter.

I think the cabins are just the right size for you to enjoy those cozy vibes without feeling too cramped and the bathrooms were very modern and clean. The only thing I think they need to improve upon is the parking situation so that guests always have a place to park.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort Review [2022]

On a recent trip to Hawaii, we stayed at six different hotels and got a nice taste of what each one had offer. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort was probably one of my favorite hotels we stayed at.

It offers some beautiful views from spacious balconies in its different towers but there is a lot going on at this resort so you definitely want to have a good overview of what to expect before you arrive.

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know before heading to this resort. I’ll show you a breakdown of the different restaurants, shops, and give you a sense of what a room looks like in the Rainbow Tower.

Booking Hilton Hawaiian Village

We made this booking with a combination of a Hilton free night certificate and Hilton points. With all of the different taxes, we would’ve paid about $1,000 for two nights for the room we were put in.

Getting around $500 in value for a free night certificate is always a solid redemption so I felt very good about this award stay.

Resort fees

Initially, when I booked on the phone I was told that I would not have to pay the $50 resort fee for the free night certificate night but I would have to pay it for the night booked with points.

However, when I checked in they told me that I would not have to pay a resort fee for any night.

So I ended up avoiding $100 in resort fees which was very nice!

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach rainbow tower

Location: The Hawaiian Village

The Hawaiian Village campus is quite huge and one of the largest resorts in the world.

The resort was constructed in the 1950s by Henry J. Kaiser, the same man who built the Hoover Dam. Within a couple of years of opening, new towers were added like the Ocean Tower in 1957.

After Hilton acquired the property in 1961 it quickly grew in fame with Elvis Presley staying at the hotel while filming Blue Hawaii. In 1968, the resort’s iconic Rainbow Tower opened, showcasing the world’s largest and tallest ceramic tile mosaic.

Today, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel is a vast complex covering over 22 acres and including over twenty-two restaurants and over 90 shops.

Forget “village,” it’s really more of a city.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is a true resort meaning that there’s enough to keep you occupied so that you don’t have to leave the premises for pretty much anything.

Since we were so busy hitting up different spots in Hawaii this made it a bit difficult to truly appreciate this resort but we still were able to check out a lot of what I had to offer and I’ll break it all down below.

Related: Dole Plantation Review (Worth it or Tourist Trap?)


Check in was a very smooth experience.

We had a scuba dive coming up at noon and would not be back until later in the evening so we went ahead and gave it a shot to see if we could get early check in.

Checking in early at resorts is usually pretty difficult but they were able to fit us in at 10:30 AM which was amazing, considering that check-in technically did not begin until 4 PM.

We had so much going on in the afternoon that having a room already set up would make our arrival in the evening so much less stressful.

You might be interested in: Jurassic Adventure Tour Review (Kualoa Ranch) 

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach check in lobby

They briefed us on the hotel and also assured us that as Hilton Diamond members we would be receiving a $18 dining credit per night for each of us.

They also have these weird little activities you can do it after check-in to get little perks.

For example, if you present a card to the concierge desk within 24 hours of your arrival, you can get an easy 250 bonus points.

If you present another card to the tours and activities desk within 24 hours of arrival you can get a free tote bag.

After checking in, we immediately parked our vehicle in their large parking garage (more on that later) and then were off to our room.

The room

They bumped us to a King Marina Bay/Ocean View room in the Rainbow Tower.

It’s actually a really beautiful view from this side of the property because you have the ocean to your left, the Duke Lagoon directly below you, and you can look off to the city and distant mountains as well.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony lagoon

Not only are the views great but the balcony itself is spacious and you have some decent privacy on your sides which makes a big difference when you’re just trying to relax in the evening.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony lagoon
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony lagoon
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony lagoon marina

The ocean view is nice as well and I got a quick look at what that would be like through one of the windows in the hallway. You really can’t go wrong with either view.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach ocean view

While I think both views are great, I actually liked having a lagoon on our side since that is a pretty unique water feature and we could listen to the sounds of the luau below us at night.

The hotel has an outdoor luau called the “Starlight Luau” and is currently available on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays (weather-permitting) on the Great Lawn.

They also sometimes add additional days so check with the hotel during your stay to see when you can catch the show. Tickets are $170 per adult (12 years and up) and $110 per child.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony luau
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony luau set-up.

The King Room felt a little bit bland and maybe a tad outdated although the guest rooms were renovated 10 years ago. One thing I really loved was that the room was extremely spacious.

Because we were coming from the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki which had very small rooms, this bedroom felt massive!

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room

I felt that the bed was comfortable and I got a good night sleep each night. Also, we did not have any issues with room temperature.

On each side of the bed you’ll have a lamp with two power outlets. One side has the alarm clock and the other side has the phone.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room

There’s a large TV in the middle of the room with a dresser below it. Interestingly, they actually have a PS3 in the room which you can use to watch rented DVDs.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room

And you also have a little workstation in the corner of the room near the balcony.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room desk

The bathroom is pretty standard with a tub/shower, toilet, and sink area all in one room.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room bathroom
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room bathroom

The hotel gives you a lot of shampoo/soap/lotion amenities and a good quantity of each of them which is a small touch that I really appreciated.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach balcony king room bathroom

So overall, I’d say rooms are a little dated but it really is awesome to have such a nice balcony and a great view. I was overall very pleased with the room.


When it comes to the dining here, it’s just straight up overwhelming. There are so many different places to choose from.

A good place to start is to look at the map that they give you and check out the restaurants located in your tower or area.

The Rainbow Bazaar is where you’ll find the most places where you can find seafood, Italian, New York deli, ice cream, pizza, etc.

In our case, we were staying at the Rainbow Tower and we had the Bali Oceanfront, Paradise Lounge, and surprisingly there also was a Dairy Queen located in the tower!

rainbow tower Dairy Queen

We decided to try out two of the main restaurants of the hotel and both experiences were fantastic.

The first night we decided to try out Bali Oceanfront for dinner. This is one of the fancier restaurants at the hotel and it just has a really cool vibe to it especially if you dine around sunset. There is no formal dress code; just avoid wearing things like ultra-casual swimming attire.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach bali oceanfront

I really loved my steak and shrimp meal which was one of the specials they were offering.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach bali oceanfront dinner

Brad went with the bone-in New York steak.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach bali oceanfront dinner

I also liked that they had unique menu options like passion fruit crème brûlée.

As for the service, it was fully on point making for a truly memorable dining experience.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach bali oceanfront dinner dessert

For breakfast we tried the Tropics Bar and Grill, which is located in the Ali’ii. That tower also has a Starbucks and a Wiki Wiki Market.

At Tropics Bar and Grill, I went with the avocado toast which was a solid way to start the day and Brad tried out a salmon dish. I enjoyed the breakfast and the prices were close to being covered by the $18 dining credit we each had.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Tropics Bar and Grill
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Tropics Bar and Grill
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Tropics Bar and Grill breakfast avocado toast

Hilton Hawaiian Village Shops

At the resort, you can also find a ton of different shops for gifts, sundries, jewelry, and clothes.

Once again, simply check out the map because there are just so many places.

If you want to buy gift/souvenirs you have some good places at the Rainbow Bazaar like the Honolulu Cookie Company, Kona Mountain coffee, and Waikiki Christmas store.

Shopping options are very diverse. For example, you can find places with beach gear but also do some luxury shopping at stores like Louis Vuitton.

There is an ABC store at the Rainbow Bazaar and also another ABC store at the Tapa Tower for everyday needs.

Pools & Lagoon

The resort is home to three different pools plus the Duke Lagoon. Each pool has a restaurant located near it so you can always grab a bite or some drinks pretty easily.

The main pool is known as the Super Pool.

There is also the paradise pool which is at the edge of the property near the Lagoon Tower.

Finally there is the Tapa Pool which is next to the Tapa Tower and Diamond Head Tower but we did not have time to check it out.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach pool

I think the Duke Lagoon is one of the most interesting aspects of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach duke lagoon
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach duke lagoon

For one, it just gives you something different from the traditional hotel pool experience.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach duke lagoon

It can be like your own little private beach.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach duke lagoon

Plus, you have all sorts of different ways to experience it like these cool aqua cycles and it would be a great place to try paddle boarding if you’ve never done it before.

Some of the rental rates are a little bit pricey, though. For example, to rent a paddle board for one hour it is ~$49. When you’re paying $50 a night for a resort fee, these prices seem a bit steep.

At the rental station near the lagoon you can also sign up for things like catamaran snorkeling trips and surfing lessons.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach duke lagoon aqua cycle

Tip: If you ever need an ATM each tower has an ATM so it’s very easy to pull cash out. Also, pretty much each tower has its own concierge desk and making it easy to get recommendations on things to do.


We absolutely love to dive and snorkel so I was excited to try out the snorkeling at Kahanamoku Beach, which is the beach in front of the hotel.

Unfortunately, it was not the best experience.

For one, maybe because it was the winter but the water did seem a little bit rough which made visibility extremely low.

Also, we did not enter at a good spot as it was extremely rocky and one of the most difficult entries and exits I’ve ever done snorkeling.

If you look at the image below where the red arrow is, that entry point will probably allow you to avoid most of the rocks but we did not realize that when we entered.

Ultimately, I’m still not sure this is really a great snorkeling spot but maybe you just have to catch it at the right time?

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach snorkel

Atlantis Submarine

One of the coolest attractions that they have which we were not able to try was the Atlantis Submarine.

It’s a little pricey at $143 per adult and $66 per child but it does seem like a unique adventure. It takes you 100 feet under the water’s surface to check out the marine life and interesting sites like undersea wrecks.

While we got to explore the USS Bowfin submarine at Pearl Harbor, I’ve still never ridden in a submarine before so I think this would’ve been a worthwhile attraction. Total trip is two hours long.

Fitness center

Due to our hectic schedule we did not get a chance to check out the fitness center.

But it will be really helpful for you to know that the fitness center is located on the fourth floor of the Kalia Tower. That is also where the Madera spa is found.

That is a little bit of a drawback because that is the tower located at the front of Rainbow Drive so it’s a little inconvenient when staying at the Rainbow Tower. But that type of thing is not uncommon when staying at a large resort.

The Ali’i also has a fitness center and spa located on the second floor but that is exclusive for guests staying at the Ali’i.


Self-parking is $55 per night and valet parking is $65 per night.

Staying in the Rainbow Tower, the parking garage is pretty close and only requires you to walk from the Rainbow Bazaar area to the property. You’ll walk right past the ABC store which is convenient if you ever need something on the go.

We had some serious issues with the parking garage though.

Our room key was supposed to activate the parking garage and allow us in and out privileges. But it never seemed to work which meant that we had to call in and wait to exit the parking garage every time.

After this happened the third time it was becoming very frustrating but luckily when we voiced this issue the hotel waived the parking fee for one night and then fixed it.

I honestly did not expect them to do that but it was really nice service.

Related: Uber vs Turo in Honolulu, Hawaii (Which is Cheaper?)

Final word

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has so much to offer that I was overwhelmed from a travel blogger’s perspective.

Once we pulled up to the lobby, I knew there was no way I’d be able to do a full scale review with just two nights and limited time but from everything we did experience I thought this was a very solid resort.

Dining did not disappoint and I was in love with the view from our hotel room which overlooked the Duke Lagoon. The service here was also some of the best I’ve ever seen from Hilton and it made a big impact on our stay.

If you like staying at large resort areas that have tons of restaurants and shops nearby, this hotel could be the perfect fit for you.

On the other hand, if you’d like to get in and out of a hotel with relative ease the sheer size of this resort and all of the foot traffic make that a bit more difficult.

Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club Review (Disappointing)

I was really looking forward to our stay at the Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club, located on the south part of the island of Kauai. It had everything I thought you need for an amazing Hawaii stay: views, beaches, and a great location.

But out of all of the six hotels that we stayed at on this Hawaii trip, this ended up being by far the worst stay. Check out my full review below to see what went wrong and why I won’t be returning.


On a recent 10 night trip to Hawaii we spent a large portion of the trip tracking down all of the Jurassic Park filming locations.

This meant that we would be focusing a lot on the island of Kauai since that is where most of the filming went down.

While researching I realized that the crew of Jurassic Park actually stayed at this hotel during filming.

What’s more, this is where they hunkered down whenever the strongest hurricane to ever hit Hawaii in recorded history hit.

Specifically, they would be huddled up in the ballroom which was something we were also able to check out.

So I thought this hotel would be a perfect site to add to our list of places to check out.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

I paid cash for two nights which came out over $1,061.66.

Quick note: I learned that it’s kind of depressing to stay at timeshare properties like this when you have Marriott elite status like Titanium because it essentially means nothing.

No breakfast, late check out, no upgrades, etc.

So if you’re elite and you’ve never stayed at a property like this be ready to feel like you’re losing out on value because you will inevitably feel it.

Location overview: Lihue

The hotel is located in Lihue, directly on Kalapaki Beach which is really cool since you can just walk out the hotel and sit on a Hawaiian beach without having to drive or hike anywhere.

You have to be careful with the water here though because there are some strong riptides that come through.

Interestingly, if you look out from Kalapaki Beach and you see the jetty sticking out that jetty was actually featured in a scene from Jurassic Park.

They used actual storm footage from the hurricane to portray the storm hitting the island in the movie.

Here is the movie still from Jurassic Park. Pretty cool, huh?

Something else that is notable about this property is that it is practically in the backyard of the Lihue Airport (LIH).

If you plan on doing helicopter rides you don’t have to drive far at all to get there which is a major plus.

The city of Lihue has quite a few places that may come in handy like Walmart and there’s also a shopping center (mini-mall) nearby with a Target.

As far as attractions, you have the Kauaʻi Museum nearby and if you want to experience a luau the Lu’au Kalamaku is very close.

If you want to get on the road this is also a good starting off point to get to Waimea Canyon State Park. It’s about an hour away from the hotel but that is much better than the driving time from the north side of the island.

You can also get to the north side of the island in about an hour, which is not bad.

So overall I think this hotel has fantastic location on Kauai.


The Marriott check-in desk is pretty far inside the hotel and you have to go through a lobby, down an escalator, through some outdoor corridors, and finally you arrive at the check-in desk.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club lobby escalator
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club corridors

The woman working the check-in desk was extremely friendly and personable which got me really excited about this property. It’s always a good sign when things start off that way.

Early check-in would not be available which meant that we would need to kill some time.

We did so by heading to the nearby Kuki’i Point Lighthouse (Beacon) area and just explored some of the rocky areas and took in the views. It’s adjacent to a golf course but there is a set of stairs that is open to the public so you can legally access this area.

Kuki'i Point Lighthouse rocks
Kuki'i Point Lighthouse

Finally, we got a message that our room was ready so technically we did get in a little bit early which was nice.

The room

As soon as we got to the room I was immediately disappointed.

It wasn’t really the room (although I will get to that later).

It was the fact that there was really loud construction going on in the room directly across from us and indeed other rooms in the hallway.

I did not recall seeing any message about construction going on at this property and so that led to me contacting the hotel to see what was going on.

It turns out the hotel claimed that there was a warning message and that message read:

Please note – The adjacent The Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort is undergoing renovation. Please anticipate construction noise. Work is expected to continue through March 31, 2022.

This message was extremely misleading because in the context of hotel premises, “adjacent” would suggest a connected tower/building or perhaps a connected wing.

I’ve stayed at a lot of hotel properties, including a lot of co-branded properties.

Every single time I’ve stayed at a co-branded property, the two properties are segregated by different buildings or different wings. But in this case, they actually are located on the same hallway.

A prior email from the hotel indicated that these two properties “share a campus” which again would suggest separate buildings.

What they should’ve said in the email was they “share buildings.”

That would have been 10 times more clear and accurate because campus =/= building.

But that level of transparency would have scared away potential customers like myself….

Also, remember I booked this largely because of the special content piece we were doing on Jurassic Park?

I had called the hotel previously trying to figure out which building the Jurassic Park crew stayed at. Was it the Marriott property or the Royal Sonesta?

During that call, the representative made it sound like the properties were located in different buildings.

So I felt like I had no reason to think that these two properties would be sharing the same hallway.

Surely the hotel would understand, especially with me being Titanium elite?

Uhm, no.

The hotel management could not have cared less despite admitting that I had a valid argument regarding the vague use of the term “adjacent.”

Their response was “Unfortunately we can’t stop construction for you….” Right, because that’s what I was expecting.

It completely turned me off to this hotel.

Lucky for us, for the most part we were out doing things so the construction was not the worst thing.

The thing that rubbed me the wrong way the most was just how management completely dismissed the issue.

Anyway, going back to the review.

Here’s a look at the studio room we booked.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio murphy bed
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio murphy bed

It’s basically a studio apartment and comes with a small kitchen area (no stove).

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen dishwasher

The closet is where you will find your two pillows along with the iron and iron board. They also have a safe.

I liked that the room came with such a big fridge and a freezer.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  kitchen refrigerator

There’s a workstation which came with two chairs which was nice for in-room dining, although you are talking about a very tight fit with two seats.

I booked a Murphy bed at this property largely as an experiment. I had never stayed in a hotel offering a Murphy bed and wanted to see what it would be like.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  murphy bed
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio  murphy bed

It was not very comfortable and I would not recommend it.

The bed initially only came with two pillows and even after calling in to request a few more, it was still just not a comfortable bed.

I’ll take responsibility for that one though. In retrospect I should’ve known.

The room did have a pretty decent view but from the sixth floor balcony there was only so much of the beach you could see.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio ocean view
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club studio ocean view

The bathroom was a problem.

It was one of those horribly designed bathrooms where you basically have to solve a Rubiks cube every time you want to maneuver around the toilet, shower door, and the bathroom door.

Sometimes you’re almost forced to touch the toilet when you come out of the shower which never feels great.

As far as the hotel premises, I feel like this is one of those properties that you either hate it or love it.

Personally, I thought it was pretty cool having all of the columns throughout the property, but I could see how some people would think it is very dated.

It’s pretty cool that they have hot tubs located underneath these balconies although some of the balconies look down into the center of the hot tub which is just awkward when people are in there. Not sure what the point of that is.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool

Here are some more shots of the pool area.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club kids pool
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club pool slide


We had the opportunity to try out one of the restaurants on site, Kukui’s on Kalapaki Beach, for breakfast and I was very pleased by the food quality.

But just when I thought I was over the “adjacent hotel” issue we asked to put our breakfast on our room and were told that we could not because this restaurant was part of the Royal Sonesta.

So these properties are close enough that they can share a freakin’ hallway but not so close that you can put a meal on your room at a restaurant that you find in a common area? Okay, cool.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club breakfast
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club breakfast

When you get there, ask for a seat with a view of the beach because otherwise they will apparently seat you as far away from the beach view as possible.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club breakfast

After breakfast, we took some time to check out the pool area.

They have some cabanas but the view inside them is restricted by a lot of the vegetation. So if you are seated or lying down it’s like you are just looking at a wall of bushes.

They do a good job of keeping up with all of the landscaping on the property, though.

I thought the beach area was pretty nice but watch out for those rip currents. There are no lifeguards.

Here is the view of the harbor that you will have. That view was also used in Jurassic Park movie: The Lost World.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach

Someone had created a beautiful sand sculpture while we were there which was cool to see.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach

Here are a few more shots from the beach area.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach view

Before dipping out we checked out the gym which was quite large and fully equipped.

Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach gym
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach gym
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach gym
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club beach gym

Final word

This hotel has a great location and I really thought the premises were quite beautiful. The staff seemed to be very personable and professional but I can’t say that about the management.

I’ve stayed at and reviewed a lot of hotels over the past decade and this may have been the worst exchange I’ve ever had with management.

I had a valid argument that their description of the construction was vague and misleading and the manager even admitted as much but decided to dismiss the complaint.

For that reason, I can’t ever see myself returning to this property. I got my Jurassic Park fix and was pretty much done.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki Review [2022]

Waikiki is filled with hotels that are suitable for all budgets.

One of the hotels that stick out for people looking to not break the bank on a hotel stay is the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.

After staying there a couple of nights, I was pleasantly surprised by the hotel in a lot of regards but also a little underwhelmed in a couple of areas.

Check out the full review below and I will tell you everything you need to know about this hotel so that you can make the most out of your stay.


On a recent 10-night trip to Hawaii we decided to start things off with two nights at the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki. We had a free night certificate and also IHG points so that we could cover 100% of the stay.

This was a worthwhile booking because we got some really great value ($300 in value per night) for the free night and the points, especially whenever we factored in the upgrade we got due to IHG Platinum Status.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Location overview: North Waikiki

The Holiday Inn Express Waikiki is located on the north side of Waikiki. So it’s about a 15 minute walk to Waikiki Beach.

While it is a bit of walking distance to the heart of Waikiki, it’s nice because you can just step out and walk down Kalakaua Ave to get to the central area.

You’ll be just a block away from Luxury Row where you’ll find many of the luxury shops like Gucci and you’ll also be just a few minutes from quite a few restaurants.

On the other hand, if you need to go to the Hawaii Convention Center it’s a pretty short walk since you are on the north side of Waikiki.

If you need any quick snacks or random items, ABC Store #49 is directly across the street.

So while you don’t have prime beach location at this hotel, it’s still centrally located enough so that many things are still in reasonable walking distance.

Related: Dole Plantation Review (Worth it or Tourist Trap?)


We arrived via Uber in the late evening and our check-in experience was great.

The personnel checking us in was very friendly and professional and made sure that our two itineraries were properly linked which is something that tends to be problematic at a lot of hotels.

She notified us about a room upgrade and after we showed verification of our safe travels, we were able to make our way up to our room on the 35th floor.

I should also mention that because of our IHG Platinum status they offered us late check out all the way until 2 PM! That was a nice surprise and definitely a major plus for this property.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki lobby

By the check-in area there is a little lobby area that’s perfect for waiting for your tours or Uber rides.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki lobby

Be aware that there are two separate driveways for this hotel so if you are waiting on a ride you may want to specify which side of the hotel you are on.

Most of the time, the drivers appeared at the driveway below which is the one farthest away from the check-in desk.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki lobby

The room

The only major negative of this hotel is the room size.

Our king room was one of the smallest hotel rooms we’ve stayed in in a very long time. It reminded me of the rooms we used to get when we would stay in cheaper London hotels.

When you finally sit down your luggage the room gets even tighter. After visiting the tight quarters of the USS Bowfin we joked that we were staying at the USS Holiday Inn Express.

So I feel like this type of hotel room is better for people who plan on being out and about more than people who like to spend more time relaxing in a spacious hotel room.

With that said, I found the bed to be pretty comfortable but with the AC unit so close to the bed, the person on that side of the bed might be freezing throughout the night.

The good news is that they also have a ceiling fan so you can play around with your AC and fan settings to get the temperature just right.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bedroom

Each side of the bed will have multiple outlets including USB ports for convenient charging.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bedroom

One of the night stands came with a tissue box which I thought was interesting as I have not seen that at many hotels.

The hotel room does not have a working station (desk) and instead just has a standing blue table that you could use to eat or work on. You can move it around the room to wherever you’d like.

It’s not a very big table though so your space will be limited.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bedroom

While the room is small, they do have a large TV monitor which is really nice.

You can try stacking your luggage beneath the TV to give yourself a little bit more room.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bedroom

The room is well equipped to handle your leftovers and comes with a microwave, coffee maker, and mini fridge.

You’ll also have a little bit of room to hang up your clothes in the closet where you also will find the iron and iron board.

As for the view, we had a really nice view from the 35th floor. I don’t believe there are any balconies on this property so it’s just a window view but I did enjoy looking out to the ocean and all of the green park space below.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki view

The ocean toward the left tended to be more picturesque.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki view

Even though the hotel room is small, the bathroom was not that bad.

The sink area is pretty confined with limited counter space but the shower was pretty decent and you didn’t feel too cramped getting between the toilet and shower.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bathroom
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bathroom
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki bathroom

5th floor Terrace (Sky Deck)

One of my favorite features of this hotel was the outdoor terrace sky deck on the 5th floor.

This is something that makes this hotel unique and provides you with a way to leisurely pass time or get some sun while remaining on the hotel premises.

There’s quite a few things you’ll find outside on the terrace like table tennis, a foosball table, and weekday yoga classes.

There’s also one of those giant chess boards.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki chess

They had some type of other floor game set up but I’m not sure what it was.

Then there is my favorite: the 9-hole miniature golf course.

The par numbers on these little greens don’t really make sense to me as far as how they relate to the difficulty of the hole.

But it’s pretty fun to get out and do a little bit of rooftop putting on a nice Hawaiian afternoon.

Talk to the desk located near the entrance to the terrace and you can check out golf balls and putters for free (although remember you are likely paying a $25 resort fee for these).

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki putt putt golfing


The pool area here is surprisingly very nice.

There is a deck with several lounge chairs that you can relax on and even a couple of shaded cabanas that I imagine you will need to ask the hotel about if you want to rent.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki pool

They have one huge hot tub that is almost the size of the pool that you can relax in.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki pool

Then there is the pool which surprisingly gets down to 6 feet deep. The pool is not that big but for a two/three star hotel, the overall pool set up is actually pretty solid.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki pool

It’s also really nice to have some views to look out to from the terrace.


The hotel had a strict policy where you had to reserve time in the gym due to Covid.

We were able to get a quick peek at it though and it looks like a really equipped gym with views looking out to the terrace.

Holiday Inn Express Waikiki gym
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki gym
Holiday Inn Express Waikiki gym


The hotel was serving a grab and go style breakfast during our stay.

Basically you could grab a selection of yogurts, fruits, and hot items like sausage and eggs. We tried it out but this was your standard two-star breakfast experience.

Basically nothing special and unless you’re just trying to save money or just get by with some fruit or cereal, you may want to consider picking up breakfast somewhere else.


Surprisingly, the hotel did have “room service” although it is basically just an Italian restaurant Giovanni Pastrami that is partnered with the hotel from what I could gather.

We did give it a shot the first night we were there and decided that we should try out a pineapple pizza while in Hawaii.

The pizza actually was high-quality and I really enjoyed it, so if you’re in a jam trying to figure out where to eat this could be a solid option.

Final word

Overall, I was a pretty big fan of the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki.

The biggest drawback was definitely the size of the room as it made it really hard to move around in there without having to work around furniture or luggage.

Breakfast was mehh but pretty much what you would expect.

However, we received great service and for a hotel at this tier level, they had some pretty cool amenities to enjoy.

I would have to say that this was actually a great use of the IHG free night certificate and our IHG points.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio Review

If you’re planning a trip to the San Antonio Riverwalk you have tons of different hotel options and it can be an overwhelming process to narrow them down.

But if you’re looking for a four-star luxury property that won’t require you to break the bank, the Westin Riverwalk San Antonio is a super solid choice.

In this review article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Westin Riverwalk San Antonio.


We had a family meet up in San Antonio around Christmas time and decided that staying at the Westin Riverwalk San Antonio would be a perfect two night stay.

We paid cash for the booking but utilized suite night awards which ended up getting us a nice corner suite.

In addition to that, Titanium Elite status gave us free breakfast at the property which added even more value to this stay and made it a great option.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio lobby Christmas

Location overview: San Antonio Riverwalk

The Westin Riverwalk San Antonio is located right in the heart of the San Antonio Riverwalk aka tourist central.

It’s only about a seven minute walk to the Alamo and very close to all of the other major Riverwalk tourist attractions.

The property is also located directly on the Riverwalk, although you need to take some stairs or an elevator down to that level to exit out that way.


Check-in was a very smooth process and I was immediately impressed with the beautiful hotel lobby.

I heard that NBA players sometimes stay at this hotel when they play the Spurs which I think says a lot about the level of luxury offered by the property.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio lobby Christmas
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio lobby Christmas
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio lobby Christmas

If you have a little bit of extra time, you may want to check out the second level which is where a lot of the conference rooms are located. On your way up, you’ll pass through a beautiful staircase with a 19th century rod-iron chandelier.

At one point, I thought I heard one of the tour boats on the river mention that the Westin has items on display from an old castle or palace which wouldn’t surprise me given how elaborate some of the fixtures are.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio staircase

The room

The corner suite we were upgraded to was a very beautiful and spacious suite. I loved the oversized double doors separating the living room from the bedroom.

The workstation fits right between these two doors and the living room TV is actually embedded in the wall.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite

The sitting area is pretty spacious and we were able to request a rollaway bed for my nephew without much hassle which was great. (The sofa does not convert to a bed.)

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite

Both the sitting area and the bedroom have their own balcony.

We were positioned a few floors above the pool which gave us a nice view of the pool but a mostly obstructed view of the river.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite river view balcony
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite river view

Inside the room, you have a nice and soft king bed. As expected at the Westin, the bedding was extremely comfortable.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite

On each side of the bed you can find outlets and USB ports for easy charging.

Related: Should You Use USB Ports In Hotel Rooms? (Stay Away!?)

In front of the bed, there’s a dresser with a large TV monitor hanging above it.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite

Overall, I had little complaints about the bedroom other than the temperature and the view.

While the living room stayed nice and cool, the bedroom was a bit too warm and there really was nothing we could do about that unfortunately.

The only other thing that was slightly disappointing about the room was the lack of a river view.

It looks like the river views are much better for rooms that are not above the pool since the terrace for the pool cuts into the river view.

So if you really want a great view of the river you might want to ask to not be put in one of those rooms.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite river view

Near the bathroom was a large counter with the coffee maker, a mini-fridge, hotel safe, and a couple of bottles of water.

Related: Are Hotel Coffee Makers Safe & Clean? (YIKES!)

As for the bathroom, it was huge (and glorious).

The sink area had two sinks, two large mirrors, and a beauty mirror.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite bathroom

There’s a large tub perfect for relaxing in and complete with a roll of soft Westin Heavenly towels.

There is an enclosed area for the toilet which is great for privacy.

The shower is also pretty spacious and comes with a dual shower head and pre-filled, wall dispensary soaps.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio corner suite bathroom

And of course there is the Westin double needle stitching spa robe.

Westin spa robe


The hotel has a nice pool area but the somewhat Alamo-shaped pool is pretty small for such a big hotel, in my opinion. I guess if the pool wasn’t deep enough for you you could always take a dip in the river? Just kidding — don’t do that.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio pool

Despite its small size, it’s still a pretty terrace area with greenery, fountains, and a lot of seats to lounge in.

There’s even a bar on the deck but it wasn’t open while we were there, probably because it was so dang cold.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio pool

I would try to avoid the rooms that are right next to the pool. Not only would you have no view of the river but you would also have to deal with the noise from the pool, which was even kind of loud where we were.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio pool

I’m almost positive the pool is heated as it was pretty cold during our stay and people were still hanging out in the pool.

Fitness center

The Westin Riverwalk San Antonio also has a pretty solid fitness center. You’ll find plenty of treadmills and other cardio equipment like ellipticals. You’ll have a view out to the pool area on some of the cardio machines which is nice.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio gym
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio gym
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio gym


You’ll find breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant were they will have a buffet set up.

As mentioned, with Titanium Elite status, we were offered two free breakfasts every morning for a total of four free breakfasts.

They issued us individual certificates which was nice because it allowed us to use three of them one morning so that my nephew could get a taste of the Westin breakfast life.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the breakfast. It wasn’t quite the best Westin breakfast I ever had. Some things like the pastries could’ve been a little bit better in my opinion.

But the buffet still had a great selection of foods with fresh fruits, berries, and even biscuits and gravy. So overall, I would still say it was a quality breakfast.

The servers at breakfast were also on point, just like they were everywhere else.

if you’re wondering what the breakfast spread looked like, check out the photos below.

Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast
Westin Riverwalk San Antonio breakfast

Restaurant: Zocca Cuisine D’Italia

We were looking for a good place to grab dinner on the Riverwalk but this was a weekend just a week before Christmas and it was absolutely packed everywhere.

It seemed like every restaurant had at least an hour wait and we were just too hungry (and cold) to sit around for that.

So we thought it would be a good idea to try out the hotel’s restaurant, Zocca Cuisine D’Italia, for dinner.

I’m really glad that we decided to give it a shot because the restaurant at the hotel was absolutely amazing.

We tried a few different dishes like their pizza, fried ravioli, and some other dishes and they were all on point. While we chose to eat inside, I do believe you can eat out on the river if you would like.

Zocca Cuisine D'Italia
Zocca Cuisine D'Italia

The hotel also has a grab and go café called Cafecito but we were not able to try it out.

Final word

Overall, this was a fantastic stay in San Antonio!

I loved the room that we were upgraded to and while we did not have a great view of the river, it was still a beautiful and spacious suite.

The service was tremendous throughout the stay including when we grabbed breakfast which just made the hotel stay that much more special.

I would absolutely recommend this hotel for anyone looking for a luxurious stay without breaking the bank.

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