With Waikiki’s busy beaches, burgeoning restaurant scene and top-of-the-line shopping centers — not to mention 50-plus hotels to pick from — deciding on the best place to stay in this famous hub of Honolulu can feel overwhelming. But with its sleek interiors, serene spa, world-class cuisines and all-around aloha spirit, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Modern Honolulu is hard to beat. And, judging by the constant stream of A-listers and influencers that flows through its well-styled spaces, others agree. (Head to Instagram and search #themodernhonolulu to see what we mean.) We’re just back from a stay at the 353-room hotel, and here are five things we loved most about our visit.
Its location is practically impossible to beat
Honolulu may be famous for its beaches, but by all rights, it’s a bustling, buzzing city, too. And although The Modern Honolulu isn’t directly on the beach — it’s situated along Ala Wai Harbor overlooking a marina — its plum position on popular Ala Moana Boulevard puts you smack in the center of the South Shore’s offerings, both in the water and on land.
A few minutes spent on foot, in a taxi or on a trolley will take you to the sparkling Ala Moana and Royal Hawaiian shopping centers, as well as Honolulu’s luxury Kalakaua Avenue shops (Fendi, YSL, Chanel). Even more cultural points of interest — Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu Museum of Art, downtown and the colorful Kaka’ako neighborhood — are easily reached via a quick taxi ride.
For simpler pursuits, an easy stroll will take you from the Waikiki hotel to a peaceful marina, a placid lagoon and a quiet, crescent beach that’s a popular morning jogging route for locals and hotel guests alike.
It’s a destination for discerning diners
Excellent food is easy to find in Honolulu, but you won’t have to search far if you’re checking in here. The Modern Honolulu is home to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s eponymous eatery, Morimoto Waikiki, and it’s every bit as chic and special as you’d expect. If it’s a feast for all five senses you’re after, reserve a table outside and let the ocean breeze tickle your skin as you savor fresh oysters; live octopus carpaccio with hot oil, ginger and yuzu soy sauce; braised black cod with pickled bell peppers; or the eye-popping ishi yaki buri bop — yellowtail and rice cooked tableside in a searing-hot stone bowl. Can’t decide on a dish? Opt for the Morimoto Omakase, a multi-course chef’s choice experience.
You won’t have to eat every meal at Morimoto Waikiki to head home sated. At The Grove, even a simple breakfast becomes tweet-worthy when you order a stack of fluffy blueberry-ricotta pancakes, a plate of beet-cured salmon or a frosty glass of fresh, tropical juice. And when it’s time for a midday meal, the island-style ahi tuna poke makes for a luxurious lunch.
If your day’s plans call for time by the pool, be sure to keep a steady stream of The Modern’s signature frozen coconut mojitos coming.
It has a sleek new spa with a signature Blending Bar
Shedding everyday stress is effortless at The Modern’s new Lather Spa, a serene sanctuary bathed in soft white and soothing scents of coconut and lemongrass lingering in the air. Once you’re wrapped in a silky-soft robe and awaiting your treatment (the lomi lomi massage is downright exquisite), help yourself to a glass of peach green tea and give some of Lather’s product testers a try. The brand’s body creams, cleansers and oils contain all-natural ingredients — from chia seeds and passion fruit to sweet almond and Swiss apple — that’ll leave your skin radiant and your spirit revived. Feeling relaxed? Don’t drift off just yet: Lather is home to a signature Blending Bar, where an aesthetician will assist you in creating a customized blend of delightfully scented essential oils (think blood orange, lime, yuzu and lavender) to be used in your service and, if you wish, mixed with body lotion to take back home.
Guests who appreciate art will feel at home
Upon checking in to The Modern Honolulu, you are immediately treated to an eyeful of iconic Hawaiian art. A colorful tangle of broken surfboards mounted above the desk might look simply like a playful nod to Hawaii’s hang-10 way of life, but the piece is actually a sculpture, called Wrecktangle, by legendary longboarder, big-wave rider, filmmaker and multi-medium artist Herbie Fletcher. Whether a reminder of Oahu’s profoundly powerful waves or a salute to the fearless surfers who paddle among them, Wrecktangle is composed of genuine boards broken in the famously ferocious tubes of the Pipeline on the island’s North Shore.
Fletcher’s sculpture isn’t the lobby’s only artistic offering, however. A floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that stands by the elevator bank bears a carefully curated collection of local art and objects, plus a range of nostalgic books, including an authentic 1970s high school yearbook, that highlight all things Hawaii.
For a more extensive art fix, take an 11-minute taxi ride to the Honolulu Museum of Art. There, admittance is free with the simple flash of your Modern Honolulu key card.
It’s a sought-after spot for nightlife
Like Waikiki Beach’s famous waves, nightlife at The Modern Honolulu begins as a subtle swell early in the week and builds to a thundering crescendo come weekends. Daily at 5 p.m., a seemingly benign bookcase in the lobby rotates to reveal a happy hour haven in The Study, with dozens of low-slung tables and sofas set up for lounging, listening to live music and sipping literary-themed cocktails.
If you plan to party like a rock star in Honolulu, you can do that, too — and perhaps even rub elbows with one — without ever leaving the building. Thursday through Saturday, Honolulu’s in-the-know locals, as well as the occasional celebrity out-of-towner (think Victoria’s Secret Angels and small-screen stars) head to The Modern Honolulu to dance ‘til they drop at its wildly popular nightclub, Addiction, which stays open until 3 a.m.