Spoiler alert: after reading this review of the Grand Naniloa Hotel, you might get the sense that I’m a grumpy traveler who can’t appreciate anything. That’s not true. I really enjoyed my stay at this property, but it wasn’t anything like I was expecting.
A full review of my 1 night stay at the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo
The Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo is actually a Doubletree by Hilton. Thank goodness for that, because underneath it all, I could tell that it’s an old structure that had been brought back from the dead not so long ago.
The owners did a pretty good job of coming in and sprucing things up. But at its core, it’s easy to see that this hotel is been here for a while and it hasn’t always been quite this nice.
The surrounding area is not as luxurious and nice as I was expecting it would be. If it weren’t for the Hilton brand name on the sign, I’m not even sure that I would want to stay here. But since there are no other options as nice as this near the airport, this is as good as it gets.
You would think that for a big-time vacation destination such as this, the major hotel brands to be tripping over themselves to have luxury properties on every available plot of land. But it’s not like that.
The Grand Naniloa Hotel was the only one that I found that looked halfway decent and was within walking distance to the airport. Okay, walking distance is a bit of a stretch, but it is nearby and within a five minute taxi drive (which will cost you about $15 one-way).
Pulling up to the hotel was a very Hawaiian experience. There are no front doors here. Everything is wide open to take advantage of the warm gentle Hawaiian Tradewinds, and the breeze moving through the main lobby felt really good. Ahh, welcome to the islands!
Getting to my room
The room itself was quite nice actually. Clean and modern, bright and large. Can’t beat that right? The outdoor patio with large glass doors was a bonus, and it was nice to sit outside and relax and watch the sun go down.
Watch out for the bugs!
The only downside to the room was the fact that there was a bit of a bug problem. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. More specifically, ants…and I didn’t even notice them until I came back into the room from getting dinner and started to eat at the desk.
It was then that the ants came out of the woodwork and would not leave me alone until I finished my meal.
I hate bugs (doesn’t everybody?), and the thought of sleeping with ants crawling all over me was hard to deal with. All I could do was put my trash in refrigerator, do a little anti-bug prayer, and try to put it out of my mind as I drifted off to sleep.
The food situation
The only real dining option in this hotel is a basement restaurant which looked a little bit too formal for my tastes. One brief look at it and I knew it was not for me. My T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops were simply no match for the bright white table cloths and fine silverware! I was forced to find other options.
Luckily there are some take-out restaurants within walking distance of the hotel (if you consider a 30-minute round-trip walk as “walking distance”), and I was able to find a nice Vietnamese meal at a decent price.
While the Grand Naniloa Hotel was not quite what I was expecting, it was okay. Actually, it was not that all bad and I wouldn’t have a problem staying here again the next time I come to Hilo. Not because I enjoyed my experience so much, but because there simply aren’t any other options that are worth looking at.
As a matter of fact, the next time I come to Hilo I’m probably going to do the airbnb thing. Renting a house or condo seems like a much better idea than staying at a slightly overpriced and not-that-luxurious hotel such as this, and I would only recommend staying here if you need to be somewhat close to the airport for an early flight.