What a cheap room at the Moana Surfrider Hotel (in Waikiki) is like

By Scott •   •  11 min read

I consider the Moana Surfrider to be one of the best hotels in Waikiki. It’s beautiful, luxurious, and ridiculously expensive. Of course it is.

It’s the kind of hotel that I could never justify spending so much money on for my solo travels to Hawaii in the past. However, I decided to splurge on my most recent visit, and let me tell you: it was freaking awesome.

A full review of my 1 night stay at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki

For the record, the room that I booked wasn’t the cheapest, but it was close. It was barely one level up from the cheapest option they had – and as you’re about to see, it was still worth every penny. At least I think it was.

Moana Surfrider hotel exterior

It’s not very often that I’ll stay at a hotel so grand that it makes me feel like an imposter (the Vive Hotel here in Waikiki is more my style), but the Moana Surfrider certainly did it.

The location

The Moana Surfrider Hotel is centrally located in Waikiki (right on the beach). It’s within easy walking distance to everything – as most hotels in Waikiki are.

moana surfrider hotel location

It doesn’t get more centrally located than this! It also doesn’t get much more expensive either, but that’s not the point.

The lobby (and checking in)

Having walked by this hotel a million times before on past visits to Honolulu, I was already fairly familiar with the layout of the lobby. It’s spectacular! That said, I had a heck of a time finding the reception desk for my first ever check in. They don’t make it easy.

lobby of the Moana Surfrider

The lobby of the Moana Surfrider is nothing short of amazing. Yes, I felt more than a little ashamed walking into this place knowing that I was wearing my toy car and airplane underwear today. I’m not worthy!

Moana Surfrider lobby decor

Yup. This kicks the crap out of the lobby of the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel located just down the street.

Moana Surfrider lobby hallway

To say that I was afraid to touch anything is an understatement.

Finding the reception desk was a challenge, but I eventually found it. After walking through the main entrance, turn left. The check in desk is located all the way down the hall, in a completely separate area from the main lobby. It’s quite hidden, and not exactly what I was expecting.

Moana Surfrider hotel check in desk

Walk through the arches to reach the reception desk. You’ll be glad you did.

Getting to my room

I was given a room on the second floor in the main building. And for what it’s worth, the main building is where you want to be. That’s the only part of this hotel consisting of the original structure built in 1903, and it’s spectacular.

Since I didn’t have to walk to another building, getting to my room consisted of going up one flight of stairs and walking a short distance to my front door. Easy peasy.

Moana Surfrider staircase

How awesome is it that this staircase looks exactly the same as it did in 1903? Well, that’s just an assumption on my part – but I’ll bet I’m right.

Moana Surfrider second floor hallway main building

“I hope there are no ghosts in this hotel, I hope there are no ghosts in this hotel..” (what I was muttering to myself walking down this hallway).

Moana Surfrider room 244

Room 244. Mine for the night!

Room overview

After a lackluster experience paying for the cheapest room at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego a while back, my expectations were set fairly low. I didn’t really know what to expect – other than the fact that I was probably going to be disappointed.

Moana Surfrider cheap room

Well, ok then! I was expecting far worse than this, so things seem to be getting off on the right track.

Thankfully (and unexpectedly), opening the door and seeing the room for the first time filled me with the kind of relief I only seem to feel when leaving the dentist office. The room was large, well decorated, and very well appointed. Score!

Moana Surfrider room

Darn it. There goes my plan to write a bad review of this room. This is nice!

Moana Surfrider room overview

The room was a lot larger than I had anticipated, which basically left me in a mild state of shock. I suddenly didn’t mind spending what I did to stay here!

Scott from sleepandreview.com reviewing the Moana Surfrider hotel

“Holy **** even the artwork is nice!”

Moana Surfrider hotel room furniture

No, it’s far from being the most luxurious hotel room I’ve ever been in, but this’ll certainly do.

Moana Surfrider hotel in room desk

Okay, yeah, the desk is tiny but who cares? You shouldn’t be working during your Hawaiian vacation anyway.

Moana Surfrider hotel in room chairs

Bonus points for the period correct chairs. There ain’t a spec of modern design in this room (and that’s a good thing).

Moana Surfrider hotel in room chaise lounge

This lounging area next to the window will make a lot more sense once you open the blinds (which I’ll get to in a moment). The view isn’t that great, but the people-watching is next level!

Moana Surfrider hotel room bed

Yup, this is by far the nicest “cheapo” hotel room I’ve ever had.

Moana Surfrider hotel twin beds

The only problem I had was trying to decide which bed to sleep in. I ended up using both (just on principal).

Moana Surfrider hotel bed pillows

Pillow game: on point.

Scott from sleepandreview.com in the Moana Surfrider hotel

Who’s that in the mirror? Just a guy who’s really good at picking hotel rooms, that’s all.

Moana Surfrider hotel in room refrigerator

Yes! Even the cheapskate rooms have refrigerators.

Moana Surfrider hotel complimentary bottled water

They even provide 2 complimentary bottles of water. You’re totally understanding why I was so happy with this room, right?

Moana Surfrider hotel robes

This is a Westin after all, so you’re darn right that the provided robes are good. FYI, the only hotel robes I’ve experienced that were better than these were the ones in the InterContinental Barclay / New York City.

Moana Surfrider hotel in room safe

There’s even a safe in the bottom of the closet (which is a perfect place to hide the epic seashells you find on the beach).

Scott from sleepandreview.com moana Surfrider hotel thumbs up

The verdict (in case it wasn’t obvious already).

The view

Part of the reason why my expectations were so low going into this was because I purposefully chose a room with a “city view” in order to save a little money. It turns out that I had a fantastic view of Kalakaua St from my window, and the people watching was fun (and quite entertaining).

Moana Surfrider hotel window blinds

Even the window blinds are period correct. They’re also extremely annoying, but right in line with the decor of this historic property.

Moana Surfrider hotel city view room

There it is. The best “city view” I’ve ever had from a hotel room I reckon.

It should be noted that having a room at the Moana Surfrider Hotel overlooking Kalakaua St is that it’s going to be a very noisy experience. The noise from the street was extremely loud up until around 9 PM. Things got much quieter after that, and thankfully I was able to sleep soundly all night (without ear plugs even).

The bathroom

There’s really not much to say about the bathroom in my room at the Moana Surfrider other than this: water pressure was a mofo! It was so strong that it actually hurt when standing too close to the shower head.

Moana Surfrider hotel in room bathroom

Thank God the bathrooms aren’t period correct, right? This looks good!

Moana Surfrider hotel bathroom decor

The bathroom is fairly basic IMHO, but…can you imagine how futuristic this would look to anyone back in 1903?

Moana Surfrider hotel shower amenities

Shower deets.

To be perfectly honest though, I didn’t mind the high water pressure from the shower head at all that much. It was one of those “painfully pleasurable” situations that’s a bit naughty to describe in full detail.

Moana Surfrider hotel shower head

The painful (yet pleasurable) shower head. Funny how that works…

Restaurants, bars, and lounges

One of the nicest things about a stay at the Moana is the bar and lounge area out back (facing the beach). The entire property is built around a giant Banyan tree, and (as you can probably guess), it’s the focal point of the entire property.

banyan tree moana Surfrider hotel

“And then my wife said, you’re either taking me to Hawaii or the Xbox goes in the trash.”

All jokes aside, this lounging area (including the bar / restaurant) is beautiful – and open to the public. You do not need to be a guest to access them.

working remotely at the moana Surfrider hotel

Not all that bad of a place to work remotely, eh?

Moana Surfrider beachhouse restaurant

Pro tip: the salmon salad is spectacular. And I don’t even care that Salmon isn’t native to Hawaii.

Moana Surfrider outdoor bar and lounge area

As you can imagine, this is basically the “honeymoon” hotel in Waikiki. Lots (and lots) of obvious newlyweds stay here – the nerdy solo travelers (such as myself) are less common.

All pros and cons of staying at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki

After years of aspiring to stay at this hotel, was it worth it? You bet it was! I will admit that it was borderline extravagant for a solo traveler such as myself, as this is a hotel experience best shared with others (whether it be your family, your significant other, or your best friends). That said, here are what I consider to be all the pros and cons:




Scott is the founder and author of SleepAndReview.com, and has been a frequent traveler since 2014. He never had any aspirations of being a hotel reviewer, but one thing let to another, and...well...here we are.

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