Located only one block back from Waikiki Beach sits Hotel Renew: a modern oasis for the fussy but unpretentious traveller. A boutique hotel with only 72 rooms, that is well-designed, service comes with a smile from check-in to check-out.

Rooms take on Japanese styling, with sliding screens to close off your ocean view (if you choose). Cleanly furnished in shades of grey and black with the odd pop of colour, the room is comfortable and spacious.

My sleep on the king bed is peaceful with barely a beep of street noise. Lighting controls are conveniently fitted bedside and the TV is perfectly centred for movie watching.

If I weren't in Hawaii, I would almost contemplate starting up the Playstation. It went unused, but a great touch for those who are gaming inclined.
Stepping in to the bathroom you're surrounded by lights. Under the vanity, over the mirror, next to the toilet. Just right for applying some Max Factor.

Downstairs is an aromatic lounge for guests to use. In the morning it serves up a light breakfast with cereals and juices, in the evening it's an intimate spot for happy hour.

Breezing past the concierge who kindly handed over a beach towel for the day, I didn't intend to see my room until evening. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and turtle watching up on the North Shore was going to leave me exhausted. But on my return I knew I could pour myself a bath and jump in to a freshly made bed. And that was all I needed.

FEEL: Clean and unpretentious.
ROOM PICK: Premier Ocean View King.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Rack rates start from $399 USD but check online, there are great deals. $25 USD daily boutique fee applies.
BREAKFAST: Cereals, juices, muffins, fruit salad provided.
CHILDREN: Welcome but beware there is no on-site pool.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Those who want to spend their time in the sunshine with a comfy bed to retire to (conveniently a 5 minute stroll to the beach).

MINI BAR: Coffee, tea, bottled water.
IN-ROOM: C.O Bigelow amenities, shower over bath, Playstation, aroma bar (customise your own room scent).
BONUS: Some rooms are pooch friendly with treats on arrival and a loan doggy bed.

I stayed courtesy of Hotel Renew.


There's something glamourous about Waikiki. Think jetting in on Pan-Am being welcomed with a lei and Polynesian folk music humming in the air. A rapid growth in tourism has seen the strip gentrify with hip dining, retail giants and art galleries. But what about designer hotels? There aren't many. In fact, there's really only one. The Modern.

Seduced immediately with it's white on white design, my corner suite comes with two balconies: views over the harbour and to the ocean. Powder blue throws are perfectly placed over couches, a giant mirror stands up against the wall, loft-style and lamps warm the room. It's a big change from the traditional floral design that you find along the strip.

So do all the clean lines and beach chic lose the aloha spirit? With a ukulele casually placed at the doorway and floral arrangements dotted about the room, I say no and mahalo to The Modern for gently reminding me that I'm still in Honolulu.

Downstairs the lobby flows from reception to a space called The Study. An annex elegantly furnished with tan leather couches beckons avid readers with a side of people watching.

Come 6pm, the bookshelf wall opens up to reveal a sexy bar where artisinal cocktails are crafted. It feels very exclusive and in-the-know.

Despite The Modern not fronting Waikiki beach - that's a good thing, it's only a 5 minute walk before you're lapping up waves. If you're feeling lazy, head poolside. The adult's only lagoon is a piece of paradise, surrounded by Hawaiian sand, hammocks and sun loungers. Waltz down the stairs and you're at the heartbeat of the hotel, The Sunrise Pool. The outdoor space serves up food and cocktails while you hang out in style.

In house, The Modern does simple food focusing on clean, light dishes. Smashed avocado with poached eggs was balanced and the yoghurt cup was abundant with fresh berries. Save room for pancakes, they were OTT and delicious.

If you feel like splurging make a reservation at Morimoto Waikiki. The Modern is home to Iron Chef Morimoto's Hawaiian outlet and is a favourite for locals including President Obama for it's fresh Asian-inspired cuisine.

Celebrity watching aside, The Modern has achieved what few other hotels in Honolulu have done; put the boutique back in to Waikiki. Watching the sunset, sipping a martini, the old school glamour that was once associated with Hawaii is back in a new way. It's still Waikiki but it's modern. And it's exactly what the strip needs.

FEEL: A swank affair.
ROOM PICK: Ocean front suite.
WIFI: Yes, complimentary.
RATES: Starting from $309 USD
BREAKFAST: A la carte, poolside.
CHILDREN: Welcome but it's not a family-style resort.

I stayed courtesy of The Modern Honolulu.