Where to Stay in Waikiki: The Laylow, Autograph Collection
Stay: The Laylow, Autograph Collection
Located At: 2299 Kūhiō Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Spend: $240 - $300 per night, plus $29 destination fee per day
Stay Here For: Punchy personality, ultra-photographable corners, retro Hawaii-inspired interior decor
Throughout my entire life growing up in Hawaii, if there's one thing I assumed about Waikiki, it's that the hotels in Waikiki were all the same: muted, boring colors; stereotypical music; tourist-laden souvenir shops. Don't get me wrong, I always got excited to stay in Waikiki whenever my parents would take me on mini staycations (who wouldn’t?). But my impression of Waikiki had never been that it was 'hip' or 'cool.' That is, until The Laylow popped up.
The Laylow is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. With cotton candy pink and navy blue wallpaper, rattan chairs, and colorfully patterned pool towels (no generic white or stripes here), The Laylow is as hip and Instagrammable as it gets, and in my opinion, it's about time Waikiki had a hotel in its arsenal that looked like this. With 16 floors and less than 200 rooms, The Laylow is not a big property, but its 1960's old school Hawaii vibe and punchy decor more than make up for its relative size, creating an oasis-like destination in itself.
Beyond looks, The Laylow doesn't skimp out on experience, and echos Marriott's ethos for solid customer service and immersive experiences that make you not want (or need) to leave the property at all. The front desk is friendly and helpful, the lobby's restaurant and coffee shop are gorgeous, there's shave ice poolside, and speaking of the pool, plan on spending a couple hours – if not the entire day – here, too. The Laylow had been on my radar for months, so I was beyond excited to check in with Jacob during our recent trip to Oahu!
Located on Kuhio Ave, the hotel isn't beachfront, but it's a very short walk (most properties in Waikiki are less than a 10-minute stroll) to the water. That said, we had a beautiful view of both the ocean and Diamond Head from our room on the 16th floor. In the immediate area, you're close to Kalakaua Avenue, where you'll find high-end shopping, the Maui Brewing Company, and Blue Note Hawaii, a cool jazz bar where we actually saw a Frank Sinatra tribute that was a highlight of our entire trip. Back on Kuhio Ave, you'll find tons of restaurants, most notably, Marukame Udon, which is so popular that it had a line pretty much the entire time we stayed at the hotel (so we didn’t get to go).
As far as getting to the hotel itself, you'll notice that the lobby and entrance aren't on the ground level. Instead, look for a pair of escalators which will transport you back in time to a nostalgic and colorful nod to Waikiki's history as a tropical surf and sun icon.
Everywhere you look, the hotel is tastefully done up with a mid-century modern flair, utilizing 1960's-era furniture and fun, unexpected decor in a bold, modern color palette to set the mood and differentiate The Laylow from anywhere else you've ever stayed. The Lobby is divided into 2 main areas you'll want to spend a substantial amount of time in: the pool, and Hideout, the hotel's coffee shop, bar, and restaurant.
The pool is small but stunning. Here, you'll find several pool chairs (some of which are semi-submerged in water for a unique lounge experience) and cabanas for lazing the day away. While we were there, the hotel staff was serving up shave ice and complimentary lemonade poolside, which Jacob and I gladly took advantage of.
Hideout is everything you could ever want. A coffee shop serving up delicious brew and acai bowls in the mornings, and a full bar and restaurant all day long. Whether you enjoy the indoors or you're more of a rooftop type of person, Hideout has seating both inside and out. Jacob and I ate dinner here in the evening, and while the guacamame dip we ordered wasn't our favorite, we couldn't stop diving into the flatbreads and the huli huli chicken (served with the most delicious garlic noodles), both of which I highly recommend. Plus, there was live music in the evening too, and it was fantastic.
We stayed on the 16th floor, which is the top level of this hotel and part of the Ho'okipa Level. On the 15th and 16th floors, you get local snacks and beverages (like Stumptown Coffee!) throughout the day, which are complimentary for guests. One thing I never really liked about Waikiki is the fact that you are required to pay a resort/destination fee almost everywhere, no matter where you stay. Since this is pretty much inevitable if you want to stay in Waikiki, it’s important to find a hotel that makes it worth it. The Laylow was extremely hospitable during our stay – included in our room was a welcome basket full of local goodies, like taro chips, Hawaii-made chocolate, his and hers slippers, and Hi Chew. Additionally, upon check in, we were given $50 in activity credit to use towards booking any activity with the hotel's concierge. On top of the free snacks, shave ice, and unlimited coffee, we were pretty satisfied with the service and amenities we had access to throughout our stay.
Back to the room! If you've seen The Laylow on social media, odds are that you've seen the rooms. Every single inch of the rooms at The Laylow is perfect, photographable, and well designed, using the same 60's mid-century style that can be found in the lobby. Each room has a signature accent wall adorned with bright colors and a fun leaf pattern. Opposite that, the other main wall showcases the coolest built-in entertainment center ever, with Hawaii-centric books, fun decor, a TV, and a mini desk. Next to that, you'll find a reading area with the coolest chair and rattan ottoman. Each room also comes with an ukulele, which Jacob immediately reached for to play throughout our stay.
All of my preconceptions about Waikiki were shaken up by The Laylow's bright colors, aloha hospitality, and fun ambiance. Before, when friends used to ask me where to stay on Oahu, I'd do everything I could to steer them clear of Waikiki in favor of other spots on the island. Now, it's safe to say I'll be sending them here!