Review: The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA


The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is the Marriott Bonvoy property that is most frequently accessed for a cheaper stay or award redemption stay in Waikiki Beach. It’s convenient near beach location and lower room rates generally attract people for a shorter stay before they move on to nicer accommodation later in their stay. We would get the experience to stay at this property for five nights. How would the property fare for our longer stay ?

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Honolulu Oahu, Hawaii, United States. This trip was redeemed through Marriott Bonvoy and further enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, USA

“The old school Sheraton option in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii that offers the best value when accessed as a redemption on Marriott Bonvoy points”

Victoria Kawēkiu Kaʻiulani Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn; also known as Princess Kauilani, was the only child of Princess Miriam Likelike, and the last heir apparent to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It seems fitting to stay at a hotel honoured after her name during our visit to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America.

Booking the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani:

The coronavirus pandemic was not kind to travel. With the sudden stop in personal and business travel, we started accumulating rewards that we were otherwise unable to use.

We ended up at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani as we had five Marriott Bonvoy free night Category 5 certificates between myself and MrsWT73. These consisted of four from the American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit cards (personal and business), and one Marriott Bonvoy 40,000 point free night award night from last year for re-qualifying for Titanium status.

With nowhere really to use them during the pandemic, they collected up in our account over the calendar year. Since the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is one of Hawaii’s only Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 hotels, we ended up using them here with in intentions of making this our excursion hotel. We redeemed the certificates with the intention of spending as little time on the property as possible, setting out to great sights further away from Waikiki, and using this place to crash. We’d later move to the more upscale Sheraton Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian later in this stay.

As a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 hotel, the rooms are 35,000 points per night. If you value Marriott Bonvoy Points at 0.005 points like I do, you’d be better off paying cash if the room rate was under $175 USD. Fortunately, the rates here are typically between the $120 – $150 mark (sometimes as low as $95 USD), often redeeming points to stay here isn’t always the best deal. Where the value comes in is that, as mentioned above, this property is the sole property in Waikiki at a Category 5. It is also the only property on Oahu where the American Express Credit Card certificates can be used.

Since we also had some expiring Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards, we applied them to our stay. The Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards are given to Elite Members for an space available upgrade into “better” rooms cleared five days in advance of your stay.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani offered many categories of rooms in the upgrade pool. As with other hotels, there were several rooms listed in the Suite Night Award category that did not include “suites”.

In order to maximize the value from them, I typically apply the Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards as often as I can on personal travel, but only to Suite category rooms. As a result of having Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level status, the likelihood of a complimentary upgrade through the regular terms of the program are likely to clear into these soft category rooms anyway.

While they don’t officially have many suites at this property, our Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award upgrades did eventually confirm into a “Tower Luxury” room five days before our stay. The Tower Luxury Room was the highest category of rooms available in the Suite Night Award program at this property.

Using Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards to upgrade into the best available room

The Tower Luxury Room regularly retails for between $314 – $350 USD; which was a great use of leveraging a certificate for a free room.

It’s worth noting that the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani initially opened in the year 1955 with several additions to the hotel since then. It has been renovated several times since then, with the most recent version in the year 2016. The hotel has a bit of a reputation of being a bit tired, but, if you come in with reasonable expectations of staying in a property at this cheaper price point as compared to other Waikiki Beach Resort properties, I think you won’t be disappointed.


Getting to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani:

On arrival off United Airlines First Class San Francisco – Honolulu, we met our Top Limousine Driver at Area 5 outside of baggage claim. We had a great (independent) transport up to Waikiki in a Black Cadillac Escalade. It was probably the right move to take a car at $55 USD as it was rush hour and an Uber would have pushed the rate into similar price point territory.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is located just off the Kalakua Avenue in Waikiki Beach. It is centrally located and close to all the major attractions on foot. While it is not a beach front hotel like the Moana Surfrider by Westin or The Sheraton Waikiki, it is located just one and a half block’s walk from the beach.

Checking into the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani:

We arrived to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. We unloaded ourselves in the loading area which was quite small for a hotel that features over one thousand rooms.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Vehicle Arrival Area

It is a very short outdoor path to reception and the outdoor pool area. There is also an adjacent ramp for those that need to maneuver lots of luggage.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Arrival Pathway

The reception is located in a covered open air lobby. On today’s check in, there was a bit of a wait of about 7 – 10 minutes to get to the desk. Unusually, in the Marriott Bonvoy program, there was a dedicated Marriott Bonvoy Elite Line although the counter was unmanned and the attendant was shared with the main line. I ended up just going for it and was eventually serviced. 

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Lobby Reception

While we waited, the Marriott Bonvoy Elite line even grew 6 deep behind me with another 10 in the regular check in line while we waited at that busy 4 PM check in time. After a while, some staffers turned up servicing the people waiting in the queue and getting everyone set up with the Safe Travels Hawaii App ready for display at the front counter to confirm vaccination status. A cold bottle of water was also offered to guests while we waited in line.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Lobby Reception

Our friendly reception agent Bobby checked us in. Our initial reservation was split into a 3 night / 2 night back to back reservation, all of which we had applied suite night awards to. Thankfully, the awards ended up clearing into the same room category; a Tower Luxury, Larger Guest Room. The Tower Luxury is the best available room category at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani so we were pretty happy with this room assignment. We ended up navigating back to back reservations into this one room category and one credit card to occupy for the whole stay.  

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Lobby Reception

We also redeemed Marriott Bonvoy Titanium redeemed for breakfast coupons with our elite benefits. These were prepared and readied in the final stages of check in.

We were given the usual property information sheet surrounding the hotel amenities. We didn’t get a dedicated sheet for elite members.

There is a resort fee at this hotel. At the time of our stay it was $42 USD. The Resort Fee is a standard addition at all the Marriott properties throughout the island of Oahu and it is a set price as a result of all the properties being owned by the same company.

Like many of our other experiences, we didn’t get much (if any) use out of the features of the resort fee. The resort fee’s inclusions included wifi, a go pro loaner, several by reservation classes of lei making, etc… Every time we stay at the Hawaiian properties, the value from the fee seems to get less and less with the fee itself getting higher and higher.

We led ourselves up to our assigned Tower Luxury room. We navigated ourselves through the lobby, which had high open air ceilings. The lobby offered indoor open air seating spaces which we rarely saw occupied during our stay. It was also home to the Sheraton Link public computers that could be used to access the internet.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Lobby Seating Areas
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Lobby Seating Area

The lobby area was a busy place consistent with a hotel with one thousand hotel rooms. We also happened to see many flight crews staying at this property, which leads to the higher volume orientation of this property.


The Room: A Tower Luxury, Larger Guest Room

We found our way up to our Tower Luxury Larger Guest Room which was assigned as room #2982. It was situated right on the South East Corner of the top floor in the Ainahau Tower.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room

The Tower Luxury Larger Room was a larger room that was set out over the size of a double sized room area. While not exactly a suite by definition, it had a large enough space measuring over 550sqft/50sqm. The room was set up as one large guest room with separate sleeping and living spaces. The room was the largest one I’ve ever stayed at in Waikiki at 550 sq ft; double the size of our room at the Sheraton Waikiki last year that was only 290 sq ft.

As soon as you entered into the room, you entered into a wet bar area. The wet bar had some white tiling from the nineteen eighties. It did contain a small sink and fridge. While it was dated, it was clean and functional.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Wet Bar
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Wet Bar

Proceeding past the wet bar counter space, we found ourselves in the room living space. The living space was simply decorated with a large couch and an oval coffee table. A flat screen television was located at one end of the room.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Seating Area
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Seating Area

There was a couch that was set up for flat screen television viewing. There was a little wear and tear on the tables and surfaces in the room that seemed to be from luggage scratch marks.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Living Space

Not that anyone comes to Hawaii to work, there was a small desk with power plugs in the corner of the room.It was one of the smallest desks that I had seen in a hotel room. It was still nice to have a place to charge your phones and devices.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Desk Work Space Area

Moving towards the back of the room, there was a large Sheraton Sweet Sleeper King Size Bed. The bed was comfortable and had enough space around each side of it allowing you to move comfortably around it. It had the usual quality Sheraton crisp sheets.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – King Bed
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – King Bed

In terms of sleep quality, there was a little road noise from Las Vegas style partiers on the Tuesday night we stayed; even way up on the 29th floor. The room also gets it’s fair share of Hawaiian music from the street below; making it on the louder side of a stay, as opposed to a quieter one. Frequently a loud sleep experience, but if you’re doing it right, hopefully you’ll be exhausted from the fresh air in Hawaii for it to not make much of a difference.

Just off the bedroom was the ensuite bathroom, which was accessed by a door at one end of the bed.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – King Bed

The bathroom was probably the most dated portion of the suite. It featured a red burgundy older colour schemes, and a decorative glass motif of palm trees that was from the seventies. Despite this, the bathroom featured a double vanity sink and a separate bathroom area.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Bathroom

While the bathroom was exceptionally large for a hotel of the nineteen seventies era, it had some white tiling which was a little dated. It also had a jetted tub, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Shower / Tub Combination

A View from the Room:

With our top floor position, and being located immediately on the south east corner of the building, we had spectacular Waikiki Beach oriented views. We had a large lanai with 4 chairs outside the room that got terrific morning sun thanks to its eastern facing exposure.

The view really made the property stay worthwhile. If you’re staying here, it’s worth trying to reserve an Anihau Tower room with an ocean view on a high floor.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Outdoor Lanai Patio
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – View over Moana Surfrider by Westin
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – View Over Moana Surfrider by Westin

The views were of the Moana Surfrider, the Hyatt Regency next door and from the corner of the balcony, stretched up towards the Sheraton Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – View over Moana Surfrider by Westin

As a result of being on the highest floor, the room also featured some views towards the eastern side side of Waikiki. While less aspirational than the ocean views, it was still nice to have a decent view from the room.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – Sunlight View into Moana Surfrider by Westin
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Tower Luxury Room – View of Surfers at Waikiki Beach

I found the internet in the room to be pretty spotty with frequent drop offs and disconnections. The internet did not work outside on the lanai patio. I wouldn’t normally mention this, but the resort fee that includes internet is $42 USD a day. At that price, it’s reasonable “ask” to expect reliable internet throughout the hotel.

I can’t imagine many people choosing to stay at this property in a $350 USD room. Despite this, the room was very good with a view that was simply world class.


Around the Property:

Outdoor Pool:

The property features a medium sized outdoor pool. Since the hotel is not situated on the beach, there is actually a little more space around the pool than in order hotels in the area.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Pool
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Pool

Similar to hotels of this era, The pool is old style and very deep at the deep end (8 feet deep).  However, there was always a lounge chair available during our stay at all times of the day with no extra fee for chairs or umbrellas. There were cabanas available to rent, but we never saw anyone using them.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Pool
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Pool

Immediately adjacent to the pool was the foot access to Kalakaua Ave, which led to all the restaurants and shopping that you’d ever need on a visit to Honolulu.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Pathway to Kalakua Avenue

During our visit, there was a little vicious policing at the pool. I did get scolded for drinking a Gatorade in the heat as purchased form ABC across the street (as opposed to a hotel beverage). I witnessed another man get scolded for arriving and jumping directly in the pool without checking in at the pool cabana first (for showing proof of vaccination). While it’s not a big deal having these things brought to your attention, it does indicate how relaxed the hotel is.

Outdoor Games Area:

Immediately adjacent to the Splash Bar restaurant was an outdoor games area. The area had foozball tables and a bean bag throwing game (corn hole) set up under cover.

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Games Area
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Outdoor Games Area

The area is also where lauau’s could be set up, along with buffet dinners for large groups in more normal times.

Waikiki Beach Access:

The hotel is located approximately a block and a half from the general Waikiki Beach. Access to Waikiki Beach is by walking up Kalakaua Ave the short distance as seen below from the view from our room.

Beach Access is by Walking the Short Distance up Kalakua Ave Pictured on Right

It is indeed a very short walk from the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani to the beach. From the Waikiki Beach access, you can also double back along the sands in front the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian Resort for more variety.

The Short Walk from The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani to Waikiki Beach
The Short Walk from The Sheraton Princess Kauilani to Waikiki Beach

Food and Beverage:

Splash Bar

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani operates one restaurant that is open from 6:30 AM to 8:30 PM every day. The restaurant doubles as a bar and lounge and is the only food and beverage outlet on the property.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant and Bar Outdoor Seating
The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant and Bar Outdoor Seating

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum & Titanium Elite Breakfast:

During our stay, we opted for a Marriott Bonvoy welcome gift of breakfast. The Marriott Bonvoy elite breakfast was offered in two forms: a take away continental breakfast box on a complimentary, or an $18 USD credit off a main menu item.

The continental breakfast contained a juice, a piece of fruit, and a selection of a bakery item from the glass case at the Splash Bar.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant and Bar Bakery Case
The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Marriott Bonvoy Elite Continental Breakfast

After we had experienced the continental breakfast on our hotel lanai, we enjoyed an a – la – carte breakfast at the Splash Bar on the outdoor patio. The environment was pleasant to enjoy breakfast outside, which is something I always look forward to when visiting Hawaii.

The breakfast menu is pretty straightforward and has all of the usual favourites. While you won’t find any terrific organic avocado toast or vegetable oriented breakfasts here, you’ll find something for almost everyone on the menu.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant and Bar Elite Breakfast Menu

The breakfasts at Splash Bar was pretty hearty. The amounts for breakfast were plentiful, and almost on the too much side for my lighter dates. I enjoyed “The Princess Plate”, consisting of two eggs your way, breakfast potato or white rice, and a choice of bacon or grilled Portuguese sausage.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant -The Princess Plate
The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant -The Princess Plate

MrsWT73 enjoyed a cheese omelette, along with breakfast potatoes and a generous serving of bacon.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant – Two Egg Omelette

For the sake of variety, I also tried the special breakfast sandwich served on brioche, and a fried egg, with bacon, smoked ham and a pesto mayo.

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Splash Restaurant – Special Breakfast Sandwich

While it’s unfortunate a hot breakfast was not fully covered like in the past under the wonderful Starwood Preferred Guest days, it was appreciated to have the option to upgrade to a more substantial hot item at your discretion.

Efforts at getting a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Late Check Out:

When it came time to depart, we were transferring up the street to the Sheraton Waikiki. We didn’t have any idea when our room was going to be avaialble. In order to hedge our bets, I attempted to get a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium late 4 PM check out.

Marriott Bonvot Platinum / Titanium and Ambassador Elite Members may check out as late as 4 p.m. local time of the Participating Property. This benefit is guaranteed at all Participating Properties, except at resort and convention hotels and Design Hotels, where it is based upon availability. 

Unfortunately, as happens sometimes when you are upgraded into nicer rooms, the hotel was unable to accomodate anything except up to 1 PM. We were told to check back on the night before departure. When we did, there wasn’t anything available but we were offered the use of another room for the afternoon. With that, we just opted for the 1 PM time that was offered and aimed to transfer over to The Sheraton Waikiki a little earlier.

The Bottom Line: The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani

The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani was an excellent use of our free night certificates that led to a stay at a better part of the island. While I likely wouldn’t travel to Hawaii exclusively to stay at this property with so many interesting options out there, it was a terrific value to stay 5 nights and pay only the resort fee. I would easily return if I found myself in a similar scenario, or was arriving to the island on a late flight and a midnight arrival and wanted to stay at a cheaper property for a few hours prior to moving around the corner to stay at a more expensive resort.

If you have stayed at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, did it meet your expectations for what it provided ?

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