Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Coordinates: 21°16′39″N 157°49′44″W / 21.27750°N 157.82889°W / 21.27750; -157.82889
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The Royal Hawaiian
The Royal Hawaiian as seen from Waikiki Beach, 2024
General information
Location2259 Kalākaua Avenue
Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Coordinates21°16′39″N 157°49′44″W / 21.27750°N 157.82889°W / 21.27750; -157.82889
OwnerKyo-ya Company Limited
LandlordKamehameha Schools
Technical details
Floor count6; 17
Floor area12,000 square feet (1,100 m2)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Warren and Wetmore
Other information
Number of rooms528
Number of suites34
Number of restaurants3
Self parking at adjacent Sheraton

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a beachfront luxury hotel located in Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. It is part of The Luxury Collection brand of Marriott International. One of the first hotels established in Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian is considered one of the most luxurious and famous hotels in Hawaiian tourism and has hosted numerous celebrities and world dignitaries. The bright pink hue of its concrete stucco façade with its Spanish/Moorish styled architecture and prominent location on the wide sandy beach have earned it the alliterative nickname of "The Pink Palace of the Pacific".


With the success of the early efforts by Matson Navigation Company to provide steamer travel to America's wealthiest families en route to Hawaii, a series of resort hotels were built in Honolulu at the start of the twentieth century, including the Moana Hotel (1901) and Honolulu Seaside Hotel, both on Waikiki Beach, and the Alexander Young Hotel in downtown Honolulu (1903). By the 1920s, they were all owned by the Territorial Hotel Company.

In 1925, with tourism to Hawaii growing rapidly, the Matson Line partnered with Castle & Cooke, one of the Big Five companies in territorial Hawaii. They formulated a "grand scheme" to make the islands a luxury destination. They would construct the fastest, safest, most expensive ocean liner ever built for the Hawaiian service (the SS Malolo); a luxury beach resort hotel to serve the liner's passengers; and an exclusive golf club for the hotel's guests (the Waialae Country Club).[1]

Because Matson and Castle & Cooke had never operated hotels, they bought the Territorial Hotel Company, to run the new hotel, and then demolished the company's Honololu Seaside Hotel.[2] On its site, they contracted the acclaimed New York firm of Warren and Wetmore to design the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The sprawling pink stucco concrete façade Spanish/Moorish styled complex, built at a cost of over $4 million (1927 prices), was surrounded by a fifteen-acre (60,700 m2) landscaped garden.[3] The H-shaped layout featured 400 rooms, each with bath and balcony.[2]

The Royal Hawaiian opened on February 1, 1927, with a black tie gala attended by over 1,200 guests, and quickly became an icon of Hawaii's glory days. The hotel was a huge success, and in 1928 the islands counted over 20,000 visitors for the first time.[2] The Great Depression struck in 1929, cratering tourism. In 1933, the Territorial Hotel Company was dissolved, with Matson assuming control of their hotels through its Hawaii Properties Ltd. division, and Castle & Cooke writing off their investment.[1] In 1941, Hawaii Properties Ltd. was dissolved and Matson assumed direct control of the hotel.[4]

During World War II, the Royal Hawaiian was used exclusively by the US military as an R&R center.[5] Barriers of concertina wire blockaded access from the adjacent beaches.

The hotel recouped much of its clientele after 1945. It was sold, along with the rest of Matson's hotels in Hawaii, to Sheraton Hotels in 1959.[6]

During the 1960s, the "Pink Palace" was home to "Concert by the Sea" which broadcast daily through the Armed Forces Radio Network (AFN).

In September 1974,[7] Japanese businessmen-brothers Kenji Osano and Masakuni Osano purchased the Royal Hawaiian Hotel from ITT Sheraton. They formed Kyo-ya Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Kokusai Kogyo Company Ltd as the corporate entity to manage all their hotels.

After the Osano brothers' deaths, Takamasa Osano inherited their properties.

The ground upon which the hotel is built is owned by Kamehameha Schools, which leases the land.[8]

Interior of the hotel in 2024

The Royal Hawaiian closed on June 1, 2008, for renovation. It reopened on January 20, 2009[9] as a member of The Luxury Collection. An extended renovation of the Royal Beach Tower was completed in 2010.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America,[10] the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The courtyard patio of the hotel at night, 2024

The six-story structure has 400 rooms. It was designed in the Spanish and Moorish styles with stucco façades. Its design was influenced by Hollywood film star and legend Rudolph Valentino and his Arabian movies. Cupolas were created to resemble Spanish Mission style bell towers.[citation needed] The architects were Warren and Wetmore of New York City.[11]

The hotel's public rooms were redecorated in 1946 by Frances Elkins, the sister of architect David Adler.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

The hotel has featured in numerous media projects.

In film[edit]

In television[edit]

  • The hotel's exterior appeared in the 1968–1980 procedural drama Hawaii Five-O.
  • The hotel appeared in the 1977 Charlie's Angels episode "Angels in Paradise".
  • The hotel appeared in the 1979 Eight Is Enough episode "Fathers and Other Strangers" Parts 1 and 2.
  • The hotel appeared in two episodes of the series Murder She Wrote.
  • The hotel appeared in the 2002 episode "The Kyles Go To Hawaii" of My Wife and Kids.
  • The hotel appeared in the 2013 Mad Men season 6 premiere, "The Doorway".

In music[edit]

In video games[edit]

In books and novels[edit]

  • The hotel is featured in the 1953 A A Fair novel "Some women won't wait" (Cool and Lam series)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hitch, Thomas Kemper (November 1, 1992). Islands in Transition: The Past, Present, and Future of Haiwaii's Economy. First Hawaiian Foundation. ISBN 9780824814984 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c Hibbard, Don (January 1, 2006). Designing Paradise: The Allure of the Hawaiian Resort. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 9781568985749 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Sunderland, Susan Kang (May 23, 2017). "Pink Palace". MidWeek. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  4. ^ Alexander, Geoff (December 21, 2018). America Goes Hawaiian: The Influence of Pacific Island Culture on the Mainland. McFarland. ISBN 9781476669496 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Richard O'Kane (1977). Clear the Bridge!. Rand McNally.
  6. ^ Hawaii Hotel Organization Archived December 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Timeline". Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Royal Hawaiian". Kamehameha Schools. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Royal Hawaiian has renovation deal". Star-Bulletin. January 11, 2009.
  10. ^ Historic Hotels of America
  11. ^ "Royal Hawaiian Hotel". Historic Hawaii.
  12. ^ Stephen M. Salny (2005). Frances Elkins: Interior Design. W. W. Norton. pp. 146–147.

Further reading[edit]

  • Glen Grant (1996). Waikīkī Yesteryear. Mutual Publishing Co. ISBN 1-56647-107-9.
  • Don Hibbard and David Franzen (1995). The View from Diamond Head: Royal Residence to Urban Resort. Editions Ltd. ISBN 0-915013-02-9.
  • George S. Kanahele (1996). Waikīkī, 100 BC to 1900 AD: An Untold Story. University of Hawaiʻi Press. ISBN 0-8248-1790-7.

External links[edit]