The newest addition to the Waikiki waterfront, the five-year-old Modern was a dream come true for those young urbanites who never quite felt at home in the more traditional Hawaiian resorts. It’s not directly on the beach—the closest is the lagoon and expansive beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about a 10-minute walk—and instead overlooks the picturesque Ala Wai Boat Harbor, where many of the island’s boating excursions depart. Designed by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, celebrities in the world of fashionable hotels, the look is warmly modern, all whites and creams and luxurious wood, and some striking art pieces, including a large surfboard installation in the lobby (titled “Wreck-tangles”). There’s a fun nightclub and some seriously good restaurants (the Iron Chef’s Morimoto has a place here, for one), though the real scene is out on the Instagram-worthy two-tiered teak pool deck, lined with lots of cushy chaises and shady corners to curl up. Upstairs is the adults-only pool—less a pool than a shallow water prop for frequent DJ-hosted dance parties. But for as much as the Modern is a hipster haven, the service is surprisingly good at making sure guests never feel like they’re crashing someone else’s party.
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On the western edge of Waikiki, away from the tourist crush, the Modern is a 10-minute walk to Ala Moana Center, home to the best shopping on the island and some locally loved bars and restaurants, including the Mai Tar Bar and Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room. It’s also a 15-minute walk to another favorite local spot, Ala Moana Beach Park.
Need to Know
Rooms: 353 rooms, including 31 suites. From $299. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The Modern has two restaurants, both excellent. The more talked-about is the waterfront Morimoto, known for serving artful and pricey sushi in a glamorous setting (start with tuna pizza and/or toro tartare, two of the chef’s most popular dishes). The other restaurant is more fluid—you can dine either in the Grove, a tree-shaded portion of the pool deck, or in the Passageway, the public spaces set back from the pool and lined with banquettes. The same fare is served at both, and though fairly standard (burgers, tacos, pizza, and grilled fish), it’s all done very well and highlights the best of local produce and meat. Spa and gym details:The full-service day spa is deservedly popular for its manis and pedis. The gym is small but sufficient, and there’s free yoga (for guests) three days a week by the pool.
Who's it for: The South Beach party crowd, design-conscious city dwellers, cool business travelers, and beginning surfers (some nice-and-easy surf breaks exist nearby). Our favorite rooms: The Ocean View King rooms, since their small terraces are prime perches for watching the sunset. Good to know: Partial ocean view rooms vary a great deal, and many look directly across to a parking lot. When making a reservation, be sure to ask for more “ocean” in your partial ocean. “City views” can feel a bit claustrophobic.