Spoiler alert: after reading this review of the Grand Naniloa Hotel, you might get the sense that I’m a grumpy traveler who can’t appreciate anything. That’s not true. I really enjoyed my stay at this property, but it wasn’t anything like I was expecting.

A full review of my 1 night stay at the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo

The Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo is actually a Doubletree by Hilton. Thank goodness for that, because underneath it all, I could tell that it’s an old structure that had been brought back from the dead not so long ago.

The owners did a pretty good job of coming in and sprucing things up. But at its core, it’s easy to see that this hotel is been here for a while and it hasn’t always been quite this nice.

The surrounding area is not as luxurious and nice as I was expecting it would be. If it weren’t for the Hilton brand name on the sign, I’m not even sure that I would want to stay here. But since there are no other options as nice as this near the airport, this is as good as it gets.

Location map of the Grand Naniloa Hotel
Location map of the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo.

The location

You would think that for a big-time vacation destination such as this, the major hotel brands to be tripping over themselves to have luxury properties on every available plot of land. But it’s not like that.

The Grand Naniloa Hotel was the only one that I found that looked halfway decent and was within walking distance to the airport. Okay, walking distance is a bit of a stretch, but it is nearby and within a five minute taxi drive (which will cost you about $15 one-way).

First impressions

Pulling up to the hotel was a very Hawaiian experience. There are no front doors here. Everything is wide open to take advantage of the warm gentle Hawaiian Tradewinds, and the breeze moving through the main lobby felt really good. Ahh, welcome to the islands!

Grand Naniloa Hotel entrance
Welcome to the Grand Naniloa Hotel!

The lobby

Grand Naniloa Hotel lobby
Main lobby of the Grand Naniloa Hotel.
Grand Naniloa Hotel open air lobby
I love the open air lobby!
Grand Naniloa Hotel open air lounge
The outdoor lounge on the back side of the hotel.
Grand Naniloa Hotel exterior
The view from the lounge.

Getting to my room

Grand Naniloa Hotel guest room hallway
Guest room hallway. I see Hawaiian-themed artwork, so this is promising…
Grand Naniloa Hotel room 422
Room 422 was mine for the night.

The room

Grand Naniloa Hotel room entryway
Walking into the room for the first time. Feels quite Hawaii-like…
Grand Naniloa Hotel bed
Much more bed than I actually needed, but it worked.
Grand Naniloa Hotel room overview
Here’s the wide angle view so you can see the entire room.
Grand Naniloa Hotel TV and closet
Looking the other way towards the TV and closet. As basic as this is, I still liked it a lot better than my room at the Vive Hotel in Waikiki the previous night.
Grand Naniloa Hotel room layout
And the wide angle view. Hopefully both these narrow and wide angle views are useful!
Grand Naniloa Hotel furniture
The furniture is basic and IKEA-like, but still quite nice.
Grand Naniloa Hotel double beds
Heres the view looking the other way.
Grand Naniloa Hotel room size
The view looking towards the door.
Grand Naniloa Hotel door
For some reason the entryway reminded me of an industrial kitchen. Just sayin’.
Grand Naniloa Hotel alarm clock
Neat and orderly. Just the way I like it!
Grand Naniloa Hotel phone
I appreciated having pen and paper right next to the phone.
Grand Naniloa Hotel artwork
The photo above the bed gave me the urge to don a hula skirt and dance. Just sayin’.
Grand Naniloa Hotel floor plan
Grand Naniloa Hotel floor plan.

The bathroom

Grand Naniloa Hotel bathroom
The bathroom was large, though a bit dark.
Grand Naniloa Hotel bathroom layout
I’m not a bathroom snob or anything, but it did seem too formal and not matching with the Hawaiian flavor of the rest of the room.
Grand Naniloa Hotel shower
The shower was a bit dark and dreary as well.

The room itself was quite nice actually. Clean and modern, bright and large. Can’t beat that right? The outdoor patio with large glass doors was a bonus, and it was nice to sit outside and relax and watch the sun go down.

The view

Grand Naniloa Hotel view
The view from the patio. Maybe if the sun was shining, I could agree that it’s better than the view I had from my room at the Hilton in Waikiki Beach.
Grand Naniloa Hotel pool
Looking down on the pool from the balcony. By the way, if you want to see a pool that kicks the **** out of this pathetic little thing, read my Westin Maui review.
Grand Naniloa Hotel view from room
The view wasn’t all that interesting in all directions though.

Watch out for the bugs!

The only downside to the room was the fact that there was a bit of a bug problem. Yes, that’s right. Bugs. More specifically, ants…and I didn’t even notice them until I came back into the room from getting dinner and started to eat at the desk.

It was then that the ants came out of the woodwork and would not leave me alone until I finished my meal.

I hate bugs (doesn’t everybody?), and the thought of sleeping with ants crawling all over me was hard to deal with. All I could do was put my trash in refrigerator, do a little anti-bug prayer, and try to put it out of my mind as I drifted off to sleep.

The food situation

The only real dining option in this hotel is a basement restaurant which looked a little bit too formal for my tastes. One brief look at it and I knew it was not for me. My T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops were simply no match for the bright white table cloths and fine silverware! I was forced to find other options.

Luckily there are some take-out restaurants within walking distance of the hotel (if you consider a 30-minute round-trip walk as “walking distance”), and I was able to find a nice Vietnamese meal at a decent price.

Grand Naniloa Hotel food
Not exactly what I was hoping for, but it hit the spot.

Final thoughts

While the Grand Naniloa Hotel was not quite what I was expecting, it was okay. Actually, it was not that all bad and I wouldn’t have a problem staying here again the next time I come to Hilo. Not because I enjoyed my experience so much, but because there simply aren’t any other options that are worth looking at.

As a matter of fact, the next time I come to Hilo I’m probably going to do the airbnb thing. Renting a house or condo seems like a much better idea than staying at a slightly overpriced and not-that-luxurious hotel such as this, and I would only recommend staying here if you need to be somewhat close to the airport for an early flight.

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