If you’re too lazy to read this entire review (don’t worry, I won’t judge), all you need to know is that the Vive Hotel in Waikiki is a decent option if you can get it for a decent price.

The rooms are small, the windows are even smaller, and you’ll spend the majority of your time wishing you were in a luxury hotel instead.

A full review of my 1 night stay at the Vive Hotel in Waikiki

Choosing a hotel in the heart of Waikiki is usually easy. Up until this point, I had become totally convinced that you could make an excellent selection by simply closing your eyes and pointing to anywhere on the map with your finger. Chances have always been you’d be quite happy with whatever your finger landed on.

My method for choosing a hotel for this stay was very much like that, and my finger ended up pointing me to the Vive hotel located on Kuhio Avenue (just down the road from the Hilton Waikiki Beach that I like so much). The price seemed decent, and like pretty much any other hotel in Waikiki, the location was perfect. Decision made!

location of the Vive Hotel in Waikiki
A map showing the location of the Vive Hotel in Waikiki.

First impressions

Pulling up to the Vive in the taxi was slightly disappointing (even more disappointing than the time I pulled up to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel for the first time). Right away it felt like a small low-budget property that wasn’t anywhere near in the same league as others in the area, so I was worried that my finger had led me astray and that maybe…perhaps…this was a bad idea.

Then the front desk agent handed me a glass of ice cold guava juice and two hot macadamia nut cookies before starting to check me in, and suddenly all felt right with the world. That’s my kind of welcome!

Vive Hotel Waikiki main entrance
Main entrance of the Vive Hotel Waikiki. The front doors look nice, but the rest of the building is nothing special.
Vive Hotel Waikiki location
This is the view from the main entrance looking directly across the street.
Vive Hotel Waikiki doormat
Welcome to the Vive!
Vive Hotel Waikiki front door
We’ll get past the front door in a moment I promise! I’m just posting this one last pic to show how nice (but basic) the entrance is.

The lobby

Right away, it’s not hard to understand that the Vive is not trying to compete with the really good hotels in Waikiki (such as the Moana Surfrider). Everything about the lobby screams “budget!” – but in a somewhat cool and hip way. I actually liked it.

Vive Hotel Waikiki lobby
Main lobby of the Vive Hotel Waikiki
Vive Hotel Waikiki check in desk
Basic. Simple. Clean. The check in desk is on the left, and the main entrance straight ahead.
Vive Hotel Waikiki lobby design
Casual / beach-inspired textures. Perhaps they chose the light brown color to mask all the sand that everyone drags in from the beach…

Getting to my room

The feelings of having made a bad choice were starting to catch up with me by the time I got off the elevator. The guest room hallways felt very “Comfort Inn” and a lot more on the low-budget side of things than I was expecting.

Especially for the price I pad for this reservation. It was very obvious this used to be a neglected and dumpy hotel (or apartment building) in years past, well before the Vive brand came in with a fresh coat of paint and spruced things up a bit. But it was easy to see through all that and realize that (at the core), this is a budget property.

Vive Hotel Waikiki guest room hallway
Guest room hallways – nice, but it kind of had a college dorm feel to it.
Vive Hotel Waikiki room 1006
Room 1006 was mine for the night.

The room

Vive Hotel Waikiki room entryway
Walking into the room for the first time. “Hmm…this is a bit smaller than I was expecting…”
Vive Hotel Waikiki bed
I really liked the style of the textures and materials of the room, but wow was it small!
Vive Hotel Waikiki small room
Trying to walk around the room to get pics of different angles proved to be difficult. I was standing back as far as I could for this shot.
Vive Hotel Waikiki room overview
Let’s zoom out a bit so you can see the entire room. Much better.
Vive Hotel Waikiki room layout
Wide angle view looking the other way towards the entrance. It’s a nice room for sure, but all I’m going to say is that I much preferred my stay at the Grand Naniloa (in Hilo) the next night.
Vive Hotel Waikiki small windows
One last wide angle pic looking towards the front of the room. The windows are a bit small, aren’t they?
Vive Hotel Waikiki bed and desk
The end of the bed and the front wall. I stubbed my toe *twice* during my stay trying to walk around the bed.
Vive Hotel Waikiki bed and bathroom
Looking across the bed to the bathroom.
Vive Hotel Waikiki in room desk
Everything about the room – especially this desk – felt like I was back in college again.
Vive Hotel Waikiki bed side table and phone
Bed side table.
Vive Hotel Waikiki tablets
These Android-based tablets were pretty cool, offering free internet, games, and entertainment.
Vive Hotel Waikiki air conditioning
High-tech climate control system in the window. Although very loud, it did a fantastic job of drowning out the noise from the street below during the night.
Vive Hotel Waikiki bottled water
Almost-complimentary bottled water. I say “almost” because they cost $1.50 each – not as bad as the $5 most hotels charge, but still not exactly free.
Vive Hotel Waikiki in-room refrigerator
The in-room refrigerator came in handy.
Vive Hotel Waikiki floor plan
Emergency exit info and floor plan.

Pro tip: ear plugs are required if you’re in a room at the Vive less than 5 floors off the ground and you want to go to bed before midnight. The sound of traffic and drunk tourists on the street will easily keep you awake and tossing and turning until the wee morning hours.

Vive Hotel Waikiki relaxing in room
Just hangin’ out, resting before my big island-hopping adventure that would begin the next morning.

The bathroom

Vive Hotel Waikiki bathroom
The bathroom was a bit small and cramped – but the guy in me considered it perfectly functional.
Vive Hotel Waikiki bathroom layout
Even with the wide angle lens it was still difficult to get a decent pic of the bathroom.

So yeah. Luxury accommodations these were not, and the small size of the room and tiny windows were a bit of a turn off for me.

Large floor to ceiling windows should be standard in every hotel room in Waikiki, and if I were mayor, I’d make that happen! Who wants to fly all the way to Hawaii, spend over $250/night on a room, and feel like they are in prison the entire time? Not I.

But the whole point of going to Hawaii means spending as much time outside of the hotel as possible, so I’ll give them a pass on the window issue. The room was pretty good otherwise, though a bit small, and the location was pretty much perfect.

The view

Vive Hotel Waikiki view
This is the view from the window facing west. That’s Kuhio avenue down there, soaking wet from all the rain here today.
Vive Hotel Waikiki view from room
I had to wait for the sun to go down in order to get a decent pic. Waikiki sure is pretty at night!
Vive Hotel Waikiki ocean view
This is the view from the other window, facing south (towards the ocean).

Final thoughts

Would I stay here again? I actually had to pause for a minute after typing that question to weigh the pros and cons of the Vive Waikiki in my mind.

It is a nice hotel. Not fantastic, but nice. It’s a bit rough around the edges though, with old fixtures and small rooms with tiny windows. Therefore, my answer is “no”. Especially when there are so many other good hotel choices within a stone’s throw of this place for the same price.

I may need to rethink my 1-finger Waikiki hotel-selection process for future trips…

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