The Kona Hotel
A 1920s Historic Hawaiian Hotel with a Pink Exterior? Duh. You know this caught my attention instantly. After looking for accommodations for a Hawaii wedding that I was photographing, I came across THE KONA HOTEL through AirBnb. There are about eleven rooms available to any one to rent out but the rest of the property remains private for several of the owners. A few residents that you'll find are a pair of cute black poodles and a 17-year old Calico Cat named Sugar. I had the chance to spend several nights at this hotel and discovered that although I love a good vintage hotel to stay in... sometimes it's just better for photos.
CHARMING AND ROMANTIC VIBES
You can't help but be magnetized by the beautiful vibrant pink exterior walls. The color runs throughout the hotel and there's a mix of bright pale blue and egg shell white as accent colors. It's obviously amazing for photos. Not to mention the fact that every door knob and window in the rooms are rusted and yet still remain on the doors leaving wonders of the many unique travelers who once had stayed at the hotel. The old creaks of the hotel's wooden floors remind you of more antiquated building engineering not to mention, the room's size is just enough for one or two people with vintage furniture pieces sprinkled throughout. Despite it's old hotel ways, I appreciate the safefty precautions that are set by the hotel. There's a lock pad on every single hotel room. Each guest has their own specified code to enter. Plus an additional code that allows them access to the hotel entrance door during late hours of the night. I loved walking in and exploring. The patterns of certain wall boards, the touches of a hotel back in its hey day, and even the stunning view from the open hallway leading to the outhouse just oozes a romantic tropical space.
SUITABLE FOR LOW MAINTENANCE TRAVELERS ONLY
The reason I titled this little section is because I want to warn my readers that not all guests are fit for The Kona Hotel. The rooms are TINY and only fit for the most part a bed and a small table or vanity. It's great for one to two people MAX. I do not recommend families or children to stay at this hotel.
Secondly, (although this isn't a big deal to me) community bathrooms only. There is one FEMALE bathroom and one MALE bathroom. There are no private bathrooms in each room. The bathrooms are definitely clean! I was surprised that I had no problems with any toilets, showers, or sinks.
Thirdly, the walls and floors are paper thin. There is a general rule that the owner stresses which is to be very quiet because you can hear everything. I MEAN EVERYTHING. Despite the efforts of the owners, some guests are not conscious of how loud they really are. Every door knob turned, every step made, and every door opened makes a sound that's amplified ten times more in the hotel. I was not used to how loud some guests were and how rude they were - totally not mindful about others. I even heard some R rated things late in the evening and I had to knock on someone's door to make them be quieter.
Lastly, there is no air conditioning. I was lucky to have a fan in my room. However, the climate in Kona is generally cool in the evening and can range from humid to hot during the day.
OVERALL A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE
I don't want to end this post advising readers not to go to the Kona Hotel. I truly encourage everyone if they are able to withstand the limited conditions set. It's no 5-star Fine Dining all inclusive type hotel. It really does serve the minimal and basic needs of a traveler which to me is all you can ask for. But, I want to give travelers a chance to be prepared if they do decide to stay at The Kona Hotel. Below are a few tips:
SUGGESTIONS FOR A GREAT STAY
1. Rent a Car - This hotel rests high up in the mountains of the Big Island. Taxis are expensive. Ubers/Lyfts are non existent in Hawaii. And technically you could walk, but the hike is really far and on a steady incline plus think about the luggage you would have to carry! On the map, it will appear very close to the main popular touristy areas of Kona but don't be fooled. The drive is a winding road way up in a secluded area of Holualoa. Rental cars are available at the Kona International Airport.
2. Bring Extra Towels - Unlike the Sheraton or Hilton where you get 5 bath towels, 6 hand towels, and 4 face towels, the Kona Hotel gives you just one face towel and one bath towel per room. You can most certainly ask for more, but keep in mind that there is no laundry service or laundry room for guests.
3. Buy Lots of Snacks - Since the rooms are itty bitty, there's no mini fridge in your room. There's a single microwave downstairs you can use for free. Most people re-heat leftovers that they can keep fresh in the fridge. Since there's no fridge, well then it makes no sense. I recommend purchasing chips, granola bars, dried fruit, bottled water, and mixed nuts to keep in your room. There is one coffee bar and restaurant across the hotel but it closes early. And there aren't any late night fast food places by the hotel either. And it's perfect because whatever you don't finish - you can pack it and eat it on the plane. And we all know that airport food is extremely expensive!
4. Bring along Crocs - Just for the community showers. Something water proof that you can wear around the hotel and not get your washed feet soiled when you return to your room.
5. Pack some Ear Plugs - Again, the floors creak with every step and guests are not always the most polite. If you want an uninterrupted and peaceful slumber, pack a good pair of ear plugs. You can purchase them on Amazon, Walmart, CVS & Walgreens.
By staying here even one night, every guest is perpetuating and retaining the longevity of this hotel and keep it standing and running. And who knows, if the popularity of the hotel grows, perhaps things will change and it will return to its glory days. But if not, it's absolutely Instagram worthy and an chance for an authentic Hawaiian experience.