This Hawaiian Hotel Is a Retro-Inspired Paradise


Kevin Serai for Cool Hunting

There’s no shortage of hotels in Honolulu, especially along the strip that studs Waikiki Beach. But while the island’s hospitality landscape isn’t hurting for quantity, many of its offerings veer toward the traditional. There’s a monochromatic palette that’s omnipresent throughout the island’s most bigger chain hotels.

That’s not the case with the newly opened Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, a retro oasis just one mile from Waikiki Beach. In just a few months, the space has become Honolulu’s epicenter of cool, frequented by mainland hipsters and local creatives alike. In fact, it was the stalwarts of Honolulu’s emerging art scene who designed the space. Led by Honolulu-based design studio The Vanguard Theory, the former budget hotel was reimagined by a collective of local artists as an homage to the island’s iconic 1960s beach culture.

“We wanted to share with visitors an authentic story about Honolulu. Our story of Honolulu was not our own to tell, and we felt it was important to involve our local community,” Michelle Jaime, The Vanguard Theory's design director told Cool Hunting.

While the space is crawling with Art Deco flourishes, the pièce de résistance has to be the highly Instagrammable “Wish you were here!” mosaic that’s draped along the swimming pool floor, the work of artist Matthew Tapia. Guest rooms were conceived by Los Angeles–based interior designers Studio Collective, who “went for a laid-back beach-house feel.”

Art lovers will have plenty to look at too, as the lobby features a carefully curated collection of pieces from local artists, including a treehouse mural from local husband-and-wife duo The Wooden Wave. Meanwhile, a variety of events serve as the perfect antidote to the de rigueur luaus that dominate most Waikiki hotel calendars. Those include fashion shows, pop-ups, midcentury-modern architecture walking tours, and much, much more.

“Honolulu, as the only urban hub in Hawai’i, has the opportunity to bridge the gap between creative movements in Oceania, Asia, and mainland USA,” says Casea Collins-Wright, the Surfjack’s director of experience. “The goal of developing these offerings and experiences is to elevate our local creative community, support important movements, and also to bring in creators from around the world to experience Hawai’i.”

Rooms at Surfjack start at a very affordable $169 a night for a 285-square-foot bungalow, not including a $25 nightly resort fee.

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