The Waikiki EDITION – A Hotel by Ian Schrager
For Valentine’s Day this year, we actually decided to celebrate it for what it was worth… in Hawaii. But this trip wouldn’t involve any romantic kayak rides in the ocean or me serenading Kenny G songs to Jeni with a large conch shell. This Valentine’s day occasion wasn’t for ourselves, but for her grandparents to be exact. Her Grandma and Grandpa were adorably crowned as the king and queen of their nursing home and they were throwing a big party for the couple of 70 years… and are still going strong. Nearly three-quarters of a century – simply amazing and profound.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t thrilled when Jeni told me the cost of our hotel on Waikiki beach. But it was either her aunt’s or another worn-out hotel with balcony views of other hotels. Some of the hotels on Waikiki beach seriously look like they’ve been donated by the Goodwill and can cost almost $200 a night! You might as well cough it up for a place that’s a little nicer. Then I found out that we would would be staying at an Ian Schrager-designed hotel. My eyes lit up – I love his hotels. I was fortunate enough to stay at a few of his places on business trips – The Hudson in NYC and The Clift in San Francisco. And I’ve eaten at the Bazaar in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills – he and Philippe Starck worked on the design of this hotel. So after a 5 hour flight to Honolulu, we picked up our rental car and headed out to Ian Schrager’s latest series called The EDITION hotels, with future plans for Mexico City, Barcelona, Bangkok, South Beach and Istanbul. Great, another five cities we can look forward to.
I didn’t think I would say this, but I seldom find a hotel that actually makes a trip that much more enjoyable. As soon as we stepped onto the property, we knew we didn’t want to leave. Howard Johnson and Best Western… great knowing you.
I like how Ian Schrager uses the Hawaii kitsch in tasteful and minimal doses. And thank god, there are no Hawaiian-shirt wearing staff members. You get the Ian Schrager aesthetics without being away from Hawaii. And for sure, there will always be the ubiquitous ABC Stores on every corner.
Plants everywhere. Possibly a reference to the palm trees on the Hawaiian islands. Or a metaphor for things Schrager likes to smoke.
During the morning hours, this is what the lobby looks like. But after about 12 pm, you get a little Batcave action as that bookshelf on the left swivels open to reveal a beautiful watering hole equipped with some good whiskeys, gins and bar bites. On the weekend nights, the bar is insanely packed with beautiful women and shiny douchebags according to the staff.
Our thirsty friend, Daniel Djang of Thirsty in LA, informed us that the cocktail menu at The EDITION was crafted by an all star cast of bartenders. Although Honolulu hasn’t exactly caught the, no pun intended, cocktail wave in America, the drinks assisted well in the R&R process.
The pool area is simply gorgeous. Something you would easily see in a Dwell magazine. With a good 120-140 possible places to sit/lie down, it’s impossible to resist. No need to go to the beach. The pool here is limited to guests, so you won’t be seeing tourists with arm floaties and neon swimwear. Unless you like that.
A few hours later, we’re still at the pool. Talk about being unproductive. Of course if you’re hungry, you can get things like burgers, fish tacos and other finger foods.
There are two pool areas, with a bar at each one. I loved the main bar the most because it was very inviting. It was easy to have conversations with other guests while snacking on wasabi peas. One negroni please.
On one of the nights, we had dinner at the local izakaya favorite, Sushi Izakaya Gaku, a recommendation from one of Hawaii’s best food bloggers Ono Kine Grindz. We ate here about 1.5 years ago and it was awesome. Disappointingly, it sort of fell short on the sushi end this time – we were bummed about it but all the other dishes were great. But that wasn’t anything Iron Chef Japan/America, Masaharu Morimoto couldn’t make up for. You can enjoy Morimoto’s food right at The EDITION. We didn’t try any of his fusion dishes but instead stuck with things that seemed most “Japanese”. Sushi for me, sushi rolls for Jeni. But at $6-9 per ONE PIECE of sushi, you’ve got to carefully choose. And the sushi was simply awesome. I haven’t had good sushi in a while and this was definitely a treat. I tried some new fish for the first time: golden big eye snapper, live octopus sushi and some kind of mackerel. I ended up coming back to the sushi bar for lunch the next day.
I was fortunate enough to catch Morimoto during a moment of Zen. I have never seen so many frightened chefs/cooks in the kitchen. His presence was enough to make them hustle and bustle. Even I was nervous. $$$ Respect Morimoto $$$
Hope you enjoyed your visual “stay” at The Waikiki EDITION by Ian Schrager. Photos from our visit with Jeni’s grandparents coming next. Thanks for reading.