Hotel Lanai guestrooms feature hardwood floors and Hawaiian-style furnishings. // © 2016 Hotel Lanai
Feature image (above): Front steps lead to a wide, inviting porch at Hotel Lanai. // © 2016 Hotel Lanai
Friendliness permeates Lanai City. Passersby wave to one another and say hello even if they’ve never met. Shops and restaurants provide visitors with an unpretentious slice of island life without any touristy overtones.
The same can be said of Hotel Lanai, an 11-room inn that presides over the town. With its welcoming stairs and enticing front porch, it’s the epitome of old-Hawaii hospitality.
Of course, Lanai does know how to cater to high-end travelers. Its luxurious, oceanfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai lists rates starting at $1,075 per night. The luxury hotel brand’s second Lanai Hotel — Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele — is closed for renovations and will open by the end of 2016. But for clients who prefer nightly rates from $174 and a relaxed atmosphere in the heart of the community, Hotel Lanai stands ready to please.
Yesterday Meets Today
Built in 1923 by pineapple baron James Dole, Hotel Lanai once housed plantation executives. Now, framed by soaring Norfolk pines, the structure looks and feels like part of the centuries-old landscape. Inside, paintings and photos by Lanai artists add a sense of place.
The main building’s 10 guestrooms are clean, functional and Hawaiian-style, from hardwood floors and woven area rugs to island prints on the bedspreads. Since the hotel is located at an elevation of 1,700 feet, no air-conditioning is needed. Instead, each room keeps cool thanks to ceiling fans and breezes that waft through open windows.
Some units include a door to an outside lanai, where clients can kick back on wicker chairs and watch the world go by. For more private digs, the hotel offers a one-bedroom cottage, which features a secluded deck with a hammock.
Each morning, guests get a free continental breakfast of homemade granola, baked goods and tropical fruits in Lanai City Grille, the hotel’s restaurant. In the evening, the same dining room buzzes with both visitors and locals, who come for specialties such as lobster bisque, duck confit salad and fresh fish of the day. The restaurant offers karaoke on Wednesday nights, as well as live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Travelers don’t need a rental car while staying at Hotel Lanai, which is within walking distance of the town’s highlights. Right next door is Lanai Culture & Heritage Center, a great place to learn about the island’s natural and historical riches.
From the hotel, a simple stroll leads to Dole Park, the pine-lined hub where visitors can chat with residents during farmers markets. The park is bordered by mom-and-pop shops and the renovated Lanai Playhouse, which has two screens showing first-run movies.
A shuttle stops in front of Hotel Lanai for guests who want to head to the ocean, and the property even provides beach towels. The island also boasts a host of outdoor activities, from horseback riding to ATV tours.
But after a day of exploring this 140-square-mile destination, it’s easy to embrace the laid-back hospitality awaiting clients at Hotel Lanai.