Hilton Hotel Tahiti is perhaps the best-situated resort on the island of Tahiti. Front and center are views of the neighboring island of Moorea, while the port of Papeete — the territorial capital of French Polynesia — sits just adjacent to the property.
Among the handful of global hospitality brands on the island, Hilton Hotel Tahiti is the closest to the city center. Just moments by car to the public market and shops and cafes lining the waterfront Boulevard Reine Pomare IV, the resort is joined to the large Pacific Plaza shopping center across the street by a sky bridge.
The property sat vacant for a decade before it was fully refurbished and reopened in December 2021. Guestrooms and public spaces have been completely redone to meet Hilton’s latest design standards, and the rooftops are fitted with enough solar panels to supply the entire resort’s power needs for most of the day.
The lobby is perhaps the grandest on the island, with high ceilings and the mirrored backdrop of Heiva Lounge Bar reflecting original art inspired by traditional Tahitian designs. In fact, although the guestrooms are perfectly comfortable — oversized and inviting — I was tempted to spend my entire stay lazing on the lobby terrace, gazing over the pool and ocean views, and basking in the attentive service from the lobby bar.
When it’s time to take a dip in the pool, there are cabanas for rent, but the shaded loungers — both on the pool deck and on a shallow sunbathing deck nestled just in the water — are more than sufficient. Vaipuna Pool Bar, which also serves the pool deck, has a swim-up bar and a “dry” bar that offer tiki-inspired cocktails and ice cream bars (most welcome in the midday sun). There’s also a snack menu, including a luscious bowl of nachos that hits the spot after a day in the water.
La Strada is the hotel’s overwater gastronomic restaurant. The menu relies on fresh ingredients and offers a taste of Italy, complete with first and second pasta and meat courses with inventive presentations and flavors. In the mornings, the same space becomes the Moevai breakfast buffet, with an expansive selection of (gigantic) chocolate and plain croissants, fruit juices, Chinese breakfast dishes, cold cuts, cheese, hash browns, scrambled eggs and baked tomatoes, as well as an action station offering pancakes, omelets and eggs cooked to order.
Although there were fresh quartered pineapples and Marquesan grapefruits on offer, I was disappointed to find a lack of local fruit and fruit preserves; I’ve routinely encountered island-made guava, papaya-vanilla or pineapple preserves at hotel breakfast bars on Tahiti. And on recent visits to Hilton properties on Bora Bora and Moorea, I enjoyed a wide variety of local fruit at breakfast, so the Tahiti resort appears to be an exception.
Fruit aside, I enjoyed additional dining venues such as the bright, airy, Taitea Brasserie, which is open for lunch and dinner and features ocean views. There’s also San Sushi Bar, which offers sashimi, nigiri and sushi rolls and has a selection of sake and Japanese whiskies.
Guests can buy snacks and drinks from the grab-and-go spot across from the concierge offices, and while the pricing is somewhat higher than the Carrefour (a Walmart-style French global chain) across the street, it’s reasonable enough.
Guestrooms at Hilton Hotel Tahiti are a delight. Even standard rooms are spacious, with generously sized bathrooms and sitting areas. And the brand has taken measures to reduce plastic use: Laundry bags have been replaced with reusable trays, and the return of washable, reusable mugs for use with the coffee service is a welcome change from paper to-go cups. The resort has also replaced Hilton’s standard bath amenities with a locally scented product, bulk-loaded into large pumps in the shower. (The body lotions are still individually sized and worth slipping into a carry-on bag.)
Rooms are also exceptionally well-wired, with plenty of outlets in a variety of expected places — bedside, desk-side, near sitting areas and in the bathroom. Lighting controls are also more varied than is standard in a Hilton guestroom, allowing for numerous lighting combinations depending on the time of day and room use.
It’s worth mentioning that while the property is not situated on a beach, the hotel’s design wonderfully incorporates the waterfront with plenty of oceanfront seating (there’s a row of loungers facing the ocean instead of the pool) and several overwater dining spaces.
Also notable are the resort’s large workout room and the big spa, which offers a number of tranquil indoor treatment rooms and a full salon.
I noticed that the guest profile here seemed similar to other Tahiti resorts; many travelers stayed just one night, bound later for Bora Bora or other parts of French Polynesia. Clients staying at the country’s other Hilton properties, such as Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa and Conrad Bora Bora Nui, will welcome another Hilton option on Tahiti for their layover.
It should also be noted that hotels in Tahiti are running close to record occupancy and often do not have room availability for guests arriving on overnight flights until the day’s checkouts have been vacated and cleaned. Pro tip: Book clients needing a room immediately upon arrival in Tahiti for the night before their flight arrives to ensure the room is available in the early morning after their overnight flight.
Overall, Hilton Hotel Tahiti hits all the right notes, no matter if guests are staying for one night or several. Sweeping ocean vistas, cooling trade winds and convenience — both to the attractions of Papeete and the international airport — make this beautifully overhauled resort a top pick for travelers to Tahiti.