Pamela Wade checks into the Hotel Molokai, in Hawaii.

Check-in experience:

Friendly and welcoming, despite their being surprised to see us, since our booking seemed to have evaporated into the ether somewhere between New Zealand and Hawaii. But they had a room to give us, so that was fine — and just as well, since accommodation options on the island of Molokai are limited.

Room: Welcome back to the 1960s. That's as in decor, and also as in untouched since then, judging by the state of the paintwork. Small and dark, it had all the nominal necessities, but everything had seen better days. The television picture was so fuzzy it was unwatchable, the fridge buzzed, the phone didn't work and neither did the WiFi (a shame, since it was complimentary). In the wall right outside was a fuse box that clicked all night. There was no cellphone reception. "Basic" pretty much covers it.


Price: A painful $204 per night for all this. And the non-negotiable $5 daily resort fee is the final sting.

The bed: Presumably to make the room seem bigger, it was a double bed which, once in it, seemed even smaller because it was a warm night and there was no air conditioning, only a feeble fan.

The bathroom: Nothing fancy here in any way, but at least it all worked.

The view: This was a Garden View room so we had a sliding door (fastened with a chain) to the lanai outside and the courtyard garden. The hotel has a lovely sea view across to Lanai but swimming is restricted to the pool.

Food and drink: Dinner was a disaster. The brightly-lit Ohana Grill restaurant, a symphony in Formica, adjoins the bar where live music was being played by a guitar duo with much enthusiasm and volume but no great skill. The steak was slow to arrive, presumably because it takes that long to overcook it: it was tough and tasteless.

The white wine was warm and sweet and served in a Stella Artois beer glass. Apparently breakfast is better but we left too early to try it.

What's good about it? The staff were lovely. That's about it.

And the bad? See above.


What's in the neighbourhood? The little town of Kaunakakai is typically Pacific-ramshackle and quiet. The thing to do here is to go to the window of Kanemitsu's Bakery after 8pm for their signature hot bread, split and filled with any combination of butter, cinnamon, cream cheese and jam. They also do a sugar-glazed purple taro donut which is meant to be good for diabetes: problem and solution in one neat package.

Would I return? Only by gritting my teeth and paying even more for a higher-grade room, so I could enjoy again the island's quiet delights (up to and including a mule ride down the world's steepest sea-cliff to a former leper colony).