Helen van Berkel checks into the Volcano House, Hawaii.

Getting there: It's about an hour's flight from Honolulu, followed by a 45-minute drive.

The check-in experience: A mimosa served at check-in quickly wipes away the dust of the road.

Price: About $455 a night. And worth it when it reopens. Volcano House sits in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea has been erupting since May, closing the park and the house. The website says bookings are being taken but it will not reopen until September 15 at the earliest.


The accommodation: It's an old-style lodge, complete with occasionally creaky floors and stairs, sash windows and an open fire in the cosy lobby. Its old-fashioned decor adds to the elegance The facilities: It's old-school the whole way here: tiled showers and a sliding door to the walk-in wardrobe area.

The Volcano House in Hawaii.
The Volcano House in Hawaii.



Food and drink: The in-house restaurant offers a good variety of food and cocktails at reasonable prices. We dined on fish and chips ($21) and Thai chicken wings ($17.50). I also tried the movie favourite "root beer" — but wish I hadn't. It tastes like Deep Heat. There's also a coffee maker in your room, producing the type of coffee-pot coffee much loved in movie diners.

In the neighbourhood: When normal service resumes, across the caldera a volcanic lake bubbles away, producing a constant pall of smoke by day and the red glow of burning lava at night, visible from your bedroom window. In August, park rangers said park roads, overlooks and trails were riddled with dangerous sink holes and cracks. The nearby Jaggar Museum and the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory buildings are damaged and empty. The summit crater has more than quadrupled in size as magma drains out of the park.

A short drive away at the Jaggar Museum you can get close enough to see the sprays of lava spitting up in the lake.

Toiletries: Thick white towels, and pump bottle soaps, lotions and shampoos.

The Volcano House Hawaii. Photo / Helen Van Berkel
The Volcano House Hawaii. Photo / Helen Van Berkel



Who should stay here:

You. Drive it, hike it, sit high on the crater rim and sip an aperitif as the volcano reddens with the darkening of the night.

Would I stay again: I have looked into the abyss and it was marvellous. And I want to look again.