Dean Buchanan checks into the Ala Moana Condominiums, Honolulu (made famous by the original Hawaii Five-O TV show).

Getting there:

Air New Zealand; in hot competition with Hawaiian Airlines.

Check-in experience: Seamless. Organise an early check in, the door code is emailed to you and you simply walk in at your leisure. Leaving is the same, close the door behind you and you're done.

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Room: 2006.

Price: $292 a night.

What's so good about this place? Less than half the price of a decent hotel room with full kitchen facilities in your room and laundry facilities on your floor. The rooms all have balconies and, as the condos are privately owned, they're well looked after and appointed.

Previous guests usually "pay it forward" leaving pool inflatables for the next guests.

And the bad? A little dated, but the positives far outweigh this.

What's in the neighbourhood? Modern Hotel, Hilton Village and a seven-minute walk to the fantastic Ala Moana shopping centre. Across the road is Alamo car rentals and a good selection of restaurants. Walking distance to the main drag or $12.30 in a taxi and $4.20 on the bus. The Wailana 24-hour Coffee House (just down the road) is an excellent spot for breakfast.

Toiletries: The basics, but you will need to buy your own if you're there for more than a few days. There's an ABC convenience store on every corner and a shop on the ground floor of the building. Beach towels are provided in your room and at the swimming pools.

Food and drink: No room service; but a good coffee shop, icecream shop and two family restaurant bars on the ground level. Get out and explore.

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The bed: King. Comfortable.

A room with a view? From the 20th floor we had views of the ocean and marina — perfect for watching the sunset on our balcony with a cocktail after a day's shopping, sightseeing or drinks by the pool or beach.

Bathroom: Good.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes — 5G of it. Plus cable television.

Noise: Good. They were installing new carpet and wallpaper in the building during our stay and there were no problems at all. The weekly Friday night fireworks at the Hilton Village Lagoon at 7.45pm is right beside you … and that's quite a bang!

Room service: No.

Value for money: Excellent.

Exercise facilities: Yes, for hotel guests. But get out and walk the oceanfront early — beautiful.

Contact: waikikibeachrentals.com
Perfect for: A relaxing holiday in an excellent location.

The bottomline: If you want your room serviced, your bed made and towels changed daily, a condo is not for you. However, if you're after a place to call home for your holiday, this is a great spot. I wish it was a secret, but as you'll discover in the lifts and swimming pools, everyone is from New Zealand and Australia. The locals who live in the complex (mainly elderly) are friendly. Remember to leave your beach chairs in the room and any leftover groceries or books on the table beside the lift on your floor. Guests know to help themselves.