Grant Bradley checks into the Laylow, Waikiki.


One block back from Waikiki Beach, up an escalator.

Check-in experience: I was an hour early but was invited to have a drink while I waited for my room be readied, and was in 15 minutes later.


Room: A deluxe corner suite, it contained an extra space housing a table and chairs perfect for breakfast or working, and opening on to a second deck, or "lanai" as they call it in these parts. The other lanai looked down on to the pool. The decor is mid-century tropical cool, with bold wallpaper, 50s-style bachy furniture, Hawaiian art and accessories such as a ukulele in each room and a stack of books themed to an island holiday. The welcome basket of snacks and two pairs of signature "rubbah slippahs" (jandals) was a nice touch.

Toiletries: Maak Lab makes the Laylow range exclusively for the hotel; the shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and moisturiser had a gentle woodsy scent.

The bed: A comfortable king, plus queen-sized day bed.

Price: Standard rooms start at about $350, and go up to about $550 for the Ho'okipa corner suites at the top of the building offering partial mountain or sea views.

What's so good about this place? The Laylow's vibe flows from its rooms to its saltwater pool deck, to the open-air Hideout bar and eatery, where palms separate cane couches and fire pits. You half expect Austin Powers to appear at the bar ordering one of their signature cocktails.

And the bad? The only thing the place is missing is a spa pool, but in Hawaii heat, no matter.

What's in the neighbourhood? Waikiki beach is a few minutes' walk through the revamped International Market Place shopping centre. The more traditional Duke's Market is next door, where you can buy another bag to take home your shopping for US$20. You are likely to need it as in spite of a weaker kiwi dollar there are still great shopping bargains.

Food and drink: Delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner tapas are served in the Hideout, often accompanied by live music. They do a killer Bloody Mary an the mysteriously-named Rusty's Themepark, a wicked concoction served in a cute pink pig.


Free wi-fi? Yes and zipper-fast.

Noise: None with the doors closed. Open, just the holiday hum of Waikiki surf, traffic and breeze.

Exercise facilities: A gym room looking out to the pool has the standard range of equipment.

Perfect for: A couple's getaway, and single guys will love the bachelor pads opening to the pool deck.

Would I return? Absolutely.

The bottom line: Groovy, baby.