I'm having a similar experience to another reviewer who had stayed here many years ago and who seemed to wrestle with some fundamental issues of fairness when comparing the current Manoa Valley Inn with what it once was.
The inn's ownership over the past thirty years has changed a number times. It even faced possible demolition at one point though it now appears to be on a stable track of restoration and upgrade by the current owners. Most b&b and old house lovers understand that infrastructure issues like foundation, plumbing and wiring have to have a high priority in order for the structure to survive. They require heavy investment and patience. That patience likely won't extend to the average guest, hence my current classification of the Manoa Valley Inn as most appropriate for the niche B&B guest or old house lover. One exception to that is probably the couple who are looking for a romantic hideaway with distance from the hustle and bustle of today's Honolulu. Hard to quantify it, but old ornate rooms, beautiful landscaping and intimate surroundings provide a magic that many couples find intoxicating.
Lots of seasoned b&b guests will know what to expect, or what not to expect from historic inns. Others, as evidenced by a number of reviewers, will start off with unrealistic expectations based on four or five star hotel properties.
Resort enthusiasts should understand what to them may seem stark realities:
There is no one waiting at the front door or in the main hall for your arrival. They will have to be alerted by a knock on the staff quarters door or through contact with other guests, if nearby.
There is no bellman or staff to help with luggage. This is no small issue for older travelers as all of the rooms are on either the second or the third floor requiring a steep ascent up a lengthy staircase.
The relatively peaceful neighborhood isn't far from Honolulu's many attractions, near the University of Hawaii campus. I wasn't too concerned about a lack of signage since I had done some detailed Google Earth searches and I knew what to expect, but not everyone will have done that.
The inn's backyard is a verdant garden space of lovely tranquility. Sadly the property has been crowded by additional housing in recent decades resulting in a near total loss of the classic Waikiki / Diamond Head view from the inn's southerly facing breakfast lanai. Rooms on that side of the inn, especially on the third floor, still have that wonderful view. The garden-like surroundings of the backyard have been enhanced substantially, so the skyline of hotels may not be visible from the lanai, but the plantings and green space make for a tranquil haven.
The small landscaped swimming pool in back, which was added in a more recent era, is a nice added amenity with an enticing romantic atmosphere.
Now a few negatives: Breakfast was a mixed bag, heavy on vegetables and starches. The fruit was very good, but not exactly in abundant supply, especially if you arrive during the latter part of breakfast. The offer of egg OR pancake struck some in my family as decidedly less than opulent. Egg OR pancake? REALLY, at these rates? This could have been the result of a linguistic variation in the accent of our Japanese-American host staff member. Either way, the requested over-easy egg came out fried harder than the pancake would have been.
One final note on breakfast: Nothing is more subjective than music and the background music played during breakfast no doubt is meant to enhance the calming, Zen-like atmosphere. We don't think they need a DJ to spin oldies for eating our egg and rice, but our family found the music more than a bit melancholy and heavy-handedly new-age-ish.
Be forewarned that some family groups will pay a premium for a stay at MVI since none of the rooms can accommodate mom and dad and two grown children in their twenties. Since the inn makes no adjustment for such parties, you're looking at two full room charges which will put you over the luxury high rise rates for a room with a couple of queen beds.
The two rooms we had were clean and met our basic expectations. The bedding and decor are badly in need of an upgrade. The plumbing all worked with plenty of hot water. The shower had some slow drainage issues, but was not a big problem. The classic old, still-functioning fixtures are a great reminder of times gone by.
Our check-in and arrival instructions had been basic as well, leaving it to us to figure out by the second of our three nights there, that the rooms DID in fact have a form of air conditioning. The wall remotes in each bedroom controlled a wall-mounted cooler that restored comfort in short order. But you shouldn't have to figure out the controls yourself.
There's always a balance at b&b's with too much or too little interaction with staff or owners. Once we had our keys, we didn't see the staff except at breakfast. We never did see the owner that I'm aware of. That would be exactly what many guests would want: near absolute seclusion with staff available if you need them. This is a big difference with a hotel concierge and room service that prospective guests need to understand.
Word was that once some of the big ticket infrastructure issues were addressed, the rooms would be upgraded next. Sorry we couldn't have seen the post-improvement MVI interiors. It's heartening to think that the gorgeous Manoa Valley Inn will again shine as it once did.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Manoa Valley Inn is a Victorian Inn filled with European antiques with a bit of island flair. This Historic Country Inn is an Oahu landmark located in an exclusive area of Honolulu right by the University of Hawaii. The Manoa Valley Inn was built in 1912 and provides a luxurious and quiet experience away from the din of Waikiki for visitors and local residents alike. The Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The prestigious Country Inn is conveniently located within minutes of Waikiki and the downtown Honolulu business district, yet it is surrounded by the beauty, luxury, and serenity of Manoa Valley. Relax in the quiet of the peaceful and spacious veranda and soak up a bit of Hawaiian nostalgia from years gone by. Stay with us, it's a very special surprise. It is an intimate retreat that provides a unique alternative to resort living. The Manoa Valley Inn has six special, spacious rooms and a charming country cottage waiting for you. We are within walking distance to U.H. Manoa, bus lines, restaurants and theater. Relax in our tropical saltwater heated swimming pool with a soft flowing waterfall located in a secluded garden with many trees and flowers. Breakfast consists of island fresh fruits, yogurt, bread, muffins or bagels, cold cereal, coffee, tea & juice, as well as brown rice, oatmeal with plenty of assorted nuts and dried fruits, a variety of tofu dishes and stir fried vegetables .. eggs when served are from an organic farm run by a family member. We buy local products from local organic farms as much as possible.Our Inn has five permanent guests who are 4 friendly and playful dogs and 1 mysterious black cat! E Komo Mai... Come In, Join Us. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Manoa Valley Hotel Honolulu
- Manoa Valley Inn Honolulu, Hawaii