White Sands Hotel Pays Tribute to the Best of Waikiki’s Stylish History

Don’t expect a big musical number to break out at this pool… even if it might feel like it could happen at any moment. (White Sands Hotel/)

When the sixth season of the smash hit AMC series Mad Men debuted, viewers were treated to a glimpse of vintage Waikiki, as Don and Megan Draper relaxed on the beach, sipped iconic cocktails, and even attended a luau. While we aren’t big on fan fiction, it is fun to wonder what this beloved Honolulu neighborhood might have looked like beyond the hotel’s lobby bar, and thanks to one new property, we can keep playing pretend.

The White Sands Hotel recently opened its doors to Oahu, and as Hawaii’s reopening guidelines become more defined, U.S. and world travelers will soon follow. What they’ll find is an entrance that serves as a time machine, whisking guests back to the late 60s and early 70s with the “last of the vintage walk-up hotels.” Between the bamboo accents, lush gardens, and unmistakably classic color schemes, there’s nary a square inch of this super-cool spot that won’t make guests think an Elvis-led dance party won’t break out at any second.

By the pool or at the bar, there’s not a bad seat in the house. (White Sands Hotel/)

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Certainly, this authentic throwback and cultural tribute will stand out against the modern aesthetic of, well, everything around it. In fact, the only thing luring guests away from the hotel will be the legendary Waikiki Beach, which is less than two blocks away. Location is a huge perk here, too, as a day at the beach can be topped off with another quick walk to the International Market Place.

Just don’t miss a dinner reservation at Hey Day, the on-site restaurant named for the old school vibes of Kuhio Avenue and created by the culinary geniuses behind another local favorite, Fête. This open-air concept from Chef Robynne Maii blends the property’s devotion to the past with modern dishes featuring ingredients sourced from Oahu’s farmers. Instagrammers will flock to the restaurant’s poolside bar to snap selfies in the rope swings and enjoy a variety of amazing craft cocktails.

White Sands Hotel Caption: Guests who are easily impressed by the tiniest touches will be beyond thrilled with the room décor here. (White Sands Hotel/)

Back in their rooms, guests can mix their own Mai Tais at a wet bar before lounging on the lanai between trips to the pool and beach. Needless to say, the colorful décor conceived by the local design team at The Vanguard Theory will give the TWA Hotel a run for its money in terms of the best blast from the past, but comfort is still a top priority and guests won’t be disappointed.

It’s one thing to make a mark on local culture, but it’s even more important to set a standard and lead by example for other hotels in the region. At White Sands Hotel, almost all of the energy is generated from solar power, so guests should take pride in staying at the most energy efficient place in town.

As is usually the case, the small details knock our socks off the most, and there’s no shortage here for little touches that deliver in a big way. For example, landline phones with curly cords? Have fun explaining those to the kids. But our favorite callback with a modern twist? Cigarette vending machines that dispense local artwork. Doesn’t get much cooler than that.

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