Hawaii Five Senses

A new Mid-Century-inspired hotel offers an antidote to Waikiki Beach’s cookie-cutter resorts

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The Feel: Simplicity, symmetry, and style are the tenets of tropical modernism, as well as the guiding principles behind The Laylow (an Autograph Collection Hotel), which opened this March after a $60 million renovation of a 1967 hotel. The property sits on Kuhio Avenue, a low-key, laid-back alternative to oceanfront Kalakaua Avenue one block away.


The Look: Design firm Official Manufacturing Company—believe it or not, it’s abbreviated OMFGCO—found inspiration for the property high above Waikiki in the hillside Liljestrand House, a Mid-Century Hawaiian Modern home by famed architect Vladimir Ossipoff. Keep an eye out for riffs on island history and culture, such as a terracotta breezeblock wall featuring patterns reminiscent of tapa barkcloth and custom monstera leaf print wallpaper. And there’s still room for a bit of kitsch: Dozens of dashboard hula girls dance behind the check-in desk.


The Taste: At the Hideout restaurant, chef Bryan Byard reinvents Pacific Rim cuisine with dishes like coconut porter short ribs, ahi poke, and Kauai prawn and crab cake eggs Benedict with mango hollandaise. Meats are smoked in-house with kiawe, a mesquite shrub brought to the island in the 1820s, and traditional luau favorite kalua pork shows up in egg rolls, flatbreads, and rice bowls.


The Sound: Each room comes equipped with a ukulele, but it’s not just for decoration. Bring the instrument down to the Hideout’s open-air terrace on Wednesday evenings for a lesson in how to strum like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.


The Scent: Portland, Oregon–based apothecary Maak Lab was tasked with developing signature scents that embody Hawaii’s vibe without necessarily imitating what the islands actually smell like. “Our inspiration was driven by the relationship Hawaii has to the entire Pacific Rim,” says Maak Lab co-owner Taylor Ahlmark. Instead of unduly sweet (and predictable) tropical aromas like pineapple, one of the two fragrances features notes of Japanese hinoki, Australian eucalyptus, and Thai makrut lime, while the other pairs local jasmine and frangipani with Australian sandalwood, coconut, and citrus.

This article originally appeared in Hemispheres. December 2017.