Often when it comes to upmarket accommodation, so many of the offerings look the same. Whether it’s a hotel or an apartment, located in London or Dubai. Upon waking up and leaving behind the world of dreams, it can be easy to forget where you are currently staying. Other than somewhere with a big comfortable king-size bed and a difficult to find light switch.
The Essence of Hawaii
For me, it’s more luxurious to stay somewhere where the essence of the location shines through. The Old Wailkuku Inn at Ulupono is one such place. Located principally in a restored 1924 plantation-style house in the historic administrative centre of Wailuku on Maui, there are many touches at the B&B that speak of the melting pot of Hawaiian culture. The colourful, traditional Hawaiian quilts on the beds. The carved Chinese Jade and Soapstone screen that functions as a bed-head in my room. The antique furniture and lamps.
My favourite room is the common living room in the main house. Spending the late afternoon or evening relaxing on the rustic bamboo-framed lounge chairs, gathered around the piano with music set on its stand, flower arrangements scattered around, doors opening out onto a large verandah then a grassed lawn and tropical gardens. It feels like it’s from another, older era, before the age of highways and high-rises.
Not that the modern world is far away (especially if you’re using the free wi-fi while relaxing). The Inn is a convenient 20 minute drive from Kahalui Airport (the main airport on Maui). Plus it’s central location on the island makes it an ideal base for day trips, whether driving the road to Hana, visiting historic Lahaina and the western beaches or setting off before dawn to ascend Haleakala. It’s also just a short walk from Bailey House Museum and the cafes located on Market Street.
At the end of the day it’s a joy to retreat to the modern ensuite bathrooms to freshen up. Some of the showers featuring not only an overhead rain shower head and hand-held shower spray, but also wall jets. And all rooms have quality Aveda toiletries.
The ten unique rooms at the B&B, all named after flowers from the garden, are split between the original plantation house and the newer cottage addition, known as the Vagabond’s House, after a famous Hawaiian poem. My room, the Miulana Room, is situated on the top floor of the Vagabond’s House. It has its own private balcony, looking out towards the country to the south. It’s easy and seamless to check-in, with envelopes left at the main house, making it feel like it’s our own, secluded apartment.
A Communal Breakfast
But there’s also a sense of family. The next morning nearly everyone joins together to feast on breakfast, in the bright and airy dining room next to the living room, sharing stories of our island experiences and home towns. Each day of the week a different cooked breakfast is served, following a fresh fruit course. On our first day we enjoy delicious french toast, served with the owner Janice’s homemade cheese and mint sauce, alongside crispy bacon. There’s also no shortage of teas to choose from, for those like myself who aren’t coffee drinkers.
A Labour of Love
Chatting to Tom Fairbanks, Janice’s partner and fellow owner, after breakfast one morning about the restoration process required for the old house, it’s clear that it’s been a labour of love. Riddled with termite nests and old-fashioned wiring, the restoration required was extensive and thorough. It has been recognised with multiple awards and a listing on the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places. It’s also clear that they love their home of Hawaii and want to share it with their guests. And what better way to complement your Hawaiian holiday than by staying somewhere that truly feels like a historic Hawaiian home?
Click here to book a stay at the Old Wailuku Inn on their website.
Note: The author paid for her stay at media rates.
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