Stay: October 2004
The Dolphin Bay Hotel has the look and feel of an old motel set in a tropical area. The rooms were large, but hot and the beds too uncomfortable. In all, we found it to be a worse deal than the more expensive hotels we stayed at on the other side of the island. If we were in Hilo again, we would not stay here.
How I chose the hotel
I read through pretty much all the reviews for Hilo hotels at tripadvisor.com. My first choices were a number of bed and breakfasts, some very reasonably priced, but either they didn't take small children or they didn't have availability for the nights we'd be in Hilo. All the hotels in Hilo got pretty mediocre reviews - they seem to be old, smelly, etc. etc. - and as I couldn't get a room in one of them at a bargain-basement price from Priceline (I bid up to $55), I decided on the Dolphin Bay Hotel which at least got generally good reviews.
We got a standard studio ($80 a night plus taxes), which was located on the second floor above the reception desk. The room was large and came with a queen size bed and a single bed (this one was positioned right next to the TV). It also had a kitchenette, armoires, night table, a table and chairs. The bathroom had a shower with a small tub. Soap was complimentary but not shampoo or anything else. I wish they had made that clear when we made a reservation, so we could have brought some with us. The room did not come with a lanai (balcony).
While the room itself was clean and large enough to be comfortable, we found it to be too hot and to lack privacy. The room had a large window, a ceiling fan and another fan - still, they weren't enough to provide air circulation and the room was uncomfortably hot all night long. It was so hot that we needed to sleep naked and without sheets not to bake, but the large window, positioned in front of the bed with view to the windows of nearby houses, exposed us to any curious Georges. We therefore had to close the drapes, which further reduced the meager air circulation.
Furthermore, our bed was very, very hard. I'm pregnant, so hard beds are a particular problem for me, but even Mike (who slept by himself in the twin bed) found it very uncomfortable.
We complained about these issues and for the second night we were moved to a one-bedroom suite ($110 plus taxes). This included a bedroom with a window, a queen size bed, a closet and a dresser, and a living room with two twin beds, a chair and a table with the TV. There was also a small kitchen with a table and chairs and a similar bathroom. This room had a lanai, with a view to the hotel's small patio area and the main road.
We found this room to be cooler, though it only had one fan. Being able to keep the windows open helped. It was still on the warm side, however. This trip, BTW, was in October - not the height of summer. The beds were just as uncomfortable.
The lanai was nice, however and we saw several people relaxing outside in theirs.
As we changed rooms, I can't really say how good a job they did cleaning up after us, but we saw them cleaning up rooms in the morning and the rooms were quite clean when we got them.
Grounds and Facilities
The hotel is small, with two-floors (stair access to the second floor, both from the reception and the parking lot) and T-shaped. The main wing is set between the parking lot and a small outside patio with grass and tropical plants and a view of the main road. This is quite narrow and basically a pathway, and not a place where you can hang out. Behind the parking lot there is a large area of wilderness, which I imagine belongs to the hotel as well and we didn't explore it. There isn't really any place to hang out at the hotel beyond your room and your lanai, if you have one.
The reception area is small, with a couple of chairs for guests.
Someone is available at the office behind the reception desk between 7 am and 7 pm. The owners live in the house next door and a sign at the desk directs you to fetch them there if you check in late (like we did).
When we complained in the morning about our room, the attendant was very nice in moving us to another room, and we were not charged for the difference in price between what we'd reserved (a standard) and what was available (a 1-bedroom).
Rooms don't have telephones. There is a pay telephone in the reception. Their website says they have internet access in the office, behind the reception, but we didn't use it.
Coffee and very good small cinnamon buns area available after 7am at the reception area. I think they also have complimentary tea bags. There is a soda vending machine in the parking lot.
This motel was fine, clean and with large rooms and we heard other people express how much they liked it. We didn't primarily because of the beds, even if the place had AC and they had given us shampoo (my two other complains), the hard beds would keep us from returning.
Dolphin Bay Hotel
333 Iliahi St.
Hilo, Hawaii 96720