The Royal Hotel in Levuka, Fiji
While there are more than 300 islands in Fiji, most visitors opt to stay on the main island of Viti Levu where the international airport and the country’s two largest cities, Nadi and Suva, are located. Knowing that intimate Fijian villages and remote islands are less than an hour boat ride away, it pains me to meet people who spend their entire trip on this one commercial isle. Stay a night or two on the Coral Coast, one hour south of Nadi, to relax after the 10-hour flight from Los Angeles. Then ferry over to the town of Levuka on the island of Ovalau. More than fifty stores and hotels built in the 1850s still stand in this former capital of Fiji. Walk past the ficus trees down Beach Street to the most prestigious establishment of all, The Royal Hotel. Continuously operating since Levuka’s heyday, this is the oldest hotel in the South Pacific. Walk around the lobby and you feel like you’re entering a novel by Somerset Maugham or Robert Louis Stevenson, who both spent at least a night here. Inside, you’ll find rattan chairs, ceiling fans, a large stained oak bar, and a 100-year-old snooker table. Thankfully, one doesn’t have to be an acclaimed man of letters to afford this lodging. Cost of a room starts at $32 a night, including toast and tea for breakfast.