With stay at home orders gradually lifting, what better time to make our selection of the best cool hotels in Palm Springs. California is always a great place to escape to, and the coolest place in the state right now is the desert enclave of Palm Springs.
Palm Springs first came to prominence in the 1920s when Hollywood movie stars made it their weekend retreat of choice, less than two hours away from LA. Exclusive country clubs began to appear, and it was also one of the places where mid-century modern design and architecture reached its creative peak. All around town there are wonderful public buildings or private homes from great names of modern architecture like Donald Wexler, John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey.
They all built some of their best-known works in the city. Captured by photographer Julius Schulman they helped shape the image of the Southern Californian lifestyle during the 1950s and 1960s.
Many of the hotels of that period were built in iconic mid-century style, and a good number are still there to visit. There are plenty more newer ones that imitate the design of the era, as well as others that carve their own path. Here are our five favourites encompassing various styles in our very personal pick of the best cool hotels in Palm Springs:
THE PARKER PALM SPRINGS
Where better to start that this historic estate with its iconic mid-century facade. On the southern edge of the city, the Parker Palm Springs, was formerly Merv Griffin’s Givenchy Resort and Spa, and before that it was Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch; home to the singing cowboy.
The iconic potter and designer, Jonathan Adler, has since sprinkled the Parker with his unique combination of mid-century modern, art and global pop culture references to create the signature Adler aesthetic of irreverent luxury.
The 144 room, 13 acre desert estate has a special brand of tongue-in-cheek humour. Where else would you find suits of armour standing guard outside the bathrooms, or find model-like gentlemen, sporting the perfect tan, clad in shocking pink Ralph Lauren jackets, to escort you to your room?
Read our review here: The Parker Palm Springs
Many recent openings including smart hotels, unique galleries, hip boutiques and trendy restaurants have been springing up in the booming Palm Springs resort recently. Of these the one that has definitely caught the fun, holiday vibe that encapsulates Palm Springs is Arrive Hotel.
The architecture draws from the town’s rich mid-century architectural legacy, with its distinctive butterfly roofs, distinctive CorTen steel siding on every building, and the clerestory windows that run the length of the hotel rooms.
The uniquely-furnished hotel rooms, many of which feature private patios with fireplaces offer good mountain views, albeit via high level windows only. The large central pool area boasts private cabanas, a bocce court and games area, communal fire pits, and an oversize spa.
The property also houses Cartel Coffee Lab, which features local small-production roaster Joshua Tree Coffee Company, and the Ice Cream Shop(pe), with its artisanal ice cream and desserts.
Read our review here: Arrive Hotel Palm Springs
SPARROWS LODGE PALM SPRINGS
Originally built as Castle’s Red Barn in 1952 by MGM actor Don Castle and his wife, Zetta, Sparrows Lodge was one of the original resort getaways for Hollywood elite. Legend has it that iconic actress Elizabeth Montgomery had her first marriage at the Red Barn. The property also has had incarnations as Catalina Palms, El Rancho Lodge, and now Sparrows Lodge. The Lodge was fully restored in 2013 and many of the original buildings are still in use with modern updates retaining the charm of the original Red Barn.
The Lodge has a modern rustic vibe that carries through to the rooms, communal barn, outdoor fire pit and vegetable garden, accented by a great collection of fine contemporary art including works by Ruscha, Kelly, Katz & Baldessari.
The 20 rooms feature exposed beam ceilings, russet red walls, concrete floors with inlaid pebbles and butterfly chairs. Swiss army blankets top plush mattresses, and instead of closets you’ll find a metal footlocker along with hooks and hangers. Bathrooms feature rain showers, and many include horse troughs as bathtubs. Most rooms have private patios. All rooms have AC/Heat and ceiling fans.
With no televisions or phones in the rooms, Sparrows Lodge oozes an atmosphere of calm, peace and simplicity. A perfect place to relax and escape.
For more details visit: Sparrows Lodge Palm Springs
THE AVALON HOTEL & BUNGALOWS
Avalon Hotel & Bungalows (formerly The Viceroy Hotel) is an example of one of the alternatives to the mid-century modern aesthetic. Built in Spanish revival Hacienda style, The Avalon is memorable for the terracotta roofed bungalows scattered through the peaceful grounds.
It traces its heritage back to the 1930s when it was a desert inn. Now a leading boutique hotel in a prime downtown spot, its original glamour has been artfully preserved with splashes of zesty citrus, accents of chic black and white, Hollywood Regency style furniture, and remnants of original 30s decor throughout.
Three acres of manicured gardens weave in and around 67 guest rooms and suites, including detached one and two bedroom villas. There are three distinct courtyard settings, so it never feels too busy or crowded. With three outdoor pool areas including a family pool and an adults-only tranquility pool, two large jacuzzis all cocooned by citrus trees, The Avalon is a lush haven.
Read our review here: The Avalon Hotel Palm Springs
NUMBER 444 PALM SPRINGS
One of our final choices is actually not a hotel, but a private rental home. There is a good argument for saying that one of the best ways to visit Palm Springs is to rent one of the very properties that it is famous for – an iconic mid-century home.
Many have been restored to their former glory, and if you look carefully you can find one that has been sympathetically furnished in genuine mid-century style as opposed to a more easily found modern pastiche.
The light, airy and stylish modern buildings from the Alexander company designed by Palmer and Krisel are amongst the most attractive, and were fortunately built in enough quantity that many fine examples still survive.
Our favourite Alexander Home is Number 444 a supremely stylish property in the Racquet Club Estates featuring a recently renovated interior with authentic period features. There are iconic pieces from designers like Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Louis Poulsen and Harry Bertoia. Floors are cool fifties-style polished concrete with stunning Warhol and Slim Aarons prints decorating the walls.
The property is well equipped with all the little extras that you may need or not, right down to a fifties style popcorn machine. Outside there is a mid-century style landscaping with delightful outdoor seating, a BBQ pit and a good sized pool (heated off-season).
Read our review here: Number 444 Palm Springs
Read about Desert Modern in Palm Springs