Sparrows Hotel Takes Flight in Palm Springs

The former El Rancho Lodge takes on whole new look



The Sparrows Hotel uses an uncluttered look for a sign facing East Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.

Jim Powers

 

The signage for some hotels is so bold that it can feel like their name is being shouted at you.

The subtle sign for the Sparrows Hotel in South Palm Springs — two small black birds on a white background — barely whispers.

In fact, as I stepped out of my car to enter the lobby all I heard, appropriately enough, was the sound of birds chirping.

Formerly the El Rancho Lodge, which was built in 1951 by then MGM actor Don Castle, hotelier and architect Doug Smith and his wife, Josie, purchased the 20-room property in 2011. Doug Smith once owned the Korakia Pensione in downtown Palm Springs.

Starting From Scratch

While the footprint of the property’s buildings is the same, Smith and General Manager John Mania completely gutted the interiors. Everything is new except for the board and batten that’s on the exterior.

“Doug wanted to keep that element and highlight it since Smoke Tree Ranch and a lot of other homes built here around the same time used that board and batten style of architecture,” says Mania.

“Overall, this was a very organic building process,” he adds. “There was a huge amount of detail work. All of the redwood was cut to give a custom, unique look and we hand set pebbles in the floors and installed new stonework throughout the property. We also built a lot of the furniture in the rooms as well.”

The effect is calming, romantic, and a little like a very cool summer camp — or as Doug Smith describes it, “modern rustic ranch.”

 

VIDEO: Take a tour of the Sparrows Hotel

 

Four-Star Choices

The hotel features four different room styles that all have similar finishes and amenities. Most of the Pool Rooms have a private back patio and about half of them have huge, fantastically deep bathtubs that were fashioned out of horse troughs.

The Garden Rooms are equally unique and about a third larger, while the Owner’s Suite is more private and has a refrigerator. The largest space is the Fireplace Room, with beautiful plank wood floors and a gas-burning fireplace.

At the center of the property, you can relax and enjoy the breeze wafting through the open-air bar. A large light fixture that was once a spotlight on a ship is suspended from the ceiling and beautiful sepia tone photographs of (you guessed it) birds hang on the walls.

All of these small details seamlessly coalesce to make the Sparrows a perfectly put together little gem — which was Smith’s intent.

“In design, Doug loves the small things to achieve the total look of a project,” says Mania.

Mission accomplished.

Sparrows Hotel, 1330 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-327-2300

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