Greater Palm Springs Hotels With Old Hollywood History

History buffs and cinephiles find an unparalleled vacation experience at these hotels and rental properties.

October 15, 2023
Villa Royale in Palm Springs.
PHOTO COURTESY VILLA ROYALE

Imagine sipping your morning coffee while admiring the mountain panorama from the same spot Frank Sinatra once did. Or swimming and sunbathing where Marilyn Monroe was known to steal away. These well-kept, legendary hideaways offer not only an elevated escape (made extra comfortable with modern amenities), but also a glimpse into the Golden Age.

VILLA ROYALE, 1947

This California ranch–style retreat was one of the earliest small hotels in the desert, said to be a go-to for stars including Mickey Rooney and Rebel Without a Cause screenwriter Irving Shulman. Unchanged since the 1940s, the Villa Royale name reportedly nods to the initials of original owner Evelyn Pell’s children, Valorie and Richard. The 38 pet-friendly villas have been fully modernized and decked in artwork that celebrates Hollywood glamour. villaroyale.com

Casa Cody.
PHOTO COURTESY CASA CODY

CASA CODY, 1936

Founded by Harriet Cody, a cousin of legendary showman Buffalo Bill, this charming Spanish colonial is Palm Springs’ oldest operating hotel. A popular gathering place for such icons as Charlie Chaplin and opera singer Lawrence Tibbett, who was known to perform for parties in the Adobe House, a preferred suite with a built-in stage, the bed-and-breakfast has an artisan market, a serene pool with day passes for nonguests, and a spa that offers reiki and massage treatments. casacody.com

DEL MARCOS, 1947

William F. Cody’s first independent commission is thought to be inspired by the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Seventeen elevated suites hug a sparkling pool, their native stone and redwood façade juxtaposing crisp white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass. Talk about midcentury panache! The defining feature is an asymmetrical entranceway. delmarcoshotel.com

L’HORIZON, EARLY 1950S

This midcentury gem was originally the home of oil magnate and TV producer Jack Wrather, who enlisted William F. Cody to create a modernist retreat where he and his wife — actress and fellow Lassie producer Bonita Granville — could offer their famous friends an easy escape from La La Land. Re-imagined by Steve Hermann, the resort now includes the upscale, alfresco SO·PA Restaurant and 24 new Richard Neutra–inspired bungalows boasting top-of-the-line amenities. lhorizonpalmsprings.com

The entrance of L’Horizon.
PHOTO COURTESY BRIDGET WOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
Melvyn’s Restaurant at Ingleside Estate.
PHOTO COURTESY INGLESIDE ESTATE

INGLESIDE ESTATE, 1925

Built for the widow of Pierce-Arrow Motor heir Humphrey Birge, this Spanish revival designed by George Washington Smith was later purchased by Palm Springs pioneer Ruth Hardy and her husband, Jack. When the couple divorced, business-savvy Ruth transformed the 20-room estate — named for the fireplace in each room — into a hideaway beloved among luminaries including Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. Most residents remember its next owner, Mel Haber, who in the 1970s added on his eponymous restaurant and Casablanca lounge. Though he opened it to the public, this adults-only retreat remained a hangout for Hollywood’s elite. inglesideestate.com

THE WILLOWS HISTORIC PALM SPRINGS INN, 1925

Architect William J. Dodd created this exclusive Mediterranean villa for William and Nella Mead. One of the city’s 10 oldest structures, The Willows was sold to distinguished attorney Samuel Untermyer after William’s death. His long list of famous guests included dignitaries and movie stars. Two of the 17 lavish suites are named after 1930s habitués Albert Einstein and Marion Davies. Davies purchased the property in the ’50s and intended to develop a hotel. Her plans fell apart, and so did the home, until 1994, when it was restored by Tracy Conrad and Paul Marut. thewillowspalmsprings.com

The Mediterranean- and Moroccan-inspired Korakia.
PHOTO COURTESY KORAKIA

KORAKIA, 1924

Once the hideaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts and his celebrity circle, Korakia’s pair of Mediterranean- and Moroccan-inspired properties intertwine posh bungalows and suites with lush gardens and saltwater pools. Named one of Forbes Traveler’s “Sexiest Hotels in America,” it remains a respite for A-listers seeking sun, solitude, and spa getaways. There’s also bocce ball, bike rentals, and a bazaar. korakia.com

Rent a Charmer

Savor the luxury and keep it to yourself.

Twin Palms Estate: Frank Sinatra resided at this Palm Springs pad with two towering palm trees beside its custom, piano-shaped pool. sinatrahouse.com

Joseph Cotten Estate: This historic estate with a citrus grove and a saltwater pool belonged to the Citizen Kane actor. airbnb.com

Dinah Shore Estate: Leonardo DiCaprio owns and rents out this hideaway that formerly belonged to Dinah Shore. 432hermosa.com

Bing Crosby Estate: The crooner’s Rancho Mirage retreat contains a state-of-the-art movie theater. palmsprings.rentals

Merv Griffin Estate: A Moroccan-inspired playground in La Quinta, the palace even has its own pond. mervgriffin.squarespace.com

The Lucy House: This secluded Spanish colonial in Palm Springs’ Movie Colony neighborhood was once a getaway for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. naturalretreats.com

Steve McQueen Hideaway: The suave star’s midcentury-modern abode has a Mickey Mouse–shaped pool. airbnb.com

Villa Carmelita: Originally built for Joseph Cotten, this spot later became Sonny and Cher’s Palm Springs love nest. instagram.com/villacarmelitaps

The Harpo Marx Estate: This historic Rancho Mirage oasis boasts a tropical lagoon, two waterfalls, and a resort-size pool. vacasa.com

The Aviator: Howard Hughes’ multilevel mountainside estate in Palm Springs was renovated to the nines while maintaining its midcentury cool. airbnb.com